‘British culture itself is dependent on alcohol’: Charity CEO unpacks the difficulty of tackling addictions

31 October 2022, 17:16 | Updated: 31 October 2022, 17:20

‘British culture itself is dependent on alcohol’

By Hannah Holland

“Chronic under-investment” and “basic error” in thinking that addiction is “the fault of the individual” have contributed to difficulties for those suffering with addiction, charity CEO tells Shelagh Fogarty.

As Addiction Awareness Week 2022 commences in the UK, Shelagh Fogarty spoke with Dr Richard Piper, CEO of Alcohol Change UK and Dr Clare Gerada, former Chairwoman of The Royal College of GPs.

Shelagh revealed she was inspired to spark the conversation after seeing The Princess of Wales in a new addiction awareness campaign, in which the Princess highlights that addiction is "not a choice" and that those suffering should seek help.

Dr Gerada responded to the campaign, describing it as a “breath of fresh air” as it reflects that “nobody chooses to wreck their lives with addiction”.

Speaking on the availability of services following years of austerity, Dr Gerada stated: “The services are so fragmented and so under-funded.”

Dr Piper added: “We have seen chronic under-investment in the last twelve years.”

“There are people who do not understand addiction at all and think it is the fault of the individual. It’s a really basic error.”

“We know that the more accessible something is, the cheaper something is, the closer it is to us, the more it effects our choices”, Dr Piper explained.

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Shelagh then questioned both guests, asking: “There’s a cultural thing in this country around alcohol isn’t there?”

“Something bad happens, have a drink. Something good happens, have a drink”, she added.

“It wasn’t always like this”, Dr Piper explained, continuing that British culture, particularly white, British culture is “alco-centric”.

“There is a degree to which the culture itself is dependent on alcohol.”

“There’s not an addicted versus not addicted - there is a spectrum”, he said.

Dr Piper wrapped up the discussion by encouraging those suffering to seek help: “You can change this.”

READ MORE: Former drug addict calls for dealing with drugs as public health issue

READ MORE: Doctor in NHS has become 'shadow of himself' and can't afford to heat flat, sister tells LBC

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