|Alcoholism: Prevention and Cure by Dr Courtejoie J., MD and Pierre, B (Bureau of Study and Research for the Promotion of Health - Congo - CPS, 1983, 175 p.)|
by Courtejoie J., Pierre B.
Bureau of Study and research for the promotion of Health, PO Box
1800 Kangu -Mayombe, Republic of Zaire or preferably / C/o Avenue des
Hortesisas, B- 1950 Kraainem - BELGIUM
copyright No. 124 in the Republic of Zaire - 1983
Increasing alcohol consumption as a world problem according to the World Health Organization
Alcohol is more easily produced and more widely available than many other substances whose effects on mood, perception or behaviour have been used for recreational or ritualistic purposes. A new phenomenon in the world is the rapid increase in the production of alcoholic beverages, their increasingly wide distribution and the more general availability of money to buy them. So, for 20 years the consumption of alcohol has been constantly increasing. With this increase has come a corresponding rise in the frequency of the various undesirable sequelae of alcoholism, such as death due to cirrhosis of the liver, hospitalizing, road accidents, inefficiency and absenteeism resulting from a high alcohol consumption. In many countries, problems related to alcohol rank among the major public health problems, and constitute in many parts of the world a serious obstacle to socio-economic development
(From: Technical Report Series 650 of a WHO Expert Committee. Problems related to alcohol consumption.)
A proverb from Kenya:
My parents do not drink beer, thus / can look forward to the future with more confidence (Unicef Nairobi).
"Kolo-mbungu unta nlolo, ku nzo bana nzala balele".
"The drunkard is bursting with joy, but the children at home are hungry".
General introduction on alcoholic drinks
All living things, men and animals alike, need to drink in order to live. Water is necessary for life. Water constitutes 60 % of an adult's total body weight and 80 % of a child's total body weight. The water in our bodies is constantly being replaced; it is continually being eliminated through urination and perspiration, and it must be replaced. To remain healthy we must drink enough water to replace that which is lost. Water is the only natural drink that is necessary. It can suffice for all our drinking needs. Water is the only drink of fully grown animals,
But water has no taste, it does not have an especially good flavour. To make water better to drink, man looked for a way to change it and added many different things to it. This is how a wide range of drinks were born: coffee, tea, fruit juices, sodus, and, finally, alcoholic drinks, which will be the subject of this study.
About the authors and acknowledgments
This study "Alcoholism" has been translated and adapted from the
French by G. Leyden and I. van der Borght.
Published by Bureau of Study and Research for the Promotion of Health.
P.O. Box 1800 Kangu-Mayombe (Republic of Zaire)
Thanks to The State Commissariat for Public Health of the Republic of Zaire and to The Swedish Baptist Union
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be
translated, adapted or reproduced in any country without prior permission.
Copyright 1983: B. Pierre , J. Courtejoie and Nzungu Mavinga. Book edition
Printed in the Republic of Zaire. Registration of copyright No. 124 in the Republic of Zaire
The set of pictures alcoholism and this illustrated brochure, which serves as a manual for the series, were made on the initiative and with the support of the SWEDISH BAPTIST UNION.
The English translation has been realized thanks to the initiative and support of the World Health Organization (WHO).
All living things, men and animals alike, need to drink in order to live. Water is necessary for life. Water constitutes 60 % of an adult's total body weight and 80 % of a child's total body weight. The water in our bodies is constantly being replaced; it is continually being eliminated through urination and perspiration, and it must be replaced. To remain healthy we must drink enough water to replace that which is lost. Water is the only natural drink that is necessary. It can suffice for all our drinking needs. Water is the only drink of fully grown animals,
But water has no taste, it does not have an especially good flavour. To make water better to drink, man looked for a way to change it and added many different things to it. This is how a wide range of drinks were born: coffee, tea, fruit juices, sodus, and, finally, alcoholic drinks, which will be the subject of this study.
Alcohol and alcoholic drinks
Alcoholic drinks are those drinks which contain variable amounts of alcohol.
What is alcohol ? Actually' chemists distinguish many kinds of alcohols: alcohols are a family of chemical substances which have common characteristics. Everyone for example knows methyl alcohol' or methylated spirits' which is used in medecine to sterilise instruments and run small alcohol lamps in the laboratory.
The alcohol that we are interested in this book is ethyl alcohol. Its chemical formula is: CH3CH2OH.
In this book' when we speak about alcohol' we will always be
referring to ethyl alcohol. For the majority of people the term ''alcohol''
1. Fermented Alcoholic Drinks
Alcohol results from the transformation of the sugar in certain plan juices by microscopic yeasts. This transformation is called fermentation.
For example' if we cut into a palm tree, a sweet liquid palm juice, will flow from the gash. If we leave this juice exposed to the air, it will start to ferment. That's to say, airborne yeast cells will land in the liquid and turn the sugar into alcohol and carbon dioxide (bubbles of this gas rising to the surface are clearly visible). The palm juice becomes palm wine. The more time goes by, the higher the alcohol content of the palm wine. It becomes a fermented drink, an alcoholic drink
All plant-derived liquids that contain sugar (Juice from palms,
oranges' sugar cane' grapefruit' grapes' bananas' etc) may be fermented and also
become alcoholic drinks. Wine is produced by fermenting grape juice.
Beer is produced by fermenting malt (flour made from dried sprouted grains of barley) with brewer's yeast. Beers made from sorghum, rice, millet, corn, sugar cane, bananas, etc..., also exist.
All these drinks contain alcohol in larger or smaller amounts. This quantity is measured in proof of alcohol. The proof indicates the percent by volume of pure alcohol in the alcoholic drink One proof (1) of an alcoholic drink means that there is 1/2 milliliter of alcohol in 100 milliliters of this drink. Two proof (2) of an alcoholic drink means that there is one milliliter (1 ml) of alcohol in 100 milliliters (100 ml) (= 1/10 liter) of this drink. In other words, it contains 10 ml of alcohol per liter. A 10 proof alcoholic drink contains 5 ml of alcohol per 100 ml or 50 ml per liter .(1)
(1) it should be pointed out that 1 1iter of alcohol weighs 790
1 ml of alcohol weighs 0.79 gramme. To make the calculations easier, we will say (from now on) that a 10 - proof alcoholic drink contains 50 grammes of alcohol per liter (actually it only contains 50 x 0.79 =
Let us look at a few of these fermented drinks:
- palm wines (about 8-proof): wine from oil palms, date palms,
bear and raffia;
- beer from barley (imported from Europe) flavoured with hops, giving the beer a bitter taste (Primus, Skol, Simba, Rigla, Stella Artois, Jupiler): 5 to 8 proof (some go up to 16 proof);
- beer from sorghum "amarwa, intulire, indera";
- beer from millet: "dolo" (4 to 8 proof, "tos" (10 to 18 proof);
- beer from bananas: 'brwagwa, inkangaza";
- beer from cane 10 to 18 proof;
- beer from honey: hydromel 'bbuki":
Wine (imported from Europe, North Africa and South Africa): 12 to 36 proof.
1 proof = about 1/2 % percent alcohol (European Metric System)
2. Distilled Alcoholic drinks
A Sugary liquid from a plant cannot be fermented to yield more than 36 proof alcohol. Beyond 36 proof, the alcohol destroys the yeast that originally created it. Alcohol is a poison, as we shall see later in greater detail.
