My father died an alcoholic, and years ago while battling a depression I too was at risk of becoming one. My decision to sell all I had and travel by 4×4 through Australia, to try to get away from the routine of sitting at home every night and drinking far too much, seemed a good one, but for the fact that I was constantly reminded of alcohol while on the road.
When buying supplies in cities and towns it was impossible not to be lured in to buying alcohol. Going to a supermarket to buy groceries often meant walking past the attached bottle shop. That was hard to ignore and I often ended up buying a bottle of wine, whiskey, or some beer, although I had decided to have an alcohol free day. In smaller towns, food was sometimes only available as bar snacks in hotels.
The commercial radio station I listened to on my trip also mentioned alcohol frequently, with the famous host of the morning show giving away bottles of bourbon.
Going by my experience as a mature and pretty level-headed person, one has to ask how the constant exposure to alcohol advertising affects the general public and even more so, young people.
I find it disturbing that many supermarkets in Western Australia have a bottle shop adjacent to them, so when one walks by on the way to buy groceries, one is reminded to take some grog home as well.
Alcohol advertising suggests it is impossible to enjoy a sporting or social event without booze. Teenagers endure the peer pressure of drinking as part of the fun. That fun often becomes routine, and that routine might become alcoholism, as was the case with my dad.
Before a recent school ball, parents of one of the girls invited a large number of 16 year olds to their home for pre-drinks, because the ball was alcohol free. I could not believe how much champagne, wine and beer was given to the teenagers, who were all skulling it as if there was no tomorrow.
The temptation of alcohol is everywhere, and that makes it very difficult for the vulnerable to stay away from it. I managed to get my drinking under control. I love a good glass of red or an ice-cold beer, but I know when to stop and have alcohol free days, even weeks.
To put Australia’s drinking in perspective; Coles generates $ 2.7 billion revenue a year from liquor sales, while Woolworths does even better and more than doubles that. Remember that, when you go food shopping next time!