Is drinking really part of our culture or have we been programmed
to believe it is part of our culture? Is alcohol abuse a
part of our tradition or have we just accepted it as the
norm in society?
These are some of the mind-boggling questions posed by the
National Council on Alcoholism and other Addictions (NCAA).
Speaking in an interview with NCAA executive director Cheryl
Edwards on July 26, she said, It is accepted as part
of our culture to drink for every occasion.
we must ask ourselves if we are not just using the culture
aspect as an excuse to drink and misbehave.
Alcoholism is considered a disease by the American Medical
Association and the British Medical Association.
Alcohol is also classified as a drug because it dramatically
affects the central nervous system.
common factor in all drinking problems is the negative effect
they have on the health or well being of the drinker, and
the people with whom the drinker associates, noted
But she noted that many people are unwilling to admit they
have a drinking problem.
likes to think they are an alcoholic. Its very hard
for them to accept they have a problem.
if your drinking affects your behaviour and the quality
of your life, then you have to admit to yourself that you
have a problem, she said.
Studies done by NCAA indicate that people drink for a variety
of social, cultural, religious, or medical reasons. But
some people use alcohol for the anaesthetising effect it
has on the mind and body.
are the people who cannot do without alcohol, who drink
to get intoxicated, who use alcohol as an escape from life,
who drink to forget their worries, and who cannot have fun
without alcohol, noted Edwards.
Alcoholism is a consequence of a complex interaction of
biological, psychological and sociological factors. Scientists
have not yet established a cause for alcoholism. However,
professionals who work with alcoholic individuals report
that they have found an unusual amount of stress and much
deprivation in the lives of these people.
Some of the familiar signs in problem drinkers are a need
to drink before facing certain situations, frequent drinking
to intoxication, a steady increase in the amount of alcohol
consumed, drinking alone, early morning drinking, not making
it to work on Monday morning, frequent denial of drinking,
family quarrels and disruptions over drinking, and the occurrence
a drinker, a blackout does not mean passing out. It is a
period of temporary amnesia, which can put you in all sorts
of danger, said Edwards.
A person who experiences a blackout walks, talks and does
things normally in a state of full consciousness, but cant
remember them later on.
blackouts can be a sign of a serious form of alcoholism,
NCAA launched a National Awareness Campaign on March 14,
2006 before the start of the annual Alcohol and Drug Awareness
Week from March 19 to 25.
This years theme is Alcohol Abuse A Social
and Economic Disaster.
For more information on alcoholism, please contact the NCAA
alcohol works in the body?
When you drink an alcoholic beverage, 20 per cent of the
alcohol in it is absorbed directly and immediately into
The blood carries it directly to the brain where the alcohol
acts on the brains central control areas, slowing
down or depressing brain activity.
Higher blood alcohol levels depress brain activity further
to a point that memory, as well as muscular coordination
and balance, may be temporarily impaired.
Alcohol is in such a rush to get into the blood-stream that
moments after it is consumed it can be found in all tissues,
organs, and secretions of the body.'What constitutes a drinking
* Anyone who drinks in order to cope with life.
* Anyone who by his own personal definition, or that of
his family and friends, frequently drinks to a state of
* Anyone who goes to work intoxicated.
* Anyone who is intoxicated while driving a car
* Anyone who sustains a bodily injury which requires medical
attention as a consequence of an intoxicated state.
* Anyone who comes into conflict with law as a consequence
of an intoxicated state.
* Anyone who, under the influence of alcohol, does something
he vows he would never do without alcohol
n Kevin, a 31-year-old father of one, has been confined
to a wheelchair for the last nine months following a vehicular
Kevin was returning home from a popular night club in the
West when he lost control of his car and slammed into a
He broke both his legs and chipped his pelvic bone. He also
had to have corrective surgery on his nose.
Speaking in a telephone interview from his Maraval home,
Kevin said, My whole life has changed since the accident.
I cant work. I cant move around and I cant
play with my son like I used to.
heart just breaks when he asks me, daddy when you
gonna get up and walk, and I dont know what
to tell him.
would always take a couple of drinks after work on a Friday
evening. I drove home drunk on many occasions. But I always
thought I was okay to drive, said Kevin.
n Patsy, who sits on the other side of the fence, lost her
brother Derrick in a tragic accident two years ago.
Derrick, who was 27 at the time, left behind a grieving
wife and two boys, ages 8 and 4.
The young man was driving along the highway when he was
struck head on by drunken driver, who was reportedly driving
on the wrong side of the road.
Patsy was barely able to hold back her tears when she spoke
about her brother.
are no words to accurately express my ongoing grief and
anger. Some days are worst than others. But I feel his absence
and driving is one of the most selfish things you can do
because the driver puts innocent people at risk. My whole
family has been affected by this tragedy because of one
careless individual, she said.
n Sara, 25, a receptionist from Diego Martin was only 18
when she started hitting the bottle.
it was all downhill from there, she recalls.
Sara attributed her drinking to loneliness and peer pressure.
was always very shy and withdrawn. But when I took a few
drinks it always helped me to relax and be myself. I started
off drinking beers. But later I graduated to all types of
liquor including rum, vodka and whisky. It started to affect
my memory and I could not concentrate in school. But I did
not care once I had that bottle by my side, said Sara.
Sara, who was studying to be an accountant, dropped out
of school before completing her ACCA degree.
But the last straw came when she found out that she had
doctor told me that my if I continued to drink I could die.
That is when I decided to stop completely and get help,
Sara, who is currently enrolled in AA, has been clean and
sober for five months.