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On Thursday evening I did an interview over the phone with the Mark Forrest radio show, which is broadcast by the BBC across their local stations.  I was invited on to talk about the campaign by the Sun to get people to stop selling alcohol to Paul Gascoigne.  You can find the Sun’s campaign here if you’re interested http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/news/5007495/Dont-give-Gazza-drink.html?OTC-RSS&ATTR=News   The Sun’s approach to this is appalling, and the journalist Tom Wells should hang his head in shame.  The only thing worse than public vilification dressed up as concern, is public vilification dressed up as concern with the aim of selling newspapers.

So what’s wrong with the Sun’s approach?  Well, it’s downright dangerous. When someone is heavily dependent on alcohol, any attempt to stop drinking should be medically assisted, or brain seizures can occur.  This is because the brain has adapted to alcohol over the years, and now needs it to maintain the status quo.  If alcohol is suddenly taken away, the brain gets very over-excited, and this is what can cause seizures.  It’s potentially life-threatening, and people do die.  On top of that withdrawal from alcohol can be like a form of madness, with hallucinations, voices, uncontrollable shaking – the brain not working properly again.   That’s not to say people can’t stop drinking – they can and many should, but for people really heavily dependent they should at least talk to their GP about how to manage the actual process of stopping.

Also, by putting Paul Gascoigne in the public eye, the Sun is hindering his chances of recovery.  There’s a great piece by John Sutherland in the Guardian on this called “If the Sun really wants to help Paul Gascoigne, it should leave him alone” and you can read it here  http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/jul/11/paul-gascoigne-the-sun-drinking

I wanted to make both of these points on the radio, but was cut off by Mark Forrest after the first one.  I’ve been uneasy about having done the interview ever since, and two things occur.  Firstly if you’re going to be on the radio think about your points and make sure you make them quickly.  And secondly, maybe even by going on the radio to talk about Paul Gascoigne I’m as bad as the Sun, because I’m contributing to the speculation about Paul Gascoigne too.

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