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With the recent rubbish from Dr Knutt, a quick read through the comments brings up some interesting points worthy of further discussion. One that particularly sticks in my mind is the idea that if alcohol was discovered today it would be banned, and why are other drugs banned when, side by side with alcohol, they appear less harmful.

Now I like alcohol, I like the fact that whether celebrating or mourning, fancying a quiet one after work or a couple more at the weekend, there is a range of products and outlets all providing the same drug. Its versatile. In trying to keep this as factual as possible whilst conveying my point of view, I'm going to stick with just my experiences.

Firstly - I've never touched other drugs, with one exception being a puff of a spliff. I didn't get any real affects from it that I could tell, and I thought it tasted foul. Whilst my friends would puff and share, I'd prefer a couple of beers.

Part of this could be my Dad used to work in an institute - I've never asked details but it usually comes up when somebody on the radio suggests legalising cannabis; you'll hear him say something along the lines of 'they wouldn't say it doesn't do any harm if they'd seen what I've seen'. Whilst a valid view point, I'm sure someone who had never tried alcohol worked with full blown alcoholics they might have a similar point of view.

I can't comment on other drugs - I've never been to a club where everyone's popping smarties or taking their credit card to the bathroom.

I've never seen a pub full of people comatose from drinking too much either.

I've seen the heavy drinkers, the ones wanting to know what time you open for alcohol (we open at 8 for breakfasts) and asking if it's double up for £1 on Bells is there an offer on trebles? There's a stereotype image but that's not for me to comment on. I've seen old boys sit on their bar stool for 6 or 7 hours steadily drinking the day away chatting with other customers and the bar staff, seemingly without any affect at all as long as their drinking their regular drink. A different story when you've got Old Thumper on as a guest - normally the top half of their body gets off the bar stool leaving the bottom half behind. I've seen young groups come in wanting 28 shots of sambuca and a lighter. I've even seen some of them get served.

But the majority of what I see is people enjoying themselves, and using alcohol as a social lubricant. Business meetings, family get togethers, a holiday treat with the partner, a weekly catch-up with others in anti-social jobs*. It's a form of release - just like any drug. But it's one that's widely known, and the effects of it widely known.

This is the important bit - people are afraid of the unknown. Other drugs have a bit of PR to do before the vast majority of people start thinking about them differently. Alcohol has a lot of PR to do before the minority ruin it for everyone. I believe it has social and personal benefits, and I believe people should have the choice of how much and when they drink. Its other social issues that are the problem. Alcohol, in my view, doesn't cause anything, it exaggerates emotions and makes them more apparent. It may bring up things that people have been keeping bottled in. But it, in itself, doesn't do any harm. It's how its used.

This is the message that should be sent out about alcohol - if someone wants to drink to forget, let them. If you want to do something about it don't blame the alcohol - work on what they want to forget and why.

Otherwise we'll all be driven to drink...


*I mean those that work 'anti-social' hours, who get a chance to catch up on a Sunday afternoon for example