Drugs come in all shapes, sizes, doses, containers and plastic zip-up bags, but I don’t think anyone would disagree that the ugliest of them all, as far as effects and consequences go, is, by far, alcohol.

And he doesn’t even have a nice personality.

I say 'he' because I’ve always seen Mr Booze as a particularly masculine sort of substance.  Oh, I know it can turn women mental too – believe me I know – but nevertheless, there’s something essentially mannish about The Swally. 

Not very subtle.  A bit brutish, sometimes.  Not easily given to compromise, but, in the right circumstances and controlled quantities, not a bad bloke really. 

A good laugh.  A really good laugh.  Great fella - half an hour in his company and you’re pleasantly pissed, the stresses of the day fading away like the stars in the morning, he can even give you that wee bit extra confidence you need in certain, crucial situations.  Like, for instance, chatting up women. 

He helps you chat up women.  Makes you feel more attractive, windswept and interesting. What a great pal.  He even tastes fantastic. 

Though you certainly shouldn’t be slavering over him or anything.  That’d be a mistake.

Because he can - let’s be honest here - effortlessly turn that perfectly pleasant, hail-fellow-well-met punter we all know and love into a greeting-faced, carnaptious, downright pain-in-the-arse. 

He can make him turn bitter and twisted in the wink of an eye, fire up long dormant belligerence, and instigate - not to say encourage - crazy, highly dangerous, morally dubious and quite possibly illegal decision-making that the poor sucker who falls into the trap utterly, utterly regrets.

Forget your crack cocaine, methamphetamine and ekkies, none but The Bevy can so comprehensively turn a good night out into a nightmare, whilst at the same time totally emptying your wallet of notes, leaving you with the overwhelming, unarguable confirmation of inebriation, that is the weighty, morning after, pocketful of snash.

We won’t even begin to talk about the hangovers.  Or the entirely negative, deleterious effect it eventually has on that thing he used to hook you in in the first place: your sex life.  (Or lack of it.)

It’s a crap drug really.  With a lot more downs than ups.  If there was a league table for mind-altering activity, necking booze would be permanently in the relegation zone, alongside glue-sniffing, eating shoe polish and battering yourself over the head with a walking stick (as practised by Cuthbert, a Paisley 'worthy' of the 1970’s).

So then, why do we do it?  Why do we give it house (and pub) room? 

In fact, to be even more personal about it, why do I do it?

Well, it’s not all bad, obviously.  And there is, be fair, a social element to The Swally.  Call me an addled, self-deluding old pisshead - hey, you wouldn’t be the first - but I genuinely believe there’s a difference between having a few beers with some chums in a convivial establishment and drowning your lonely sorrows in an empty room with only a bottle of Johnny Walker and George Jones' Greatest Hits for company.

But then, every booze hound I’ve ever met has had the ability to justify. 

I can give it up any time I want.  It controls me, not the other way around.

Oh yeah we’ve all heard that before.  I certainly have.  I’ve heard myself saying it.  I even believe it.  Well I would, wouldn’t I?

But it’s so easy to acquire.  Alcohol, that is.  In fact, it’s hard to avoid.  In our culture, take your pick, Scottish or Australian, booze is as ubiquitous as swearing at football referees. 

And it’s even harder to live without.  Not impossible, some people do it every day – but even the most successful ex alcoholic would agree that to successfully renounce The Drink entails a complete, wholesale review of your modus operandi.

Forget going to the pub if you want to stay sober.  For one thing, you won’t find the patter magic, the jokes funny or the barmaid attractive. 

You’ll be tempted to drink all right.  If only to relieve the boredom. 

Most ex-alcoholics I’ve known can’t bear being around drunk people.  Possibly because it brings back some many bad memories, but more likely because drunk people - when you’re stone cold sober - are collectively the biggest bunch of boring bastards you’ll find this side of the Top Gear audience.

So, if you can control it, if it doesn’t change your personality, I you can afford it, if your health can stand it, there’s nothing wrong with a couple of beers. 

A few beers.  The odd JB.  Or Jack, or Spicy Rum or some Glemorangie, a Gin and Tonic, a cheeky wee Pinot Noir or Shiraz or even some Buckfast.

It helps you deal with life, acts like a bath full of Radox, cheers you up, tastes like nectar and anyway, everybody else is doing it too, so you might as well, why be the odd one out?

See how easy it is to justify your drinking? Piece of cake.  I do it all the time. But it’s not entirely our (my) fault.  Of course, it isn’t.

See, it’s hard wired into us.  Scotsmen that is.  What I call The Bad Wullie Syndrome.

Fans of Oor Wullie in its prime Dudley D Watkins era will remember that whenever Wullie was faced with a moral dilemma - like whether or not he should knock PC Murdoch’s hat off with a snawba’ - the two sides of his cognitive processes would emerge as miniature Wullies, one The Good with a halo around his head and the other Bad, a pair of Devil’s horns on his.

"No, don’t do it William", the Good Wullie would say, in a posh accent, while the Bad Wullie would be exhorting "Go on Wullie, fill yer tackety boots son, yer only young the once…"

And even though the consequences were often calamitous, culminating in a leathering off Paw that nowadays would involve social workers in their hundreds, the Bad Wullie invariably won out.

Ah, you see.  Maybe that’s the problem.  Maybe inside every Scotsman, there’s a Bad Wullie bursting to get out.