Friday, June 8, 2007

We're so busy treating symptoms, we've lost sight of the root causes

Saturday night along Vancouver's Granville Street entertainment district is a vicar's tea party compared to the downtown cores of most English cities.

It used to happen only after the pubs closed. The government thought it would fix that by letting the bars open 24 hours a day.

No prizes for guessing what happened. The drunken mayhem, the vomiting in the street, the violent public disorder, merely escalated.

Random shootings and stabbings, once rare in the United Kingdom, now occur frequently and involve ever younger victims and perpetrators.

Assorted problems stemming from this culture of binge drinking are estimated to cost the British treasury the staggering equivalent of more than $42 billion a year.

And it's not just young people causing the trouble. The government claims large numbers of older people, quaffing a couple of bottles of vino with their nightly nosh, are also endangering their health.

It would not surprise me to learn that, in this respect, there are plenty of parallels in Canada.

But what the Brits are doing about their own problem is typical of a society that has lost its bearings.

A new national strategy has been launched in Britain that involves spending $20 million to try to change people's attitudes toward booze.

My guess is that it will be about as successful as it would be to ask drunken yobs stumbling out of late-night Granville bars to be polite to one another.

Part of the UK strategy will be to label liquor in much the same way as we now attach warnings to cigarette packs.

Do you think binge drinkers will really say to one another: "No more for me -- I've had 3.4 units of alcohol already and that's more than the guidelines allow"?

The question for the Brits -- and for us, too -- is not how can we curb this bad behaviour, but what causes it in the first place.

What are the underlying faults in our society that make it attractive for so many people to blow their minds on booze or drugs?

source: The Vancouver Province

No comments: