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07.05.2008 Feature Article

Drunkenness: Still a societal issue yet not conquered

No day passes by in the lives of some people, without their taking in alcohol in one form or the other and to them alcohol has become a ritual. For some, the intake of alcohol in their system makes them relaxed and helps minimize the stress of the day. For others they have to take in alcohol as an appetiser before eating.

The distilling of alcohol has become a normal phenomenon of man, from the olden days. In Ghana lovers of alcohol, in the past when there no machines for distilling alcohol were available, they tapped the palm tree for palm wine, and brew 'Pito', a local alcoholic beverage, from millet.

The existence of technology has brought about a modern form of alcohol distillation. Though alcohol distillation in commercial quantities by large industries (Distilleries) has brought about employment in the country, it is habit forming and causes people to spend unnecessarily on its consumption.

However, it is very unfortunate that the rules surrounding the drinking and sale of alcohol are not being adhered to. Persons below the age of 18 years, in most countries, are not allowed to buy or consume any alcoholic drink.

Deciding whether to drink is a personal decision that everyone makes. If one decides to drink, one must decide what his or her limits are, and in some countries there is a limit to how much alcohol one can take, nevertheless it would be of great help to the nation if everybody helped to implement the law governing the sale of it.

In this country due to students taking to alcoholism, some communities have banned them from attending funerals and wake-keepings, due to the reason that, alcohol is freely distributed at these gatherings and is easily available to the students.

What Is Alcohol?

According to the Palo Alto Medical Foundation, alcohol is created by fermentation, it is a process in which the yeast fungus feeds on the sugar and/or starches in certain plants such as barley or grape, and excretes alcohol along with carbon dioxide (CO2). Alcohol acts like a sedative and slows down muscle coordination, reflexes, movement, and speech. Too much intake of alcohol results in drunkenness. If an individual drinks too much alcohol, his or her breathing or heart rate can reach dangerously low levels, or even stop. Drunkenness is a consequence of drinking intoxicating liquors, to such an extent as to alter the normal condition of an individual, and significantly reduce his capacity for rational action and conduct.

Why Do some People Drink?

The act of drinking is something that many communities, religion as well nations shun, however though some people drink for no purpose, others drink with intent. With drinking once a while, there is no cause for alarm. Nevertheless, some people drink for the purpose of overcoming a sort of pain.

Others drink excessively during social functions, during the throes of a heartbreak and for many other reasons. It has always being the notion that, time kills pain and helps one to forget. Though it is a truism, people always want to turn to the quickest way of forgetting events and incidents and think that the intake of alcohol would assist them.

Drinking is also related to the objective of gaining sexual potency. It has been the perception of many men that their ability to have sex with a woman and the duration involved determines who a man is. Due to this, majority of men, with the problem of impotency, resort to excessive drinking whenever they want to have a feel of a woman.

Cold weather is also another reason for people drinking alcohol, because it increases the rate of body metabolism, thus generating heat.

Curiosity by many youth, especially those from the senior high schools, often leads them to take alcohol and with others peer pressure is another factor. With adults, drinking excessively is sometimes due to the reason that, they want to feel good, reduce stress or relax.

Why Some People Choose Not to Drink?

Whether one is under or over 18, one is likely to have access to alcohol, and needs to make a decision, as to whether to indulge in it, or not. Considering the up-bringing of some people, making a decision for the good of themselves is not always a big issue. Bringing up a child with good manners can determine the dreams and future of the child. The future of the child will be his or her priority, so one must make sure nothing becomes an obstruction, including alcohol.

Apart from morality, which prevents people from indulging in alcohol, religion also counts. People with strong belief in a religion, tend to follow every law of the religion. In the Christian religion, the Bible makes it clear that taking of alcohol is against the will of God. Likewise in the Islamic religion, believers shun the act of drinking alcohol. No wonder many Islam countries like Iran, apart from shunning the act of drinking in their religion, also term it as illegal.

Results of drinking excessively

Drinking alcohol is associated with sexual activeness. A person under the influence of alcohol usually has a high appetite for sex, leading to all forms of sexual immorality. It is not surprising that people, who are always drunk, have many children due their careless attitude to sex, when under the influence of alcohol.

Youngsters involved in the excessive drinking of alcohol, also results in the frequent cases on teenage pregnancy. Unsafe sex, usually in public places like clubs and discos, where drinking of alcohol is excessive, which contributes to the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, is very common.

Excessive intake of alcohol

The excessive intake of alcohol increases the incidence of car accidents on roads. In 2006 alone, there were about 213 incidents of car accidents, with about 118 injured and 18 killed. Though these accidents were as a result of over-speeding and bad maintenance of the vehicles, some were also as a result of drunkenness.

The Palo Alto Medical Foundation has made it clear that when large amounts of alcohol are consumed, in a short period of time, alcohol poisoning can result.

This literally means the body is being poisoned by the alcohol. Violent vomiting is usually the first symptom of alcohol poisoning. Extreme sleepiness, unconsciousness, difficulty in breathing, dangerously low blood sugar, seizures, and even death may result.

Alcohol is a depressant, which means it slows the function of the central nervous system. Alcohol usually blocks some of the messages trying to get to the brain. This alters a person's perceptions, emotions, movement, vision, and hearing.

Conclusion

Excessive alcohol intake is really not the desire of any individual, as the saying interprets the spirit is willing but the body is weak. Though it is hard to quit, some sure ways of avoiding alcohol are by not associating with friends with that habit, staying away from parties full of alcohol, by going for counseling, and also purposing in the heart not to drink anymore.

This might not however bring rapid results, but could lead to the end of one's plight. Little drops of water they say, makes a mighty ocean.

Helena Selby
Helena Selby, © 2008

The author has 3 publications published on Modern Ghana. Column Page: HelenaSelby

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