Currently there is a lot of political debate around alcohol reform thanks to the release of TOP’s Real Action on Alcohol policy.
I wanted to share what it is really like dealing with the direct effects of alcohol harm at the coal face, through my many years as an Emergency and ICU nurse.
The effects of cheap alcohol, combined with our booze culture, leaves a trail of destruction and heart break for families, social services, and emergency workers who clean up the mess.
Working at Timaru Hospital (SCDHB) Emergency Dept, we saw first hand what happened when the legal drinking age was dropped to 18yrs. Regularly on night shifts, with one doctor and two nurses, we were routinely abused, spat at, kicked, and hit, while trying to care for severely intoxicated youth.
I recall working in ED with a motor vehicle crash trauma victim. A few cubicles down, the intoxicated driver that caused the crash had minor injuries; with such a distraction, I was finding it difficult to stay professional and help the patient in front of me.
I often had to apologise to families of elderly patients for our lack of time, due to dealing with combative intoxicated people with self-inflicted injuries taking up all our resources. One night, I needed to get two police to restrain a patient to stop them harming themselves or us.
I have witnessed countless attempted suicides, and have seen families and children presented to ED as a result of domestic assaults, many of these heavily influenced by alcohol and drugs.
I hear current politicians like Eugene Sage (Green Party) saying "if they can go to war they should be allowed to drink", and our establishment parties turning a blind eye.
Freedom to drink comes with a responsibility to all of society. Will increasing the cost of alcohol by 10%, and raising the purchase age to 20 stop this destructive harm to our society? No. Will it reduce harm? ABSOLUTELY!!
I ask any politician who doubts this to go to the ED on a Friday or Saturday night, or speak to nurses, police, or paramedics, and ask them. Better still, go and volunteer your time and see for yourself!
Then you tell us if it's still a good idea to stick to the status quo. Tell us if you really think the pain and destruction to the families of Aotearoa New Zealand, from alcohol harm, outweighs the freedom of youth to drink excessively.
Olly Wilson(RN) Rangitata Candidate The Opportunities Party- TOP