So, Tony Blair has published his memoirs and confessed that he fell into the habit of using alcohol to support him through the stresses of being prime minister. The revelation immediately generated a debate, among journalists and the public, about whether this was anything worth writing about; many of us think nothing of drinking a whisky or G&T followed by a couple of glasses (or half a bottle) of wine each evening.
As Mr Blair said, it was at the upper limit of what is considered appropriate but an interesting question is whether he underestimated his alcohol intake just as many of us do when asked by our GP or in surveys.
The difficulty, in a nation where drinking is so much a part of our culture, is that it is very easy to kid ourselves that we can handle what we drink and that what we drink is not too much. I am not implying that Tony Blair was pulling the wool over our eyes or his own; he defined his alcohol intake as “not excessively excessive” and we have to take that at face value.
But what made his confession so interesting was that he recognised his drinking had become a prop. For many, this objectivity is not possible. We drink (or turn to drugs, eating, self-harm) to cover up, disguise or distract us from difficult emotions without being aware that that is what we are doing.
The first stage on the road to recovery is to discover and unravel those feelings so we can learn how to manage and respond to them. And many of us need not a quick-fix prop but professional support to plan the best route for the journey through our complicated, 21st century lives.