Tuesday, 19 June 2007

A sobering thought for the alcohol industry

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Much against my own better judgement, there are some issues it seems, where corporate social responsibility must really live up to its name and truly look after its consumers.

One issue in particular illustrates this point - irresponsible drinking.

The measures are supported by a number of leading industry players and associations like Diageo and Heineken, but are they truly addressing the issue amongst core drinkers? I feel they are not.

Manufacturers of alcohol must look beyond simply restricting advertising practices and make some difficult choices if they wish to retain their freedom to operate unhindered by legislation.
I don't drink alcoholic beverages. I remember my childhood when my dad was a heavy alcohol drinker. He never just seem to get enough. And when he's drunk, you'd better get out of his way or be beaten. Sometimes, he's in a mirthful mood when drunk and seem to be very susceptible to suggestions and boisterous laughter.

I find that drinking alcohol is a weakness -- a weakness in body, in mind and in spirit. I don't know personally how drinking intoxicating drinks must feel, and certainly I don't know how it feels to be drunk. But I have been with friends who do drink and get drunk and I observed them while they are in the act. Most of the time, they do this for merriment but sometimes too in gloomy sadness. Alcohol, it seems, has the power to enhance and dampen moods.

It also appears to alter consciousness. After so many toasts most get drowsy and fall asleep, if sleep is what you can call such stupor.

And therein I find the weakness: a dependency on a substance that can alter moods and consciousness. How many women got pregnant because they were powerless to halt or perhaps even willing to couple with a man? How many people were beaten or killed by drunk companions or drunk strangers? How many suffer from debilitating illness resulting from chronic imbibing? How many vehicle drivers met an accident or an untimely death due to an obvious inability to drive with alertness? I wonder how many will fall victim to this dread substance.

Perhaps there is another weakness involved. Not of the drinker, but of the people who know him -- friends and family members. Perhaps if they were more supportive, more caring, more understanding, more loving then they probably wouldn't be in a downward spiral to the bottom of a bottle.

Or perhaps not. Ultimately, it is a choice whether or not we allow ourselves to such addicting and dangerous habits. Unfortunately for alcoholic drinkers, the choice seems more and more blurry with each gulp.

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