Drink Tank

Living behind closed doors with a super consumer

The ‘super consumer’ is Big Alcohol’s best friend.

Behind the barrage of fun, colourful, social and happy advertisements promoted by alcohol companies; the global multinationals referred to as ‘Big Alcohol’, there lies a ‘super consumer’ who exhibits none of these traits.

Behind closed doors are these heavy drinkers who are risking their health by averaging more than four standards a day, along with their family and friends who are impacted by their drinking. These people are forgotten by those in the business of selling alcohol in their relentless attempts to capture the super consumer market and increase product sales.

Living with a heavy drinker will ensure a whirlwind ride of emotions and, unfortunately, not many of them are positive. Often the super consumer will emphatically deny that they have a problem with alcohol because these drinkers don’t necessarily fit the stereotype of an alcoholic.

Far too often it is the people who are closest to the super consumer who are adversely affected; experiencing feelings of stress, sadness, confusion, worry or fear and feeling worn out from the strain of coping with the behaviours associated with a heavy drinker. Children are commonly the silent victims of heavy and regular drinking and can often be placed in situations where they feel fear, insecurity and confusion, with more than 10,000 children in the child protection system because of their carer’s drinking.

Over Christmas, there were many distressing stories of children who were in the cars when their mothers who blew over three times the legal limit at random breath tests. There is no choice for them, they rely on their family to be responsible and keep them safe. Children of heavy drinkers see and experience violence, witness verbal and mental abuse, arguments, odd behaviours and often feel they can’t talk to people about this because it’s their family member who is inflicting the pain. This pain can remain for a lifetime.

Life with a super consumer is besieged with unpredictability. One simple word to describe it is “chaos”. The lies, the selfishness, the social withdrawal from family and friends and often the wicked tongue of a super consumer affects those who care about them the most. Long-suffering family and friends bear the brunt of the often-irrational behaviour of heavy drinkers.

Essentially, Big Alcohol doesn’t care about any of this. The alcohol industry not only ignores the dangerous drinking habits of this group, it identifies and targets its best customers because that’s where these companies stand to make the most money.

As a community, it’s time that Australians took a stand against this and said no.

No more targeting super consumers with prolific bottle shops, outrageous cheap alcohol promotions and glossy advertisements.

No more recruiting of youth through links between alcohol and sport and marketing designed to appeal to the next generation of super consumers.

No more excuses from the alcohol industry and claims that it supports ‘responsible drinking’, while failing to provide meaningful health warnings and promote the alcohol guidelines recommended by health professionals.

The blindfolds must come off. There are 15 Australians dying from alcohol every single day. That’s 15 people who are no longer with us and countless others, family and friends who care about them, that are affected by these preventable deaths. That is 15 too many, and there is much more work to be done to minimise this toll.

However, as a community we can’t bring about this much-needed change on our own. We need the support of government’s and regulators to show bold leadership. Legislation that focuses on reducing alcohol advertising, increasing taxation, enforcing strict liquor licensing conditions, and limiting alcohol’s availability at both retailers and licensed premises will have a meaningful impact on the behaviour of Australia’s heaviest drinkers, the super consumers, and therefore on the nation.

After all, alcohol remains the biggest drug of concern. It is responsible for too many deaths, diseases and injuries, and Australians believe more needs to be done to reduce the harm caused by alcohol.

In light of this latest Risky Business report, it’s clear that this change must begin by holding the alcohol industry accountable for their relentless pursuit of super consumers.

View the media release and research report.

Watch the Risky Business video

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Sam Menezes

Sam is a mum of four children and a third year Health Science- Health Promotion student at Curtin University. Her passion is advocating for the reduction of harm from alcohol to young people focusing on legislation and policy supported by community education. Sam has been an avid campaigner for the introduction of secondary supply laws in WA and would like this legislation to be introduced in SA and ACT. Her background is nursing and working in the dental industry.

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