Thursday, 22 January 2009

School talk

Today I had the privilege of talking to a load of school kids - well they were 15/16 so young adults they'd no doubt prefer.

We showed a DVD about AA and talked about our alcoholism and tried to answer their questions. No doubt these students are used to "experts" coming and explaining stuff that they are paid to explain about and which they have studied not experienced. No disrespect to them but Prof Max Glatt once said "I am an authority on alcoholism not an expert. If you want an expert go talk to AA". I think we always get a reaction as we are unpaid and doing it as a service and also we no doubt don't talk like the professionals.

"How much do you have to drink to be an alcoholic?" "As much as you like" laughs "well for us here today enough to drive us into hospital to the point of suicide etc. etc."

Lurid tales of prisons, hospital stays after alcoholic fits in which hearts were restarted (only to discharge and go on another death defying bender), standing on a cliff top trying to will yourself over the edge, horrendous car crashes... I think we get a lot of attention and then we explain it isn't to do with penniless drunks on park benches or what you drink, how much or who with but if you are obsessed with it and cannot control it you have a problem and we've found a solution so take a leaflet and remember us in the future.

Hopefully none of them will need us in the future but statistically that is unlikely given the size of the year group.

We often quote stats. "How many people die from Heroin in the UK a year?" Guesses from 1000 up. It's actually about 200. When you say "Well we're coming to the end of the hour of us talking with you and in that time 3 people have died in this country from an alcohol related condition, accident or violence" there is a pause for thought.

We might have done some good today. Whatever it did me some good, gave me some hope. Plus spending a day with another bunch of drunks is always a laugh - one of our number going off for a smoke was funny, it was like being back at school trying to bunk off for a fag.


  1. I think one of the hardest things to teach is self-awareness and alcohol... identifying 'when' you have a problem is not easy.

    With 20:20 hindsight, I can certainly identify periods of my life where I've been drinking too much, not necessarily to the point of physical harm (though who knows until you end up with tubes coming out of you, eh?) but to the point where it's coloured my moods etc, usually in addition to other stimuli, like stress at work.

    There have been other times that I've recognised that I've been drinking too much because I've got home and spent an evening deliberately trying *not* to have a drink. If you're thinking about it, then you're not 100% in control, right?

    The worst thing is if you don't realise when you're behaving badly because of alcohol.

    I'm lucky that I've never been in that perfect storm where all the different factors come together to trap me into a downward spiral.

    I do think it's a good message to pass along. I don't know whether anyone will have paid full attention to you today and made the choice never to drink to excess, BUT one day one of those kids may think back to today and know that it's time to seek help.

  2. Maybe I should pop along to show em what happens if you do eh? ;-)

    Nice one old bean

  3. @Ken - that's the point really it hopefully will sow a seed and if one day years from now one of those kids things "Hang on this is all going a bit wrong here" remembers us and acts on that - however they chose and avoids further clamity for them or others then it'll have been worthwhile.

    @Preacher - maybe I should rope you in on the next one... with a sort of "see this" (point at Preacher) "you're next"... :-)