Thursday, September 2, 2010
Mike Butler: Booze culture
And why do teenagers drink? My mind drifted back to a Mission Concert about three years ago, the one where headline performer Eric Clapton spat the dummy when he saw a bottle of wine with his name on the label. Clapton is a recovering alcoholic and has spent tens of thousands of dollars towards the rehab of other recovering alcoholics, so I can understand why he was furious to see his name endorsing some fine Mission Estate wine.
The point about that Mission Concert was the concertgoers -- well-fed, middle-aged, mums and dads with ginormous chillybins full of beer, wine, and whatever, drunk out of their scones, braying at each other, and falling over on to the grass, dirt, and stones. The reason why teens have problems with binge drinking is that their parents are binge drinkers and have raised their children to do the same.
So what is the New Zealand booze culture? It’s as simple as this. If you have a birthday, you go to the liquor shop, buy some grog and invite your friends. Christmas, buy some grog and have the family over. Friday night – have a few drinks. Hard day at the office – unwind over a few drinks. Any other day -- a nightly tipple. This pattern exists across all income ranges and in all cultures that don’t have prohibitions against liquor consumption.
Maybe I have become a wowser since I have seen the hard edge of alcoholism as part of my day job in accommodation. I have seen how alcohol destroys some people. I have seen booze-fuelled arguments, assaults, savage beatings, people collapsed in their own vomit, urine, and their own excrement, sex for a bottle of gin.
The poverty action people wring their hands over homelessness but I know of many people who prefer to live under a bridge so all their benefit can go on booze.
The simple reason that politicians, police, judges, corrections officers, social workers, health workers and so on are soft on booze is that, to some extent, everyone is a drinker, and no one wants to feel like a hypocrite.
at 11:21 AM