By Rita Leaman

LAST year I was having a check-up with a cardiologist, having had some tests after experiencing a blackout. I joked that having concussion for six weeks had kept me from drinking alcohol and I was looking forward to resuming my one glass of wine, four days a week. Hardly extreme. “Why?”, he responded.

“Do you need it?”

The answer is, of course, “No, I don’t need it.”

Though, thinking of those stressful, not party times, when I’ve used alcohol to ‘fuzzy the edges’, the difference between need and want could sometimes appear borderline.

I have been reminded of the doctor’s words in recent times, particularly the Grenfell Tower tragedy. People have had to find out in terrible ways, that it’s an individual’s needs that must be met before turning to their wants.

Within minutes of tragedy unfolding, the basic needs of shelter, food, water, clothing and money became urgent for hundreds of people. The need for security, community and friendship became obvious too. Personally, I would be distressed to lose family memorabilia, as would most people, but none would matter if I hadn’t got my basic needs met.

It’s a thought-provoking exercise to seriously look at everything one owns and reflect on what one would actually need in an emergency. This is something I have done a couple of times in life and it’s sobering when realising that very little we surround ourselves with actually matters when lives are at risk.

Another need is a sense of control and it must be unsettling to feel that events have temporarily taken personal control away. Other critical needs to enable an individual to thrive are being stretched and a sense of achievement. When helping people with emotional problems, an audit of the

client’s needs and resources was always made. Sometimes the root of a problem was in the present day, though often it could be traced to a lack, or perceived lack, of a need being met in childhood.

Returning to the cardiologist. He was correct in that I didn’t need wine to live healthily. What I did need was more plain water and salt and I have increased my daily intake of both.

I also enjoy a glass of wine four times a week.

Rita Leaman is a psychotherapist and writer who lives in North Yorkshire. As

Alison R Russell, she is the author of Are You Chasing Rainbows?

( She also writes a blog on emotional health: