This medical problem

It is – but of course it is more than that. Charles Kennedy’s use of the term attempts to make alcohol dependency sound as emotionally neutral as diabetes or a broken leg. Those who have dealt with alcohol dependency among the circle of family and friends know about the enormous secrecy and denial which it engenders. They know about the anger which rises up among those who try to cut through and challenge that denial. And all of us who use alcohol socially are uncomfortably aware of the narrow space between enjoying, wanting and needing alcohol. There but for the grace of God …The question of whether Charles Kennedy should continue as leader is a political question which is for his colleagues and his party. But I do have two other responses to his statement. The first is of deep sympathy for his wife and young family. Nobody should underestimate the extraordinarily destructive effect of alcohol addiction on family relationships. Caring love and anger alternate – and neither seems to make any difference. And when he says that it is ‘essentially resolved’, I wonder if that really does justice to the lifetime struggle which lies ahead. Or indeed to the extent to which we as a society – and particularly our culture of binge drinking young adults – are systematically misusing alcohol in a way which is storing up problems for the future.

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