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  • Writer's pictureSam Wilks

Dealing with Chronic Alcoholism in the NT


To address the complex issue of reducing alcoholism in the community it's essential to consider a nuanced approach that draws on insights from various disciplines. The challenge lies in balancing the need for personal autonomy with effective interventions that don't reward negative behaviours or rely on government intervention.


Before devising strategies to reduce alcoholism, it's crucial to understand its underlying causes. Alcoholism and chronic alcoholism is a manifestation of deeper psychological issues. Factors such as unresolved trauma, lack of meaning, or societal disconnection drive individuals towards substance abuse as a coping mechanism. This revelation is far from novel; it's a truth that has been consistently apparent from research conducted in the 1960s and 70s, right up to the present day. The crux of the matter has never been a lack of knowledge about effective solutions; those are well-established, and I shall delve into them shortly. Rather, the persistent issue lies in the government's perennial quest to devise novel policies. These policies frequently lead to the development of industries that, regrettably, profit from the suffering and pain of others while receiving funding from the taxpayer.


Central to reducing alcoholism is the concept of personal responsibility. This idea emphasises that individuals must take ownership of their actions and their consequences. Interventions should focus on empowering individuals to make better choices, rather than simply providing them with external solutions. For example, community-based programs in the Northern Territory that focus on skill-building, education, and personal development have shown promising results in empowering individuals to overcome addiction. However, those carried out by incentivised private organisations have far greater success, than those carried out by NGOs or taxpayer funded organisations. Tax benefits and rebates for private entities are far more effective than hand-outs.


The linchpin of success for NGOs and taxpayer-funded programs according to interventionism proponents lies in steadfast consistency. The intermittent cessation and revival of programs and initiatives, driven not by their performance metrics but by the whims of budgetary constraints, is a sheer display of ignorance. When a program demonstrates potential, it warrants a meticulous audit to refine and amplify its merits. Conversely, if a program falls short, the rationale behind its termination must be clearly articulated and conveyed with the utmost transparency. The decision to sustain or discontinue should hinge on effectiveness and accountability, not on the fluctuating tides of funding.


Government intervention in issues like alcoholism is a contentious topic. The case of the Northern Territory illustrates how well-intentioned policies lead to unintended consequences. Policies that overly restrict access to alcohol or penalise individuals without addressing the root causes lead to a dependency on the state, reducing personal autonomy and exacerbating the problem, often causing more complicated and debilitating problems along the way. A more nuanced approach is required, one that supports individuals without creating a cycle of dependency.


Economists advocate for the power of free markets and warn against the unintended consequences of government intervention. In the context of alcoholism, this perspective suggests that market-based solutions, private investment-based incentives, and community initiatives are more effective than top-down governmental approaches. For instance, incentivising local businesses to support recovery programs or creating employment opportunities for recovering individuals can have a more lasting impact than blanket policies or subsidies. Local examples include hairdressers, construction companies, gas projects, and apprenticeships.


In the competencies of psychology and security, we emphasise the importance of understanding human behaviour and creating safe environments. In tackling alcoholism, this involves not only treating the individual but also addressing the environmental factors that contribute to substance abuse. Community deterrence through security, well-designed public spaces, and accessible mental health services create a safer and more supportive environment for those struggling with addiction.

To grasp the tangible outcomes, one need only examine the statistical correlation in areas where private Public Order Response Units (PORU) have been deployed. The efficacy of these units, bolstered by private training in economics, psychology, trauma counseling, and communications, starkly contrasts with the less effective, multimillion-dollar initiatives spearheaded by a mix of bureaucrats and NGOs. Additionally, adopting community policing strategies that reflect PORU's successful model could further highlight the stark difference between private accountability measures and those employed by local law enforcement. My analysis has repeatedly shown that a handful of well-trained, conscientious security personnel can outperform a group of ten times the trained police officers in effectiveness. I was able to effectively prove these skills during the COVID lockdowns with groups of up to and over on occasion 5000 justifiably angry protestors with tens of armed officers seeking to intimidate them.


In the Northern Territory, there have been several initiatives aimed at reducing alcoholism. One notable example is the introduction of community-led programs that focus on cultural connection, mentorship, and skill development. These programs have shown success in not only reducing alcohol dependency but also in fostering a sense of purpose and community among participants. Some local initiatives, like the One Percent program, seek to empower and motivate attendees, it is no accident that many of the proponents of this success come from the private security industry.


An example of government interventionism that has also provided mixed results is the use of technology, such as cashless welfare cards, to prevent the misuse of government funds for alcohol. While controversial, this approach has seen some temporary success in reducing alcohol-related harm. However, it has also led to black markets and greater criminality. It's crucial to make sure that such measures don't serve as punishment and come with support services.


Reducing alcoholism in communities, particularly in areas like the Northern Territory, requires a nuanced approach that respects personal autonomy, emphasises personal responsibility, and understands the complex interplay of economic, psychological, and societal factors. While government intervention may play a role, it must be carefully balanced with community-led initiatives and a focus on empowering individuals rather than creating dependency. Criminalising a recreational activity only makes more criminals and reduces the credibility of the judicial system. By drawing on a diverse range of insights and focusing on holistic solutions, it's possible to make significant strides in combating the scourge of alcoholism.


For governments, bureaucrats, and NGOs, the bitterest realisation is that their well-intentioned actions have inadvertently fostered industries that perpetuate negative behaviour, foster dependency, and inflict generational trauma. This trauma leads individuals to resort to alcohol as a means of self-medication. Alcoholism, thus, emerges not merely as a social issue but as a byproduct of misguided government intervention and poorly conceived policies. Instead of erecting more barriers, there needs to be a shift towards trusting and supporting people’s capacity to rise to higher standards when these standards are positively reinforced. It’s dismaying to observe that both the ruling and opposition parties often opt for increased interventionism, blatantly disregarding facts, evidence, and truth. The road to success is paved with accountability, responsibility, and competence—virtues currently underappreciated in our political landscape.


Separately, as someone who has proven his mettle in the field, as a frontline worker, trainer, assessor, and innovator who has brought the theories of greater minds to life through consistent practical application, I understand that I may not be the preferred voice. I’m not here to pander to egos or comply blindly with authoritative directives.


My approach is to actively translate theory into practice, to use action as a medium of expression, and to turn abstract concepts into tangible realities. I'm not the figure you might desire to heed, so set aside my image and concentrate on the message. These words, though written by me, are the culmination of insights gained from hundreds of books and the influence of many illustrious minds, whose teachings I endeavour to magnify and revive. I stand on the shoulders of giants, striving to echo and augment their oft-overlooked wisdom.

From the author.


The opinions and statements are those of Sam Wilks and do not necessarily represent whom Sam Consults or contracts to. Sam Wilks is a skilled and experienced Security Consultant with almost 3 decades of expertise in the fields of Real estate, Security, and the hospitality/gaming industry. His knowledge and practical experience have made him a valuable asset to many organizations looking to enhance their security measures and provide a safe and secure environment for their clients and staff.

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