After watching my team win their Aussie Rules footy match this afternoon I stayed to watch the news and then caught a segment about being kind to our livers on a programme I've not watched before. There was a very well known journalist speaking about his abuse of alcohol over the years and his brush with death before receiving a liver transplant at almost the last moment.
This got me to thinking about why so many young people these days binge drink. Don't get me wrong. There is no way I could ever be called a wowser, 'cos I am not but I am concerned about this phenomenon of the late 20th and early 21st centuries.
Why do people need so much alcohol nowadays? Back in the 1940s and 1950s when I was young, most young folk couldn't afford to drink much or often and quite honestly, I knew of very few that really wanted to. I think a few young men would perhaps meet at the pub on a Friday night and have a few beers but seldom to the point of getting drunk. Of course there have always been people who have the addiction gene who possibly can't help themselves once they get started and that is a different story and a very sad one too.
There was no alcohol in our home until my 20th birthday when mum and dad allowed 6 bottles of beer in the house after I explained that some of the young men were over 21 and may like a beer. I think we females just drank soft drink or perhaps a very light shandy. My mun didn't drink and dad only ever had a shandy, even at the bowling club.
Our hotels in Perth, even way back then, closed at 9pm so there was no rush to down as many beers as possible before closing time, unlike Melbourne at that time when the pubs closed at 6pm which created what became known as 'the 6 o'clock swill'. I remember when working in Melbourne in 1950/51, I would be on way home and you'd see the hotels doors opening and all these men come swarming out, and then many of them would drive home. Of course, then the ladies could only drink in the hotel lounge and, if I remember rightly, men were not allowed in the lounge unless accompanied by a female person.
Why have things changed so much over the intervening 60 years? Is it these days that many young people have been spoilt so much that they become bored unless they are entertained? Why do they need stimulants such as alcohol and drugs to enable them to enjoy themselves? Is that true enjoyment I wonder? When young, my friends and I always found so much to do in our spare time and a life was wonderful without the necessity for stimulants although I must admit many of us did smoke then, but that is hardly a stimulant, more a very bad habit.
Don't get me wrong. I have enjoyed having a few drinks from about the time I was in my 30s and it is possible at times I drank a wee bit much but only very occasionally. These days I am more likely to have a sip from Phil's nightly glass of red wine but sometimes I don't even bother with that although our endocrinologist has told us red wine is quite good for us in strict moderation. I put on weight so easily so don't indulge very often at all. (a small amount of 70% dark chocolate daily is also good for us and Phil has his every evening without fail....I don't as I still have my icecream (drumstick).
Another progamme last week gave statistics that young people between the ages of 14 and 17 were drinking less alcohol now than they did a decade ago. 14 to 17???? Yes, that was what I heard. Apparently 10 years ago 63% people in that age group did drink alcohol but now only 50% do. I thought it would be a far better result if nobody that young drank alcohol at all. I believe our brains are still forming till age 25 so why damage them?
Should we bring the drinking age back to 21 perhaps? Should some of these night clubs etc perhaps close earlier rather then enable people to drink almost 24/7? I don't know the answer but I hope eventually what is being taught in schools etc., may sink into the minds of the young and they may develop better habits and try to avoid alcohol until they are older and then in moderation. Other drugs? They just terrify me completely and I am glad I knew nothing of them when I was young.