Society diversity

Alcohol abuse, impact on health and society – Le Sangai Express


15-Oct-2022


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Prof (Dr) Nimai Chand Luwang
Alcohol consumption is quite common in India, in both rural and urban areas, ranging from 23% to 74% among men and 24% to 48% among women. In the West, alcohol is consumed everywhere: festivals, sporting events, weddings, barbecues, concerts, brunch… it’s hard to think of a social event that doesn’t at least offer it. Alcohol is commonly used as a social lubricant, but that does not mean that someone who uses alcohol feels comfortable in a social situation is likely to become an alcoholic. People drink alcohol first for enjoyment and to relieve anxiety. They may also consume it to relieve existing psychiatric or emotional problems.
As a result, they start drinking habitually, thus leading to chronic alcoholism. Alcohol is an addictive substance that can lead to physical dependence, the inability to stop at will and occasional consumption can be a slippery slope that can lead to addiction. Alcohol consumption becomes a problem when the individual indulges in problematic drinking that puts them at risk of developing adverse health effects.
Alcohol consumption varies across different parts of India due to socio-cultural diversity and differences in laws governing different states. It is also bound by customary laws and different cultures. A few decades ago, drinking alcohol was considered an unhealthy practice in Manipur by most communities. However, it has been observed that it has become widespread in Meetei society and is now considered a fashion among both men and women.
Alcohol use disorder (AUD), alcoholism is a pattern of alcohol use that involves problems controlling alcohol use, being preoccupied with alcohol, continuing to drink alcohol even when it causes problems, having to drink more to get the same effect having withdrawal symptoms. Overall, 50% of deaths from cirrhosis of the liver, 30% of deaths from oral and pharyngeal cancers, 22% of deaths from interpersonal violence, 22% of deaths from self-harm, 15% of deaths from traffic accidents, 12% of deaths from tuberculosis (TB) and 12% of deaths from liver cancer are attributable to alcohol consumption.
Alcohol consumption is one of the main causes of the modern epidemics of obesity, diabetes and related health problems like kidney failure, heart attacks, blindness, etc.
In India in 2010, the prevalence of AUD was 2.65% and that of alcohol dependence was 2.1%. In 2012, 33.1% of all road deaths were attributable to drinking and driving. The prevalence of AUD in adult males was 9%. Approximately 62.9% of all deaths from cirrhosis of the liver were attributable to alcohol consumption.
Medical and health consequences of alcohol consumption
When alcoholic beverages are consumed, they are absorbed through the stomach and small intestine. It is distributed through the bloodstream to all organs of the body. Alcohol is rapidly absorbed by the liver and excreted by the kidneys, accounting for approximately 95-98% of alcohol consumed. Hospital admission rates for alcohol use and related conditions also increased with 20% to 30% admissions. The short-term risks of alcohol abuse include: accidents and injuries requiring hospital treatment, such as head trauma and trauma; violent behavior and being the victim of violence; unprotected sex that can potentially lead to unplanned pregnancy or sexually transmitted infections (HIV/AIDS); loss of personal effects, such as wallets, keys or mobile phones; alcohol poisoning which may lead to vomiting, convulsions and loss of consciousness. People who drink too much alcohol mean that those who drink a lot in a short period of time are more likely to behave recklessly and are more at risk of having an accident.
Long-term risks include: Persistent alcohol abuse increases the risk of serious health problems, including; heart disease, stroke, liver disease (mainly liver cirrhosis), liver cancer, mouth cancer, bowel cancer, breast cancer, pancreatitis, obesity, diabetes, etc.
Acutely, modest doses of ethanol (alcohol) may not only increase libido, but may also cause decreased erectile ability, testicular atrophy resulting in decreased ejaculate volume, and low sperm count in men ; Muscle changes resulting in skeletal muscle weakness and decreased bone density; Neurological complications including blackouts, blurred vision, memory impairment, alcohol tremors, myopathy, encephalopathy and brain degenerations, etc. ;
Psychiatric complications: chronic alcohol consumption leads to depression and anxiety resulting in mental disorders and inappropriate behaviors and can lead to suicide. Ultimately, chronic alcohol consumption can lead to cirrhosis of the liver leading to death. Drunk driving is the main cause of road accidents. Drunk driving is responsible for 28% of road accident deaths.
Dependent drinkers usually experience physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms if they suddenly reduce or stop drinking, including: hand tremors, sweating, hallucinations, depression, anxiety, insomnia (difficulty sleeping). This often results in a “relief drink” to avoid withdrawal symptoms.
Social consequences of alcohol consumption
Alcohol consumption affects not only individuals but also one’s family members and society in one way or another. Intoxicated people may engage in domestic violence, which is a common characteristic of their family members; can deplete family savings, which can negatively affect the education of one’s children, the psychological well-being of the family, emotionally and physically abusing the spouse. The use of alcohol by the husband is the most common cause of domestic violence.
Impact of alcohol consumption on the family economy
Alcohol consumption depletes family resources and reserves and makes women and children the most vulnerable victims. A social stigma is always attached to families whose member or members suffer from chronic alcoholism.
People who abuse alcohol can blow family budgets, cause fights, ignore children, and harm the health and happiness of loved ones. Over time, family members may even develop symptoms of codependency, inadvertently keeping the addiction alive, even if it hurts them. When alcohol is consumed, a person is more likely to buy things on impulse without thinking about the consequences of those purchases at the time. This can lead to increased debt, chronic drinkers may have to leave their jobs due to health problems. People who are dependent on alcohol spend more money than they earn and are forced to take out loans to cover expenses related to drinking alcohol and treating related medical conditions.
Alcohol consumption can affect work performance through absenteeism, workplace accidents, reduced productivity, leading to unemployment. Besides the money spent on beverages, heavy drinkers may suffer other economic problems such as lower wages and loss of job opportunities, increased medical and legal costs, and decreased eligibility. loans, etc. This leads to strained relationships with their family members, especially their spouse. and children.
Legal issues of drinking alcohol
Crimes resulting from alcohol intoxication are a very common feature which can include sexual/physical assault, rape, exploitation of women in the sex trade and homicide. Alcohol consumption is associated with many legal problems. Drinking alcohol increases the likelihood that a person will argue and fight, display disorderly conduct in public, drive under the influence, and become involved in domestic disputes and violence. Legal issues and crimes related to alcohol consumption fall under four main laws/laws, namely the Prohibition Act, the Gambling Act, the Psychotropic Substances Act and the excise. However, the public nuisance created due to alcohol abuse usually goes unnoticed and goes unnoticed.
Benefits of alcohol consumption
A wide range of studies in medical sciences suggest that drinking alcohol in moderate amounts can be good for the heart as it prevents coronary heart disease (CAD). However, individual susceptibility plays a major role in the protective benefits of alcohol consumption.
The American Heart Association (AHA) states that “it is not possible to predict in whom alcoholism will become a problem” and advises against consuming alcohol for the benefits it can bring. In a multicenter study from India, it was found that even light or occasional alcohol consumption could increase the risk of coronary heart disease (CAD). Thus, the benefits of alcohol consumption may not hold true for Indians.
achieve sobriety
Socially, alcohol is a huge problem, even for those who have established a lifestyle around alcohol consumption, they can suffer harm regardless of their alcohol addiction. Once addicted, how difficult it is to turn away from alcohol and finally put the bottle down. The idea of ​​legalizing alcohol and lifting the prohibition law must be rejected.
The author is a former Member (five times) of the Manipur Legislative Assembly and a retired Professor of Community Medicine (MBBS, MD, MSc London, FIPHA)