Man wanted to make drinks containing even more alcohol. He even added alcohol artificially to certain drinks. These drinks are called liqueurs. They contain a large amount of alcohol. For example, there are wines with more than 36 proof alcohol; more alcohol is simply added to the alcohol which is formed naturally.
How can one obtain the concentrated alcohol that is necessary for this operation ? Through distillation What is distillation ? To boil water and evaporate it quickly, we must heat it to 100 C. Alcohol already boils at 78°C. If we heat a fermented drink containing alcohol (wine, beer), the steam that escapes first will consist of only alcohol, for the water does not boil yet. If a dome with a hose attached is put on top of the boiler to collect the escaping alcohol vapours and the steam is cooled down by going through a coil which is immersed in cold water, the resulting liquid will contain a large amount of alcohol as well as the other substances that escaped with it. This distillation apparatus is called a still
The liquid which is obtained (also called a liqueur) can be
drunk like that, flavoured, or added to other drinks. Distilled drinks contain
more alcohol than fermented drinks. The amount varies from 60-proof to
100-proof (and even more )
We will cite some of these drinks palm alcohol obtained by distilling palm wine; corn alcohol obtained by distilling corn beer; banana alcohol; pineapple alcohol; arki alcohol obtained by distilling manioc; mint alcohol; imported spirits (or aqua vitas whose alcohol contents are 80 to 120-proof; whisky: obtained by distilling oats, barley, corn and rye; cognac: obtained by distilling certain wines; rum: obtained by distilling sugar cane; gin obtained by distilling juniper; vodka: obtained by distilling rye or barley. imported aperitifs made from wine (like Martini, Cinzamo, Port) containing between 16 and 20 % alcohol.
It is impossible to list all the drinks that exist since they are so varied and numerous. Each region often has its own specialties.
The important thing to know is their alcohol content. There is as much alcohol in one liter of 100- proof whisky as in 5 liters of 20-proofwine or in 10 liters of 10-proof beer or pahn wine. But all these drinks contain the same alcohol: ehyl alcohol. It is wrong to say that the alcohol in beer is less dangerous than the alcohol in whisky, because it is exactly the same alcohol!
How can we explain the variety and the popularity of alcoholic drinks in most of the countries of the world ?
We cannot deny that drinking a small amount of alcohol gives a pleasant sensation. A person who has drunk a little bit of alcohol is more relaxed. He smiles and talks more easily. When we are together in a group, it creates a good mood which is conductive friendly conversation. That is why alcohol is served at most of our traditional happenings: engagement announcements, presenting dowries, christenings, deaths, circumcisions, and other ceremonies. It cheers the hearts of the guests. It is part of the gifts that we exchange. It is also used a lot to finalize palavers between families.
There are many ways to amuse oneself rather than by drinking beer.
But where there is good, there is also evil: this enjoyable feeling a person experiences can encourage him to continue drinking in order to feel even better, or so he thinks He then falls into a state called alcohol intoxication or drunkenness, many symptoms of which are very well known to all of us. The situation becomes more serious when one makes a habit of drinking too much regularly, always seeking to produce this same feeling of well-being in one's everyday life. The person enters a state of chronic intoxication known as chronic alcoholism which is a form of drug addiction. In other words, the person slowly becomes a slave to alcohol, he becomes dependent on it, he constantly needs it to assure his physical and psychological stability. But such stability is quite artificial, for the alcohol has been silently making havoc in his body.
This, then is a summary of the problem of alcoholism. We shall come back to it and discuss it in more detail later. The important thing is that we distinguish between being intoxicated and being a chronic alcoholic. One can very well be a chronic alcoholic without ever being drunk.
Let us now consider the alcohol's action on the organism in more detail.
Alcohol is a poison; that is a fact no one can deny Alcohol is a caustic, i.e., it has a burning effect. If we put a drop of pure alcohol on the tongue of a person or on a wound, he will feel a burning sensation. If, through an unlucky circumstance, a drop of pure alcohol goes into one's eye, it will burn and the white of the eye will quickly become red. If 80 grammes of pure alcohol are injected into the veins of a 10-kg dog, the dog will die very quickly. pure alcohol added to a glass jar containing fish or mosquito larvae will quickly kill them. In medicine, pure alcohol is used as an external antiseptic because it can destroy all forms of life, like bacteria, viruses, protozoa and the cells of our bodies.
Before operating, the surgeon sterilises his hands and kills the bacteria they carry by rinsing them in pure alcohol.
Since alcoholic drinks are not made of pure alcohol, their effect is not as serious. What is important, as we have already said, is the degree of alcohol. The higher the degree of alcohol, the more dangerous the alcoholic drink. But take notice! Weak drinks (like beer and palm wine) are generally consumed in greater quantities, in bigger glasses than stronger alcoholic drinks (like whisky), which means that the total amount of alcohol drunk may actually be the same.
1. Acute alcoholism
We will study what happens to the alcohol from alcoholic drinks in our body, our organism.
All the alcohol which is drunk is absorbed in the digestive tract: 20 % in the stomach, and 80 % in the small intestine. It is not found at all in the stools. After entering the body, alcohol spreads through the blood stream, is rapidly diluted in the blood stream and other body fluids, in all the water that makes up a large part of our body. Absorption in the intestine is very rapid. The higher the degree of alcohol, the faster the alcohol is absorbed. (The alcohol in whisky is absorbed more rapidly than the alcohol in beer). Five e minutes after drinking alcohol, a person already has alcohol in his or her blood. The quantity in the blood (called alcohol level) reaches its peak one to two hours after one has drunk. Then the level drops slowly (if the person does not continue to drink). It is important to note that the absorption of alcohol is slowed down if there is also food in the digestive tube.
A small part of the alcohol ( 10 % ) that enters the body is eliminated in the air that is exhaled (that gives one's breath the smell of alcohol) and in the urine Thus, 90 % stays in the body, where it is slowly destroyed. The liver is the organ that does this job. It transforms the alcohol into fat, or water and carbon dioxide But its possibilities are limited: the liver of am adult can break down only 10 grammes of alcohol on average per hour (this rate varies from one individual to the next). We are talking about the quantity of alcohol in a large glass of beer or palm wine, or a very small (25 ml) glass of whisky. For a given person, the rate at which alcohol is metabolised is constant. Even if the alcohol level in the bloods is very high, the rate will not increase. We do not know of any medicine, product, of way to speed up the destruction of the alcohol. For example, if we drink a liter of 8-proofbeer quickly 40 grammes of alcohol will be in the body. 90% of this alcohol will be destroy" very slowly by the liver, in about 4 hours. This means that if we continue to drink before the end of the 4-hour period the alcohol will accumulate in the body and its level in the blood will quickly rise. In terms of figures (which we will explain right away), one hour after a person drinks one liter of beer his blood will contain one gramme of alcohol per liter. If we don't want the level of alcohol in the blood to increase we must not drink more than I glass of beer (= 10 grammes) per hour!
The liver is also the first organ exposed to the poisonous
effects of alcohol. Busy neutralizing the alcohol, the liver neglects its other
tasks. Now, the liver supplies the blood with amounts of sugar it needs.
That is why drinking a large quantity of alcohol on an empty stomach may result in a exceptionally low blood sugar level (glycemia), which can lead to a coma (called a hypoglycaemis coma). This coma, which can result in death, must be treated by giving the patient sugar intravenously
The other immediate effect of alcohol is its toxic action on the central nervous system, that is to say the brain. The brain is the organ that allows us to think and reason. It is the instrument of intelligence and will. It allows us to think before we act or speak. It commands our muscles and controls our movements. All these functions will be impaired. Contrary to what is commonly believed, alcohol is not a stimulant, but a depressant of the central nervous system. Alcohol's action on the brain depends of the amount of alcohol in the blood and varies from one person to the next.
