Let’s imagine that I am a travelling salesperson selling an exciting new product – The Alcohol Pill.
In this analogy alcohol doesn’t exist. You have never heard of wine or beer. There’s no Jaegermeister and no tequila and nobody seeks to escape life through chemical means. Then I show up!
I turn up at your house, knock on the door and introduce myself as the person who has the answer to all your problems. I tell you that I have something ESSENTIAL to your happiness, the MUST HAVE tool for both relaxation AND celebration, a confidence booster like no other! My sales banter is so good that your interest is piqued and you invite me in.
I proceed to offer you a small pink pill which, I explain, will make you feel lovely for the rest of that evening and the whole night long. I promise that it will banish all stressful thoughts from your mind, ease your social anxiety and give you a fuzzy warmth that I know you’re gonna love.
Understandably you are keen and say you’d like to know more. You ask,
“It’s going to make me feel good all night long? That sounds great!”
I grimace, “Okay not all night…You’ll feel good for some of it. The first couple of hours will be pretty good, by the third you’ll get a little sloppy, the fourth? …. You need to watch you don’t get pukey.”
“Now. Before you take the pill, I must just ask. What are you doing tomorrow?”
“Probably going for a run first thing,” you say, “then head into work. I’ve got a super busy day!”
I tilt my head to one side. “Orrrr, you could just stay in bed and do nothing because if you take this pill then you are gonna feel sick, tired and headachy for pretty much the whole day.”
You pause and think about this for a moment. You are in need of a treat and maybe you could go into work late? Finally you conclude,
“Sounds like it’s going to be totally worth it. Give me the pill!”
“But wait.” I say. “That’s not all!”
Annoyingly, I now pull out a clipboard. You’re wondering if I’m kidding but realise I’m not when I start to read a list of even more shitty things that might arise from you taking this pill. You sit down to listen as I begin,
“Weight gain, impotence, infertility, anxiety, haemorrhagic stroke, ischemic stroke, depression, hypertensive heart disease, alcoholic cardiomyopathy, atrial fibrillation and flutter, breast cancer, colorectal cancer ….”
You exhale an irritated sigh so I up the drama in my voice because this list needs to be heard.
“…Liver cancer, throat cancer, mouth cancer, nasal cancer, cirrhosis of the liver, diabetes, epilepsy, pancreatitis, self harm, accidental death.”
You look at me incredulously and say, “All that from one pill?”
You know you should just ask me to get out but this little pink pill still seems so enticing. You think, I’m sensible. I reckon I can just take it a few times and be fine. So you ask.
“How many of these little pills can I take without risking the cancer and all that other stuff?”
I answer, “None. There’s no safe amount.”
You stand, smile politely but before you even ask, I show myself out.