ERIC Begbie (Letters 10) argues that we should stick with minimum pricing of alcohol.

I disagree with him because he argues that alcoholism, like other addictions is a disease. This is one of the great myths about addiction and alcoholism, that Alcoholics Anonymous and most of the residential addiction clinics believe. They see the the only cure as total abstinence. They use the 12 Steps programme which has a success rate of only 5-10%. To be rehabilitated successfully addicts have to believe that alcoholism is a disease, and that they need the support of a higher being, God or whatever, to successfully overcome their addiction. If addicts fail to become totally abstinent, this is because of the weakness of that addict being unable to stick with the very arduous programme.

To make things even worse, most of the extremely expensive addiction clinics also insist that the patient is drug or alcohol-free before starting their programme. All of these restrictions only serve to deprive thousands of alcoholics and other addicts of the many other and more successful ways of overcoming addiction.

I do not believe that addiction to any drug can be called a disease because if that were true we would have a cure for it. We could be sure that the massive pharmaceutical industry would be coining in great profits from wonder drugs for addictions.

Over the 50 years that I have supported people with addictions I have found the real cause of these conditions is more than 90% about the trauma, abuse and untreated mental health problems. No-one chooses to become an addict. People are self-medicating on their drugs of choice, to deal with the mental pains they are suffering. Only once these serious problems from their backgrounds are addressed can addicts come to understand that their drug use is not the solution.

They need very long-term, expert help to recover from their trauma and mental ill health. Once such issues are addressed people find more positive and better ways of dealing with their pain. They are not useless, weak people who haven’t the strength of will to stick with out of date and failed approaches to addiction. At a time in our history when very few people and especially young people, practise a religion, it is unacceptable that our Government should be spending hundreds of millions on the addiction recovery programmes that have failed addicts for decades.

Max Cruickshank, Glasgow.


I AM very concerned to learn that further moves against smoking are being mooted. While I agree that minors should be discouraged, I do not accept that informed adults – and everyone in Europe now knows the risks very well – should be further restricted.

Smoking is no worse than drinking or gambling and, like drinking and gambling, should be regulated but should not be prohibited in a free society. It is wrong to villainize one pleasure while indulging others.

Politicians should resist the temptation to puritanism or paternalism, accepting that risk is a normal and permanent factor of human life. Some take the view that the risk from smoking – typically taking decades to manifest – is worthwhile for its therapeutic benefits.

Similarly, some choose to drink whisky, even though it too in the long run can play out in health disbenefits.

If anything, measures against smoking could be relaxed, allowing, for example, indoor smoking areas where there is consent, and restoring to prisoners the right to smoke.

There is over this whole issue a stench of censoriousness, far worse in my book than the aroma of tobacco.

(Dr) Alistair Duff, Cumbernauld.

• WITH England advocating a yearly rise on the age allowed to purchase cigarettes and tobacco ("Smoking age in England should rise by a year each year, review recommends", The Herald, June 10), I expect there will be a huge motorcade of nicotine addicts travelling from England to Scotland to purchase their drug of choice. And of course their cars and buses will pass similar vehicles travelling in the other direction to purchase “cheap” English booze ... or so we were told. Did it ever happen?

GR Weir, Ochiltree.


YET again, we have an innocent, in the form of Steph Johsnon (Letters, June 9), who is unaware of the parallel existence that is known as the Life of a Teacher. In this world, time is meaningless. Thirty-five hours becomes on average 50 at the very least. Outwith these hours, access is demanded by the media-savvy parent. Denied, the teacher can find him/herself castigated online. There is no refuge.

In class, having eyes in the back of your head no longer affords the protection it once did. "Getting it right for every child" is paramount, whether it be the imaginary 18 promised by those who inhabit the upper echelons of this world or the 30-33 packed into a class built for 25, each one treated individually, according to the belief system in operation. Restoration applies only to the pupil; the game of Consequences with a loaded dice.

Time and motion, accountability and attainment rule in this world, the teacher but a mere cog in the wheels that grind day in and out. The provision of data to fuel the statistics continues, assimilation at all costs. A dense black hole awaits those, having sacrificed the last available brain cell, who succumb. Welcome to the world in which only the indomitable, pragmatic soul survives.

Maureen McGarry-O'Hanlon, Balloch.


I HAVEN'T enjoyed such a good laugh in ages, as I did today, when I did a bit of "oversized toothpick chucking" with Lorne Jackson ("Ten of the very brawest Highland Games to visit this summer", Herald Magazine, June 11). I have to also admit that after all the "haggis-launching; oversized toothpick chucking; foul-beastie maiming, mauling and mashing" but avoiding "ball-blootering and oversized hammer hurling" (definitely not anywhere near to irate grannies and their cakes) I felt really wabbit, so was ready for the pleasures of "skipping down a gently inclining, daisy-scattered embankment". What bliss

This is my first trip around the Highland Games on offer this summer but I have enjoyed it so much. Many thanks to Lorne Jackson.

Thelma Edwards, Kelso.


WITH reference to Mary Duncan's letter (June 11) on Scotland being able to produce the best and worst of things in the world: Please add to the list our glorious, and sometimes not so glorious, Scottish football squads over the years.

George Dale, Beith.