On the BBC's Panorama programme last night, Alastair Campbell talked about how alcohol problems affect many middle class drinkers in the UK.
He was right to do so. Not least, because the image of 'alcoholism' we are most familiar with in this country is an incredibly stereotypical one. We picture a certain type of person, and a certain type of drink. What we don't do, necessarily, is accept that the harmful impact of alcohol does not discriminate – and that anyone can be affected. As the programme showed, professionals drinking high quality wine at home are as vulnerable as anybody else.
At Addaction, we know that you can have a good job, be in a steady relationship and have plenty of other trappings, but be totally in denial about how much you are drinking, and the impact it's having on your personal life. We often ask people to keep a 'drink diary', and they're almost always shocked about how much alcohol they've actually been consuming. It's very easy to lose track.
It's one of the reasons why Alistair Campbell was right to suggest that we, as a nation, need to reassess our relationship with booze. We need to recognise how much we actually drink and we need to to fully understand the risks associated with excessive consumption. We need to scrutinise the fact that alcohol is so readily available, often at cut-prices, and question if that is a good thing, or something we want.
And finally we need to ensure that there is continued investment in help and support for the people who need it most. That help needs to be available to people as early as possible, too, so their problems don't escalate and impact so negatively on both them and their families.