I told you that on my trips to Ireland, for example in summer 2005, I found the Irish in general to be very jolly, happy and absolutely not shy. I did notice something though, which you could call the confirmation of a prejudice. A stereotype image of the Irish man is that he drinks. A lot.
I had lots of individual sessions when I was there and many people, as usual, came to tell me about their problems. These were usually really spread very widely about everything that is going on in life. People had relationship issues, troubles with their emotions, pains and illnesses, mental difficulties, sadness or restlessness, were looking for inner peace, strength or were trying to leave an addiction. In my sessions in Ireland it was a noticeably big amount of people whose problems were related in one way or the other to alcohol.
There was a man who had fallen into deep depression. He told me that it all started when his girlfriend left him. He was sad and decided to have a glass with a friend. He felt better, be that through the alcohol or the company of his friend. Whatever helped him once, he tried the next day, too. The alcohol seemed to reduce the pain and let him think of other things – or nothing at all. He slowly started drinking more and more and at some point it obviously stopped giving him good feelings but made him moody and feel bad. He underwent an addiction therapy and left the alcohol – but was still not stable in his mood.
A woman told me that she had been drinking regularly for such a long time that she had serious health problems. She had gained a lot of weight, which she told me was only due to alcohol, and doctors had told her to stop immediately if she wanted to save her liver. She was addicted though and had big problems finding the strength to quit.
Another man told me in tears how much grief alcohol has caused in his life and it was horrible to listen to the pain in his voice. One of his best friends had been at a party with him and the whole group of friends were drinking, as usual. He stayed overnight, knocked out on the sofa but his friends decided to drive home. It was raining, there was a turn and they could not keep the car on the slippery road. Two of them died. Years later, his wife is on her way home from work. A drunk driver hits her car. She never made it back home.
Nevertheless, people kept telling me, young people seemed to drink even more than the generations before them. Binge drinking, pouring alcohol into their bodies until they wake up in the hospitals. Alcohol the biggest danger out on the road and the reason for most people’s illnesses and grief.
I had not been aware that this image of the Irish was so true. Of course, there are also people who don’t drink and I guess that I met a lot of them, working in the spiritual scene where people are more aware of their bodies and the bad effects of such drugs. Still however I heard a lot, really a lot of stories and it made me sad.
I hope not only the Irish but people all over the world will understand some day that alcohol is dangerous.