Wednesday, 13 May 2020

Alcohol consumption in India - heavy drinking and teenage drinking need to be addressed soon

A drunk with a bottle of liquor. vectorstock.com
alcohol abuse. shutterstock.com
No doubt, India once had an enviable  place in the world way past decades ago when drinking liquor was a social taboo. In  those days, in the remote villages some people did drink the local/country liquor ''Kallu'' as it is called in the state of Tamil Nadu. It was a low -key  activity among the men far removed from the residences. Gradually in the 1900s social drinking was a common feature in many princely kingdoms involving British  Sahibs, local Maharajahs and his cronies. Parties were  grand occasions  to exchange pleasantries and discuss business and the affairs of the state with the colonial officers. After Independence in August 1947, states, one by one, became wet, saying good buy to prohibition. The reason given was illicit brewing and bootlegging were on the increase to met the demands of secret drinkers> so was the cult of violence associated with the mobs involved in these  illegal activities/trafficking.
alcohol consumption in India indiatoday.in
Above image: Every second Indian who consumes alcohol takes four drinks in one occasion, falling into the category of heavy episodic drinking. (Artwork: Getty Images)..............................

Present day, with respect to hard liquor drinking, the scenario in India has changed  drastically from bad to worst.  According to the World Health Organisation (WHO;  study done by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), about 30 per cent of India’s population consumes alcohol regularly. The percentage of under-15 boys who have not had  consumed alcohol has gone down from 44%  to 30%. For girls it has  come down  from 50 per cent  to 31 per cent. It shows increasing acceptance of alcohol as a way of life in an urban space. 

teenage alcoholism dnaindia.com
Media reports say that  every second Indian takes to heavy drinking to get rid of boredom and stress by consuming four drinks in one sitting and over a period of time such habitual drinkers get into the  category of heavy  drinking from which redemption and recovery is a tough one. Every fourth person, in a drunken state, gets into verbal abuse. Sometime, the language used will be filthy. then it  slowly snowballs into physical fight and blows. In some cases, it becomes violent to the point of stabbing with pen-knife. 

Though drunk-fighting and violence is a global problem, in countries like India, it a big social issue because the entire family is dependent on the man - main bread-winner. The psychologists say that such  'heavy episodic drinking' is a menace to the well-being of the society and will affect the posterity. The sad commentary is  among Indian alcohol users, 43 per cent fall in this category. In Indian flicks. be they Bollywood or Kollywood, they  give the impression that social drinking is part of life.  The upper class people  can afford it. What about the lower middle class and poor people  who are daily wage-earners?  Can they afford  one or two drinks a day or on alternate days? The painful fact is in the state of Tamil Nadu and elsewhere almost all distilleries that supply liquor to TASMAC- the state run liquor shops  are run by untrustworthy  politicians or their relatives. They make whooping profits in liquor business as the mark-up is way high.  

Do you know on which Indian drinks Indians would like to get tipsy and get euphoric? Their most favored  brews are  'Desi sharab' or country liquor along with Indian Made Foreign Liquor (IMFL). They are  commonly consumed alcoholic beverage  and almost every third drinker  in India consumes either of them.
Indian drinkers don't go for wine though there are many brands available. It is because they contain low alcohol content. Only 4% of the users prefer wine. Beer consumption is around 21% unlike the American beer, the alcohol content is more than 8% (I presume). Most people go after hard liquor to get rid of frustration, fatigue and worries. Invariably, Indians prefer  a company of two or three men .  About overall consumption of alcohol, 14.60 per cent of Indian population between the age of 10 and 75 years consumes alcohol that is  16 crore people (160 million) cutting across various  socio-economic classes and castes;   95 per cent are male, falling in the age group of 18-49 years. As for women, though it is a taboo among them, in the cities it is becoming a common sight to see women taking refuse in alcohol in social clubs. However, their consumption rate is very low - 1.60 per cent women use alcohol against 27.30 per cent men 
 Yet  another unpalatable fact emerging is  every 5th man has a problem of  alcohol dependence as opposed to every 16th woman suffering from the same. Among the Indian states,   62 per cent men in Tripura consume alcohol (the highest in country), followed closely by Chhattisgarh (57.2 per cent) and Punjab (51.70 per cent). States  like  Rajasthan and Meghalaya have low percentage of alcohol use 2.1 and 3.4 per cent respectively.
The average alcohol consuming groups fall in the age of 18-49 years and invariably every fifth person, when gets tipsy, goes berserk and and ends up showing his talents in martial arts and fist fight in an inebriated state. 
The brief  information on the alcohol related data given above is based on  a report prepared by the Union ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment which did  a nation-wide study on alcohol consumption.

The taboo around alcohol having been lost for ever, as part of  socializing,  the teenagers now have taken to drinking in the big cities. Liquor consumption by teenagers was once  limited to parties, weekend trips, and sleepovers.  Not any more  now, students clandestinely take the liquor bottle to school  along with books; this new trend is more prevalent in northern cities than in southern cities. Reason : Many parents are liberal, easy accessibility to liquor, no security check at schools. “Socially, everything has changed, more so in India.  To get Bacardi’s Breezer with  4% of alcohol in it,  you need not go to a liquor shop to get it, it is easily available in regular shops,
According to a survey by National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA),  globally young people  consume more than 90 per cent of their alcohol through binge drinking. Statistics also reveal that at least once in a month, 5.3 million young people had 5 or more drinks on the same occasion, within a few hours. And, 1.3 million young people had 5 or more drinks on the same occasion on 5 or more days over a month.
The governments both center and state along with parents address the problem of teenage drinking and advise them to know their responsibility toward the society and limit their drinking to moderation, They need to develop self-control in the present social scenario. 
https://www.indiatoday.in/india/story/bhand-in-india-every-4th-indian-drinker-ends-up-in-a-physical-fight-getting-tipsy-1629744-2019-12-21
https://www.dnaindia.com/india/report-is-the-future-sloshed-2291610