Thursday, 10 February 2011


This isn't going to be a very cheery post I'm afraid, but hopefully by tonight I can show you my two latest glass purchases (yawn) as I gloat over them.

This time of year is supposed to be the most depressing, what with the Christmas bubble having been popped, credit card bills for the same dropping on your doormat, and - for the unlucky few - facing the rest of the winter without a job and no immediate way of paying those bills.

A friend of mine (obviously not that much of a friend, otherwise I might have done something to prevent this) lost his job in a small carpentry workshop a few months ago, and since his house went with it, lost a place to live as well. Eggs and Baskets. His former girlfriend (who has felt sorry for him ever since she gave him the push and married someone else years ago) allowed him to stay in a room of a little hotel she runs, since it was the end of the season. That was 7 months ago.

He has spent pretty much the entire time holed up in the room and drinking cans of strong beer without eating any food that anyone noticed. If he did appear, it was to go downstairs to the bar and drink more beer.

Well, last weekend he was finally carted away to the hospital where he is now - within about 48 hours of actually dying.

Though close to 6 feet tall, he was never a well-built chap, but now he weighs 7 stone and is incoherently ranting because he is brain-damaged through malnutrition and alcohol damage. The doctors do not know if he will ever get his marbles back, but they do know that if they let him out and he has a few more drinks, he will be dead in a matter of days or even hours. He can never safely drink a beer again for the rest of his life.

So as they wait and watch to see how or if he will improve, they are also making plans for his newly granted future. So far, the most probable short-term remedy is to have him sectioned under the mental health act for his own safety.

As you probably know, I (along with a few others) enjoy a drink every now and then, but it's cases like this that make me think that I fall into the 'habitual' category, and not the 'addictive'. Having said that, I think that abuse of alcohol is only a symptom of an underlying cause. You can get people who may be killing themselves by enjoying themselves too much, and then there are the few who drink purely in order to kill themselves.

Q: "Why do you drink?"

A: "I drink to forget."

Q: "Forget what?"

A: "I don't know - I've forgotten."


  1. Such a sad story, Tom. You wonder what sorrows he was trying to drown.

  2. we see so many people on intensive care with underlying alcohol issues.....and a walk around the village th day of bottle recycling is a sober ( sorry the pun) indication of just how much some people drink.
    I like you tom enjoy a drink, and probably indulge a little too regulary.. but I have seen a parent damage themselves ( and ourr family) dreadfully with alcohol abuse!)
    a good if upsetting post tom

  3. After my father died and we found his family, we uncovered some awful burdens that he carried with him, ( we alwasy suspected), that contributed to his being an alcoholic. It is an awful disease for everyone.

    It is very sad for your friend, and even sadder it is a common story for alcolohics.

  4. He always seemed to be on the edge of some sort of crisis, Bris.

    Today (thursday) is our recycling day, John. Listening to them chucking the empty wine bottles into the steel container is somewhat embarrassing to say the least, since we are the only domestic dwelling in the street. I feel like rushing out and saying: "We do a lot of entertaining, you know."

  5. You have brought up so many issues that I'm not sure where to start!

    Jobless; it was announced yesterday that the forclosure rate on houses will be going up this year again in the states. It will effect even the UK (I feel). Being with out a job with no chance of getting one is probably one of the worst feelings in the world. Even my other half hears rumbling of "reduction in force" at the university and could include him. No one is immune.

    "tipping"; the social habits in the UK is so different than here. 'Pub life' is not the same as 'Bar life' in the states. At least what I have seen. But I feel if you can function and be productive....have at it! We ALL probably come into contact with people addicted to prescribed drugs (pain/tranquilizers) and don't even know it.

    Your friend; Lets let him have something else to be miserable about, as in no more beer....let the guy drink and let his life go its course for HIM!

  6. If the US sneezes, the UK catches a cold, Grouch.

    There are many 'city' type people in suits who are (so I'm told) addicted to heroin. When asked how he has managed to survive years of heavy drug abuse, Keith Richards was supposed to have answered, "Because I could afford the best, top-quality drugs."

    If someone is hell bent on destroying themself, then it is extremely difficult to prevent them from doing so. It is still very difficult to sit back and watch it, though. His ex now feels extremely guilty for providing him with beer, but she could hardly have held him down and forced food down his neck. The irony is that her restaurant has one of the best chefs in Bath.

  7. Do medical people in the UK use the term "failure to thrive"? Whether it is emotional, or physical, what the hell is the difference. Let nature take its course.

    Not all salmon reach the spawning pool.

  8. You've been reading too much Nietzche, Groucho.

  9. I only read your blog!

    But, do think medical science can RESTORE and IMPROVE the quality of this mans life to what is considered 'normal' by society, or just prolong it in some lesser condition?

    (hmmm?....I wonder where Jesse hid the razor blades?)

