Alcohol should be called a drug
ALCOHOL should be readily understood and referred to as a drug if society is to reduce its dependence on it, according to a Bundaberg doctor.
Dr Kees Nydam, clinical director of the Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drug Services (ATODS) Wide Bay Health Service, said alcohol was consistently among the biggest reasons for rehabilitation admissions, and part of the problem was the way it was viewed.
“We’ve got to start calling alcohol a drug – that would be a wonderful first step,” he said.
Dr Nydam was among many in the city’s drug and alcohol rehabilitation sector who were not surprised by yesterday’s announcement that alcohol was the top reason for admissions into major rehabilitation services for the third year running.
Although 26% of those seeking care through the national Odyssey House service named alcohol as their “principal drug of concern”, the number was slightly down on the past two years (29% and 28% respectively).
Dr Kees Nydam said the problem was mirrored here.
“Bundaberg is exactly the same the as rest of Australia – alcohol tops the list,” Dr Nydam said.
“Alcohol has been the principal drug since the year dot.”
Dr Nydam said while Odyssey House typically dealt with hard drugs, the statistics showed how pervasive alcohol dependence had become across society.
“One person in 10 will have an alcohol problem at some point in their life in the developed world,” he said.
“For nine people out of 10 it helps them relax and have a good time, but that one person will be held hostage to it.
Sharon Sarah, Bridges Aligned Services and drug and alcohol treatment service executive officer, said 53% of their clients came for alcohol-related help.
“It certainly is the main problem here,” she said.
“People who have problems with alcohol are everyday people. It’s certainly not the stereotypical person on the street.”
Ms Sarah said the main age group for alcohol abuse was 35 to 48, although Bridges did help people from 13 years upwards.
“We take a harm minimisation approach – it’s about accepting people and finding what they’re prepared to change,” she said.