Minimum pricing is not going to solve Scotland’s drink problem (1 November 2011)

Alcohol consumption in Scotland is worrying.  With statistics reading that alcohol consumption in Scotland is 25% higher than in England it’s pretty obvious that Scotland has a problem and something must be done about it.

The SNP has resurrected their plans to introduce a minimum pricing for alcohol based on the idea that the minimum price would be on a unit of alcohol.  

The SNP and other political types seem to be under the impression that by doing this they’ll be able to begin to reduce the amount of alcohol consumed in Scotland.  The idea does seem to have the support of the NHS trusts, other governments & executives and a variety of support groups, the British Medical Association and many other professional bodies and yes, they are right to back something that is being touted as the beginning of the fight back against the high consumption of alcohol in Scotland.

I backed the decision to stop special offers on alcohol but I don’t back this idea of a minimum pricing and the reasons for that are pretty simple.  When you have a person who is addicted to alcohol, minimum pricing on what they’re drinking won’t stop them doing it.  They will find the money somewhere because they have an addiction they need to feed.  So if alcohol is that little bit dearer they’ll still buy it because they need it.  

Now, when you have someone who will spend anything to get what they need to feed their addiction then you have a situation where the money that they have goes on the alcohol and other things are neglected.  Whether that be a child, a pet, or bills and rent they all take a back seat.
So what really needs to happen is the SNP government needs to work at tackling why people are becoming addicted to alcohol.  Why are so many people dependent on it? Is it their social situation? Tackle why and then find a solution.  They need to help those people who can’t live without alcohol not penalise everyone. 

When I write about those who can’t live without alcohol I also include in that binge drinkers.   I’m not sure how minimum pricing will stop binge drinking either.  I work with people who live for their days off because they’re going to get “pissed” out their head.  They seem quite pleased by this and it’s something they look forward to.  They won’t be put off by a minimum pricing.  Again, the causes of why they’re doing this needs to be found.  That needs to be dealt with.  Why does the end of the week signal a time to drink until they can’t see, can’t think, can’t remember? Is life that bad?
The only way to reduce alcohol consumption in Scotland is to find out why people are drinking to excess and to deal with that.  Creating a minimum price on alcohol means only creating a new set of problems.