The blood's alcohol level is higher the greater the quantity of alcohol drank, the faster it is drunk, and the higher the percent of alcohol contained in the drink. Remember that alcohol is absorbed more slowly in the intestine If there is food in the digestive tract. The level of alcohol in the blood thus rises faster if a person drinks on a empty stomach; it rises more slowly if the alcohol is drunk during a meal.
Generally speaking, the effects of the following levels of alcohol are as follows:
A. One-half to two grammes of alcohol per liter of blood
0,5 grammes of alcohol per liter of blood produces that feeling of well-being, of glibness, that we have already mentioned. If the level increases, in other words, if the subject continues to drink faster than the liver is able to break down the alcohol, he starts to lose touch with reality. His worries, his problems and the constraints of everyday life are forgotten. Anxiety and distress are calmed.
Euphoria is felt. The person is happy, he smiles and laughs at
the slightest occasion. He feels free and sure of himself. The alcohol itself
gives the impression, the illusion of being strong and healthy.
But this is not at all true. In a group of workers, those who have drank seem at first to be in good shape. They sing and laugh. After a while they are already tired. Whereas those who have not drunk keep all of their strength.
What is more, the movements of those who drink are less precise, even if they are not drunk, even if they can still walk straight. The hunter who drinks has difficulty in hitting his target. It is very serious if a person who has drunk operates a complicated machine (tram, crane, bulldozer....), especially if he drives a lorry or other vehicle, for he will take great risks without even realising it. He is excited and will drive roughly and too fast. He will be reckless, overconfident and too daring. He will try to pass when it is too dangerous, and he will not obey the rules of the road. Or, contrary to what he thinks, his judgment will not be as good, his eyesight and reflexes will be less sharp. For example, danger suddenly emerges he will brake more slowly than if he had not drunk and will have an accident.
Studies prove that between 40 and 60 % (sometimes more) of car accidents are caused by drinking The statistics in certain countries show that the victims of these accidents are usually those who were sober (passengers of hit cars, pedestrians).
Actually, the risk already starts at a level of 0.3 g/l which is reached by drinking half a liter of beer during a meal. Starting from 0.5 g/1 the danger is real for all: drivers, passengers and innocent pedestrians. At 0.8 g/l the number of accidents on the road rises sharply. This level is easily reached after drinking one to two liters of beer in succession In many countries driving a car is forbidden if you have more than 0.8 grammes of alcohol per liter in your blood stream (3). A recent study in United States shows that when the driver has 0.8 g/l of alcohol in his blood the number of accidents is 3.3 times higher and the number of fatal accidents is 4.4 times higher than if the driver had not drunk. At 1.2 g/1 the number of accidents is 6 times higher and the number of fatal accidents is 9.3. times higher than if the driver had not drunk. It is remarkable that most drivers know that it is very dangerous to drive after drinking on an empty stomach. When these same drivers have drunk and get behind the wheel of a car, many of them contradict themselves and claim they are quite able to drive safely. So we see to what point alcohol diminishes our ability to reason!
(3) In Sweden and many European Countries,, the maximum level allowed is 0.5 gramme per liter; in Poland, it must absolutely be... 0!
All of this justifies the wise saying: "If you drive, do not drink! if you drink, do not drive"! The English put if more succinctly and brutally: Drink and die! Another well-known slogan is "Health Safety Sobriety". if, in spite of everything, a driver lets himself drink too much, he should wait a few hours before getting behind the wheel.
Besides motor vehicle accidents, there is a long list of other accidents often due to alcohol: work accidents, on the fields or in the factories, accidental wounds, falling out of palm trees, hunting accidents, drownings, fires, and so on
When he set out on the rood this morning after drinking some glasses of beer on a empty stomach, did this driver realize the risk she was ranning?
B. Two grammes of alcohol per liter of blood
This level results in drunkenness (or intoxication). The person does not know what he does or what he says. He speaks less clearly than usual, stutters and repeats the same sentences, the same words, over and over. He talks at random, he exaggerates, he makes mistakes, he does not reason well, he tells stories that do not make any sense. His language is no longer that of an intelligent person. He do not recognize people any more, he speaks to things. He has difficulty in keeping his balance, he has little control over his legs, he cannot walk a straight line. His vision is not good. At times he seems double. He gradually loses his sense of right and wrong and his social conscience, his memory and his will.
He forgets the principles he learned while growing up. He
becomes quick-tempered and brutal, beat his wife, children and friends, break
his furniture (and, without realizing it, even commit very serious crimes such
as stealing, rape, incest and murder). Finally, he dares to say everything and
anything: he goes as far as making threats, insults or simply betraying secrets;
he says things that hurt, that are impolite, disrespectful, uncharitable and
contrary to tradition. The next day the subject will have completely forgotten
everything that happened and everything he said the day before, he will be
completely ashamed if we tell him. But the people whom he makes suffer (his
wife, children, parents and friends) have better memories and will harbour
resentment over this. One drunken episode may break a friendship or start a
family quarrel. This level of alcohol will make some people vomit. Others are no
longer happy but sad, discouraged; they cry.
Others tend to sleep.
C. Three grammes of alcohol per liter of blood
This high a level produces complete weakness, a deep sleep (one is "dead drink").
D. Four grammes will induce a coma.
At this stage, we could operate on the subject without using another anesthesia!
E. Five grammes causes certain death
(It has been noticed that a coma hepaticum lasting more than 12 hours always ends in death). The liver is not able to break down such a dose of alcohol rapidity It may be concluded from this last point that a man can die from drinking a bottle of whisky rapidly! Luckily, this hardly ever happens. Most of the time the person falls asleep completely drunk. That saves him by preventing him from drinking more and increasing the alcohol level in his blood.
The day after the drunkenness, after being "plastered", one wakes up with a severe headache ("a hangover") and digestive problems (nausea, vomiting), but everything soon returns to normal. If this experience is not or very rarely repeated, the consequences are not too serious for the body.
However, we must stress the long list of misfortunes resulting from drunkenness: family and social quarrels; car accidents, work accidents and others.
F. Myths about the virtues of alcohol
At this stage we can destroy a certain number of deep-rooted myths, erroneous beliefs attributing various virtues to alcohol. Actually, they have no scientific basis.
1. "Small doses of alcohol improve mental performance"
One often hears people say, 'Let's have a drink, it will help us to see things more clearly " This is absolutely wrong. It has been scientifically proven that the abilities to concentrate, reason, and remember are rapidly affected, diminished by alcohol. Students know very well they have to give up drinking during exam sessions if they want to pass.
2. "Small doses of alcohol give strength and reduce tiredness"
One hears people say, "I am tired, I am going to take a 'pick me up' "
This is also absolutely wrong. Alcohol lessens the feeling of tiredness, rather than the tiredness itself, through the feeling of well-being it produces. Alcohol gives one the impression of being stronger although, as we previously said, strength is quickly diminished. A serious athlete knows he must not drink at all before a match or race,
3. "Alcohol makes you forget your troubles"
This is true. alcohol makes you forget troubles, but it does not eliminate them. Alcohol neither solves problems nor brings solutions, it just temporarily hides them behind a curtain. Actually, it is likely to create even more difficulties, for someone who drinks is kept from coming to grips with his problems and eradicating the roots of his problems, from "taking the bull by horns".
