Sniffing Booze

Technology to help manage Alcohol Addiction

No it’s not the latest getting high craze but is in fact the latest piece of technology to be brought in to help out with the British obsession with alcohol.

There are more details in a recent article in The Guardian.

The idea is that the device can be strapped to the ankle of a prolific alcohol induced offender in order to monitor whether they comply with an alcohol ban. It routinely analyses the sweat from its attached human to detect whether alcohol has been consumed and reports it findings back to base.

Field tests in the USA strongly suggest it can do this with a high degree of accuracy. Not being a scientist I have no idea whether it can give false readings or be duped into giving the all clear but to my mind if this provides an alternative to prison and, allied with education and expert help, it can be a great boon to those with certain types of alcohol problems.

Let’s be clear: when the Prime Minister announced this he surely had on his mind that this been seen as an addition to community sanctions to be used by magistrates and, by association, he would be seen as being tough on loutish drinking without the need to build yet more prison places.

Does it have a role in helping those with drink issues?

I think in the right circumstances yes it can be an aid. It’s important to bear in mind, however, that it can never stop those with the curse of a compulsion to have alcohol; they are powerless and their only hope is to accept their addiction and get appropriate expert help such as that offered by Addictions UK.

However for those who drink too much for cultural reasons and for those whose definition of having a party is “all you can drink before passing out”, this device, along with its court order, may give those who offend when drunk the time they need to see the error of over-drinking and, with appropriate help, to amend their drinking issues and address some of their less desirable anti-social habits.

Is there a role for this device in the treatment of those with a alcohol compulsion or, as we call it at Addictions UK, a pathological dependency?

Well, I am less that convinced that monitoring is a real help. True recovery has to come with the client’s absolute desire to achieve this. Addictions UK has never used alcohol testing in any form to enforce compliance because, surely, in the long term, this is a waste of time and energy.

When I got sober it was for me to realise that alcohol was a “poison” and it was only my honesty with myself that would help me; and so it must be for others looking for recovery. One advantage Addictions UK has over most forms of recovery work is its one-to-one working method. If you have a relapse, then, together, we can pick up the pieces and start again over.

Even in those institutions where you’re one of a group then it’s necessary for them to see it, as one rotten apple can spoil the barrel and out you go. So don’t be surprised if the alcohol sniffing device makes an appearance at a rehab near you to replace the old stand-by, the breathalyser.

So there you have it, yes it can help and, if it keeps a few unfortunates out of prison, then it must be a good thing. But for most people with alcohol problems, particularly those with a chronic pathological dependency, there is no replacement for expert help and treatment.

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