Alcohol abuse a challenge

Editorial

ALCOHOL abuse is a contentious issue that poses many challenges for our society.
Sometime back, National Capital District Governor Powes Parkop talked about amending the Constitution to regulate the use of alcohol.
He said a change was necessary to allow police to deal with people who disturbed the community when they were drunk and disorderly.
Parkop said alcohol abuse was the basis of bigger problems such as domestic violence, family conflicts and marriage breakups.
While we await the governor’s proposed legislation, it is well known that alcohol abuse is also rife among school children and young people in Port Moresby and Lae.
Police in the capital city have reported cases of drinking sessions by male and female students that resulted in violence and criminal acts such as rape.
They warned that these young people are putting their lives in danger and their health at risk by drinking, smoking and behaving in a disorderly manner.
The introduction of lessons in schools about sensible drinking is an option that cannot be ignored by the relevant authorities.
Lessons learnt in school about the good and bad aspects of drinking will help children in the long run.
Every drink one consumes adds up. And over time it can have a bigger impact on the health and wellbeing of an individual.
That’s why it’s important to stick to the sensible drinking guidelines.
They say women should not regularly drink more than two to three units (equivalent to a 175ml glass of 13 per cent wine) of alcohol a day. Men should have a limit of three to four units (equivalent to a pint and a half of 4 per cent lager).
The truth is that drinking alcohol is never going to be risk-free. But regularly going over the sensible drinking guidelines can have a negative effect on one’s overall health.
Even if one doesn’t have a hangover, the alcohol one drank still has an impact on one’s system.
The liver processes alcohol and it can only cope with so much at a time.
Drinking more alcohol than the liver can cope with can damage liver cells and produce toxic by-product chemicals.
The more one drinks, and especially above the recommended limits, the greater the risk of developing serious problems.
Binge drinking can be harmful even though the weekly total may not seem too high.
Statistics released during an alcohol symposium showed the unrecorded alcohol consumption in Papua New Guinea is estimated to be 0.5 litres pure alcohol per capita for people 15 and older for the years after 1995 (estimated by a group of key alcohol experts).
The number of fatal road accidents in PNG rose by more than 400 per cent between 1968 and 1978.
A study conducted in Port Moresby found that more alcohol-related accidents occurred at night and on weekends, particularly on pay weekends.
A post-mortem examination of the dead drivers in a study showed that 53 per cent had a blood alcohol level greater than 80mg per 100ml while 32 per cent had detectable blood alcohol but at a level less than 80mg per 100ml.
In 1991, 40 per cent of hospital admissions were alcohol-related.
A domestic violence study carried out by the Law Reform Commission found that 71 per cent of the women interviewed considered alcohol abuse as a major cause of marital problems.
Of those who had been beaten by their spouses, 26 per cent related the incident to alcohol.
A recent paper suggests that it is quite likely that some of the renewed tribal fighting since the 1970s are alcohol-related.
For example, alcohol-related traffic crashes, especially those resulting in death or injury, often result in tribal fighting between the clan of the driver and the victim.
Most of the statistics are from five to 10 years ago. Just imagine what the statistics is for from 2010 up till today.
While businesses want to make money and the National Capital District Commission needs the goods and services tax to manage the city, there is a serious need to look at the cost of alcohol consumption to the community at large.
Of course there are times when people want to unwind and relax with friends and family after a long week or at a special event. Police and health authorities often advise people to drink in moderation and responsibly in such circumstances.
They must always be in control of the alcohol rather than the other way round.

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