A Donegal-based addiction counsellor says kids aren’t to blame for what happened at Copper Face Jack’s nightclub on Monday night. He says adults still refuse to take responsibility for the epidemic of alcoholism that rages across the country, writes Sue Doherty
Martin McFadden (pictured) from Kilcar is founder of the Friends of Bill W Club, a drop-in centre for people struggling with addiction in Donegal Town. After a number of young people were injured in a crush at a Dublin nightclub that was running a cheap drinks promotion, he told the Democrat of his concerns.
“Promotions like that are replicated around the country every night of the week. They are probably the most widely known among a number of worrying trends, including The Twelve Pubs of Christmas and the Neck and Nominate game on Facebook.
“These are all mechanisms to encourage, manipulate and condition young people to drink as much as they can as fast as they can as often as they can. The drinks industry uses advertising, availability and affordability to drive business and will often add the disclaimer, ‘Drink responsibly’. In my experience, however, when you tell a young person to do something responsibly, they usually do the opposite.”
Mr McFadden says kids are “seduced into dangerous drinking without understanding the consequences”. He explains: “Young people don’t have that developed sense of responsiblity that comes with age and experience. They’re easy prey.”
The real responsibility, he continues, lies with adults. “We still refuse to recognise and take responsibility for the epidemic of alcoholism in our country and I don’t believe that there’s enough will within government to implement any serious change in relation to policy.
“What I see is the need for parents, peers, educators and role models to behave more responsibly ourselves around alcohol. A lot of what young people do is learned behaviour. The problem stems from a fundamental misunderstanding of alcohol, he said.
“Many secondary school students are shocked to learn that alcohol is a drug, one that has been estimated to kill four times as many people in Ireland every year as all the other drugs combined.
“That’s where we have to start. We have this black and white thinking that alcohol is legal so it’s okay whereas drugs are illegal so they are bad. All the evidence suggests otherwise. The very fact that there are 2,000 hospital beds taken up in Ireland every single night because of alcohol misuse should shock us into action. I would like to see things improve but I don’t believe that will happen any time soon. In fact, I see things getting worse.
“What happened in Dublin on ‘Messy Monday’ highlights the dangers that are inherent in misrepresenting alcohol but the likelihood is that this will all be forgotten about by next Monday.
“Meanwhile, lives in every town and village throughout country, continue to be destroyed,” he concluded.