Alcoholism is the compulsive and uncontrolled consuption of alcoholic beverages,usually to the detriment of the drinker's health,personal relationships,and social standings.Its a chronic and often progressive disease that includes problems controllng your drinking,being preoccupied with alcohol,continuing to use alcohol even when its causes problems,having to drink more to get same effect or having withdrawal symptoms when one rapidly decrease or stop drinking.
A large number of people die annually, and many more succumb to illness and injury, as a result of harmful alcohol use. Statistics shows that alcohol increasingly is affecting younger generations and drinkers in Kenya and developing countries at large thus experiencing these negative repercussions from alcohol abuse.
Fig 1:Kenyans hospitalized after consuption of poisonous alcoholic drinks.
Fig 2:Victims who lost eye site after consuption of illicit brews in some parts of kenya.
In a recent report, the Kenyan National Campaign against Drug Abuse Authority, or NACADA, says alcohol and drug abuse are the major social problems in Kenya, with serious public health ramifications. And, the consumers are starting young. NACADA estimates that half of all alcohol and drug abusers in Kenya are between 10 and 19 years old.
The availability of cheap, home brew, called chang’aa - literally meaning “kill me quick” - often contains methanol, a toxic, non-drinking type of alcohol that can cause blindness and even death. Drinkers in poverty-stricken rural and slum areas are particularly vulnerable to its effects as experienced in various parts of the country recently.
Kenyans also are drinking brand-name spirits and beer, though, in addition to traditional liquors and cheap manufactured alcohol. No matter the type, when alcohol consumption is taken too far, the user’s family feels the effects. Neglect, misuse of funds and increased domestic violence are all too common results.
Fig 3:police impounded and destroyed illicit brews in some parts of Kenya.
A favorite explanation of young people’s alcohol and drug taking behavior is that it is a result of social pressure from their friends that is the peer group. Peer groups teach new skills and attitudes that are sometimes different from those learnt from the family.
The manner in which alcohol is acquired is an important factor that contributes to this abuse and consequently addiction. Research has revealed that drugs such as tobacco and alcohol are widely and easily available. The availability of these substances highly correlates with adolescent alcohol use.
Social acceptance of the use of alcohol has led to is uncensored use and abuse. Individuals learn form an early age that alcohol can be a source of pleasure and relieve, both privately and socially.
Advertising equates alcohol with pleasure and relief, fun, fashion, friendship, and happiness. This makes alcohol use seem like an adult initiation rite.
Use of alcohol, as anesthesia to combat stressful lifestyles is another dangerous trend that is drawing many to the alcoholic lifestyle. Economic stresses, unemployment, poor access to health are among the major factors.
Possible Causes of alcohol use/abuse in Kenya today.
Availability,Affordability and accessibility.
The availability of alcohol to the youth locally has led to its misuse. In the rural areas, local brews are consumed even by little children. The law in Kenya regulates the drinking time and age restricted to persons of 18 years and over. However, bribery to officials concerned makes these bar tenders to offer their services even during prohibited time and age.
The availability of counterfeit brands of spirits to the local market in Kenya has made it possible to the large alcohol fraternity to access these cheap brews/spirits at a very small amount of money, this indeed has accelerated alcoholism and alcoholism related problems to the society at a very alarming rate.
Low self-esteem issues.
Some People particularly the youth perceive themselves as having a low self-esteem develop a habit of drinking alcohol to prove their worth. They can’t suggest anything in a group unless they are under influence of alcohol.Some drink to prove that they are 'real men' only to find themselves in an unending life tunnel.
Kenya is a country endowed with variable cultural values and believes.In some communities,children are introduced to alcohol at a very tender age.They grow knowing that consuming alcohol is never a wrong and by the time they become adults are already entangled in addictions chains.
In society today,Rules that used to guard against the use and misuse of alcohol,like age,sex,time,occasion,and and frequency are no longer applicable.
Unpleasant Living conditions.
It is evident that more than 70% of kenyans live below poverty line.They live in abject poverty and forced to take permanent residence in delapidated slums with a totally unpleasant living conditions.Families living in these areas often sell local brews as a means of livelihood,therefore exposing little children and the youth in general to alcohol use and abuse.
Educational qualification, income and occupation are associated independently with alcohol consumption in Kenya. There are indications that the different dimensions of drinking (quantity and frequency) have different relationships with socio-economic status (SES). For example, lower SES groups drank heavier quantities while higher SES groups drank more frequently.It's the lower-to-average SES groups that who are at greater risk for drinking heavier quantities compared to other SES groups in the population.
General effects/Consequences of Alcoholism in Kenya
Alcoholic households are less cohesive and have more conflicts, and their members are less independent and expressive than households with nonalcoholic or recovering alcoholic parents. Domestic violence is a common consequence of alcohol abuse.
