Published: 02/06/2005, Volume II5, No. 5958 Page 30

You need to make sure your life and family are sorted and stable before you watch BBC2's Compulsion series. It follows individuals through the chaos that addiction to drugs, drink or gambling make of their lives and those around them.

Dear old granny-next-door Jan Law listens almost exclusively to Doris Day (There is a lot of it, so miss this episode if you're not a fan) and would be everyone's favourite granny, apart from her going to court for spending£6,000 of someone else's money on poker machines and running up a£37,000 credit card debt the same way.

She nearly got away with borrowing another£1,000 from her sister until her loving, tolerant and wise ol' mum intervened. Jan would have lost it in a few nights.

The series left me with no real understanding of why people do these destructive things, but a strong feeling of 'there but for the grace of God go I', as I have started to recognise some compulsive traits in myself.

While being a far cry from one of the subjects of this series, I have started to annoy my family by hopping out of the car to double-check the front door before we go anywhere. And for a while I was looking for signs of alcoholism and other addictive behaviour in others, especially the kids.

Sarah (the youngest) pointed out that if she had got addicted to alcopops she would need to go to the gym an awful lot more than she does to keep in her current shape. She doesn't approve of chemical recreation, and she hasn't got any money to gamble with anyway.

Robert (the middle one) countered my recent questioning by pointing out that even a monk would have been driven to a couple of beers by election night coverage. Hard to argue with that, really.

Matthew (the eldest) is at university, so I've been careful not to ask him any questions in case I get the wrong answer.

Steve Collins is deputy chief executive of Surrey and Sussex Hospitals trust.