Because alcohol is encouraged by our culture, we get the idea that it isn’t dangerous. However, alcohol is the most potent and most toxic of the legal psychoactive drugs – Beverly A Potter and Sebastian Orfali
The odds of alcohol being present in a big way at a teen party are pretty much as high as the odds of the WICB making another brainless selection decision. Very high. It’s no secret that the young people of our country are already competent connoisseurs of alcohol despite their ‘tender’ years. On average, three out of every five adolescents might be able to rattle off the finer points about having Tequila versus a shot of Grey Goose – a talent, I am told, that comes only with experience.
And this is not just the case in Guyana; we’re following a worldwide trend, which makes the situation much more alarming: And it’s driven by huge amounts of advertising that target the youthful demographic to “normalise” drinking. Studies show that youths who drink before the age of 15 are four times more likely to develop alcohol dependence and two and a half times more likely to have “rum till I die” as their mantra, than those who wait until the age of 21.
Though it’s now clear that alcohol wreaks havoc on our innards (not to mention our minds) and kills us slowly, everybody drinks! It’s cool. And if slow, voluntary death isn’t motivation enough to ease off the alcohol, there’s always the comforting thought that we’ll get so drunk that we’ll attempt to fly, profess undying love for Kanye West or do something just as dim-witted that we won’t have done if we were in our right minds.
Why then, do they do it? Many people drink to relieve stress, remove inhibitions, to just ‘fit in’ or because they claim to enjoy the taste. Whatever the reason for teens drinking, these reasons may be highly correlated to the fact that for most teen drinkers, their parents drink, or are OK with drinking. The child then grows up believing that this is the acceptable thing to do. In some cases, the parents themselves encourage their child to drink.
One could look at the implications of alcohol consumption from both social and health standpoints.
Socially, especially in Guyana, many people drink until they’re drunk. In essence, it is the drunkenness that’s offensive since, if the person wasn’t drunk it would have been the same as dealing with a person drinking water. It’s when the person is in that drunken state that they cannot fully control their mental faculties, emotions and actions. Domestic violence and suicide are both highly correlated with alcohol abuse.
It appears then, drunkenness is the problem; not the drinking. In societies such as in Italy, where despite the fact that the children are exposed to drinking at a young age, they have very low instances of drunkenness. This is because their society frowns upon DRUNKENESS. They are socialised to drink if they want, but in MODERATION.
Ironically, it is in the countries that strongly castigate drinking as a sin that though they have a fraction of their population avoiding alcohol like the plague, there are also those individuals who drink (and since they’re already frowned upon for drinking), they feel that they might as well go the whole hog and get totally “wasted”.
Where do we stand, Guyana? Will we accept drinking in moderation where we avoid the nasty aspect of alcohol abuse – drunkenness? Or will we continue to forbid drinking totally and produce a segregated society with veritable saints and devilish alcoholics?
For me, after reviewing the damage excessive alcohol does to our internal organs, I’ve decided not to take the plunge. While I have no aspirations to sainthood, I rather want to keep my liver and sanity into adulthood.