What are the key concerns about the impacts of excessive drinking?

BK Ben Knight Public Seen by 46

This discussion is focused on exploring concerns about the impacts of excessive drinking, and growing shared understanding about how to address them.


Giselle Bareta (WCC) Wed 13 Mar 2013 4:28AM

When I come into the central city at night, it is really important to me to feel safe in that environment. I generally only feel unsafe when things feel out of control....things feel out of control for me when I feel outnumbered by excessively intoxicated, unruly, aggressive people.

I'm interested in how we manage the tone of the city so that this level of behaviour is not accepted.

I'm also keen to hear about other peoples experiences of the impact of excessive drinking...as I'm sure this manifests in many ways, in many very different situations i.e.. not simply CBD at night.


Lynsey Ferrari Wed 27 Mar 2013 9:37PM

My key concerns are :
First, for the individuals who drink excessively - the damage to their health, morale, families and their future. Thank you to Sarah who posted information about www.hellosundaymorning.org. I hadn't heard of this international net-based support for people who want to control their drinking.There are personal accounts there from individuals whose ongoing 'battles' with alcohol are like cries for help from drowning swimmers. As an EFT practitioner I have reached out from that shore several times. The causes of alcohol dependency are many and I believe it is useful to be informed and compassionate rather than alarmed and reactive.

One very enlightening book on the subject of addictions in general, including some of our own behaviour which we may not recognise as such (a book I would like to see on required reading lists everywhere! :-)) is Supernormal Stimuli:How Primal Urges Overran Their Evolutionary Purpose. The author is Deirdre Barrett.

Another concern of mine about the impacts of excessive drinking is the message we send to our society's newcomers - our children & teenagers and also immigrants from other cultures - by doing little about it but mopping up, or pretending it's OK. I feel very uncomfortable about that.

I certainly don't blame 'young people'. Excessive drinking is not confined to any age-group, as far as I know, and you can be fairly confident that those who profit financially from the excesses of others are not young. Let's hear from them.

So, my concerns are for the drinkers who are drowning, and all the ripples they send out and those 'newcomers' who are learning our social norms from their own observations. Can we learn from them? Are we listening?

It's great that there are voices here from the Youth Forum where this topic is hot. I know the WCC has a forum for representatives of other cultures. Has this subject been discussed there?


Alanna Krause (Loomio) Wed 27 Mar 2013 10:21PM

If anyone is interested in the Supernormal Stimuli resource @lynseyferrari mentioned, here is the author giving a lecture on the topic.


Giselle Bareta (WCC) Thu 28 Mar 2013 4:37AM

@lynseyferrari We are taking this issue to both the
• Pacific Forum
• Ethnic Forum
In May.
We have held one workshop engaging with Maori and are planning another for mid April.


Hannah Mackintosh Fri 29 Mar 2013 2:26AM

I feel uncomfortable going to Courtney Place any time after about 9pm on a weekend night. I have had a number of encounters with men being inappropriate and treating me like a sexual object. I often see young women and men drunk to a point where they are clearly not in control or safe.

I think there needs to be a clear link between the financial gain and social responsibility. Bars should not be allowing intoxicated people in to drink more. On the flip side as someone mentioned in another discussion, they should perhaps also have some extra responsibility to make sure that those people then go home.

Perhaps we could consider the City Wise model (where people walk around with bright vests on helping people get around the city) and apply it to alcohol saftey on Courtney Place.


Alanna Krause (Loomio) Fri 29 Mar 2013 6:28AM

Thanks for sharing your perspective @hannahmackintosh ! I googled "city wise" but wasn't finding the specific model you referenced. Do you know where we can find out more about it?


Giselle Bareta (WCC) Sun 31 Mar 2013 10:01PM

@hannahmackintosh The model you are referring to is now called 'Local Host' We have 9 Local Hosts employed directly by WCC (previously known as Walkwise which was outsourced). On a Thursday, Friday and Saturday night we have up to 6 staff out and about helping people to get home safely. Their uniform is bright green and black and at night they wear bright green fluro safety vests. Local Hosts know the city like the back of their hand and can assist people in a variety of ways with their knowledge of the city and its services. They are friendly/approachable and willing to find solutions for those in need. At night, they walk the city in pairs and will often walk women to their cars or residence if local. They also have a direct relationship with the Police staff on each night.


Lynsey Ferrari Wed 3 Apr 2013 7:57PM

That's reassuring Giselle. I've had friendly conversations with Walkwise people in the past and was impressed with the service offered to the community, but thought it was offered only during the summer months. 'Local Host' is a good name (inspired, actually). I'll look out for them.


Lynsey Ferrari Wed 3 Apr 2013 9:13PM

Alanna posted a link to a talk by Deirdre Barrett on the subject of Supernormal Stimuli. Deirdre doesn't mention alcohol in this talk, but for anyone who watched the talk and wonders how her evidence for S.S. is relevant to this topic, here is an extract from her book:

"The most dangerous aspect of our modern diet arises from our ability to refine food. This is the link to drug, alcohol and tobacco addictions. Coca doesn't give South American Indians health problems when they brew or chew it. No one's ruined his life eating poppy seeds. When grapes and grains were fermented lightly and occasionally, they presented a healthy pleasure, not a hazard.

Salt, fat, sugar and starch are not harmful in their natural contexts. It's our modern ability to concentrate things like cocaine, heroin, alcohol - and food components - that turns them into a menace that our body is hardwired to crave." Deirdre Barrett 2010.

I hope this helps our shared understanding of how to address the impacts of excessive drinking. The alcohol content of some drinks, eg. wine has crept steadily upward in recent years. Maybe education about this insideous practice is called for.


mix irving Fri 5 Apr 2013 12:01AM

often hearing that ~50% of the cases dealt with in law and enforcement involve alcohol in some way.
would be interesting knowing how much load is put on healthcare (but physical and mental)

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