Alcohol can only lead him to continue drinking in order to further escape reality. But, because of the phenomenon of tolerance we will be needed to produce the same effect. The need for alcohol will become stronger and stronger, so that the subject is likely, little by little, to become a chronic alcoholic.
4. "Alcohol warms you up"
One sometimes hears people say, "Let's have a drink it will warm us up"
This is also wrong. Alcohol creates a warm feeling by dilating the arteries in the skin. The skin is thus supplied with more blood and becomes warmer. In the long run, the heat coming from inside the body is lost at the surface of the skin, so that the body's temperature may actually drop.
5. "Alcohol is necessary for the growth and functioning of the
This is totally wrong. Alcohol is a very bad food. It has very little nutritional value. It contains none of the minerals, vitamins and proteins which the body needs. The body does not need alcohol since animals instinctively refuse to drink it and millions of good labourers throughout the world, Muslims in particular, never drink alcohol
6. "Alcohol is good for the heart and the circulation"
This is utterly wrong. We will talk about this later on.
7. "Alcohol quenches the thirst"
This is wrong it has quite the opposite effect. Everyone knows that after you have an alcoholic drink you quickly feel the need to urinate.
Alcohol increases the volume of urine; you urinate more than you drink so that in the end you are even thirstier. This is even more evident in the case of hard liquor: one is thirstier after drinking than before.
Imagine two men who are very thirsty after a long walk in the sun, one drinks palm wine while the other drinks water. The one who drinks palm wine will need to drink much more than his companion. In hot countries it is thus advisable to slake one's thirst with non-alcoholic liquids like water, soda or fruit juices.
8. "Alcohol stimulates the appetite and helps digestion"
This is absolutely wrong. We will go into more detail about this when we discuss chronic alcoholism. The virtues attributed to alcoholic aperitifs, which are supposed to give one an appetite, are nonsense.
Aperitifs help create a good atmosphere for the meal but they do not stimulate the appetite.
9. 'He who cannot drink is not a man. Fruit juices and sodas are
good for "wealdings", that is to say women, children and weak, puny and sickly
Real athletes will tell you the contrary. Great athletes, international champions never drink or drink only very little alcohol with their meals. Many of them have stated this publicity. They know if they start drinking more it will weaken them and they will not be great anymore Who would dare say that these champions are not men because they do not drink ?
10. "Alcohol increases sexual performance"
It is true that alcohol increases sexual desire. However, the wish is not the deed. On the contrary, it has been observed that drinking alcohol during a feast, for example, diminishes sexual performance.
Everyone knows that heavy drinkers become sexually impotent in the -long run and get better as soon as their alcohol intake is cut. It has been proven that regular alcohol consumption lowers production of the male hormone (testosterone) in the testicles.
11. "European wines and spirits are drinks of prestige. Drinking
them is a sign of wealth and development"
Indeed, these drinks are very expensive, but one could hardly consider them a sign of development. When one is aware of the terrible consequences of alcoholism in Europe, of the active anti-alcoholism campaigns being waged in Europe, one understands what a pity it would be to adopt such a harmful custom in Africa.
12. Alcohol is a medicine"
While alcohol does soothe pain, it has no other therapeutic properties
13. There are a large number of other virtues attributed to alcohol, which vary from one region to the next. Here are some of these "virtues", which are all equally false
Whisky dilates the arteries of the heart."
"Wine is a most wholesome and hygienic drink because it is a natural substance, " (Here it should be pointed out that curare, hemlock, atropine and digitalin, which are fearsome poisons, are also natural substances!).
"Beer is excellent for breastfeeding mothers "
14. Sometimes one can also hear the following:
"It is very easy to eliminate the effects of alcohol or to sober somebody up with, for example, a few cups of coffee, a cold shower or a walk in the fresh air"
All these means are useless. The only thing to do is to wait while the liver slowly breaks down all the alcohol.
"The thing is never to get drunk" That is completely wrong. We will answer this question in the next chapter.
Now that we have talked about acute alcoholism, we shall discuss
chronic alcoholism But before doing so, we must study how one becomes a chronic
alcoholic. We are thus going to speak about the drinking habit.
2. The drinking habit
Even if, for once, the feeling of well-being produced by alcohol does not have permanent harmful effects on the body, it still is dangerous since a person who has had this pleasant feeling is likely to wish to re-experience it by drinking again. He may thus get into the habit of drinking every day.
Do we get into the habit of drinking only for the sake of the pleasant feeling produced by alcohol ? No we do not, there are many other reasons People drink because they feel blue, are discouraged, have protracted problems, or want to forget their failures, disappointments, lack of work, loneliness, age, poverty, or poor family and social conditions. But most of the time people Start getting accustomed to drinking without noticing it, out of habit.
Indeed, opportunities for drinking are frequent. When the family or friends gather they USUALLY take a drink. Any occasion is good.
Offering a drink has even become a proof of friendship; omitting it is sometimes felt as a lack of consideration! it is curious that when we lift up our glass we wish each other "good health" when this gesture, if repeated too often, is likely to ruin our health!
People drink because they believe in the "virtues" of alcohol, which we have disproved), in misleading advertising (showing, for example, a happy couple or even athletes having a beer together); people may drink simply due to idleness, to "kill time", or because they do not dare to refuse a drink, because they have weak characters, are shy, or want to hide their embarrassment or feelings of inferiority. They may also drink to show they have either as much or more money than someone else: they buy rounds of drinks to show that they are rich and generous. People may go to the bar to show they have become "more advanced". Men sometimes drink to prove their manhood, as though drinking were a sign of virility.
Similarly, young men may drink "to imitate the elders" (by the way, it would be better to copy their qualities rather than their flaws!) Some young people boast about having often 'plastered" The sicker, the better. They get the impression of superiority, of being more adult. The young are often place in difficult situations amidst the current upheavals in our societies. They are torn between traditional and modem life styles, they fear the future. That is why they enjoy meeting each other for a drink they understand each other, while the alcohol makes things lively, helps them forget their troubles and talk more easily (don't such discussions around a bottle of beer quickly become artificial ?).
The danger for-young people is that they think they are strong and healthy; they do not fear alcohol and want to ignore its effects on their health and its harmful influence on drivers; they think that their youth will protect them from alcoholism. This is absolutely wrong, On the contrary, it has been observed that a person who starts drinking before the age of 20 becomes an alcoholic more quickly than someone who starts drinking later Some girls drink to prove "they are just as good as boys" However, as far as alcohol is concerned, women are less resistant than men, they get drunk more quickly and their livers are affected more quickly.
Young people often think that being in the prime of life protects them from the dangers of alcohol, but that is absolutely wrong
As we have seen, there are many reasons for getting into the habit of drinking. However, someone who starts drinking alcohol every day will notice that while one drink is enough to produce a feeling of well-being on the first day, he will soon need two, then three, then more and more drinks to achieve the same effect. This phenomenon is called tolerance. The subject is then likely to take higher and higher doses of alcohol. He is on a dangerous path, because another phenomenon appears: dependence. He soon realizes that it is difficult for him to do without alcohol he needs it more and more to live. He becomes a slave to alcohol, is headed toward chronic alcoholism He will protest, saying, "I'm never drunk." That may be true. But a drunk is not necessarily an alcoholic (although an alcoholic may also have bouts of drunkenness). Some people whom we see dead drunk from time to time can be less intoxicated than others who have never been seen drunk. An alcoholic is someone in whom a real need to drink alcohol has developed; he feels uncomfortable as long as he has not had his ''fix'', his regular ration. The alcoholic has lost the freedom to live without drinking. One can become an alcoholic without getting drink The affirmation "the important thing is not to get drank" is absolutely incorrect.
