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Isn't it ironic? A beer company taking the lead towards fighting alcohol abuse. It's like an ad on the local TV by the National Gaming Board - "gamble responsibly", I mean gambling is bad fullstop! and then there's the little label on the cigarette packet that states " Smoking can kill". One wonders why they were introduced in the first place? Why don't we just do away with these manufacturing companies - would that solve the problem? What's the point of having a ban on alcohol, when the brewery is still brewing?
As I've heard many say - I drink beer so the workers at the brewery can get paid.
But with all its irony, it’s a good thing - that they are also trying to get people to drink responsibly.
Yes alcohol is not only the social lubricant but is also the biggest social problem that is being faced in the country. An Alcohol Abuse Symposium being held recently in the country brought together representatives from both the private and the public sector to discuss the issues of alcohol abuse and ways to overcome such. It is great to know that after numerous deaths, statistics and millions spent on alcohol related issues, the government finally is trying to address the issue.
Statistics from WHO global status report of 2004 - in 1991 in Papua New Guinea, 40% of hospital admissions were alcohol-related.
"Every minute one person is injured from an alcohol related crash and with alcohol-related economic opportunity cost at K78.5 annually," states Acting Prime Minister Sam Abal
Alcohol abuse affects the economy but greatly it is the family unit that suffers the most. When the husband is the sole provider and he is also a big alcohol consumer, his fortnightly wage is spent greatly on alcohol, leaving little to buy food, clothing and other neccessities. There is little to eat, the wife gets bashed up, no improvement in standard of living, school fees are not being paid, the kids end up staying home and resort to roaming the streets and end up getting involved in alcohol, other drugs and criminal activities and so the cycle continues.
A domestic violence study carried out by the constitutional law reform commission found that 71% of women interviewed considered alcohol as a major cause of marital problems, of those beaten by their spouse, 26% related the incident to alcohol and others.
What is alcohol abuse? Is it abuse of alcohol or alcohol to abuse.
During adolescence, drinking was seen as the “in-thing” and a lot of money was spent on alcohol. Considering the amount I’ve spent on it during my younger years, if I had invested it all, I’d have a good sum of money today and if I had not been too caught up in drinking activities, my life would have taken another turn. I lost my best friend and step brother to alcohol related deaths. If they were not drinking that night, they wouldn’t have gone out and gotten killed. My female relative is now having complications in pregnancy due to her drinking lifestyle. I have girlfriends who are regret marrying men who continuously drink. Again it’s all to do with our life choices and when we choose to say yes or no that determines our fate.
So how can we prevent - we can not ban, as this only makes situations worse and people turn to other illegal substances.
There needs to be support groups and infolines available, something like Alcohol Anonymous and greater awareness especially amongst adolescents, in schools and in the household.
One difficult task also is to get men, especially to realize that they do need help to overcome their problem and to seek counseling and help.
Many women continue to be victims of alcohol abuse and it was about time something was done to stop the abuse from getting worse in the family unit and the community but how can we improve all these when even the law enforcing agencies struggle to fight alcohol abuse themselves.