Alcohol, remote communities and the Heart

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In my state there are remote communities that experience the ebb and flow of seasons.

It is April now, so the wet season has finished. Typically it runs from very late in the year and spills over to the first quarter of the year. During this season, there are frequent downpours mixed with high humidity. The land is flat. There are crocodiles in the rivers and the rivers are prone to flooding. It isn’t an easy life.

In one community I was in the School Principal told me that when the Dry season begins, the Wet season starts. I thought this was a curious statement, so I asked her about it.

“When we are in the actual wet season, the roads are cut off by the rising waters. When the wet season finishes the roads become open, and alcohol comes in by road. The local people tell me that this is when the real wet season begins”.

The adults drink. They need time to sleep it off. The kids don’t come to school because their parents are asleep. There is no public transport in the town, so the school staff drive out to the homes and pick up the kids. They haven’t been fed so the school staff feed them at school so they can concentrate during class.

The Principal said to me, “So often we talk about supply of alcohol and how we have to limit this, but we hardly ever talk about demand. People in this community don’t talk about how they are going to decrease their demand for it.”

That is the difference.

In Brisbane where I work and live, the supply of alcohol is high. If you’re above 18, you’re free to go and get as much as you want. Supply is limitless and we don’t talk about regulating it. What we do talk about is demand, and how we can reduce our demand and desire for it. There are many well funded places you can go, and many practitioners around who can help you to desire it less.

In remote communities the talk is about supply. We use policy to limit it, and the police implement the policy even though we know that prohibition isn’t successful. But there is no talk about reducing demand.  To reduce the demand or desire for it, we would have to talk about why we use it. After all, alcohol is on all too many occasions a desire to flee from a heart related problem.

That is the similarity.

Whether we are in a capital city, or a remote community, we flee from what is in our Hearts by drowning the injuries we have. But limiting alcohol is the beginning of the solution not the end. All addictions are coping strategies that we have lost control of. Only when we talk about the Heart (our value, our identity, and why we make the choices we do) will we reduce our desire for what tempts us.

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