3. Chronic alcoholism or true alcoholism, alcoholism per se
Alcohol will exert its toxic action on the habitual drinker over a long period of time. Although its effects will be more discrete, less visible, less spectacular than those of acute alcoholism, they will be more dangerous: indeed, in a few years' time they will gradually, almost treacherously result in definitive lessons in many organs. It is worth mentioning that at the beginning, during the first months and sometimes years, when the individual is only on the path to alcoholism, these disorders are absolutely reversible, that is to say that the patient can be completely cured quite rapidly if he stops drinking or drastically lowers his alcohol intake.
Let us go over the effects of prolonged ingestion of alcohol on the organism Actually all the organs are affected by alcohol, but some more than others.
A. Effects on the liver
Liver function is considerably altered by alcohol. Indeed, this organ gradually becomes "specialised" in breaking down alcohol. It devotes all its energy to this task, to the detriment of its other functions.
In this way the liver manage to increase its ability to break down alcohol; it breaks down the alcohol more rapidly. Indeed, those who are used to drinking alcohol can better withstand alcoholic drinks. It takes longer for them to get drunk. This is called "tolerance" to alcohol. Heavy drinkers are often proud of their ability to tolerate alcohol; they consider it to be a proof of strength. Sadly, they are sometimes admired for this. But it is most important to understand that this advantage is dearly won, at the price of some serious disadvantages.
First of all, the liver of a person who is used to drinking increases in volume because it rapidly swells with fat. This is known as "fatty hver" or "hepatic steatosis". if we palpate the belly, we can feel this increase in the liver's volume. This fat comes from the wastes of the alcohol which has been broken down by the liver. It eventually enters the blood stream and causes other problems we will describe later on.
The metabolism of some medicines by the liver is disturbed. So, if a habitual drinker must have surgery he will resist general anaesthesia; it will be difficult to put him to sleep.
The alcohol breakdown products eventually kill the liver cells. This phenomenon causes an inflammation known as "alcoholic hepatitis". it is accompanied by serious digestive disorders (loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting). The liver increases in volume and is painful. The eyes turn yellow (icterus). If the hepatitis is serious, the patient's eyes become more and more yellow and he may go into a coma, an "coma hepaticum", and die. If the hepatitis is not as serious, destruction of the liver cells is followed by fibrous scarring. This is how cirrhosis of the liver progressively appears (4), resulting from multiple scarring; the liver becomes a hard, fibrous nodular mass. At first, its volume increases, then it Slowly atrophies. Cirrhosis of the liver is a very serious, incurable disease. The patient loses his appetite, loses weight and becomes weak. His belly is swollen with water: this is called ascites, which is very difficult to treat. The spleen increases in volume. The patient becomes anaemic because he has intestinal hemorrahages in the oesophagus and stomach: The patient vomits blood and there is dark blood in his stoals. These losses of blood can be abundant and sudden, and cause death. If the patient does not die from hemorrhages he is doomed to die within a few years in a miserable, emaciated state.
(4) Studies carried out in France clearly show that men who ingest more than 100 grammes of alcohol per day (equivalent to 3 'liters of 8 - proof beer or palm wine) and women who ingest more than 75 grammes have a fifty-fifty chance of developing cirrhosis of the liver.
He could also die from another complication: liver cancer. It has been proven that primitive liver cancer often develops in cirrhotic livers.
This painful ailment is also very well known: it leads to emaciation and death within a few months.
B. Effects on the other organs of the digestive tract
1. Alcohol is an important risk factor in all digestive tract cancers (cancer of the tongue, pharynx, oesophagus, stomach. intestine)
2, Effects on the stomach: a chronic alcoholic suffers from chronic gastritis (stomach inflammation), especially if he drinks on an empty stomach This leads to abdominal pains, loss of appetite (anorexia), digestive upset with nausea (desire to vomit) and vomiting, and gradual weight loss. Hemorrhkages develop in the stomach and bring about vomiting of blood. These hemorrhages may aggravate the hemorrhages due to possible cirrhosis. In the morning, the patient often vomits a bit of shiny liquid, called pituita, on a empty stomach in the case of gastritis, the alcoholic's tongue is dry and is covered by a whitish coating. A stomach lesion, called an ulcer, may develop, causing violent pain.
3. Effects on the pancreas: it has been noticed that chronic alcoholism is often associated with chronic pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas), characterized by digestive upset, ballooning of the belly, diarrhoea, weight loss and abdominal pain. This condition eventually leads to a very serious disease, diabetes.
C. Effects on nutrition
1. If the alcoholic continues to eat well, the large quantities of fat resulting from the transformation of the alcohol (which is high in calories) will be used as the body's food reserves. The well-fed alcoholic thus becomes obese; his face becomes puffy. Most well-fed heavy drinkers are fat, and many of them take satisfaction in this because they consider it a sigh of good health, a source of prestige and respect. Actually obesity is the source of various disorders: susceptibility to high blood pressure (arterial hypertension), cardiac decompensation, obstructed artenes, diabetes, and rheumatism.
We should like to point out that a well-fed alcoholic whose diet is well balanced in proteins is not at all protected from alcohol's harmfull effects on the liver, even if his obese condition apparency makes him look healthy.
2. However, it has often been observed that malnutrition and vitamin deficiencies are associated with chronic alcoholism. Indeed, as we have said previously, an alcoholic often experiences loss of appetite and has difficulty digesting as a result of gastritis, pancreatitis, or cirrhosis of the liver. He will thus eat less, which leads to malnutrition, all the more so as his intoxicated intestine will absorb certain foods, such as glucose, proteins, calcium, and some vitamins (vitamin B2, folic acid) with more difficulty. He will lose weight, become increasingly anaemic and weak, and will be less resistant to infections. Some alcoholics make this situation worse by spending all of the family's money to buy alcoholic drinks. They cam no longer afford to buy adequate food.
D. Effects on the heart and blood vessels
Alcoholics often have palpitations. Their hearts tend to beat more quickly and irregularity. They are subject to cardiac decompensation, and they quickly become out of breath due to physical exertion.
Their arteries are affected more easily. They often suffer from arteriosclerosis. This disease results from fatty build-up on the arteries' inside walls. The arteries then become hard and brittle, leading to poor circulation. They can become blocked. If this happens in the brain, the person will be paralyzed (often in one half of the body); if it happens in the heart, the person can die from a heart attack, (infarction). Alcoholics often have high blood pressure (arterial hypertension), too. This condition strains the heart and causes cerebral hemorrages (strokes) which can leave their victims paralyzed.
E. Effects on the body's general resistance
Even if it is fatter, the alcoholic's body is weaker, and less resistant to attack from the environment, infections in particular.
Actually, alcoholism exacerbates all diseases and increases vulnerability to many of them.
Alcoholics age prematurely.
