HomeOpinion & AnalysisColumnistsSaturday dialogue: Alcoholism — serious mental health problem

Saturday dialogue: Alcoholism — serious mental health problem


I recently attended the funeral of a young man whose lifeless body was found on his bed one morning in June.

This young man was a known alcoholic and beside his bed were bottles of a lethal cane spirit called Zed, which apparently is an import from Mozambique.

I was reliably informed that this young man had been taking this Zed, which has 40% alcohol content, straight from the bottle.

Mourners at the house talked about his drinking binges and how relatives had tried to fight this habit.

His sisters were at a loss for words. They had tried getting him to start a business, but the money would invariably be spent on alcohol.

One of his brothers who lives in Australia also sent him money so that he could apply for a visa and a passport, but he went missing for a few days and blew the cash.

If someone who is very close to you has a drinking problem, you may be struggling with painful emotions.

The problem may be so overwhelming that it seems easier to ignore it and pretend that nothing is wrong.

But pretending that there is no such a problem is more damaging to other family members, and the person with the drinking problem.

A man in his late 40s who works for some international company has lost the trust and faith of his wife and extended family because of his daily drinking habits.

This man goes to the pub every single day after work and gets home past midnight.

He is up very early in the morning to get to work by 7am and what this actually means is that he does not spend quality time with his wife and children who now view him as a stranger.

He is never at home during weekends and when his wife calls him, there is always sound of heavy music in the background, an indication that he is at a pub.

This man never remembers to pay domestic bills and school fees for his four children and this has sometimes led to fights with his wife.

But the fact is that alcoholism is actually a very serious mental problem which can only be solved by the alcoholic.

The choice is up to them.

Fighting such people or forcing them to stop only makes the situation worse.

As much as you may want to, and as hard as it is to watch, you cannot make someone stop drinking.

Women alcoholics face the risk of contracting HIV and Aids as men take advantage of them when they are in a drunken stupor.

I was told the story of a daughter of a very prominent and rich socialite, whose daughter was regularly sexually abused by several men sometimes in one night.

A friend witnessed one such incident where men actually took turns to sexually abuse her behind the bushes dotted around her family home during an all-night party.

He described the incident as disgusting and sadly, the woman could not remember the events of this particular day the following days.

She fell pregnant, gave birth to a disabled baby boy whose paternity is still not known two decades later.

According to Family Doctor.Org, an alcoholic will need treatment, support, and new coping skills to overcome the serious drinking problem.

Family Doctor.Org also says alcohol becomes a problem for you if one or more of the following statements are true.

If you can’t stop drinking once you start; have tried to stop drinking for a week or so but only quit for a few days; fail to do what you should at work or at home because of drinking; feel guilty after drinking.

When other people make comments to you about your drinking then you have a problem.

If you are having a drink in the morning to get yourself going after drinking heavily the night before and if you can’t remember what happened while you were drinking, then you are an alcoholic.

A woman who has more than three drinks every day or 21 drinks per week and a man who has more than five drinks every day or 35 drinks per week are clearly on their way to becoming alcoholic.

The man I mentioned earlier who took the lethal Zed cane spirit was actually a very educated man who qualified for executive jobs. He had a master’s in social sciences.

He lost at least four good jobs as he would disappear for two weeks after getting paid and report for work drunk. He had started roaming the streets in his neighbourhood begging for $1 to buy this Zed. That is all he could do.

“Long-term misuse of alcohol can cause a wide range of mental health problems. Excessive alcohol use causes damage to brain function, and psychological health can be increasingly affected over time. Like other drug addictions, alcoholism is medically defined as a treatable disease,”
FamilyDoctor.Org says.

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