Scoop has an Ethical Paywall
Work smarter with a Pro licence Learn More

Local Govt | National News Video | Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Search


Shaming Tory & Kiri Stigmatises Everyone With An Alcohol Problem

This weekend, our emergency departments were full of people who were sick or injured as a result of alcohol. Our police and first responders, our unofficial frontline mental health workforce, were stretched beyond their limits from attending hundreds of call-outs because of intoxicated people causing harm to themselves and others.

The price we pay for alcohol harm in our society is huge both in terms of loss of life and a drain on our public resources, which cost millions of public health dollars every year. Then there’s the immeasurable cost to people’s wellbeing for the alcoholic, their family, friends and employers. And let’s not forget that the domestic violence caused through alcohol harm has a ripple effect which impacts lifetimes and seeps through generations.

But still, drinking hazardously is normalised in New Zealand. The consequences - hangovers, absenteeism and blackouts - are laughed off as part of the deal of using alcohol. We pat each other on the back, wearing our consequences as a badge of honour. Embarrassing moments where we laugh too loudly, say and do the wrong things and fall down are accepted as a rite of passage. The lines we draw around our drinking are blurry and wide. Stigmatising alcoholics hurts us all.

Yet when people with a public profile ‘can’t handle their alcohol’ - Tory Whanau and Kiri Allen come to mind - society’s judgment is vicious. We squirm with discomfort when they make a fool of themselves in public, when they climb behind the wheel of a car or get into altercations. We hold them to a higher standard and our tolerance for a brazen booze problem - especially if they’re a woman - is practically nil. We kick them to the kerb, cast them out as we raise our glasses and carry on drinking.

Advertisement - scroll to continue reading

Are you getting our free newsletter?

Subscribe to Scoop’s 'The Catch Up' our free weekly newsletter sent to your inbox every Monday with stories from across our network.

As we continue to shun the uncomfortable truth, that as a nation, we have a booze problem and can’t stand having a mirror held up to us, alcohol harm will continue to rise. People will only seek help for alcoholism in secret, ashamed, cast out and unable to be honest and open about a problem that is harming them and everyone around them.

That is sad for us all as alcoholism loses a lot of its power when it's hung out to dry in the sunlight. If we could only make it easier for people to get help - whether they’re leaders or the average person just struggling at home - we would all be a lot better off.

© Scoop Media

Advertisement - scroll to continue reading
Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Gordon Campbell: On National Spreading Panic About The Economy

The lure for New Zealand to join the AUKUS military alliance is that membership of only its “second pillar” will still (supposedly) give us access to state of the art military technologies. As top US official Kurt Campbell said during his visit to Wellington a year ago:
...We've been gratified by how many countries want to join with us to work with cutting-edge technologies like in the cyber arena, hypersonics, you can go down a long list and it's great to hear that New Zealand is interested...


Government: Retiring Chief Of Navy Thanked For His Service

Defence Minister Judith Collins has thanked the Chief of Navy, Rear Admiral David Proctor, for his service as he retires from the Royal New Zealand Navy after 37 years. Rear Admiral Proctor will retire on 16 May to take up an employment opportunity in Australia... More

Labour: Grant Robertson To Retire From Parliament
Labour List MP and former Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Grant Robertson will retire from Parliament next month, and later in the year take up the position of Vice Chancellor of the University of Otago... More

Government: Humanitarian Support For Gaza & West Bank

Winston Peters has announced NZ is providing a further $5M to respond to the extreme humanitarian need in Gaza and the West Bank. “The impact of the Israel-Hamas conflict on civilians is absolutely appalling," he said... More

Government: New High Court Judge Appointed

Judith Collins has announced the appointment of Wellington Barrister Jason Scott McHerron as a High Court Judge. Justice McHerron graduated from the University of Otago with a BA in English Literature in 1994 and an LLB in 1996... More




InfoPages News Channels


Join Our Free Newsletter

Subscribe to Scoop’s 'The Catch Up' our free weekly newsletter sent to your inbox every Monday with stories from across our network.