Drinking alcohol is an age old tradition about which, some would argue that it shaped recreation, as we know it today; while others would counter this statement by saying, it has aided the decomposition of the very fabric of society.
Alcohol dates back to Biblical times, with the earliest recorded alcoholic encounter being Noah’s inebriation in the Book of Genesis. Even then, due to the effects of this intoxicating beverage, Noah stripped himself naked and passed out in his tent to the horror of his children.
The effects of alcoholism among individuals and in society in general are very evident, yet it is still a persistent problem in our society.
Jeff, a former Kigali socialite who prefers anonymity, narrates of how his close relationship with the bottle turned him into a public disgrace.
“Both my mother and father were alcoholics and I followed headstrong in their footsteps,” he said. “At 14 years, I was already binging. By the time I got married, I was getting drunk and passing out almost every day.”
Because of his alcoholism, Jeff says he became a violent husband and quite often, the police had to come to his family’s aid.
“My health deteriorated and I developed liver cirrhosis,” Jeff further explains.
Dr. Fredrick Fundi, a General Practitioner at Kibagabaga Hospital says the major complication of excessive alcohol consumption is the fact that it lowers glucose (sugar) levels in the blood in non-diabetic cases leading to hypoglycemia.
“A number of effects like trembling, perspiration, general body weakness, blurred vision and difficulty in concentration arise from this condition,” Dr. Fundi says. “If such a person continues with high alcohol intake, then he will have convulsions and could eventually end up in a coma.”
Dr. Fundi explains that liver intoxication is another deadly risk that alcoholics face and since most alcoholics fail to acknowledge their situation, the tragic result is death.
Jeff says he became a social outcast when he failed to control his drinking habit.
“I became a social disgrace and no sane person wanted to be associated with me. I was not productive at work and was finally let go. The final stroke was when my wife took our daughter and left me. It was after over 18 years of drinking, that it finally dawned on me that I indeed had a drinking problem,” Jeff said.
Such stories are told repeatedly by very many who have been caught in the alcoholism trap.
Alcoholism, according to PubMedHealth.com, is a condition where you have signs of physical addiction to alcohol and continue to drink, despite problems with physical health, mental health, and social, family, or job responsibilities.
Alcohol may control your life and relationships. Alcohol abuse, on the other hand, is when your drinking leads to problems, but not actual physical addiction. Now that we’ve differentiated the problems, the hardest part comes; convincing someone that they’re suffering from alcoholism.
In Western cultures, the existence of “alcoholics anonymous” programmes have helped to rehabilitate heavy drinkers.
On the other hand, alcoholism isn’t exactly a diagnosable disease. Some would argue that it’s subjective. Some people consider having a light drink with friends as alcoholism, while others get involved in three drunken driving accidents before they can admit they are alcoholics. There’s no clear way of disputing both statements. There’s no clear distinction between casual drinking and alcoholism, so it’s not up to the doctors or the authorities to solve this problem; it’s up to individuals to battle it.
Being accountable is the best way to avoid crossing the line from having a drink with friends to full alcoholism. Some drinkers always make a pact with a friend(s) to ensure that they are kept in check.
For those who’ve already crossed this line, never take “One more for the road” because there’s usually no turning back, or if you do turn back, it comes at a high cost.