In terms of addiction prevention, non-profit and government agencies can influence the marketplace….from the top-down. In fact, a few major players have enough weight to throw around that they’ve shut down the production and distribution of “irresponsible beverages, products and games that promote binge and underage drinking from the marketplace.” For example, the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America – CADCA (sponsored by the NIH’s Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcohlism) just announced the successful removal of Anheuser-Busch’s alcoholic energy drinks, Tilt and Bud Extra, from the market.How does such a thing occur?
Well, lawsuits for one.
And secondly, pressure from special interest groups.
Basically, lobbying groups like the CADCA mobilize members to ACTION. Letter writing, press releases and community involvement play a part in making change happen. Enough voices, (enough of the right voices)…and well, enough said. Products get pulled.
I, for one, am glad that people are looking at the Red Bull and vodka trend seriously. The combined effect of energy drinks (think caffeine) and alcohol is one that concerns public health officials…for good reason. The appeal to underage youth and the increase in injury are real. A study on alcoholic energy drink effects noted danger in a drunk person “not feel[ing] as drunk as he really is” and the potential for increased consumption at shorter intervals. Those yummy, fruity flavours (think Flintstone vitamin meets cough syrup) can trick a person into thinking their motor coordination and visual reaction time are really, OK.
I think that the recovery community can play a role at the legal/political level. However, participation must be separate from the rooms. I think that people with a career in addiction treatment are especially geared towards lobbying for change. And, of course, individuals can take their time to write letters. Nothing like an old fashioned “drop it in the mail” kind of activism. But more importantly, treatment center administration NEEDS to be on the ball in terms of current issues: both aware and mobilized to request change. It’s just good, ethical business. Treatment begins with prevention and it’s high time that the biggest money-makers in the industry address real issues.
Who do you think should help remove irresponsible alcoholic products from the marketplace? Is there room for such discussion among friends in recovery? What place does prevention take in 12-step programs?