Moreover, alcohol is incompatible with many medicines. Some patients taking pain-killers (phenacetine, pyrazols, etc.) cannot take alcohol without vomiting, palpitations, distress, etc. (5). Or alcohol may intensify the effect of some medicines, which then become toxic even in small doses. It is strictly forbidden for persons taking tranquilizers (Valium, etc), sleeping pills (barbiturates; etc), or antihistamines to drink alcohol, because the effects of these medicines are increased by alcohol. This concerns driver of motor vehicles and machine operators in particular, as they run the risk of feeling drowsy and even falling asleep. (5) rhis effect is sometimes used in certain medicines which are alcohol deterrents, such in disulfiram (Antabuse, Abstinyl, Esperal).
F. Effects on the respiratory system
Alcohol is a risk factor in the development of cancers of the pharynx and larynx. As we have already said, alcohol lowers body temperature.
Moreover, it weakens the resistance of the bronchial tubes to infections. That is why alcoholics often suffer from bronchitis. Their bronchial tubes can no longer prevent the germs from reaching the lungs alcoholics thus contract bronchopnenmonia very easily. This disease causes fever, coughing and phlegm, suffocation, and sometimes death.
We have said that an alcoholic often neglects his diet, so that he becomes malnourished and weak, with very low resistance to infection.
That is why chronic alcoholism provides such favourable ground for the development of so fearsome a disease as pulmonary tuberculosis (phthisis): in order to fight against tuberculosis one must be well fed, well dressed, and warm and sheltered at night, which is rare in the case of an alcoholic. One could say that 'alcoholism makes the bed that tuberculosis lies in'.
G. Effects on the nerves
Alcohol has a toxic effect on all the nerves in the body in the form of a disease called polyneuritis This is characterized by pins-and-needles, cramps, sometimes violent pain in the limbs, particularly in the lower limbs, at night. The upper limbs tremble; such tremors can be seen very clearly when the alcoholic streches out his hands. He is thus not able to do precision work. The tongue also trembles. The muscles are very weak. In serious cases, reduced sight, locomotor disorders and even paralysis of legs are observed. Taking B-complex vitamins will improve some of these conditions, but that does nor, however mean that vitamin
B protects against alcoholism.
H. Effects on the blood
As we said earlier, alcoholism can lead to anaemia, that is to say a drop in the number of red blood cells. On the other hand, an alcoholic may have an abnormally high volume of red blood cells. A drop in the number of other blood cells called platelets is also often observed.. We also said that there is an increase in the amount of fat in the blood, which has harmful consequences for the arteries. The alcoholic s blood tends to be acid.
Well before many disorders become visible, an excessive alcohol intake modifies certain substances in the blood, to the point where a technician analyzing the blood of a person in a well-equipped laboratory can assert with certitude that this person usually drinks too much alcohol, even if the blood donor did not drink that very day and thus had no alcohol in his blood! We should Point out that this analysis can be used for early screening for alcoholism.
I. Effects on the joints
Alcohol abuse can give rise to an articular disease called gout, which is manifested as very painful attacks and deformation of the joints. It may also be accompanied by the formation of little stones, known as calculi, in the urinary canals. We should also remember that obese alcoholics often suffer from rheumatism.
J. Effects on the genital orgasms
As we already said, in the long run, alcohol makes men impotent, that IS to say unable to perform the complete normal sexual act. Moreover, it has also been proven that chronic alcoholism brings about a drop in testosterone (the male hormone) secretion levels by the testicles.
K. Effects on the brain and behaviour
Together with the harmful effects on the liver, the effects of chronic alcoholism on the brain are the most serious.
Alcohol, as we said, is a drug and chronic alcoholism is a form of drug addiction, that is to say that a person who is used to drinking excessive amounts of alcohol every day gradually becomes dependent on alcohol. Finally, after several years (5 to 25 years) he is no longer able to resist the urge to drink, he has become a slave to alcohol. He cannot go without it, he needs his daily "fix". That is what is known as dependence or addiction. If he is deprived of alcohol, he feels physically and mentally unwell and will do anything in order to get some. This addiction we should add a phenomenon we already talked about concerning the liver - tolerance. This means that the brain becomes used to the alcohol, and that bigger and bigger doses of alcohol (not just one drink, but 3 or 4, then 5 or 6, etc.) are necessary to produce the same feeling of well-being, the euphoria that we spoke about in the case of acute alcoholism.
Can one bosh work well and be an alcoholic ? NO
But let us start at the beginning.
The person who drinks excessive amounts of alcohol every day looks like a cheerful fellow, for he is usually talkative and slightly animated.
The years go by and his character changes drastically. He is less and affectionate towards his family, sometimes he gives the impression of having become unconcerned, he does not worry any more about either his wife or children. Eventually he cannot bear them any more. He gets more and more quick-tempered, he gets angry quickly. At home, he quarrels all day long. He is even brutal, beating his wife and children without reason. His family eventually cast him out and grow apart morally and sometimes even leave the house.
He loses all willpower: he becomes carefree, untruthful, boastful and hypocritical. He neglects his personal hygiene and appearance, becomes increasingly dirty, untidy and crude.
He is less active, becomes bored and disgusted with working. His productivity drops. He is always tired, often ill and thus is often absent from work. Being under the influence of alcohol, he makes mistakes and can cause accidents. His reflexes are slower. Injuries, cuts, bums, falls are more frequent in alcoholics. If he has plantations, he neglects them and does not look after them any more. If he has palm trees, he will tap them to get palm wine and the palm will no longer yield good fruits. Whenever his family or his friends scold him, he will apologise and promise to do better and stop drinking.
However, alcohol will have destroyed all his willpower. If some fellows take him to a bar, he will no longer have the strength to refuse and will start drinking again despite his promises. After a while, his employer will have to let him go.
His memory fails him, he cannot remember as well what people tell him.
His attention span diminishes; he can no longer fix his attention, concentrate or properly reason. At night, he has difficulty falling asleep. During the day he is exhausted, drowsy, good for nothing. At other times, he can no longer control himself: he may commit crimes such as stealing, offenses against public morals (rape, incest, etc.), assault and battery, arson and even murders. A high proportion of the people put in jail are alcoholics. During the day, an alcoholic stays feeble doing nothing. (Living Universel)
He feels guilty, inferior to the others. He is ashamed of himself. He tries to escape his responsibilities. He invents thousands of excuses for his need to drink: family and professional worries, tiredness, nervousness, migrains, etc.
He becomes more and more pessimistic, discouraged, anxious and lonesome. Instead of solving his problems, alcohol increases them. He consequently tries to drown his sorrows in alcohol and is caught in a vicious circle. He may attempt suicide. Suicides are more frequent among alcoholics.
This is how he gradually goes into a physical and moral decline. Little by little, his family, friends, work and social and moral duties become secondary to alcohol, and eventually will not interest him at all. At the end, he no longer resists his need to drink; he cannot live without alcohol. His life is dominated by this obsession:
"How can I get my ration of alcohol today ?" if he is still working, it is only to achieve this goal. He borrows money to drink, he goes into debt. It is difficult for him to stop drinking as it is for a driver to stop his lorry without brake. He must drink to get going. He even reaches the Point where he drinks as soon as he gets up, never starting the day without having a drink to calm the discomfort (stomach cramps, trembling) he feels when he gets up. Once he takes his first drink, he cannot stop, he does not drink in little sips, but in one go, in great gulps. He does not drink with his fellows but alone, on a empty stomach.
