Alcohol Abuse in Our Society

Satyamev Jayate:

Nirmalya Dutta

July 1, 2012

Today’s Satyamev Jayate episode dealt with alcohol abuse. Alcoholism is a problem that ails our society yet we usually refuse to acknowledge its effect. It usually starts early in life – as a dare, a sort of a coming-of-age ritual like porn. However, there are many who get addicted and this leads to lifelong torment not only for the abuser, but also his family and society at large.

Top journalist Vijay Simha shared his battle with the bottle for the public. He went through a phase where drinking became everything. He started during his college day and it reached a phase where drinking became his raison d’etre. He lost everything – his job, his family, his home – to the bottle. He started living on the roads of Delhi, squatting in a train station. Finally a person forced him into rehab, an addiction clinic which changed his life. He managed to kick the bottle and find his life again. It wasn’t easy. Whenever one tries to give up any sort of addiction the body reacts with nausea. There was diarrhoea, vomiting and other physical symptoms. Now he is a sobriety campaigner and top journol with Tehelka. He thanked Oswald Pereira for helping him beat alcoholism.

Why people drink

Dr Ashish Pande, a psychiatrist tried to explain the cause of addiction. Why some get addicted and others don’t. Our brains have receptors and some people’s receptors are genetically more inclined to love alcohol and thus switch off the normal decision making mechanism. According to him it’s a lifestyle disease similar to diabetes. For alcoholics everything becomes secondary to addiction. Though there is no way to diagnose alcoholism you can ask yourself these questions-
1. Do others tell you to quit or reduce drinking?
2. Do you get angry at people who talk about your drinking?
3.Have you ever started your day by drinking?
4.After an episode of drinking do you ever feel guilt?

If the answer is yes, then there’s a possibility that you are an alcoholic. And here’s a group of people who can help you…

Alcoholics Anonymous India (AA-India)

Alcoholics Anonymous was founded in Ohio in 1935 as a support group for alcoholics. Now it has chapters all over the world. A man who wished to remain anonymous (it is called alcoholics anonymous for a reason) shared the tale of his battle with the booze. Drinking had made him a social outcast and AA – India helped him get his life back. Instead of castigating the alcoholic and making him feel guilty, there is a need to make him understand that it’s a problem which can be dealt with. There are AA centres all around the country and help literally is one phone call away.

The show also highlighted the efforts of some gram panchayats which closed down liquor shops. Changal village is one such village which got the liquor shop in their village closed down.

Legendary lyricist Javed Akhtar too revealed his battles with the bottle. He felt that drinking was glamourized by the film industry, however there is a stark difference between reel and real. Alcoholics do not look cool or charming, they instead end up looking disgusting and/or foolish.

Drunk Driving and other ill-effects of binge drinking

One of the issues with alcohol consumption in India is the fact that a lot of people are binge drinkers. People don’t drink everyday but when they do they drink till they get high beyond belief. Mr Anand shared the tale about his son Curran’s demise in a drunken driving accident. The fact that his son or his friends hadn’t even touched a drop of liquor made it even more hard to stomach.

Dr Vivek Benegal who has done a lot of research in this field pointed out that one out of 20 people were alcohlics whilst one out two Indians are binge drinkers. While in most country social drinking consists of having around 60 ml of alcohol, here in India most people drink 180 ml on an average. Indians actually drink to become intoxicated!

The Satyamev Jayate team visited various states to find that binge drinking led to various issues usch as aggressive behaviour, road accidents, sexual harassment, etc. Aamir tied up the show by asking if there was a need for more stringent rules to tackle the menace of drunk driving.

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