I found a disturbing story on the BBC news website this morning:
A critically ill teenager being treated for liver failure after binge drinking left his hospital bed and went to the pub for a drink, it has been confirmed.
The father of Gareth Anderson, 19, is fighting to overturn NHS rules which mean his son has to be alcohol free for six months before a liver transplant.
But at the same time, a publican confirmed Garath went to her pub last Wednesday looking for a pint.
He was still in his slippers and with the needle from a drip in his hand.
Staff in the Old Moat Inn opposite the Ulster Hospital in Dundonald refused his order, alerted hospital staff who took him back.
The teenager from Newtownards, County Down, was transferred to Kings College Hospital in London on Friday and doctors have told his father, Brian, he may have as little as two weeks to live.
Mr Anderson Snr told the Press Association: “I don’t know what he was thinking about, I don’t think he knows.
“He said ‘I don’t know why I did it, I just walked out and walked across to the pub’.”
Mr Anderson Snr said his son first told him he had a coke, but when pressed admitted trying to order alcohol first.
“I said ‘What were you thinking about son’ and he said ‘ I don’t know, I just don’t know’.”
Alcohol dependency is a serious problem but regrettably is often viewed into a moral issue – many people still think of alcohol dependency as a moral, personal or character weakness.
Many drinkers themselves think it is because they lack “willpower” and I am often asked by drinkers to help them be able to “just have a drink or two and then stop after that.”
I’m not sure how realistic this is – for me, this is akin to heroin addicts asking to be able to carry on using heroin, but just not to have the addiction.
Addiction is a powerful problem – heroin addiction destroys lives and rapidly turns normal people into career criminals as they steal to fund their habit.
What is interesting to me is how different drug addictions produce different outcomes – heroin addicts tend to steal, crack cocaine addicts tend to prostitute, alcohol addicts tend to shout and scream in the street on Friday and Saturday nights, fight and break stuff.
Yet for some reason as a culture we “ban” heroin and crack and continue to imprison dealers, yet alcohol dealing is still perfectly legal and is even encouraged. Should it surprise us then that young people are increasingly having a problem with alcohol?