Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Private health care contributes to alcohol abuse rather than reducing it

There's nothing quite as relaxing as having a few beers in the afternoon. By a few I mean just enough to induce that carefree buzz but certainly not enough to cause wobbliness and uninhibited crap-talking. Most people can successfully manage their drinking but an unfortunate few cannot, consistently drinking much more than they should.

A friend of long standing -- actually, now a former friend -- has a serious alcohol management problem. Over many years her drinking has increased from merely problematic to the point where alcohol is the black hole at the centre of her continually shrinking universe. And strangely enough, this process was aided and abetted by the health professionals who were meant to help her overcome her problem.

Married female alcohol abusers are very much inclined to blame their drinking on the demands of husbands and children. They drink because their husband is uncaring, unsupportive or even abusive. Or they cannot cope with the demands placed on them by their children. Health care professionals not only listen, they jump on the bandwagon. These women do not have a drinking problem; they have a relationship problem. It is no wonder they drink when their husbands not only don't support them, they actively try to undermine them, brainwashing the children into thinking their mother is useless.

Certainly some husbands do drive their wives to drink but I have watched as a loving husband and three "normal" children were made the scapegoat for this particular woman's alcohol problem. And when the experts do finally realise they have been duped by an addict, it's not a problem: All she need do is find a new doctor supported by a different crew of experts and she'll have at least a few years in which to spin her tales of woe. This cycle can be repeated almost endlessly if she has private health insurance.

My former friend, in a show of intoxicated bravado, once showed me a printout of her health insurer's payments on her behalf: it came to some 35 pages. almost all of which was for alcohol related hospitalisation and psychiatric consultation. The total was just under AU$350,000 all up, with just under $300,000 of that amount incurred over the last five years, during which time she was transported by ambulance 27 times. Fall down and hurt yourself after drinking too much? No problem, just call an ambulance, your private health insurance will pay for it.

In fact, this poor woman's mental health had radically deteriorated over recent years, her drinking having forced her children and husband to abandon her. She was now totally alone save for the health care workers who profited from her addiction and the parasites who took the opportunity to "befriend" her. Thus she became ever more dependent on these health care professionals who are only too willing to be paid top dollar to look after what was by now a hopeless case.

I have no idea how many millions of dollars private health insurers are spending on hopelessly alcohol dependent members who are never going to get better under the current "treatment" regimen but I do know that the total must be huge. Why are the private health funds effectively paying to support alcohol abusers' addictions and delusions? These alcohol related expenditure are, of course, subsidised by health fund members like my myself who seldom require medical treatment. It is, in my opinion, a national scandal in which health care providers are paid to provde expensive but ineffective treatment.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         


Anonymous Legal Eagle said...

Someone I knew once underwent psychological treatment. One week she came home blaming her parents for her problems. The next week it was her partner. The week after that it was her kids. It didn't seem to be productive in any way.

Another person I knew had a drinking problem. I was concerned and asked him whether there was anything wrong - was there any reason why he was drinking? "Um, I like alcohol," was the answer. "There's nothing actually wrong, it's just that I like it too much."

We automatically assume that if someone's drinking too much there must be something wrong with their life or their relationships. It's true that people sometimes "self-medicate" with alcohol - I know that I did when I was young. But some people don't drink because there's something wrong, they just drink because they like it. Possibly, also, some people really like the disavowal of responsibility which comes with being drunk. If you're hammered you don't have to be put out the garbage or humdrum stuff like that. You can also avoid criticism for being rude or obnoxious - "oh yeah, I was just a bit tipsy when I said that". And you can make it everyone else's fault, not your own.

But it does get pretty wearing on friends and family, particularly when you realise that the same pattern is repeating itself over and over.

6:30 PM  
Anonymous Dave said...

Couldn't agree more. I'm a police officer in Vic. Aust. and have seen these situations many times. Our paperwork re domestic violence issues is automatically geared towards the female as the victim and to try and prove otherwise is an uphill battle. I had one alcoholic woman who bashed her partner, who chose to walk away instead of retaliate, have her charges dropped by the police prosecutor at court as the defense threatened to ask the Magistrate for costs if we were to lose. The dept. is convinced a Magistrate will not see a male as a victim in domestic violence (and shits itself whenever it may have to pay the defense costs.

3:40 PM  

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