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Comparing Drug and Alcohol Use

There seems to be a view out there that having an alcohol problem is not as bad as having a drug problem because alcohol is legal. Comparing alcohol with other drug use is not helpful because the risk is that it normalises problem drinking behaviours. This thinking is also simplistic if we think about the complexities of these problems. For example drug misuse can include legal or illegal drugs. But somehow this thinking about alcohol as the better of two evils or the preferred problem to have lingers on. So let me say it again. It really isn't helpful thinking about whether alcohol is better or worse than any other drug - or for that matter a gambling or eating or shopping or internet problem. Because once these behaviours reach an unhealthy level there are serious negative consequences for the person with the problem and their families. Taking into account that we are all different and that individual and family experiences are unique, I think it is safe to say that problem drinking or drug taking is the same for everybody. Families trying to make sense of these problem behaviours are feeling stressed, distressed and hurt as they struggle to cope with the negative affects of alcohol or other drug problems. And it's important we reach out for help because it really is a complex and difficult problem that cannot be solved alone or by 'keeping it in the family'.

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