He becomes a burden for his family and the society as a whole. He does not earn a good living, all his money is spent on drink He gives no more money to his wife. He beats his children, who are poorly fed, dressed and educated. At night, they wait in anguish for their father, who went out to get drunk, to return. His wife is also beaten, abandoned and unhappy. His house has become a hell and is going to ruin. "A drinkers home is a troubled home".
Sometimes when he has caused a serious accident or a great tragedy, he may receive such a psychological shock that he will decide to stop drinking once for all, but at what a price!
In the most serious cases, the alcoholic's tolerance drops after a few years. The drinker cannot take alcohol any more. He becomes drunk after one drink. He gives way to madness, insanity. He has hallucinations, he thinks he sees little animals (rats, mice, snakes, toads) threatening him, he hears terrible noises. He is afraid, tries to escape, becomes furious, hits about wildly. He may have convulsions or epileptic fits. Or he is mistakenly convinced that his wife is deceiving him, that his children are Laughing at him, that neighbours are saying bad things about him, are trying to cast a spell on him, steal from him, hurt him or do him harm. He may then try to take revenge and becomes dangerous. Then again, other alcoholics lose their memories and intelligence. They become like children. They do not recognise their surroundings, will say anything or become indifferent. These serious mental disorders (called psychoses) are known as delirium tremens, korsakoff s syndrome or Gayet Wernicke's encephalopathy in medical circles.
L. Effects on offspring
1. When a pregnant woman drinks alcohol, even without getting drunk, the alcohol in her blood enters the blood of the child she is carrying. However, a child, and even more a foetus, is much more sensitive to alcohol than an adult is. A pregnant woman who drinks alcohol regularly runs the risk of giving birth to a stillborn child, a premature child or an underweight child who is thus fragile, or even a child with deformities (on the face lips the joints, the hearts, the genitalia, etc.). The enfant of an alcoholic woman feeds and sleeps very little. He is often very nervous and trembles. He has a higher risk of dying in the days immediately following his birth.
Later on, if he survives, he is very likely to have low intelligence.
That is the reason why it is absolutely necessary to maintain the custom existing in several areas of Zaire which forbids a pregnant woman to drink palm wine, beer or any alcohol drink. This also applies to the breastfeeding mother, because alcohol passes into her milk, which then becomes toxic for her child.
2. Alcoholism's effect on men's reproductive abilities, on their children's physical state is less well known. But what is certain is that less than an hour after a man drinks a liter of palm wine, his sperm contains alcohol.
3. Children growing up in a family where the father more rarely the mother is an alcoholic encounter all kind of difficulties in life.
Living in an atmosphere of tears, quarrels and anger, having separated or divorced parents and rapidly becoming orphans, they feel insecure, lack affection and kind educational paternal authority. Neglected, victims of the family's financial difficulties, they are likely to suffer from malnutrition with all its consequences (stunted growth and intelligence, predisposition to tuberculosis, etc.) and may be compelled to quit school. Sometimes they have only one wish: to run away from home, without even thinking about how they will live afterwards. Morever, their father's bad behaviour drives them to act like him. Thus the children of alcoholics often meet all the requirements for becoming socially maladjusted (rejection of the family, school, society, personality problems), they sink into deliquancy and eventually become alcoholics themselves.
4. It is absolutely recommended not to give children the slightest drop of alcohol (after what has preceded, one can easily understand this), even during celebrations, until they are 14 to 16 years old.
1. Preventing alcoholism
Alcoholism is a true social curse. It is the main problem plaguing many countries.
Worldwide, alcoholism is by far the most widespread and thus harmful type of drug abuse. Alcohol is the drug causing the most destruction throughout the world. An alcoholic hurts not only himself, but the whole society as well.
Alcoholism weakens a country. It deprives it of the working potential of often young people alcohol abuse results in high medical expenses (6). it is responsable for a large number of road and work accidents. In countries where people drink alcohol, the mortality rate of the young male working age population is statistically higher (7). A large number of young delinquents were raised by alcoholic parents.
Alcoholism slows down the functioning and development of a country,
As WHO stated: "Improving public health must be an integral part of the general economic and social development of each country". The fight against alcoholism is indeed a factor in the social and economic development of a country: it is an important factor in Public Health.
(6) in Canada' for example, where in the eighties alcoholics make up 8% of the population, it is estimated that 40% of all hospitalisations result directly or indirectly from the use of alcohol. Figures show that 28 to 40% of the men (and 8 to 18 % of the women) hospitalized in internal medicine departments in France are alcoholics! (7) A recent French study of factory workers in the Paris area has shown that: the number of medical leaves exceeding three weeks is 15 times higher among alcoholics than non alcoholics .
The risk of dying between the ages of 30 and 35 is 5 times higher for an alcoholic than a sober man.
2. How can we combat alcoholism ?
Should all consumption of alcohol be prohibited ? This could be a solution. Some societies have not hesitated to adopt this strategy. The Coran (the Holy Book of Islam) forbids wine and alcoholic drinks; orthodox Muslims never drink alcohol. In most Islamic countries the selling of all alcoholic drinks is prohibited, except in very special circumstances. Many Protestant Churches forbid the faithful to drink any alcohol whatsoever. The Catholic Church and other Protestant Churches do not prohibit alcohol but always recommend sobriety and moderate use of alcohol. Some Catholic associations, in Ireland and Canada for example, are composed of people in favour of completely abstaining from drinking alcohol
The Jews and the Chinese traditionally drink very little alcohol; this is part of their cultures. The production and sale of all drinks was prohibited in the United States for 15 years, from 1920 to 1935. But as the number of frauds increased drastically, the law was repealed.
However, many states in the country maintained the law, after reducing its severity. In Finland, a total ban on alcohol also failed.
Actually, if alcohol were always drunk in small amounts, if its only influence on the people were to ease social relations, there would be no reason to prohibit it. The main thing is temperance in drinking alcohol, in moderation, remaining sober. It is much more important to inform than to forbid.
3. Informing the whole population about the dangers of alcoholism
It is essential to inform the whole population about the dangers of alcoholism, to enlighten it, to show the people the dangers of alcoholism for mind and body, physical and moral health, family and social behaviour. The legends attributing virtues to alcohol must be destroyed; the daily divertising lies must be explained. This information is more valuable than any ban, because it goes deep. That is the goal of this book: to inform, Many other means exist: group discussions, television or radio broadcasts, newspapers articles, posters and slogans.
This information is not always easily accepted. Men are very often unconcerned about the harmful consequences of alcohol on their health and lives, because alcohol acts slowly. However they are struck very deeply when disease strikes, when sudden accident causes injury or death. This disease or this accident may be caused by the alcohol to which they do not give much importance. Moreover, the fight against alcoholism runs counter to the important financial interests of the alcohol producers and the owners of big shops selling alcohol, who are sometimes very powerful.
We should not hesitate to give this information right from the primary school level.
First, prevention is better than curing. Second, children are the most receptive to teaching. Simple notions about alcoholism (summed up from this book, for instance), frequently repeated, could be taught in one or two lessons (one or two per month, for example) for older primary school children. These notions could be included in dictations, essays, short mathematical problems (8).
More thorough lessons could then be given at the secondary school level. Adolescents must be shown that they become men not by drinking, but by showing they are able to refuse drinks or set their own limits, thanks to the force of their characters, on the amount of alcohol they drink. Teachers should obviously set the example by not drinking alcohol or drinking in moderation (the same remark applies to medical personnel and the political elite). These "anti-alcoholic" lessons could have a tremendous effect on the rate of alcoholism in our countries in the years to come.
