Why We All Need to Shut Up About Ant and His Drink Driving Arrest

Ant and Dec are two of the most recognisable faces on TV – but that doesn’t mean we get to comment on every aspect of their lives.

Ant McPartlin’s arrest for drink driving caused shock-waves throughout the media world. Ant (and his other TV half, Dec) have for decades been the clean cut guys who we depended on to give us great entertainment. A scandal involving either of those two was unheard of until last year.

However, in 2017, Ant revealed that he’d become addicted to pain medication, and abused alcohol, due to the chronic pain he endured. He went to rehab and came back, seemingly well. That was until his drink driving arrest, and while an investigation is still ongoing, many people on social media have been quick to slam the entertainer. We all should shut up before being quick to judge though.

Addiction is something that almost never goes away. Some people may make a full recovery and have no problem drinking again, or may never feel the urge to abuse drugs again but it is rare. Often, addiction is something that people have to manage for the rest of their lives. This is the part that people are forgetting – that it is a mental health condition, and it isn’t about morality.

We can talk about morality all day long, but really it is irrelevant. If someone has a relapse, if someone is struggling with addiction then morality doesn’t come into it. Their body, their psychology is craving something and sometimes it can feel like absolute hell until they get it. Reckless behaviour can ensue, whether it’s alcohol or another substance. This is driven by a mental health condition, and while people should always be accountable for their own actions (including abuse) if we want to tackle it then there should be understanding.

Addiction is the amoral side of mental health. Even mental health campaigners don’t want to talk about addiction. It’s ugly, it’s hard to sell, it’s a condition for bad people. People think that anyone can be depressed, but you choose to become an addict, despite clear evidence showing that just isn’t how it works. Willpower isn’t enough with depression, and it’s rarely enough with addiction. Relapses are common.

“Willpower isn’t enough with depression, and it’s rarely enough with addiction”

But shaming Ant for potentially relapsing is what some people seem to be getting off on. Watching him suffer makes them feel better about their own morality. There’s no indication that Ant has used painkillers again but there are huge questions about his alcohol intake. Helping people with addictions though, giving them appropriate support and not locking away the key is what can make all of the difference. If you’re uncertain, just look at what the war on drugs has achieved in the US compared to what investing in rehabilitation has done in Portugal. Different substances, yes, but same philosophy.

If people really fucking hate drink driving then they’d back supporting people because that is what’s effective. They wouldn’t be gobbing off on social media and piling on someone who is clearly having a difficult time. If we’re going to tackle our mental health crisis then that includes the conditions we don’t actually like to look at that much. Addicts and alcoholics are worthy of support. They don’t deserve your disrespect.

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