  10. The problem with addiction is that it is medicalised
    it is NOT in my opinion an illness....In making it an illness, personal autonomy, choice,and the power of "self" is taken away from people.
    A great many alcohol abusers need to reflect and be empowered .... then "helped" to change if they want to...
    I hate the "victim" culture I see in the way people "cope"

  11. I'm thoroughly depressed now. Quick, gimme a drink. Sorry, I shouldn't be flippant. I personally know that alcoholism can wreck the lives of an individual and their family. I enjoy a drink but occasionally I will abstain for a day or two, just to prove to myself that I can.

  12. Am I an 'alcoholic' because I drink wine every evening? I think not; although I should probably drink less occasionally. Your friend sounds as if he had an addictive personality; these people are difficult to counsel.They don't accept advice. I liken this to eating disorders; you know it'll kill you, but....

  13. Hopelessness drives etoh and drug use. A person does not sit at a bar and drink himself to death if he has hope for the day, the next day, and the next. I have personal (a first degree relative) and professional dealings with substance abusers and they are terribly difficult to help unless they want to help themselves.

  14. How easily life can spiral out of control, and we end up putting ourselves in exactly the place to receive exactly what our 'mind' is feeling...your friend's desperation is truly a sad story, but somehow I keep thinking perhaps his ex could have offered him some type of employment (and who knows perhaps she did) in her hotel/restaurant, instead of supplying him with alcohol Even when we work for room and board and a free meal, it's an exchange of good energy, I think we all have forgotten this.
    I agree with John, addiction is a choice. Which leads the body and mind into a state of disease. We are always trying to heal the symptom instead of the cause.
    I truly hope your friend finds the strength to live...this one life that we are given is truly worth living...his life doesn't have to look the way it did before he lost his job and house to be a beautiful one.

  15. "addiction is a choice", tell that to a heroin addict who's parents were users.

    I think it is all gene related.

  16. addiction is a complicated process.. by stating it is purely one thing or another can be unhelpful
    By simply stating it is "choice" allows addicts to become helpless
    ie "I am failing because I am still using"
    By simply stating it is gene related , allows users to act as victims

  17. I guess you are a gay victim.

    You smug SOB.

  18. no not smug.
    I just have an opinion. I used to work with addicts

  19. What is your self opinion about animal hoarding?

  20. I dont understand the question. But lets not be personal eh? this is a blog entry about alcohol abuse

  21. Ah.....defenses of denial and avoidance?

  22. Boys, boys - this is the reason I stopped forums and went on to blogging.

  23. This comment has been removed by the author.

  24. Groucho - this is a personal message to you. Sorry it's so public but that's the way it has to be.

    This is the second time you have launched your vitriol at someone who follows and comments on my blog, and the first time you did it, you said you would not do it again. I don't mind banter or even disagreement strongly voiced, but I'm not going to put up with senseless personal attacks.

    This is a 'three strikes and you're out' notice. Carry on.

  25. Crickey Tom, what have you started? You really know how to cheer a gal up. Don't you know that February is already a bummer even without this posting?

  26. Actually Tom, This has been one of your best posts! It gets my Irish rage gene fired up. But in honesty...I had a psychologist (client, from Duke University Medical Center) sitting next to me, who read your post and agreed with me. She was also cueing me what words to type. No personal attack intended. Only exposure, and trueth.

    I am now home and having a SCOTCH! Or maybe two!! Yours (YOU) are my favorite blog as I never know what direction the next post will take.

    CHEERS! (the word of the day)

  27. grouchy, it's seems as if you are using your psychologist friend as an excuse to be right and rude...
    goodbye grouchy...goodbye Tom.

  28. lol
    well thats a first for me!
    being called a sonofabitch by a professional psychologist
    that's challenging psychotherapy in the raw me thinks!

  29. Tell me about it, Cher (actually, don't). I was only trying to make everyone realise that their lives aren't so bad after all...

    YOU have clients that include psychologists, Grouch? Have you got that the right way round? John has been humble enough (so far) to not mention that he spent the beginning of his nursing career specialising in addiction (or maybe he has and I wasn't listening).

    Are you off, Victoria, or were you just going to bed?

  30. Without question addiction is a complicated issue. If an addictive personality is (self)controlled and used in 'good' ways instead of harmful, these people are brilliant! It's a fine line though...when you are compulsive, you are non-discriminating in that compulsion.
    If we could only keep this personality type in a positive frame of mind, just imagine what they could do!

    I can only drink when I'm happy. Alcohol seems to intensify whatever emotional state I am in, so to drink when sad just makes me sadder.

    I hope your friend survives this Tom...more importantly though if he does, I hope he finds a way to believe that life is worth living.

  31. Winston Churchill had the right attitude - a reason to drink champagne under any circumstances.