An alcoholic society


Sir, – Alcoholism is systemic in nature, which means that it infiltrates the fabric of social units such as the family.

The two most common and damaging features of alcohol problems are the presence of denial and enabling within the system. We live in an alcoholic society in so far as these two factors are present in abundance throughout our social networks. We therefore need to be careful who we listen to when determining a balanced approach to this matter.

“Enabling” is defined as “creating an atmosphere in which the alcoholic can comfortably continue unacceptable behaviour”. The thought processes of the alcoholic are often deluded into thinking that their behaviour is acceptable.

The alcoholic society may be best represented by its ambivalence toward excess alcohol consumption. Just as the alcoholic individual will deny that s/he has a drink problem, so the alcoholic society will demand “evidence” that there is a problem with sponsorship by alcohol companies, ignoring the blatant fact that alcohol sponsorship in sport is providing a universal endorsement for alcohol consumption, without the provision in equal measure, for alternative lifestyle choices.

It is this imbalance, driven by marketing and brand exposure, that generates peer pressure to drink. Those who argue that there is no evidence to link alcohol problems with sports sponsorship are demonstrating a clear ostrich-like approach to the difficulties our society is facing in relation to alcohol.

The treatment of the alcoholic society needs to be no less challenging than the treatment for the individual alcoholic – including a reality check, with those who have been most affected by the alcoholics behaviour.

I suggest that all those policymakers currently reflecting on the issue of alcohol sponsorship in sport, visit any A & E or alcohol treatment centre, or go to an AA or Al-anon meeting, where they will hear of the sometimes unbelievable and deluded thinking and perception recorded by active alcoholics. This may help develop a more sober attitude to and opinion of whether are not we ought to continue with the absurdity whereby we now have major sports trophies named after a beer brand. – Yours, etc,


Clinical Psychologist (and

former Munster rugby


University of Limerick,