Buce, do you think there is anything we can/should be doing to try and prevent things from getting this bad for people?
I'm torn - other than through raising taxation I'm not sure there are any easy steps to reduce this and I can't say with any authority what benefit that will really have to those who need help most. In addition, you can't guarantee (and it's probably unlikely) that raises in taxation would even benefit the services which deal with these issues.
Although I think we can safely say that it's good to expose young people to alcohol (in small, controlled doses) to avoid creating taboo, I think we could make a start by reducing the amount that alcohol is normalised in the media. Adults are fine to make their own choices and live by them, but I do find it crazy how normalised drinking is in our culture. I enjoy sunday brunch but they have an alcohol section every week where guests often laugh about getting hammered.
I support their right (and my own) to get hammered if that's what they want (just like I believe I should be allowed to get as stoned as I like) and the reality is that that will always happen regardless of advertising, but I do feel a little odd about how much drinking is encouraged on a day to day basis across pretty much any media stream you come across these days.
I've cut down a lot in my late twenties - I generally now drink to enjoy what I am drinking and to get a little bit drunk/celebrate now and again.