Friday, September 7, 2012

Joan Bakewell, BBC correspondent, writes on older drinking

Joan Bakewell has written a remarkable column in today's BBC on line. I love reading her. A writer in her 80's she's a breath of air from what some might call a more civilized and refined era. She describes daily drinking with sophistication and yet concern. With all the stress of aging, health concerns, loneliness and 'redundancy' she sees that many of those she knows have 'taken to the drink'. In England there are wards for the compassionate care of elders whose late life alcoholism has become health threatening. She describes doctors and programs that have brought many back from the 'brink'. She says in closing she'll keep the phone numbers handy herself as one never knows 'what age can bring'.
I loved reading Joan Bakewell because there's so much charm and community in the world of 'social drinking' she describes having enjoyed so much with friends. Three units being the maximum for women according to the authorities though she says some times when she is offered a 'topper up' she wonders who are these authorities that are setting limits for the elderly. Perhaps I liked her best because she referred to the young as the 'under 60' group.
Well, in my 60 and under group the concern will be about alcohol and more so, because frankly 'binge drinking' and 'wild behaviour' without the occasion of World Wars, Nazi Death camps or stock market crashes or even the mixed blessing of being Fitzgerald and Hemingway in a "Moveable Feast", our 'culture of narcissism" has been blatantly errant in regards to the 'authorities' and our drinking and marijuana smoking populations are more grim, angry, and entitled. Besides our problems won't just be alcohol but marijuana, crack cocaine, crystal methamphetamine, ecstacy, LSD, mushrooms and heroin. As my group has aged we have moved from wine to wine and reefer and beyond.
This last month the city of LA closed its 'medical marijuana' dispensaries because of the perceived harm this had had on the community as a whole with increased mental illness, unemployment, crime and violence. Marijuania thought to be a 'peace' drug with the white jazz musician set has long been the drug of violence of Africa and Asia. So often a drug is associated with it's context that we forget that Robert Graves long ago wrote of the "mushroom cults' of the medieval era, the main stay drug of the 'berzerks'. Looking at the west coast hippies lying face down in cow shit and mushrooms makes it hard to imagine crazed thousands of medieval warriors hacking at each other hallucinating on mushrooms. Yet that's the truth of history.
Now looking to the future we must ask ourselves how will we individually and as a society deal with an aging population with increasing loneliness and time on their hands, initially disposable income and a veritable potpourri of addictive substances and the maddeningly throngs of drug pushers that go on to be white washed Wall Street entrepreneurs almost daily. I will forever love Steppenwolf's "Goddam the Pusherman" song. When I see the homeless of the downtown Eastside Vancouver it's almost guaranteed that a rich drug dealer's own fine West Vancouver house has been paid for by the impoverishing of these parasites 'victims'. I've already seen my first of aged homeless their 'pensions' gone to the Drug Pusher so I'm perhaps a bit raw about the protection our society gives these 'clever businessmen'.
In my work at a methadone clinic, teen agers come in hooked on heroin prostituting themselves for more but so do the 50 and 60 year olds. It may have made pleasing film footage to see the youth dancing naked at Woodstock but I'm not looking forward to a second coming of this behaviour at the RV park since I'm of an age myself when I'm only the life of the party if the party ends before 10 pm. I don't want my sleep disturbed by a geriatric crack addict with a new drum set and a bottle of viagra to boot.
I liked therefore that Joan Blakewell spoke highly of the British program and medical community that had programs and hospital beds specifically set up for the elderly with addiction. Here we are still struggling to get any resources for the addicts except 'medical marijuana' and I fear that short sighted politicians in Canada will next be offering us "medical crack" as their great 'solution' to what is such a devastation for individual and community life.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

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