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Can alcohol addiction be cured?

08 September 2014, 11:00 Evans Munga

Nairobi - When one makes it routine to consume alcohol daily, it becomes a dependence that they cannot detach from. Alcohol abuse is defined as a pattern of drinking that generates into family neglect, irresponsible behavior, drinking in places that endanger one’s life such as drinking while driving or operating a machine and continued alcohol abuse even in spite of existing health concerns.

Addiction to drugs interferes with physical and mental health of the user.

Alcohol use as an anesthesia to combat stressful moments or situations is also another factor that has lured many to the alcoholic lifestyle.

Alcoholism is influenced by both genetic and environmental factors and it lasts a person’s lifetime.

According to world Health Organization, about 2.5 million people die annually - many succumb to illness and injury - as a result of harmful alcohol use.

The WHO also says that alcohol is increasingly affecting the younger generation and drinkers in developing countries.

Kenya is one such country that is experiencing the negative repercussions of alcohol abuse.

In a 2011 report, the Kenyan National Campaign against Drug Abuse Authority (NACADA) says alcohol and drug abuse are the major social problems in Kenya, with serious public health ramifications.

NACADA estimates that half of all alcohol and drug abusers in Kenya are between 10 and 19 years old.

Some of the hotly affected areas are; Nairobi, Central and the North Rift areas for both middle and upper class residents.

Recently, a popular TV personality in Kenya, Louis Otieno, was hospitalized because of alcohol addiction in the name of hunting down stress.

Read Also: What happened to Louis Otieno?

Proliferation of alcohol

Kenya is an alcoholic nation. Children as young as 15 years of age are introduced to local brew by relatives and peers as it is easily accessible.

Some of this cheap, home brew, called chang’aa - literally meaning “kill me quick” - often contains methanol, a toxic substance that has left many consumers blind or even dead.

Consumers in poverty-stricken rural and slum areas are particularly vulnerable to its effects.

Most popular spirits and wines in the Kenyan market are also mixed with toxic substances, especially in low-end areas. This is where the Kenya Bureau of Standards comes into play.

Effective treatment

For effective control of drug abuse, NACADA and the general public must play a role in effecting the famous Muthutho laws.

Schools, colleges and universities should adopt policies and programmes aimed at curbing the use of alcohol or other drugs in school: programmes such as student assistance programs, parent networking, or peer-to-peer support groups come in handy.

Communities and organizations need to support the implementation and enforcement of alcohol and drug control policies. They should also take it upon themselves to educate the youth and adults on the risks of drug abuse (including prescription misuse) and excessive drinking.

Working with media outlets and retailers to reduce alcohol marketing to youth can also help, as well as increased awareness on the proper storage and disposal of prescription medication.

Alcoholism is not easy to break though; all affected persons are to visit rehabilitation centres to regain their normal life. Continuous therapeutic process that is aimed at reforming the inner person of an individual that can enable transformation and renewed hope of those who are under the influence of stress and peer pressure is necessary.

NACADA operates a free 24-hour hotline for Kenyans struggling with alcohol and drug abuse. Those in need of help can always reach the Agency via 1192.

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