Alcohol: Reaping gloom in search of fun
Posted Tuesday, July 3 2012 at 01:00
- Many people often start drinking alcohol to grease their interaction with other people, but it quickly becomes a ‘necessity’ that causes a lot of pain and suffering
Alcohol has been used over thousands of years, mostly in social settings and primarily for the relaxing effect it has on human inhibitions.
By reducing inhibitions, people interact more easily and a sense of fun prevails. However, in our context, fun has turned into agony for many families.
Stories of broken families, violence, road accidents and even illness have become common in Kenya. Kenya, it seems, has a “drinking problem”.
The path to sobriety for Kenya began in 2010, when the National Agency for the Campaign Against Drug Abuse (NACADA) supported the legalisation of chang’aa and other traditional brews so that their production could be regulated.
The Alcoholic Drinks Control Act, popularly known as the Mututho Law was passed later that year with the goal of ensuring people do not overindulge in alcohol consumption.
There was also a popular awareness campaign aimed at discouraging people from driving while under the influence of alcohol. Whether these efforts have been successful is still a matter of debate.
However, Kenyans’ “national pastime” continues to have adverse effects. Here is an excerpt of a letter from a young adult:
I started drinking at the age of 16 when I was in Form Two and have continued drinking until now in my third year at the university. I previously didn’t want to admit that I have an alcohol problem but now I know that I indeed do have a problem. I think my life is over before I have even had a chance to live it. How can I stop?
In this young man’s case, the fairly innocent action of drinking while in Form Two has developed into a major problem.
Occasional use of small amounts of alcohol often does not result in any bad effects, but people still need to understand that even though alcohol is a legal substance, it contains a chemical called ethanol.
The interaction between ethanol the human body can be very complex, ad the breakdown of this ethanol in the body to other chemicals can have negative effects.
The laws and regulations we have in regard to alcohol were designed to control the intake of alcohol due to its serious side effects when used over a long period of time and in large quantities. So is law enough to control alcohol intake?
As seen from last week’s article on addiction, some individuals are specifically prone to addiction, meaning that they can be addicted to any substance.
Other external factors such as work or home related stress can also result in an individual developing defective coping mechanisms, including heavy alcohol usage.
What starts as a coping mechanism develops into a habit, which the leads to psychological dependence where you feel that you need the alcohol. Soon, the individual needs alcohol to maintain a feeling of normalcy.
It is not possible to determine if one was born with a tendency to addiction until they actually develop an addiction. With this in mind, it is prudent to avoid substances that are associated with addictions.
And since alcohol has no health benefits that cannot be achieved through other less harmful options like exercise and diet, it is a good idea to avoid it altogether.