By Satnam Singh Atwal

We generally picturize an alcoholic, as an individual, generally clad in old dirty clothes. The one who can be seen sleeping on the banks of village pond or dirty ditches; the dogs licking his face. And again, the one who generally is poor and whose family is sometimes forced to beg for its survival. Such individuals usually provide enough entertainment for others and the children playing in street corners are scared of them. Calling “Sharaabi” (alcoholic) does not irritate them and often they assume such names as “Sharabi” ‘X’ or Amli (addict) “Y”.

If you have such a picture of an alcoholic in your mind, probably you are wrong. On the contrary alcoholics in North America, many a time look exactly like any ordinary person in the street and occasionally, to your surprise, you may be one of them. You may believe it or not, but it is a truth that an alcoholic does accept the idea that he has an alcohol problem. Alcoholics in North America could be seen drunk with alcoholic breath in Gurdwara premises and even can be seen sometimes bowing their heads in front of Guru Granth Sahib ji; thus probably negating the vow instantly, to which they are swearing by. They can be observed uttering obscenities in public places. No professional group is immune to its abuse, and people who abuse it, could be seen among executives, doctors, lawyers, bus drivers, factory workers, children and secretaries. Alcoholism is an enormous health problem which costs Americans billions of dollars. To understand how serious this problem is following are some of the facts about alcoholism recently published by National Council of Alcoholism (NCA).

* Alcohol costs the USA alone 117 billion dollars every year in lost work time, family breakups, illness and premature deaths.

* Even though half of American population drinks almost 1012 millions of these drinkers are alcoholics and only 15 percent of them are receiving treatment. This indicates that only 15% of the total alcoholics admit that they have problem with alcohol abuse.

* For every alcoholic, four other people directly suffer from alcoholism.

* Every year, about 95,000 Americans die as a direct result of alcohol abuse. Liver cirrhosis of liver kills 30,000 every year. Alcoholic’s psychosis costs 5,000 lives a year. Accidents, homicides and alcohol related suicides kill another 60,000 a year. * Because alcoholism is a treatable disease, alcohol treatment is a big business in America. It is estimated that Americans spend 1.3 billion dollars each year on such programs.

National Council of Alcoholism says that an alcoholic is someone whose drinking causes a continuing problem in any area of his or her life. The council defines alcoholism as a chronic, progressive and potentially fatal disease, characterized by tolerance and physical dependence on alcohol or internal changes from alcohol ingestion or both.

NCA also advises that alcoholism can’t be cured but can only be treated. Because it can’t be cured emphasis is generally upon abstinence.

Religion and alcoholism cannot go together. Our religious teachings give us clear message of not abusing any drugs or alcohol. Strong religious belief and taking an oath regarding not to drink in the name of God can help an individual to control urges for drinking. It may be of interest to our readers that quitting alcohol on oath is also a common method employed in countries like Ireland, Greece, Scandinavia and asked by Psychiatrists and psychologists to decide if 12 you have a drinking problem or not! Many other European countries.

Following are the questions that are often

  1. Have you ever decided to stop drinking for a week or so, but only lasted for a couple of days?
  2. Do you wish people would mind their own business about your drinking and stop telling you what to do? PG;
  3. Have you ever switched from one kind of drink to another in the hope that this would keep you from getting drunk?
  4. Have you ever had to have an eye-opener upon awakening during the past year?
  5. Do you envy people who can drink without getting into trouble?
  6. Have you had problems connected with drinking during the past year?
  7. Has your drinking caused trouble at home?
  8. Do you ever try to get “extra” drinks at a party because you do not get enough?
  9. Do you tell yourself you can stop drinking any time you want to, even though you keep getting drunk when you don’t mean to?
  10. Have you missed days of work or school because of drinking?
  11. Do you have “‘blackouts”?
  12. Have you ever felt that your life would be better if you did not drink?

One “yes” answer indicates some problem with alcohol; four or more “yes” answers point to a serious alcohol problem.

Article extracted from this publication >>  September 6, 1985