You WILL recover from alcoholism...

says the Government, and if you refuse to, then we'll take your benefits away from you! Or at least that's my interpretation of this report on the BBC today.

Funny, because I was under the impression that alcohol addiction had for some time now been considered by the medical establishment as a disease.

My father was an alcoholic. Whilst it sounds rather melodramatic, as I sit here typing in my lovely house, about to get married my lovely boyfriend and feeling rather happy and successful, my father's alcohol addition fairly ravaged it's way though my childhood and left my family exhausted and in tatters. Alcohol had a Jekyll & Hyde effect on my Dad, turning a brilliant, talented and generous man into a mean and nasty one, predictable only in the anger and poison that would flare up when he had been drinking.

Alcoholism, like other addictions, has an immediate effect on the entire family and often work colleagues. It is a sordid business and there is nothing to be romanticised about it. I really would have preferred that my father was not an alcoholic.

It is easy to get frustrated with addicts, especially when you're the one having to pick up the pieces. And I did get very frustrated with my father and was not always understanding. It can feel at times, as if the person with the alcohol addiction is not really trying and if they really, really loved you, if you really mattered, surely they would stop, wouldn't they? They would care, wouldn't they?

And so we have a government who has got really frustrated with all the addicts under it's care because they're not taking their medicine like the government wants them too. Is it churlish to point out that the government hasn't really been trying either and that services for addicts have been underfunded for year? No, I don't think so.

This government initiative, like the one for drug addicts, is both nonsensical and inhumane. It is the behaviour of bullies.

It is nonsensical because there is no evidence that taking away someone's basic income has any impact on their ability to 'recover' or go into remission. Addiction is not an illness that responds to logic. Thousands of people have destroyed families, friendships and careers because they are addicted to some sort of substance and taking away their ability to pay rent and buy food is not going to have any impact. I saw from my father's experience that they are very few depths to which an addict will not fall whilst in the grip of addiction.

People lie and steal, prostitute themselves and others in order to afford the substance to which they are addicted; removing benefits will just make them do those things sooner.

In fact, it could make the problem worse. Addiction is often tied up with depression and worry about food and shelter could jeopardise someone's ability to recover.

But as well as being wrong headed, it is also inhumane, because it codes into legislation the idea that drug and alcohol addition is not to be considered a disease, or an illness, and is instead a lifestyle choice. That people can choose to get better!

While wanting to get better is a requirement of getting better, it does not follow that if you want to get better that you necessarily can get better. I don't know how many times my father got hauled off to the local psychiatric hospital to 'dry out'; all voluntarily and not any sort of walk in a park!

So, from this government that seeks to blame people for their diseases? That we take money off those suffering from mental illness for not going to CBT sessions? Or, take benefits of those who have cancer because they are refusing treatment?

The nanny state has a nasty side, you know. If you don't at least make an effort to get better she'll send you to bed with no dinner; it doesn't take much to turn her into a bully. Or, him, as it is James Purnell that is the bully this week.

Am I being a little soft on addicts because my father was one? I don't think so, I have had plenty of time to reflect on my father's illness during my childhood, teenage years and into adulthood. I rather think being able to blame it all on him would make it easier frankly - trying to unpick the bits of him that were him and the bits of him that were down to his addiction is a complex and at times unsatisfying job.

And, for sure, I'm not suggesting that addicts should not be responsible for their own actions.

An addict that steals to buy drugs, or assaults someone because they are drunk should be dealt with like any thief or violent criminal (albeit with an awareness that they need treatment and that there are good ways and less good ways of aiding recovery). An important step on the road to recovery is to take responsibility for your own actions and the impact they have had on the people around you.

Punish them for their behaviour but do not punish a sufferer of addiction, by taking away the basic income on which to survive, because they are a sufferer of an addiction.

This is nasty populism and don't let the government dupe you into thinking that it's fair or just.

Hooray for Canada!

At least Canada has spoken out against President Karzai regressive, human rights busting new laws and putting a question mark under the number of troops they are going to send there.

Now, I understand the strategic importance of Afghanistan and the impact that peace and security there can have on our own security. But really? Are there to be no principles in our international relations?

Also thanks to Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, the head of NATO for speaking out as well; indeed, how is he supposed to get the Europeans to send more troops. He says:

"I have a problem to explain and President Karzai knows this, because I discussed it with him. I have a problem to explain to a critical public audience in Europe, be it the UK or elsewhere, why I'm sending the guys to the Hindu Kush."
And that's it, a very good point, our young women and men going over there, risking their lives, in some cases dying to prop up a government that is looking to remove the rights of half it's population.


Keira Knightly and domestic violence

If you want to find out more you can click through to the Women's Aid website here.

Cricket & women's rights in Afghanistan

Sometimes, you wonder that those who layout The Guardian don't see the irony.

On the front page they lead with the horrifying news that Afghanistan is hurtling back into the dark ages (or at the very least, lets face it, the previous century) and bringing in laws to make marital rape legal and requiring women to ask the permission of their husbands before they do a job, get an education or go to the doctor!

Apparently this is Kharzai attempt to win votes from conservative Muslims.

Well, perhaps they should have just said conservative Afghans because none of that behaviour is less specifically religious but more cultural. However, whether is is backwards cultural or religious practices it further serves to undermine the idea that Karzai is the man to lead Afghani's, all Afghanis.

It seems international diplomacy is horrified but apart from strong words doesn't seem to feel there is much they can do.

Oh dear.

However, over in the Sports section, I spy (and admittedly it's a major miracle that I spent that long on the section) in the top banner a sign post to an article on the success of the Afghan cricket team.

The Afghan cricket team has been on a very steep trajactory and have some very talented players. In fact, they struggle to find anywhere to play in Afghanistan and are often helped out by the cricket boards of Pakistan, India and Sri Lanka.

Apparently, it's become really popular because they've started to win and the whole nation has taken to it.

Afghanistan are now set to do well in the world cup.

But I say, boycott them. Would we let Burma play cricket in the cricket world cup? No! So why are we writing jolly little articles about the loveliness of that nice (male) Afghani cricket team when their president is looking to remove human rights from half the country.

I say, hit them where it hurts and don't let them enjoy sports success if they're going to do this.

Am I the only one that doesn't wonder of the irony of these two pieces in the same paper today?

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