Alcohol is banned in certain states of India like Manipur and Gujarat but it is legally consumed in a majority of Indian states. There are believed to be around 62.5 million people in India who drink alcohol occasionally. India once had the reputation of having a culture that promoted abstinence towards alcohol. However, things have changed and there are serious societal problems cropping up due to alcohol abuse. Such abuse often starts with an unhealthy dependency on alcohol and often leads to poor health and loss of productivity.
Role of family: Case Study
In the Medical Journal of Dr. D.Y. Patil Vidyapeeth, Pune, a case study has been provided that deals with the role of family in combatting alcoholism.
According to the case study, a 45-year-old alcohol dependent man had one bottle (750ml) of Indian-made 'foreign' liquor each day. He continued to take alcohol despite developing liver problems. He became irregular at his workplace. His family comprised of his wife, teenaged son and daughter, and dependent parents. The wife often told him to quit alcohol but the husband got aggressive and physically pushed her when he considered the nagging ‘excessive’. She cursed him for not being a responsible father and husband. The son hated him and avoided him. But he still brought his father home when he was excessively drunk. The daughter tolerated him but hoped he would sober down. She tried to persuade him to quit but was unsuccessful. The relatives avoided the family, especially the man, as they feared he would ‘create a scene’. They were also apprehensive that the family would ask for money. The wife decided to take her husband to a private doctor 50 km away as she heard that the doctor was well reputed for de-addiction cases. The doctor prescribed a course for detoxification and then recommended disulfiram. Reluctantly, the man agreed to this treatment. The responsibility of supervising disulfiram was given to the wife. The patient suffered mild flushing when he took a little sip of alcohol after taking disulfiram. Fearing a severe reaction, he quit alcohol.
Young India needs alcohol awareness
Young Indians are getting increasingly attracted towards alcohol. The trend is becoming a challenge to the society. There are forces that are linking alcohol consumption with a stressed "Westernised" lifestyle and creating faulty assumptions among young Indians regarding global trends and lifestyle choices. According to the Times of India, Bollywood can be blamed for fuelling India’s love for alcohol. Alcohol use in Bollywood movies is directly influencing the alcohol consumption habits of India’s young adults, according to a recent study presented at the World Congress of Cardiology. According to the same study, around 10% of Indian students between 12 and 16 years of age reported that they have already tried alcohol. Students that had been most exposed to alcohol use in Bollywood movies were found to be 2.78 times more likely to have tried alcohol as compared with those who were least exposed. One cannot just blame the film industry. Often the cause can be found in family troubles and peers pressure.
There is an urgent need for intervention. Increased awareness of the real nature of the alcohol industry and the dangers of consumption needs to be ensured.
Here we look at some of the ways to check alcohol addiction.
Alcoholic Anonymous is an international fellowship of men and women who once had a drinking problem. It is non-professional, self-supporting, apolitical and available almost everywhere. Members share their experience with anyone seeking help with a drinking problem and they give person-to-person service or “sponsorship”. The programme offers alcoholics a way to develop a satisfying life without alcohol.
There are different types of meetings for members such as open speaker meetings which are open to alcoholics and non alcoholics and open discussion meetings. At speaker meetings, members “tell their stories.” They describe their experiences with alcohol, how they came to this organisation and how their lives have changed. In open discussion meetings one member speaks briefly about his or her drinking experience, and then leads a discussion.
Another way of helping alcohol addicts recover is through alcohol rehabilitation centres which make them realise that it is a treatable disease utilising a multidisciplinary approach of pharmacotherapy, counselling, group therapy, psychosocial interventions and family therapy. Some patients need to voluntarily enter a safe facility in order to recover. Often, patients who have repeatedly relapsed back into alcohol use, achieve success in a residential programme.
Detox centres are safe, structured environments in which patients are removed from stressful circumstances that promote or fuel the urge to consume alcohol. Detox centres help to encourage family participation and it is this camaraderie gained through empathy and shared experience that often helps patients overcome addiction.
Proper medication can also help reduce drinking and avoid relapse. The medication will depend on the doctor’s judgement along with personal preferences and goals. Often the doctor recommends medication for a year or longer if the treatment is working because relapse to heavy drinking is very common within the first year of sobriety. Pills like acamprosate, disulfiram and naltrexone have been known to be effective. Ayurvedic medicines are also available which are safe with no side effects. It is in powder form and packed in small sachets. The herbal powder can be sprinkled on cooked foods or taken with water and results can be seen in 15-20 days. The medication is usually for five to six months.