I wrote this after reading another report on how problem drinking is an even bigger issue in this region than in any other part of the province. Holiday season always seems to bring with it an increase in the frequency of booze-related stories in the media. I know I'm contributing to it, but I don't have a problem shining the spotlight a little brighter or wider if it means even one person takes notice.
I thought of this piece last night as I drove my family home through a dark and rainy night. We were at the end of a 700+ kilometre drive from Montreal, about five minutes away from home, when an idiot in a blue Civic coupe charged sidelong through four lanes of oncoming traffic to get to the parking lot of an apartment building. I panic-braked to miss him, as did every car around and in front of me. My first thought was no sober person would consciously drive like that, and that had I been alone, I would have stayed at the scene, called 911, and had him charged.
Although my overriding parental instinct to get my sleeping family home in one piece prevailed last night, part of me feels guilty for not doing more - especially on the day that I had written this - to get this moron off the road. Decisions.
So without further ado, here's the piece. Please note the editing gremlin that seems to have crept into my byline. My family name is "Levy", not "Levi".
Drinking report needed wake-call
Published Tuesday, November 22, 2005
The London Free Press
It’s a sobering reality check to realize the rate of problem drinking in Middlesex County far exceeds the provincial average.
The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health has just released statistics showing Middlesex residents report far higher incidences of drinking and driving, binge drinking, hazardous drinking and drinking-related problems than any other Ontario region.
If you’ve got a problem with booze, this is your wake-up call to get help. If you don’t, you are also accountable for fighting this scourge before you or those you love are killed by a drunk driver.
If a friend or colleague has hit the bottle too hard, we must all do anything in our power to help. Take away the keys, call Alcoholics Anonymous, rally some friends to intervene, do whatever it takes to stop the deadly cycle.
Christmas is just over a month away. Holiday partying season is already hard upon us. Consider this society’s long-overdue wake-up call. It is, simply, now or never for problem drinkers – and for the rest of us.