We need to have a serious debate around the effects of alcohol

2017-04-13 06:01
Protesters demanded that Osi’s Place, where eight people died on 28 June, be shut down.

Protesters demanded that Osi’s Place, where eight people died on 28 June, be shut down.

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According to newspaper reports, government has taken its first official steps in legalising marijuana for medicinal use.

I applaud the bold step taken by Judge Dennis Davis.

Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi has introduced sugar tax on fizzy drinks, chocolate bars, croissants and desserts.

Sugar levels will be shrunk to tackle the problem of diabetic and obesity as sweets have an intense effect on the overall health of the nation.

Attempts are being made for cigarette companies to show images of tooth decay or dangers related to smoking on the packs.

The harm done by smoking is more medical but excessive drinking can have potentially wider effects as alcohol wreaks havoc in society.

However not enough attempts are made to draw attention to alcohol related problems as far as the damages to the human bodies are concerned.

All we read about is that moderate drinking is good for the heart and has potential benefits to our health.

We drink because we like the taste but alcohol consumption is estimated to cause up to 20% to 50% of damage to the liver, epilepsy, poisonings, road traffic accidents, violence and several types of cancer.

Jancis Robins wrote: “None of us drink alcohol. We drink delicious mixed liquids that happens to contain alcohol. Yet alcohol is a powerful drug. No matter how many of us use it as a necessary adjunct to our lives, it is despised by a high proportion of the world’s religions, and viewed by some as a source of all evils.”

According to Zimmermann, “culture is the characteristics and knowledge of a particular group of people, defined by everything from language, religion, cuisine, social habitats, music and arts”.

There are some areas where African people display their cultural talents and are making very good progress in music and cinema.

To do this we had to embrace the western norms of cooperation and partnership, as well as coordination, creativity, and innovation.

But why when it comes to alcohol consumption, a potentially dangerous substance is tangled in our culture.

Common sense for this behaviour was that we get to relax and get sociable and rids us of shyness.

South Africa’s alcohol consumption rate has climbed alarmingly, and we are now ranked as one of the top 20 biggest drinking nations in the world.

This is according to the World Health Organization.

The data shows that in 2015, pure alcohol consumption in South Africa is at 11.5 litre per capita per year.

This pushes South Africa up to the third biggest drinking nation in Africa, and the 19th biggest drinking nation in the world, with Poland.

According to Econex breweries’ contribution to South Africa’s gross domestic product or GDP amounted to about R66.2bn in 2009 and the company created about 355 000 jobs.

While that might be true but cirrhosis of the liver, the mortality rate and the adverse effects of drinking during pregnancy have been underreported.

Its not enough to just know the risks, but to learn to minimise and be sensible and knowledge enough to know the first signs of dependence on alcohol.

The consequences of alcohol abuse have an annual cost to government of R37.9bn, including hospitalisation, accidents and various social problems.

According to Davies, alcohol abuse in South Africa is on the up with South Africans consuming five billion litres of alcohol per year.

I’m aware of people’s livelihood selling alcoholic drinks.

Most of us have been unthinking on how alcohol affects our health and behaviour in the long run.

The young learn by observing and so they emulate what they see. As parents, we have a responsibility to teach young people to treat alcohol with respect by being exemplary.

Young children drink far more than we ever did when we were young and It’s vital to educate the youth to respect the drink.

Some parents leave strong drinks within the reach of infants who then drink it while the parents are still sleeping the effects of the night before.

One aspect of educating them is to introduce alcohol sensibility by parents to prevent them learning to drink in a taverns and shebeens.

The rate of teenage drunkenness has risen quite exceptionally over the last years so it is important that we review our drinking habits and attitudes.

Government has done its part by introducing the Liquor Act.

Contact Sompeta: 076 887 5073

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