There is no doubt about it, we love booze!
Along with one or two others on this planet (see above YouTube) we often cannot get enough of it, and aided by low price booze from many a local supermarket it can lead to a good time being had by all.
Nothing in life is free though, and as we all know there are consequences to excessive consumption which can vary from the “vaguely amusing” to the termination of life where there are no benefits to anyone at all (bar the undertaker and grave digger).
We began consuming the stuff in the late stone age, I suspect we will carry on imbibing up until our extinction, and though all governments will deny such a claim, I am sure that, due alcohol tax revenue, we will be covertly encouraged to carry on for as long as we can.
Therefore the latest development in alcohol monitoring seems to be somewhat hypocritical, as well as potentially invasive and dangerous. I refer to the call made by the Alcohol Health Network for alcohol testing in the workplace. They argue, quite correctly I imagine, that such testing would
“prevent alcohol-related harm and sickness costs”.
“Offering staff confidential use of the ‘alcohol use disorders identification test’ and brief advice as a self-awareness initiative at work, whether through face to face interactions or leaflets, may well help prevent problems with alcohol at an earlier stage.”
All this is true, and, on the face of it a noble cause and one worth following, as alcohol is an highly addictive chemical, but, as ever, I do have one or two deep seated problems.
The first one is with the perception of alcohol itself. Alcohol is dangerous, we are told. It is addictive and it poisons us, to which I answer , quite true. Finally alcohol should be banned. There my answer would simply be;how!
Alcohol itself is a simple but utterly invaluable hydrocarbon, without which we would barely function as a society. Even if we exclude the questionable benefits of alcohol intake, we use it in antifreeze, antiseptics, fuels, preservatives, and as a solvent in a huge range of products and industrial/medicinal processes. It is also a legal drug, widely available across the counter of a shop near you, and savagely marketed in every way possible.
Why is it then that we blame alcohol itself for all our ills, and why is it that with other addictive substances like nicotine, and caffeine, we allow them to go on general sale? The stuff doesn’t leap down our throats, we don’t have to buy them, and I am sure that legislation could be imposed so as to further restrict availability, so why divert the blame for our excessive consumption onto such an inert basic non cognitive compound?
Such concerns are nothing to my thee major concerns that arise out of this announcement. They are
- confidentiality issues,
- misuse of data by senior management within a company, and
- potential stigmatism/ bullying within the workplace
Why so, well see below
- Much though I would love to believe in confidentiality practices within the workplace, I cannot do so, as, through observation and experience I know that nothing remains confident for very long
- The perfect management team would never abuse their position to misuse ant personal data, but in the current world financial climate I suspect that such teams are few and far between
- It is not illegal to consume alcohol unless you are underage, involved in certain industries, or driving a vehicle that may cause you and others harm, so why risk raising the spectre of manipulative screening, stigmatism, and open or covert bullying within the workplace. Nobody, apart from a drunk, likes a drunk, and alcohol abuse within the workplace or on the road, is quite rightly heavily penalised, but what will happen if an employee comes into work with a hangover, or a little bleary eyed yet sober from a night on the tiles?
So long as we endorse and actively promote the use of alcohol as a recreational stimulant, which we still do from the highest level downwards, then how can we have the hypocrisy to say that individuals, who follow our advice, should be punished or banned?
My cats are pestering me now for a cuddle and affection, but one small point to finish off with.
If an employee is called into the office for a discussion; what will be the first thing that he or she will be offered? I bet it’s coffee or tea!
Any views or any replies gratefully received.
- Binge drinking test for workers to tackle Britain’s boozy ways (express.co.uk)
- BMJ: Workers should be tested for alcohol misuse (itv.com)
- Half of Scots harmed by someone else’s drinking finds report (news.stv.tv)
- Alcohol test for staff recommended (standard.co.uk)
- Alcohol test for staff recommended (belfasttelegraph.co.uk)
- Drinking alcohol can affect your driving (darshandrivereducation.wordpress.com)
- Call for underage drinking crackdown (bbc.co.uk)
- from Alcohol Coach A Message to Teenager (alcohism.com)