The most important decision I didn’t make

| December 6, 2013

Australians are among the highest consumers of alcohol worldwide. Leicester Warburton has a very personal reason for urging us to better educate our children on the perils and damage of uncontrolled drinking.

It is a case of national shame and great concern that Australians are drinking more than ever. Young people are being fatally king hit. Binge drinking is prevalent. ‘Schoolies’ are celebrating the HSC with wild romps on the Gold Coast and dangerous drinking in Bali.

This is a national tragedy. Australians are now among the second highest consumers of alcohol on earth, absorbing from 10 to 12.49 litres of pure alcohol each year. Taken in large quantities, alcohol is a poison with wide spreading effect.

Too few parents lead by example. Often drinking by young teens is permitted and the pattern is set for young people to progressively abuse their bodies. They don’t worry about consequences. Science shows us that their brains are not fully developed. They think they are invincible. And the tragedy is that they are as perfect human beings as they will ever be.

I don’t believe that we are taught consistently and thoughtfully enough to love our bodies and care for them. That they’re the only ones they will ever have and that they should be treated with care and respect. The tobacco war has largely been won with the consequences of smoking well emphasised. Many smokers began to understand they were turning their bodies into a filthy flue, lined with tobacco soot.

Alcohol is more sinister. You feel happy. You feel good. And then not so good. You pursue the elation. Pour in more grog and numb yourself in the process and sometimes end up vomiting, crashing the car or abusing someone, saying things you later regret. Sometimes damage to your precious body is the result. Or even a fatality.

Am I going over the top? I don’t think so. This is when people evoke that intolerant and unkind term ‘wowser’. I am certainly not arguing for banning alcohol. The Americans found with a period of Prohibition that it doesn’t work. But intelligent, controlled consumption as displayed in many European countries does. Their citizens are amazed at our drinking. Drunken Aussie tourists are regularly seen, almost all young.

The message is clear. We need to better educate our children on the perils and damage of uncontrolled drinking.

Why do I bang on about this? Because I was a drunk, an alcoholic. I didn’t intend to be. But it got away from me and produced the most miserable and dangerous period of my life. I was found drunk and slumped at the wheel of my car one day. Soon after I was persuaded to go to a meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous. Later, feeling cured, I was tempted to another drink and the crazy behaviour began again.

That’s when I went back to A.A. And didn’t make that important, possibly lethal decision to have a drink again and haven’t for over 30 years. I really enjoy a glass of tonic. At parties people are much more understanding. At first I was a curiosity and often overlooked, so I’d get myself a glass of water. But now it’s no problem. Many people are admiring.

They have been the happiest years of my life. Frank Sinatra made the cynical comment that “I feel sorry for people who don’t drink. That’s the best they are gonna feel all day!”

I challenge that and I’m still batting on at 93. There must be a message somewhere. I love my venerable body. And I feel great!



  1. Sparkeygirl

    December 6, 2013 at 5:19 am

    Words of wisdom..

    and a timely reminder as the silly season's moves into full swing!!!