Against Substance Abuse - the many dangers of alcohol abuse

2015-06-03 06:01


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ALCOHOL is a mind-altering substance, in other words, alcohol is a drug.

Just 80 years ago the consumption of alcohol was illegal worldwide.

Since then, many countries have evolved by allowing certain ages to purchase and drink alcohol. South Africa’s current legal age to drink is 18, but it aims to be increase this to 21.

Against Substance Abuse stands strong in believing this will be a huge positive effect on our country.

A young person’s body cannot cope with alcohol the same way an adult can. Drinking is more harmful to a teen’s body because their brain is still developing. Drinking during this stage can lead to life-long damage in brain function, particularly as it relates to memory, motor skills (ability to move) and co-ordination.

According to research, young people who begin drinking before age 15 are four times more likely to develop alcohol dependance than those who begin drinking at age 21.

Alcohol kills more teenagers than all other drugs combined. It is a factor in the three leading causes of death among 15 to 24 year olds - accidents, homicides and suicides.

Youth who drink are 7.5 times more likely to use other illegal drugs.

According to City Press:

. South Africans drink five billion litres of alcoholic drinks a year.

. SA is ranked fourth by the World Health Organisation on a list of countries with the riskiest drinking patterns.

. Alcohol is the most commonly abused drug in South Africa.

. The cost of alcohol abuse is estimated to be two percent of gross domestic product – it was R19 billion in 2004.

. Ever more children are born with foetal alcohol syndrome.

. Alcohol is the third-largest contrib utor to death and disability after sexually transmitted infections and interpersonal violence.

. 36 840 deaths in 2009 were related to alcohol.

. R116 bn was spent by the health sector in 2009 to prevent and treat diseases and injuries associated with alcohol abuse.

. About 40% of the population drink alcohol, but only 10% are believed to abuse it.

Aims of the proposed National Liquor Policy:

. increase the legal drinking age from 18 to 21;

. restrict times for sale of liquor in zoned areas;

. restrict and set parameters for advertising and marketing of alcohol; and

. introduce liability for manu- facturers­.

• Bianca Holman is the founder and CEO of Against Substance Abuse

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