Effect on Women. A serious risk factor for injury from domestic violence may be a history of alcohol abuse in the male partner.
Effect on Children. Alcoholism in parents also increases the risk for violent behavior and abuse toward children. Children of alcoholics tend to do worse academically than others, have a higher incidence of depression, anxiety, and stress and lower self-esteem than their peers. In addition to their own inherited risk for later alcoholism, many children of alcoholics have serious coping problems that may last their entire life.
Adult children of alcoholic parents are at higher risk for divorce and for psychiatric symptoms. One study concluded that the only events with greater psychological impact on children are sexual and physical abuse.
Alcoholism and early death.
Heavy drinking is associated with earlier death. However, it is not just from a higher risk of the more common serious health problems, such as heart attack, heart failure, diabetes, lung disease, or stroke. Chronic alcohol consumption leads to many problems that can increase the risk for death:
- People who drink regularly have a higher rate of death from injury or violence.
- Alcohol overdose can lead to death. This is a particular danger for adolescents who may want to impress their friends with their ability to drink alcohol but cannot yet gauge its effects. However, alcohol overdose doesn't only occur from any one heavy drinking incident, but may also occur from a constant infusion of alcohol in the bloodstream.
- Severe withdrawal and delirium tremens. Delirium includes progressively severe withdrawal symptoms and altered mental states. In some cases, it can be fatal.
- Frequent, heavy alcohol use directly harms many areas in the body and produce dangerous health conditions (liver damage, pancreatitis, anemia, upper gastrointestinal bleeding, nerve damage, and erectile dysfunction).
- Alcohol abusers who need surgery have an increased risk of postoperative complications, including infections, bleeding, insufficient heart and lung functions, and problems with wound healing. Alcohol withdrawal symptoms after surgery may impose further stress on the patient and hinder recuperation.
Effects on lungs.
Pneumonia. Over time, chronic alcoholism can cause severe reductions in white blood cells, which increase the risk for community-acquired pneumonia (pneumonia acquired outside of hospitals or nursing homes). When patients are inebriated they are also at risk for aspiration of mucus from the airways, causing pneumonia. Patients who abuse alcoholism have a greater risk for developing severe pneumonia.
Accidents, Suicide, Murder.
Alcohol plays a large role in accidents, suicide, and crime:
- Alcohol plays a major role in more than half of all automobile fatalities in kenya currently.
- Alcohol-related automobile accidents are the leading causes of death in young people.
- Fewer than two drinks can impair the ability to drive. Even one drink may double the risk of injury.
- Alcoholism is the primary diagnosis in a quarter of all people who commit suicide.
- Alcohol is implicated in over half of all murders.
Effects on Reproduction.
Sexual Function and Fertility.
This has hit headlines in news casts in Kenya where women,particulary from central Province(region that is hardest hit by alcoholism) held demonstrations seeking assistance from Government,non-governmental organizations and well wishers to alleviate this problems as men has become totally disfunctional.
Alcoholism increases levels of the female hormone estrogen and reduces levels of the male hormone testosterone, factors that possibly contribute to erectile dysfunction and enlarged breasts in men, and infertility in women. Such changes may also be responsible for the higher risks for absent periods and abnormal uterine bleeding in women with alcoholism.
Effects on Central and Peripheral nervous system and mental functioning.
Drinking too much alcohol can cause immediate mild neurologic problems in anyone, including insomnia and headache. Long-term alcohol use can physically affect the brain. Depending on length and severity of alcohol abuse, neurologic damage may not be permanent, and abstinence nearly always leads to eventual recovery of normal mental function.
Effect on Mental Functioning. Recent high alcohol use (within the last 3 months) is associated with some loss of verbal memory and slower reaction times. Over time, chronic alcohol abuse can impair so-called "executive functions," which include problem solving, mental flexibility, short-term memory, and attention. These problems are usually mild to moderate and can last for weeks or even years after a person quit drinking.
Finance Related Issues
Continued consuption of alcohol,as evidence in various homesteads,has led to misuse of finances and failure to complete vital projects.Poor saving pattern have inhabited the minds of these people leading to a desperate lives in the society at learge.
Family members and close friends of the alcoholics really experience emotional shakeups.They are always on the lookout fearing the worst that might happen to the alcoholic and their related families.
Prevention of Alcohol use/abuse in the society
Engaging Communities to Prevent Underage Drinking.
A key obstacle to preventing underage alcohol use is the fact that young people often are in situations where drinking is tolerated or even reinforced. School-based interventions simply cannot address every situation. However, community-based efforts—particularly when a school-based prevention curriculum also is in place—can help reduce alcohol use among youth and young adults. These efforts include limiting alcohol sales to minors, increasing enforcement of underage drinking laws, and changing alcohol policies at community events, as well as increasing public awareness about the problems associated with underage drinking.
