The cost of alcohol on the community

Editorial, Normal

The National,Monday August 17th, 2015

 ALCOHOL abuse is a contentious issue that poses many challenges for our society. Earlier this year, NCD Governor Powes Parkop talked about the option of 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 his proposed legislation, it is well known that alcohol abuse is rife among school children and other teens in cities like Port Moresby and Lae.

Police in the capital city have reported cases of drin­king sessions by male and female students that have resulted in violence and criminal acts such as rape.

They have warned that many teens 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 our health and wellbeing than we realise. 

That’s why it’s important to stick to the sensible drinking guidelines.

They say women shouldn’t regularly drink more than 2-3 units (equivalent to a 175ml glass of 13 per cent wine) of alcohol a day, and men 3-4 units (equivalent to a pint-and-a-half of 4 per cnet 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 your overall health. Even if one doesn’t have a hangover, the alcohol they’ve drunk still has an impact on their 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. And remember, binge drinking can be harmful even though the weekly total may not seem too high

Statistics released during an alcohol symposium two years ago showed the unrecorded alcohol consumption in Papua New Guinea is estimated to be 0.5 litres pure alcohol per capita for a population older than 15 for the years after 1995 (estimated by a group of key alcohol experts).

The number of fatal road accidents in PNG has risen by more than 400 per cent between 1968 and 1978. 

Post-mortem blood alcohol levels were above 80 mg in 42 per cent of the victims tested and very high levels were found in a third of the drivers.

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 80 mg per 100 ml, while 32 per cent had detectable blood alcohol but at a level less than 80 mg per 100 ml.

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 spouse, 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 is 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’s

Most of the statistics are from 5 to 10 years ago; just imagine what the statistics are for from 2010 to 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 to the community.