Pascal Derrien

5 years ago · 2 min. reading time · visibility 0 ·

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When Alcohol Gets Away With Murder


A few things first, it is not the first time I write about alcohol (are you a professional alcoholic) and yes I am apparently teetotal how weird is that for somebody who drinks coffee mostly :-), if you need any reassurance I am not a teetotalism preacher, I understand moderation and all that so I hope we are cool. While I am not an activist nor have I embarked on running an anti-campaign, it’s still a good thing in my opinion to be lucid and responsible about alcohol consumption and its excess. 

October 1986 we were having dinner the three of us, by that I mean my parents and me. At last life had been relatively pleasant the last 10 months if not clement. I was recovering from an accident while my father had not been admitted in hospital for a few months, the last time being for a third internal haemorrhage the very same night I ended up in A&E. 

It was a Tuesday evening if I remember correctly, we were having my favourite meal, stuffed tomatoes and mash, actually this was only for me and my mum as my dad was on a different diet. Dinner had started well with a bit of small talk and some flattering remarks about the gorgeous smell in the kitchen, all in all this had put the three of us in good mood. Half way thru the dinner after a remark or a comment I don’t really remember, my father stopped talking then an awkward and unexpected silence imposed itself, not sure what got triggered but the silence was followed by an uninterrupted deluge of tears all over his face. He just could not stop. 

I felt uneasy almost panicky this was not meant to be happening if only I had a magic wand I would get us out of this but I did not have one, this was not a film and I did not understand how you could pass from one facet to another in a split second, I think I was refusing to accept that my father was mentally collapsing, deep down I knew why he was border on to break down because an interminable minute later I saw a few small drops of blood appearing at the corner of his lips.  He hurriedly excused himself. 

This was not the first time, my father had had a part of his liver removed, diabetes type 1 had kicked in big time, how ironic was it to think he had become insulin-dependent in order to contend with the consequences of an addiction. That’s said the surgeon told us that while it would be very impressive this could happen but that should be manageable. I obviously have a different definition of what untroublesome is because I never got to be successful in that domain. My father’s sheer distress combined with a very high dose of anguish was almost palpable, possibly regrets and probably even a form of remorse was exigently resurfacing on a choppy sea where lacerated reflections and good intent had some difficulty to stay afloat. 

The stormy journey had begun 20 years prior.  As an uninvited guest on board, Boozy had decided to move in with all its belongings in my father’s existence, what was meant to be a transition period in one’s life, apprenticeship as they say became a permanent fixture and this for a very long time. The best of friends, (BFF) Booze for Fools, they went to parties together, merrymaking, bash, celebrations, get together and other festivities you name it, it became almost a daily occurrence and a great excuse not to go home, sometimes Boozy was left alone when the need to clear a severe hangover was taking over momentarily but in general they were always together as one.

I think the best way to describe the situation is that they were pretty much living in each other’s pocket, day in day out. My father was no longer the captain he had become the second in command, Boozy was steering blindly and he was steering in all directions. Indeed, this was dangerous sailing in unchartered territories. 

As it sometimes happens with ambiguous friendships, it came to a point when the relationship had become embarrassing, it was obvious this was not working out, my father felt probably he had reached that point and thought it was time to break free. He tried more than once but every time his embarrassing buddy came back with a vengeance, is it boredom or had the attraction of drinking his soul away vanished but Boozy finally left him alone and packed up. The next 19 years were spent making an attempt at mending the wreckage but alas little we knew that the irreversible and physical damage had already been done. It was too late. 

One evening that I happened to be in Paris a few small signs rang my alarm bell, I had already noticed that diabetes had weaken my father’s heart, heavy breathing and an abnormal slow pace for a 60-year-old man was obvious, what I had not anticipated though was his sudden departure in the middle of that night. Despite all my efforts I did not manage to save him, I stayed in the room with him entertaining a rather bizarre discussion or perhaps it was most probably an internal monologue until the mortician knocked at the door and took him away.

As for my mother she was trying to come to terms with the shock in a separate part of the apartment. My son who was 9 months at the time was still sleeping next door, he and my dad never really got to know each other. 

Maybe I am bitter, perhaps I don’t see things clearly, maybe my anger is misleading me however I am adamant this was a premeditated plan and while they had not seen each other for nearly two decades I am positive my father’s poisonous Boozy buddy had led him intentionally to a point of no return long before that tragic night. 

I came across some powerful and very eloquent facts from the World Health Organization, HSE and OECD, I believe they do speak for themselves. 

  • Worldwide, 3.3 million deaths every year result from harmful use of alcohol, this represent 5.9% of all deaths 
  • Use of alcohol is a causal factor in more than 200 disease and injury conditions 
  • Overall 5.1% of the global burden of disease and injury is attributable to alcohol including disability and life expectancy reduction 
  • In the age group 20-39 years, a staggering 25% of the total deaths are alcohol-attributable
  • Something for the business heads and wallet lovers, did you know that alcohol related problems costed an estimated €3.7 billion in 2007 in Ireland alone? That’s a cost of €3,318 on each person paying income tax!!

It’s your call, up to each and one of us to decide what to do with the festive liquid however collectively it is maybe time to sober up if we don’t want our loved ones to only be with us in



World Health Organization

EOCD i-library

HSE (Health Service Executive/Ireland)

Photo Credits

Michael Dalder

Previously Posted on a Different Platform in 2016

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Pascal Derrien

5 years ago #2

Thanks Franci Hoffman this is as sticky as the plague indeed :-)

A powerful message you have sent, Pascal Derrien, and well written. Alcoholism disrupts lives and tears families apart. It's unfortunate to see those that cannot kick the habit, even when making an honest effort. Thank you for sharing and I hope your article can make a difference to those that have an addiction or knows someone with an addiction.

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