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Think Before You Drink
Alcohol consumption is associated with having fun and enjoying life. But excessive, irresponsible drinking takes away that very life itself. Many alcohol addicts have climbed back to normal life, proving that it is possible to live happily without alcohol. Help for alcoholics is available, free, at Alcoholics Anonymous. Even the occasional drinker must never drink with the aim of becoming drunk. And under no circumstances must you drink and drive – that is the road to disaster, literally.
Hitting the road
For many people, drinking is a way to ease tensions, bond with friends, relax, enjoy a party, or sometimes join the boss for some official fun. But the tryst with alcohol was far from a happy one for Vijay Simha. From being a bright, successful journalist, he went to being a homeless destitute, estranged from his parents, who lived on the streets and railway platforms in Delhi for months together, all because alcohol had a vicious hold on him. He had borrowed money from everyone he knew except one person – when he approached that man, instead of lending him money or throwing him out that friend got him admitted into a rehabilitation centre. It was there that his journey to recovery began, and he has now been free of alcohol addiction for 10 years.
Alcohol is a problem all over India, in practically all strata of society. Because of alcohol addiction, families have become fractured, children suffer, money that should be used for their education and the family expenses is wasted on alcohol, and medical expenses mount because of the toll it takes on the drinker’s health.
The drinking disease
Psychiatrist Dr Ashish Deshpande explains that alcohol addiction is not a habit, it is a disease. Research has shown that there are certain genetic factors which make some people susceptible to addiction and others not. The first time someone has a drink, they don’t think that they are going to end up addicted for life – but if their genetic makeup is such, then certain alcohol receptors in their brain are triggered which keep building up and increasing the person’s desire for alcohol. He says the four things to look out for, if one drinks alcohol, is: Do your friends and family tell you that you should reduce your drinking? Do you feel angry when they tell you this? Do you sometimes feel that you have had too much to drink? And, are you unable to start the day without alcohol? Answering Yes to these means that your use of alcohol is dangerous, he says. Dr Deshpande says that the issue is not halting alcoholism, but in maintaining the halt. One worldwide organization that has successfully helped alcoholics to recover and to stay off alcohol, is Alcoholics Anonymous, which has some 30 lakh sober members all over the world, and 40,000 in India.
Recovered alcoholic “Laxman” relates how he struggled with medical treatment for his alcoholism, and spent lakhs, to little avail. He says he must have spent Rs 20 lakh on alcohol, and the same amount on charges for treatment at various hospitals. One day he saw an advertisement on TV for Alcoholics Anonymous, which said alcoholism could be cured for no cost, and this made him laugh as he had already spent so much on the same quest. Nevertheless, he tried Alcoholics Anonymous and discovered that while medicine and doctors could remove the alcohol from his body, it was the organization and the fellowship from other recovering and recovered alcoholics, that was able to remove the alcohol from his mind. He has now been free and clear for 14 years.
Another way to combat the scourge of alcoholism is to exercise one’s right to oppose a liquor shop in one’s locality or panchayat, and move to have it shut down, which is possible in some states such as Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Maharashtra. The people of Changal village in Punjab who successfully shut down a liquor shop in the village, say that the atmosphere in the village is much better, productivity has improved and money is not getting wasted on alcohol.
Noted poet and lyricist Javed Akhtar relates how alcohol became part of his life at an early age, and that for young people it has an aura of glamour. But in reality, when a man drinks he appears either obnoxious, or foolish, or both.
Party to tragedy
Alcohol takes away a lot – dignity, money, livelihood. And in countless tragic cases, it takes away lives too. Such was the story of Curran Anand. His father Sumir Anand tells how Curran went to a party with his friends after their 10th-standard examinations. Curran was supposed to have returned home in a friend’s car with a driver, but instead what happened is that he got into a car with an older boy driving. The car crashed, killing Curran and two other boys. Curran and his family paid the price even though he himself had not had any alcohol, neither had any of the two other victims. Only the boy who was driving was heavily intoxicated, and he survived with barely any injuries. Sumir Anand pleads with young people never to do such a thing – to get behind the wheel of a car after having had alcohol is like wielding a deadly weapon. But the law is not strong enough, he says, although 98 per cent of road accident deaths are caused by drunk driving. He also says young people should not travel in a vehicle if the person driving it has been drinking, even if it is someone older.
Limits must be maintained
Dr Vivek Benegal, a psychiatrist from the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS), Bengaluru, says that five per cent of people who drink become alcoholics, and 50 per cent of people who consume alcohol are hazardous drinkers. He says the norm for social drinking is two 30-ml measures of alcohol. The international norm is never more than four pegs, but in India the usual practice is for people to drink five to six large pegs of alcohol at a time. We tend to drink in order to get intoxicated, rather than to feel happy, he says. In a survey carried out in a large hospital in Bengaluru, it was found that 25 per cent of cases who came to the emergency room were people who had hurt themselves due to drinking. And 35 per cent of cases were those who had been hurt by others who had been drinking.
Don’t drink and drive
Alcohol is as good or bad as its user. While it is ideal if people do not consume alcohol at all, if they do, they should do so responsibly and without causing harm or danger to themselves and to others.
P.S. That's all they showed on the TV Show, it's not just a copy paste crap.........
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