There’s a “syndrome” called ACOA – are you familiar with it? It means Adult Child of Alcoholic, or, as experience has taught me, Adult (or teen) Child of any Addict.
I came across it years ago, before I trained actually. Before I really understood what alcoholism was, or how common it is. I was lucky, I know. Since then I’ve learned how the idea of ACOA as a collection of “habits” really helps to explain a lot of the thought patterns and behaviours that thousands of adults experience and struggle with every day – every hour maybe. And the people who love them struggle too.
Begorrah and Top o’the Morning etc – ’tis Paddy’s Day tomorrow! (Sincerest apologies to those who hate calling it that and hate those phrases….)
Whatever you call it, it’s nearly here – Woohoo!!!
I love it actually. It’s great to have a day to celebrate our Irishness, our heritage, our achievements, our collective history. But we all know what really happening don’t we? It’s a day off for most of us, and drinking. Lots and lots of drinking. “The Sesh” – a new tradition to honour the way Saint Patrick got off his head on Vodka and drove the schhnakes out of Ireland… Sure he was a great fella. And isn’t it great the way it falls on Saturday this year so we won’t ‘have’ to call in sick while we deal with the fear, or worse?
(Like assault, liver failure, death…)
And I’m aware this week, as I am every year, of the sense of dread for those among us that are living with problematic drinking – which is a soft way of saying alcoholism I suppose – and that’s a lot of us. Most people reading this have an alcoholic in their family. There are families everywhere who’ll still be dealing with the fallout of Saturday this day next week. Mom or Dad or both were worse than usual, more abusive, more aggressive. There’ll be shouting, sulking, irrationality and it will be followed by remorse, empty-feeling apologies and genuine sounding promises that won’t be kept.
How many people reading this will be sick on Saturday and Sunday? Feeling they should stop drinking but not wanting to appear as “lightweights”. Not wanting to avoid ridicule. How many fights were started, how many unwise decisions made?
How many of these people will be your kids, or their friends?
We have a wealth of things in this country that are worth celebrating, loving and cherishing. We are incredibly fortunate to live here. And while we love to complain, and there are things that could certainly be a lot better, the fact that we are fortunate remains true. Our greatest resource is of course our youth.
Last night I heard someone giving out (again) about teachers and parents saying THEY need to take our heads out of the sand when it comes to teen drinking. Well, I’ll take a slightly different slant – we all need to take our heads out of the bottle!
Teenagers are not the issue here!
Let’s stop telling stories about how hilarious it was when yer one fell asleep at the bar and fell off her stool. Or about how the fear was so bad he had to stay in bed all day with the shakes. Or how he doesn’t even remember getting home LOLLOLLOL! – must’ve been a good one! Gas man….
I don’t want to trigger guilt in anyone reading this, please, I really don’t. What I want, what I’d love is for us all to have a think about what we’re doing here. We are teaching our kids to have drink problems. We’re normalising the over-use of a drug that has dangerous effects on our behaviour and health – both short and long term. It’s pretty serious. And besides anything else, it’s costing us a fortune to deal with this mess. Worse though, it’s costing us our youth.
I’ve been meaning to have a wee rant re the whole “Twelve Pubs” thing.
I know many young (and not so young) people who are about to go on this new-and-not-so-noble tradition of mass alcohol poisoning with a view to consuming at least one unit of alcohol per pub (X12) in a few short hours.
As the evening draws in I find myself wondering what’s happening on the streets of Ireland this evening. How many people are starting to feel dizzy and sick from drink, feeling they should stop but not wanting to appear as “lightweights”. How many fights have started, how many unwise decisions have been made, how many people are fumbling frustratedly in their pockets, wondering where all their money has gone (already ?!!? and on pay day?!!..). How are the bar staff coping, the health care workers, the guards, the families?
While listening to Neil Prendeville on 96FM, I caught part of a discussion on the rate of violence on Cork’s streets. There is a general need to assign blame for escalating violence. Scapegoats ranged from “drink and drugs” to “nightclubs”.