Sunday, July 26, 2009

drinking heavily at 13, dead by 22…..

I was depressed to hear about the death of a 22-year old man who died of liver failure; he’d been drinking heavily since he was 13. In yesterday’s Guardian, Joanna Moorhead wrote about her meeting with his mother who felt that her son had been badly affected by the break-up of her marriage; she also claimed that she didn’t realise he was drinking at 13 (which, frankly, I find hard to believe). He’d been refused a liver transplant because it was felt that he would return to a damaging pattern of alcohol consumption. In Moorhead’s article, paramedic Steve Evans is quoted thus: “I remember the moment I realised what a big problem underage drinking had become. It was a Friday in Widnes and we were called out to two 11-year old boys and a 13-year old girl who were unconscious due to alcohol”.
I watched the second part of John Ware’s “The Death of Respect” on BBC iPlayer last night (I blogged about the first one last week) and it touched on similar concerns. He spoke to a group of youngsters (perhaps 15-year olds?) in Stubbington, Hampshire. They were drinking on a street corner and, when Ware asked a couple of them how much lager they were likely to consume in an evening, one said 20 cans and another said “24, easily”.
Ware reckons that, in the main, young people of today are growing up without a sense of community (instead it’s a “me, me, me society”). In his view, young people were seeking “instant gratification and celebrity”; “this generation know all about their rights but precious little about taking personal responsibility”. He identifies a number of factors for our current plight, including: politicians and society in general for “allowing the fear of being considered judgemental”; for the decline in the traditional nuclear family structure (and decline in marriage) resulting in many parents “feeling impotent” in dealing with their teenage children; and a general lack of social responsibility and individual values.
Obviously, no person or family is immune to the hazards of such matters but, to my mind, the real fear is for the offspring of the dysfunctional families of today…. and all the implications.

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