As I said in my last post I’ve been back in school and during that time had a really interesting conversation with a GP. We were discussing alcohol as a public health issue and she said that there was this saying in her experience that went something like this:
‘You only have a drink problem if you drink more than your GP or your MP’.
Now I had never heard this expression before but actually it makes perfect sense. Your GP is your senior primary care health professional and your MP is your senior political representative. Both influence and shape health and public health policy and legislature. Now if they drink the same amount as you they are not going to perceive your drinking as a problem because to do so would cause them discomfort relating to their own drinking (or cognitive dissonance). And therein lies the rub.
The GP asked me if I drank, and I shared that I had given up 6 months ago, to which she said ‘well you are probably in a better position to comment as you are unbiased’. See if your GP or MP drinks like you then they have a positive bias towards alcohol and this creates a dichotomy for them. How can they be impartial in their working lives towards the issue? I responded that it could be argued that I now have a negative bias towards booze as I had stopped drinking (or that’s how some would choose to see it!).
The WHO stats I shared yesterday telegraph loud and clear that ‘Houston we have a problem’. We need to have an honest open discussion about alcohol and it’s impact and yet this is complicated by the fact that so many professionals that should be unbiased are not. So the issue gets tip-toed round or we stick our heads in the sand hoping that it will just go away. Except it doesn’t and it isn’t. The elephant in the room has passed out drunk and we just keep stepping over it ……