Do we CARE Enough to Save Lives?

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


Showing 9 reactions

  • Garming Sam
    commented 2017-07-08 13:33:39 +1200
    I don’t think anyone actively made smoking uncool. For the most part, they simply just made it exorbitantly expensive. As smokers quit for financial reasons, they probably didn’t want to be near those who were still smoking to stay clean. It all continues to snowball, and discrimination of smokers became normalized. Schools initially did a fairly good job of justifying being smokefree, and that has creeped outwards to the point where smokers have nowhere to go. By and large, it seems that it would never work for alcohol, as there are institutions designed around it. If there were parents who would brazenly pick up their kids from school with a bottle of whisky in their hand, I don’t think alcohol would have nearly the same immunity. The effect of alcohol on our societies is much more invisible.
  • Kingsley Tobin
    commented 2017-07-08 13:24:54 +1200
    “The effects of cheap alcohol, combined with our booze culture” – exactly so change alcohol tax to a FLAT TAX. A fixed amount to all. Penalise the cheap, poor quality products and ban RTDs. Quality wine and spirits are not cheap and not the problem. Combo of our youthful need to be stupid and cheap alcohol is not good.
  • Oliver Krollmann
    commented 2017-07-07 22:26:24 +1200
    Is it known what made smoking uncool? If yes, could this be replicated to make binge-drinking and the booze culture uncool, too?
    Until then, go with TOP’s approach, to make a start and at least reduce harm.
  • Oliver Krollmann
    followed this page 2017-07-07 22:14:16 +1200
  • Rhys Goodwin
    commented 2017-07-07 18:15:18 +1200
    Bob, the policy only effects purchase age not drinking age. Under parental supervision is fine, that’s how it is now.

    You can still give your party vote to TOP :)
  • David Paulo
    commented 2017-07-07 17:28:45 +1200
    smoking went from being socially acceptable even on aeroplanes and in cars with children to now being pariah status. Look at how that was achieved and do the same thing for alcohol.
  • bob Atkinson
    commented 2017-07-07 17:08:50 +1200
    Thanks for the post Olly. You would get my vote if you moved to Auckland North Shore.

    Does anyone more in tune with NZ’s youth culture be wiling to say what effect cheap legal access to cannabis might have? I suspect a move away from the violence associated with alcohol but maybe different problems related to the cannabis? Obviously it would have to be cheaper than alcohol.

    What about making an exception for teenagers drinking with their parents in restaurants?
  • Rhys Goodwin
    commented 2017-07-07 15:58:40 +1200
    Hi Olly, I’ve heard a lot of people respond to the policy saying “we don’t need to change the age we need to change culture”. And of course we do, but I think a cultural change could start by us not being so bloody obsessed as a country with booze and making it such a big deal to increase the age by a couple of years when we know it will reduce harm.

    Is our booze that scared? Have we been so conditioned by advertising that we hold booze on a giant pedestal?

  • Hayden Hooper
    commented 2017-07-07 15:25:25 +1200
    I totally agree Olly ,I say raise the age back to 20 ,it may not stop some youth from drinking but it will make it less likely to be able to get the alcohol in the first place.The youth may not agree at first but its not till your early 20s that people start to realize what damage it causes.So in order to protect the young generation we as older experts on the matter need to set the rules. Once they reach there early 20s and there brains are more mature ,then they can decide if they choose to go down that path,an then we will know that we have given them the best start to life by our best abilities.