The National, Tuesday August 6th, 2013
PRIME Minister Peter O’Neill confessed last Saturday that he had canned the drink.
He told a gala event celebrating his 12 months in office that he no longer woke up with hangovers in the mornings.
He said he found he had plenty of time and energy to do much more work.
It was a rather frank and brutal public confession from a public figure, perhaps one of the first yet.
Yet it must send a message down the rank and file that the Prime Minister is concerned that the country’s problem with alcohol abuse is becoming more than a personal thing.
It is becoming a national malaise that is impacting young lives, it is impacting on business and government and it is impacting the country adversely.
Indeed, the Prime Minister urged his cabinet ministers to dry out, as the saying goes.
How many good men and women are now dead and therefore unable to contribute his or her full measure because of a single night of mad drinking?
How many good men and women face a grim future of certain death because a night of wild drinking and unprotected sex ended with them contracting the AIDS bug as a result?
How much money is fortnightly lost down the drain through binge drinking and how many families go hungry because of it?
How many brilliant careers have been and are being thrown out the window and how much God-given brilliant intellect has been squandered on the makeshift altar of empty crates of beers?
The answers to these questions as we all know is way too many lives, limbs, careers and property have gone to waste because of alcohol abuse.
Let us face it.
Somehow, the Papua New Guinean gene does not appear to have been created to tolerate alcohol very well. So it is a timely reminder from the chief executive of the country to take stock, to make amends and to can the alcohol habit.
Abuse of alcohol has caused tribal conflicts.
It is at the centre of serious crimes such as rapes and murders.
Alcohol abuse has torn up homes and families.
It is probably one of the biggest causes of absenteeism in the country.
It behoves everyone today to listen to what the Prime Minister has said and make the sort of sacrifices that will go a long way towards repairing crumbling lives and fortunes.
It can be done. It is a brave thing O’Neill has done and as our headline said yesterday, he is leading by example.
Alcohol abuse is sometimes referred to by the less specific term, alcoholism.
There are two types of alcoholics – those who have anti-social and pleasure-seeking tendencies, and those who are anxiety-ridden people able to go without drinking for long periods of time but are unable to control themselves once they start.
It’s no secret that alcohol consumption can cause major health problems, including cirrhosis of the liver and injuries sustained in automobile accidents. But if you think liver disease and car crashes are the only health risks posed by drinking, think again: Researchers have linked alcohol consumption to more than 60 diseases.
These include anaemia, gout, high blood pressure, cancer, pancreatitis, depression and dementia.
It would be silly to ignore how costly alcohol abuse is to the country.
The answer lies in changing attitudes towards drinking excessive amounts of alcohol through education.
We pray the message is heard loud and clear and that in the next few weeks similar sentiments can be expressed by our leaders who do tend to like their drink a little more than they should.