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Abuse of Alcohol or Alcohol to Abuse?

Isn't it ironic? A beer company is taking the lead in fighting alcohol abuse. It's like that ad on 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 still a good thing that they are trying to get people to drink responsibly.

Yes, alcohol is not only the social lubricant but is also the biggest social problem being faced in Papua New Guinea. An Alcohol Abuse Symposium held recently in the country brought together representatives from both the private and the public sector to discuss the issue of alcohol abuse and ways to overcome it. It is encouraging to know that after numerous deaths, statistics and millions spent on alcohol-related issues, the government is finally trying to address the issue.

Statistics from the WHO global status report of 2004 show that 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 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 necessities. There is little to eat, the wife gets bashed up, there is no improvement in their standard of living, school fees are not paid, the kids end up staying home and resort to roaming the streets, 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.

What is alcohol abuse? Is it abuse of alcohol or alcohol to abuse?
It takes only a sip, one glass, one bottle to get a person to become addicted. Again the irony of it being it can be the worst tasting liquid but yet gets one hooked. Whether taken in moderation or frequently, the effects of alcohol has more negative impacts than positive - it affects the wellbeing of the person, the people around them and on a greater scale, the society.
Affecting the academic performance, professionalism, social behaviour of even the most well-mannered person, takes away time which can be spent with children and spouse instead of recovering from a hangover, affects relationships, children’s upbringing, one’s financial budget, causes one to act irresponsibly, become a wife basher, a murderer, and an abuser. Be it a mother, father, husband, wife, policeman, leader, teenager, the rich or the poor, career men and women, it can affect us all.

I lost my best friend and step brother to alcohol-related deaths. If they had not been 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 regret marrying men who continuously drink. Many women continue to be victims of alcohol abuse. 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 minimize the negative effects of alcohol? To ban only results in increased production of illicit alcohol as according to the South Pacific Brewery General Manager, Stan Joyce.

I believe that spiritual values and ways and holding onto it can greatly help one give up alcohol. Life education must be taught at an early age and there needs to be counselling, hotlines and support services available.

This article is part of a writing assignment for Voices of Our Future, which is providing rigorous web 2.0 and new media training for 31 emerging women leaders. We are speaking out for social change from some of the most unheard from corners of the world.


Farona's picture

I am sorry you lost your

I am sorry you lost your loved ones to alcohol; I can’t imagine how bizarre and painful the feeling might have been to lose someone to alcohol.

I don’t have much knowledge about alcohol abuse and its repercussions. Alcohol is banned in my country, production and consumption both. There’s very little case of alcohol related abuses, and I support the ban despite the fact that there’s an illegal market, but which doesn’t thrive because majority themselves rejects alcohol. Ban only works when people support it fully.

Educating consumers is the key, we as consumers have a lot of invisible power. Unfortunately, we don’t use it. Personally, I wouldn’t consume anything that would hinder my ability to think and function. It’s really about making informed choices – there’s an abundances of drink and food choices, why alcohol?

I always read your pieces with great interest, I am very unfamiliar to your community’s issues ;- )
Thank you !

warona's picture

my love

Dear Sister,

This is wonderfully written.Yes, alcohol is not only the social lubricant but is also the biggest social problem being faced in Papua New Guinea.Hey my sister this is so amazing, my heart cries out.If alcohol uptake is like that in your country, this not good at all.Its also a serious problem here in Botswana.How many times have we heared about such incidents fueled by alcohol.This is grat sister keep saying it out, if you keep quite who will ascend to declare this as unhealthy.

All the best sister!


"success will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time " And when confronted conquer with love

bennettml's picture

Thank you

Thank you for writing about a problem that is impacting many parts of the world, including the west. I have lost family to this disease also. Your passion to bring attention to the issues is inspiring and appreciated.


lindalubin's picture

Very True!

Carole, this is such an important subject that you write about, particularly in a country such as your where alcohol abuse is very high, contributing to many social problems. You write with passion and authority, and because of your willingness to share your own personal losses from alcohol, the piece takes on even more power and urgency. Thank you for your honesty and well considered coverage of this vital issue.


Potter's picture

Alcohol Abuse

Thank you for a well written article that clearly demonstrates your concern about the topic and your desire for a solution to a difficult problem. You've done a great job of structuring your piece with a good balance of factuakl information and moving personal stories. Congratulations for successful completion of a challengiing assignment!

mrbeckbeck's picture

Well done...


You've done a wonderful job here of clearly establishing your position on the issue, and backing it up with facts and personal stories. The problem of alcohol related deaths and injuries is a big issue around the world... I am sorry for your personal losses, and hope that treatment programs, education, and the other solutions you suggest become more available (and used!) in PNG.

One other side note, somewhat related to this topic...
When I was in Namibia in 2003, I learned that the big brewery there received water for basically free (in the desert!) for their operations... the government provided those incentives to keep the business in town. Tie that to your topic here, and you have some serious corruption of "democracy".

Anyway, thanks for your great work here, and I hope that you are doing well.

Scott Beck
World Pulse Online Community Volunteer

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