A swim through: the pharmacopoeia of coping
Australia is trying to recuperate from the devastating news that a bunch of 20-something Aussies went to the UK and got pissed. Bloody unAustralian.
Yeah, yeah. Taxpayer funding helped get those swimmers over there.
Yep, binge drinking’s the scourge of society. Of course taking sleeping tablets then knocking on doors instead of sleeping is a flagrant misuse of chemicals.
The as-yet-murkily defined “inappropriate” behaviour could turn out to be a whole other, more serious issue. As is the ‘toxic culture’ of bullying.
But most of the outrage seems to be reserved for the taking of the Stilnox and the boozing. As big nights out go, I reckon most of us have had larger.
So we all sit in judgement on these swimmers, who may not have shown sufficient remorse in this age of PR driven apologies and endless seeking of forgiveness from the sponsors (oops, I mean people) - but let’s just remember that most of us self medicate to some extent. We’re a nation of swillers and poppers.
Got a problem? There’s a pill for that.
We drink to to fix things. To celebrate or to forget or just to get drunk. We seek blissful blurriness in bottles and in jars. We want something that makes us feel better.
Beleaguered GPs face an endless series of patients demanding they be put to rights with antibiotics. They feel they haven’t been fixed unless they’ve got something in tinfoil.
So doctors, who may be time poor or lazy stressed or under too much pressure to resist, dole out these antibiotics that are so overused we’re at risk from superbugs, resistant bacteria that could herald a return to the pre-antibiotic days when a scratch could be a death sentence.
It’s probably enough to drive them to drink.
Then there’s the worried well demanding their magic pills and potions, they want their every ache and twinge named and treated. They are the heroic battlers under siege, and if there isn’t an illness to fight there’s a pollutant, or there’s sugar, or gluten, or any one of these other things we demonise purely so we can vanquish them and have something to talk about over our biodynamic and organic superfood salads.
If it’s not antibiotics, we want to fix our slothful ways and vegetable-challenged diets and make up for all those salty deep fried chips with multivitamins.
This huge industry with its hodgepodge of vague health promises, hocus pocus and fearmongering (what, you’re depriving your child of all those pills that will make them brighter?) now takes up a multi-coloured swathe of supermarket shelves, groaning with promises of shinier hair, a faster brain, or the abilities of Ricky Ponting.
There are the illegal drugs, from practically harmless pot to the manic evils of ice. The endless imitations you can find online, that slip through the legal loopholes or simply slip through letterboxes unnoticed. There’s cocaine and mock cocaine, ecstasy and fake ecstasy.
Then there are the legal highs, the Valium, the Xanax, the pain meds and the anti-anxiety treatments. The pharmacopoeia of coping.
And, of course there is booze.
Everyone’s happy to point the finger at these swimmers drinking till they vomit, and to judge Aboriginal communities or Bacardi bingers, while smugly downing their bottles of pinot. It’s a problem elsewhere, not in your life, right?
The swimmers are not backpackers, with no cares or responsibilities, but they’re not Lance Armstrong, either. They’ve disappointed Australia, they’ve hopefully disappointed themselves.
But they’re also a bunch of young people under enormous pressure who are being pilloried for seeking release in the same sort of ways that everyone else does, all the time.
Let he who is without a penchant for self medication pour the first gin.
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