On Friday,there was an early Christmas present. The Public Health Alcohol Bill finally passed all stages in the Seanad. It’s not law yet it has to return to the Dail next.
Senator Frances Black is a key person who has constantly driven and supported the bill.
Finding out you have a drink problem
Frances Black is from an ordinary working class family. A very talented musical family but ordinary in most ways. Apart from the number of talented singers they produce. Frances herself is a well-known singer.
Many years ago she discovered she had an alcohol problem. Although she was a successful singer she was very shy, felt overweight and very lonely and uncertain in her role as a Mother. She used drink to get rid of all these problems.
She was still parenting and working away when one day she read an article. It opened her eyes and made her realise she had an alcohol problem.
Life after an alcohol problem
Frances has successfully stayed off the drink for many years now. While still performing as a singer she trained as a counsellor. She also set up the RISE foundation to help families of people with substance use problems.
She became so concerned about the problems of society she successfully ran as an independent Senator.
She is really helping to reduce the stigma people with alcohol problems can feel. People with alcohol problems are just like you and me and are not “bad” people.
Frances also shows that life after an alcohol problem can be meaningful and enjoyable. She has turned her problem into a passion to help other people.
Little actions count
While lots of people and organisations have been involved in campaigning for the new bill, Frances has been a key figure. I was down in Cork and bumped into Frances handing out leaflets. She was asking Cork people to contact the Fianna Fail leader Michael Martin. He is based in Cork and she wanted voters to tell him they support the Public Health Alcohol Bill.
There was no high powered big team of people. No experienced campaigners. Just Frances herself on her own gently asking permission to hand out leaflets. She’s not a politician, but she figured out what was needed. She took a small action, yet a very important one.
In making changes whether it’s big societal changes or little changes in our personal lives it’s all the little actions that count. Often we can’t see the effects of all these little actions until much much later. But they count.
Christmas party drinking season in full swing
In the current mad Christmas drinking period it can be hard not to get caught up in it. Gin seems to be the in drink the popular people are drinking this year. Interesting to see the various gin marketing campaigns have definitely worked. Gin has changed from being an old person’s drink to being young, hip and trendy.
But before you join in, maybe consider one small action you can take that will help you control your drinking and give yourself an early Christmas present.
It could be
Drinking a lower alcohol strength wine
Drinking a glass of water between every drink
Deciding not to drink and drive to the party
Drinking a non-alcoholic drink
Going for a walk
Look up the low risk drinking guidelines each day
Find a small action that works for you. You’ll be surprised at the difference it will make. Think of it as a nice Christmas present to yourself.
For more tips on getting through Christmas click here.
Frances will be singing at a number of concerts in January and you can find details here.