As Good as It Gets?

Sunday, November 27, 2005 at 08:41 AM

Remember the move "As Good As It Gets" from a few years back?  At one point in the movie, Jack Nicholson, whose life is being ruined by both obsessive-compulsive disorder and a crappy personality looks at a waiting room full of mental patients and says "What if this is as good as it gets?"

Well I just read a small piece in the UK's The Observer titled "'Hangover hospitals' could go nationwide" that brings that phrase to mind. Story here

It notes that "the UK's first all-night 'hangover hospital'...opened in Newcastle this weekend."  It provides "trolleys, stretchers, toilets, water and medical treatment to drunken patients for minor injuries" on Friday and Saturday nights from 8 pm to 8 am.  The story reports that the people behind this clinic recommend that similar "field clinics should be set up in cities across Britain to deal with minor alcohol-related injuries," based on the fact that some 80% of the UK's emergency admissions on Friday and Saturday nights are currently alcohol-related, and the UK has recently liberalized its liquor license laws.

And how many people in the US have problems with alcohol?  With other drugs?  How many people in the US have mental problems bad enough to seek treatment?

The US and UK are pretty far along the path to celebrating :free markets" over "secure people."  So to my biased left brain, the question needs to be asked: If we continue to follow social and economic policies that treat people as disposable, that blame the have nots for having not, is this going to be as good as it gets?  Field hospitals for drunks and ubiquitous mental clinics for the desperately overwhelmed?  Will we look back on these days fondly, as more and more people sink lower and lower, until we abandon the field hospitals and close the mental clinics? Update [2005-11-27 8:53:30 by Lee Russ]:I just realized that the UK's Independent has a similar story, titled "Teen Britain: The shocking truth," which notes that "Teenagers are facing what medical experts warn is "a mental health time bomb" caused by the abuse of drugs and alcohol" [Story here]