South Africa’s reputation as the highest alcohol consumers in the world

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The impact on the person’s health is enormous, affecting many organs of the body, mainly, the liver, and also the pancreas.

South Africans have the unflattering reputation as the highest alcohol consumers in the world. A behavioural pattern with dire individual and societal consequences.

The American Psychiatric Association defines alcohol as the most dangerous of all the known drugs as it destroys individuals, families and societies. It causes many motor vehicle accidents and destroys economies.

Alcohol abuse leads to alcoholism, where the individual loses self-respect, loses his/her job as his life changes as the main preoccupation revolves more and more about when will be the next opportunity for another drink. Unfamiliar and unlikely friendships are formed around a drinking spree. Personal hygiene deteriorates.

Food becomes only secondary to drinking. Loss of work results as the individual may sometimes fail to report for work leading to a breakdown in the family as debt piles up and starvation due to loss of income. Divorce follows resulting in the breakdown of a family unit and loss of societal status. More drinking becomes the sole reason for living as the person gives up on life. In extreme cases, the person becomes a hobo and homeless and a burden to society.

The impact on the person’s health is enormous, affecting many organs of the body, mainly, the liver, and also the pancreas.

Liver damage(cirrhosis of the liver) occurs, causing jaundice, discolouration of the eyes as it affects the biliary tract. The patient may complain of severe itching of the body and may be anaemic.

Information of the pancreas ( pancreatitis) may occur.

Cognitive abilities may deteriorate, where an intelligent person becomes dysfunctional.

This is a very painful experience if it happens to a loved one who could have had a long, happy and successful life if they had sought professional help as soon as they realised the downward trend their lives were taking.

On a societal level, the damage is no less important.

Erratic behaviour of the drunk may lead to provoked or unprovoked violence resulting in shootings or stabbing.

Gender-based violence and femicide under the influence of alcohol is common.

On the economy, motor vehicle accidents which leave families destroyed, sometimes killing the breadwinner or whole families, with the survivors becoming destitute and depending on government grants.

We have seen how during, Covid-19, resources that could have used for the pandemic had to be diverted for the treatment of the victims of alcohol abuse as hospitals had to deal with a huge intake of gunshots, stab wounds and motor vehicle accident victims.

It is very important for our society to be informed of all the negative consequences of alcohol abuse.