As evidenced by my case, a large number of people who drink alcohol, have poor ways of managing stress or even lack knowledge of what to do when faced with such pressing thoughts. People who don't manage stress well can have headaches, stomach pain, sleeping problems, illness, and depression.
You can help manage stress by journaling, meditating, exercising, talking to others, or engaging in a hobby. By doing this people relieves their mind of their worries and are able to have a completely different approach to problem solving instead of hibernating to drinking dens all in the name of reducing stress as they.
People should be encouraged to get support from family, friends, coworkers, a professional counselor, church members and support groups.
Education About Alcohol and Drugs.
People particularly the youth cannot rely on the myths and misconceptions that are out there floating around among friends and on the internet concerning alcohol use/abuse. Their ability to make the right decisions includes getting educated. They should learn about Alcohol and Drugs abuse and their effect. And, as people learn, share their learning with friends and family.
Connect With Your Friends and Avoid Negative Peer Pressure.
Pay attention to who you are hanging out with. If you are hanging out with a group in which the majority of kids are drinking alcohol or using drugs to get high, you may want to think about making some new friends. You may be headed toward an alcohol and drug problem if you continue to hang around others who routinely drink alcohol, smoke marijuana, abuse prescription drugs or use illegal drugs. You don't have to go along to get along.
Don’t Be Afraid to Say No.
Sometimes, our fear of negative reaction from our friends, or others we don’t even know, keeps us from doing what we know is right. Real simple, it may seem like “everyone is doing it,” but they are not. Don’t let someone else make your decisions for you. If someone is pressuring you to do something that's not right for you, you have the right to say no, the right not to give a reason why, and the right to just walk away.
Enjoy Life and Do What You Love - Don’t Add Alcohol and Drugs.
Learn how to enjoy life and the people in your life, without adding alcohol or drugs. Alcohol and drugs can change who you are, limit your potential and complicate your life. Too often, “I’m bored” is just an excuse. Get out and get active in school and community activities such as music, sports, arts or a part-time job.
Speak Out/Speak Up/Take Control.
People should take responsibility for their life, their health and the safety. Speak up about what alcohol and drugs has done to you, your friends, and your community and encourage others to do the same.
Parental Involvement and Guidance.
Parents can help prevent teenage alcohol use. Start by setting a good example with your own alcohol use. Talk openly with your child, spend quality time together, and become actively involved in your child's life. Let your child know what behavior you expect — and what the consequences will be if he or she doesn't follow the rules.
Family factors strongly influence whether a young person will start to use alcohol. For example, lack of a positive parent–child relationship or a family history of alcohol problems both can increase risk. On the other hand, a child who has strong family bonds with his or her parents and who has parents who are actively involved in his or her life often is less likely to engage in underage drinking.
Because family influences are so pivotal in shaping adolescent problem behaviors, programs that focus on parenting practices—parent–child communication, parent–child bonding, and effective family management—can reduce problem behaviors in children and adolescents. Family-focused interventions can be successful both for general populations and for families with adolescents who exhibit more serious delinquent behaviors
Make Connections With the Right People.
As you grow up, having people you can rely on, people you can talk to about life, life’s challenges and your decisions about alcohol and drugs is very important. The opportunity to benefit from someone else’s life experiences can help put things in perspective and can be invaluable.
As you make plans for the party or going out with friends you need to plan ahead. You need to protect yourself and be smart. Don’t become a victim of someone else’s alcohol or drug use. Make sure that there is someone you can call, day or night, no matter what, if you need them. And, do the same for your friends.
College Drinking and Prevention.
Drinking among college students remains a major concern for schools and parents alike. Programs that merely provide information about alcohol and alcohol-related harm have not been found effective among college students.
Prevention strategies showing the most success with this age-group include providing brief motivational intervention approaches, cognitive–behavioral interventions, and challenging students’ expectations about alcohol.
Government Policy and Laws about Alcohol.
Public policy often addresses the circumstances surrounding abusive drinking by particular groups. Such policies also can help prevent the adverse consequences of alcohol consumption in wider audiences, and on a larger scale, than any other category of interventions. Changes to laws and policies related to alcohol’s availability and the consequences of its use lead to significant gains in public health.
School is a chief part of most young people’s lives and, as such, provides a critical setting for prevention and intervention efforts. Effective programs include elements such as:
- Correct the misperception that everybody is drinking.
- Teach youth ways to say no to alcohol.
- Use interactive teaching techniques (e.g., small-group activities, role plays, and same-age leaders).
- Involve parents and other segments of the community.
- Revisit the topic over the years to reinforce prevention messages.
- Provide training and support for teachers and students.
- Are culturally and developmentally on target for the students they serve.