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Alcohol abuse is a community problem

Alcohol abuse is a community problem

I love a drink. There is not much better than an ice cold beer after a day working in the heat, or a nice glass of red with a good meal, but I’ll never understand the binge drinking mentality of some people. What is it that makes some people go out on weekends wanting to get ‘pissed’ as they lovingly call it.

I believe that society needs to take a far more active role in the fight against alcohol abuse than it has done so far. We have made the issue an us and them one, where they should be doing something about it. With they we mean government and police, while in reality the problem of solving it should be that of the whole community, because we are the ones demanding more freedom when drinking alcohol, and we tell our politicians to stop making Australia a nanny state. We claim we are mature enough to make our own decisions on where, when, and how much we drink.

But as the sergeant in charge of the Fremantle police station in Western Australia told a community group last year “You create problems for us by wanting relaxations of the liquor licensing laws whenever you want to hold a festival.” That’s a fair point, I believe.

The recent ISAF 2011 world sailing championships off Fremantle not only had great competitive sailing, but also a Worlds Festival with stalls and live music. The festival was a flop because the predicted numbers of 500,000 visitors never eventuated. The under the pump organisers, having to explain why the festival was a dud, claimed it was because they did not get a license to serve alcohol. That to me is a cop out. Surely we can go out and enjoy a concert or fireworks without having a beer or glass of wine, especially when we know that a significant group is likely to over indulge and misbehave and spoil it for everyone.

Are we as a community not partly responsible for the anti-social behaviour, the glassings, and the king hits that leave people damaged for life, when we keep insisting we can’t do without a drink to enjoy ourselves at outdoor events, and why do we remain passive observers, instead of telling those who start to become loud and obnoxious to put a sock in it and respect others.

It’s time we took ownership of the problem and started berating our friends they drink too much and too fast. We need to stop them from driving their cars when they are clearly drunk, instead of hoping they’ll get home safely, and hopefully without maiming or killing others. At a recent party of around 50 mature people, who all solidly drank alcohol, I was the only one who didn’t drive home!

If we’re old enough to drink we should also be old enough to shoulder some of the responsibility, as I did three weeks ago when I stopped a group of inebriated teenagers from bashing the daylight out of each other. I could not have lived with myself had I seen on TV the next day that one of them had been bashed unconscious and was fighting for his life. We see far too much of that and it needs to stop!

Fighting alcohol abuse and anti social behaviour is all our responsibility, not just that of police and politicians.

Roel Loopers

Roel is a professional photographer based in Fremantle, WA. He is passionate about life and people and is Freo’s most prolific blogger.

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