Brighton & Hove Council is running a “Big Alcohol Debate” and on Friday proposals to MPs by Alcohol Research UK suggested there should be two types of alcohol limits, one of them dictating safe “binge drinking” levels.
Brighton & Hove is no different to any other big city in that not a day goes by when alcohol is not a contributory, if not the main, factor in accidents, crimes and illnesses.
Alongside the governmental research, the debates and reports trying to find a solution to the ongoing problems caused by alcohol, all over Brighton and Hove, and indeed, most British towns, cities, countries and continents across the world, many people have found a solution for themselves.
The solution is available, to those in the know, on cruise ships, in prisons and hospitals, church halls and community centres. What is this secret? Well it’s not so much a secret as an anonymous organization which requires confidentiality for its members and its continued success in helping those who admit they have a problem with alcohol.
It shares its initials with the Automobile Association and is considered, by many of its members, to be the fourth emergency service. I am, of course, referring to Alcoholics Anonymous.
Many will have heard of Alcoholics Anonymous or “AA” but unless you identify yourself as an alcoholic or are a relative or friend, it is unlikely you will be aware of the huge recovery network that is Alcoholics Anonymous, in the UK and worldwide.
In the Brighton & Hove area there are up to 50 AA meetings a week with a huge selection of venues and times.
Who would have guessed that in such an alcohol-fuelled city with so many alcohol related difficulties, there are so many people partaking in abstinence rather than inebriation?
Alcoholics Anonymous is unique in that, as a body, it is has no opinion on outside issues.
It will not enter into any public debate, give any opinion on alcohol related matters or enter into any public controversy and nor does it endorse or oppose any causes.
It has a single purpose: to help alcoholics to achieve sobriety and it is this singleness of purpose which keeps it thriving without anyone being in charge.
Anyone who thinks they may have a problem with alcohol can ring a 24 hour helpline and speak to a volunteer who will always be a sober alcoholic who has not had a drink for at least 2 years.
The term “alcoholic” might put many off, but going to a meeting you find that it is not full of men in brown macs tied with string, rather men and women, young and old with clean, shiny faces.
The only requirement for AA membership is a desire to stop drinking and each meeting is unique in having no entrance fee – a contribution is collected via a pot passed around at the end of a meeting.
Nor, contrary to some people’s belief, is AA a religious organization and although its members may use the word “God” it does not necessarily denote a religious God. “One member even has a London bus as his higher power,” a woman told me.
I asked a member to describe a typical AA member, the reply was, “All sorts. It’s not the park bench drunk you might expect. There’s a huge cross-section of society, from students, teachers, barristers, housewives, grandparents, designers, even a pilot and a High Court judge.”
It doesn’t matter how far down the scale you have gone with your drinking, or even if you haven’t, if alcohol is costing you more than money it might be time to check out one of Brighton’s many AA meetings.
If you find you can’t keep to the Government’s guidelines however hard you try, you may very well have a problem and if stopping completely seems a hideous option, you may well benefit from going to an AA meeting to see whether it might be for you.
To discover if you have a problem try answering the 20 questions on page 6 of the attached leaflet: http://www.alcoholics-anonymous.org.uk/_static/Who_Me.pdf
The Brighton helpline number for Alcoholics Anonymous is 01273 203343 or they can be contacted via their website http://www.aa-gb.org.uk/southeast/brighton/index.html
To obtain a list of AA meetings in the Brighton and Hove area click on the following link: href=”http://www.aa-gb.org.uk/southeast/brighton/”>
To engage in Brighton & Hove Council’s Big Alcohol Debate go to:http://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/index.cfm?request=c1253634