We should not merely say: "The fight against alcoholism is the government's problem" No, it is a matter of education, it is everyone's business. Everyone can use his or her imagination to think up educational strategies.
4. Respect those who do not drink alcohol
We have to learn to respect those who do not drink when alcoholic drinks are offered; not to laugh at them, or consider them inferior. One has to learn not to insist, never to force a person to drink alcohol if someone refuses a drink. When meeting among friends, it should be possible to choose freely between alcoholic and nonalcoholic drinks (coffee, tea, fruit juices, sodas). We have to make people understand that it is not a lack of respect to let friends and family choose between alcoholic and non alcoholic drinks, on the contrary. On the other hand, how can we expect our children to learn to drink alcohol in moderation if we do not set the example ourselves, if we copiously serve our guests alcohol, if we do not let them choose freely between alcoholic and nonalcoholic drinks ?
5. Helping young people spend their energy in positive activities
If we want to turn the young away from alcoholism and to have a lasting effect in fighting alcoholism, we have to help young people spend their energy in intellectual, cultural, sports and especially professional activities by providing them with a job, in addition to spreading information.
6. Teach sobriety and temperance
If we do not teach abstinence (meaning never drinking), we at least have to teach sobriety and temperance (meaning not abusing alcohol). What, then, is an acceptable rate of alcohol consumption ? A healthy person who has had or no liver, heart or venous system diseases can safely ingest a maximum of 1 gramme of pure alcohol per kilogramme body weight per day. For example: a healthy 60-kg man may drink without danger a maximum of 60 grammes of pure alcohol per day, which means 2 liters of 6 -proof beer or (not and!) 1 liter of 12-proof beer or 1.5 liter of palm wine at 9 proof or half 24 proof liter wine or 1/8 liter of whisky at 96-proof (remember that one liter = 4 ordinary glasses). For women, who are more sensitive to alcohol, these doses should be reduced by one fourth. Of course these are absolute maximums, and if one drinks these maximums every day, he runs great risk of becoming alcoholic.
Moreover, one must learn to avoid drinking on a empty stomach as well as drinking in the morning. Those who drive vehicles should drink most moderately, or even not at all.
Other means of combat could be envisaged and discussed at the national level by governments; for example, banning advertising on alcoholic drinks, limiting imports of hard liquor, limiting alcohol content, raising taxes on alcoholic drinks (9) and lowering taxes on nonalcoholic drinks, providing nonalcoholic drinks and early screening procedures for alcoholism in factories, dealing more severely with drunk drivers (heavy tines, taking away driving fences, etc).
7. Early screening and the treatment of chronic alcoholism
The treatment of chronic alcoholism is long and difficult. Relapses are frequent.
That is why early screening is most important. Indeed, in order to have the best chances for success, the alcoholism must be detected before the person is truly addicted. Action must be taken when he is a heavy drinker but not yet addicted, that is to say when he is not yet a slave to alcohol and can. still do without it some of the time.
What are the sings allowing early detection ? Let us list and remember them: tired, puffy faces lacking vitality; red conjunctiva, hiding yellowish eyes; whitish coating on the tongue; trembling of the hands, an enlarged over and often an increase in the blood pressure; tendency to obesity; complaints such as: sleeplessness, nightmares and cramps in the calves at night, quick tiredness when walking, loss of appetite, nausea, burning sensations in the stomach, tendency to be quick tempered and edgy. Some specialised blood tests (we have talked about them earlier) make very early detection possible.
In practice, you can easily test yourself to see whether or not you are an alcoholic, that is to say to determine if you are dependent on alcohol, whether or not you are slave to alcohol.
You just give up alcohol completely for two days. If this is easy, you are free from alcohol, you are not an alcoholic. However, if this is difficult, you are on a dangerous path and it is absolutely necessary to reduce the consumption of alcohol drastically (the person in question will himself notice the rapid drop in and then the disappearance of his ailments) and test oneself again from time to time. If this is impossible, and what is even more, one feels even worse (cramps at night, nausea, burning in the stomach, trembling of fingers, loss of appetite) after giving up drinking, this the proof that one is a true chronic alcoholic, dependent on alcohol, and in need of treatment.
However, treatment cannot be imposed on a chronic alcoholic who is dependent on alcohol, for fear of failing. The ill person himself must feel the need to be treated. No treatment is possible if the patient does not cooperate. Moreover, the alcoholic is basically unhappy and his personality is fragile. He needs to be surrounded, helped and encouraged by his family, who must make an effort not to turn their backs on him. Moral lessons, judgments, threats and scorn most often lead to failures and the patient will flee the treatment. One must not judge rather understand.
The treatment consists in administering, often in a hospital at the beginning, certain medicines (none of which will work miracles) and above all in making the patient give up alcohol completely and definitively. Serious alcoholism is in a way an incurable disease, since drinking even the smallest glass of alcohol will inevitably provoke a relapse. So, if a chronic alcoholic wants to be cured and not to relapse, he may not allow himself to drink even a drop of alcohol for the rest of his life. He may not even simply lower his alcohol intake, on pain of certain relapse, that is to say becoming dependent again.
Such abstinence is not easy. Both doctor and nurse as well as the family must support the alcoholic and encourage him, give him confidence.
Associations of former alcoholics exist in many countries to provide mutual assistance and to welcome alcohols who have just started treatment. The associations prove to the new members that they can pull through and live happily without alcohol, that they can and must solve their own problems, without drowning them in alcohol but with help of friends and family and finally, through their own willpower. We must help them to recover the self-confidence which they have lost. This psychological support is extremely important.
Picture: Channeling young people's energy into sports is a way to fight alcoholism.
The flip-chart "Alcoholism" was created after the success of the other flip-charts "Malaria", Nutrition", "Tuberculosis" and "Intestinal Worms" which have been distributed in Central Africa for several years.
It was designed by the Bureau of Study and Research for the Promotion of Health upon the request and with the support of the Swedish Baptist Union.
An extensive test carried out by student nurses and teachers among various groups of interested persons made it possible to perfect this modern educational material.
This flip-chart consists of some forty colored pictures hung in a plywood suitcase, 42 x 65 cm; it comes in French, Portuguese and English versions.
The boxes were made in the Training Center for the Promotion of Health in Kangu-Mayombe by teams of students on holiday. They assured all the work of choosing the colors, the page layouts and making the plywood suitcases.
This booklet is issued with each flip-chart (42 x 65 cm). It serves as its directions for use, but it also accompanies a folder containing the same series of pictures in a smaller (21 x 30 cm format.
The present booklet can also be obtained separately froin the Bureau of Study and Research for the Promotion of Health, P.O.Box 1800, Kangu-Mayombe, Republic of Zaire.
It is to be hoped that each and every student, at least in teachers' colleges, nursing schools, have a copy of this explanatory booklet.
This flip-chart "Alcoholism" as well as the flip-chart "Paludism-malaria", "Tuberculosis", "Nutrition" and "Intestinal Worms", various slide and microfiche sets on the same themes, sets of educational pictures, posters, books and booklets on sanitary education, are available at the Bureau of Study and Research for the Promotion of Health, P.O.Box 1800, Kangu-mayombe, Republic of Zaire
The use of this material will be explained further on.
1. A flip-chart on alcoholism, consisting of forty drawings; a set of four wall posters illustrating the essential points of the fight against alcoholism accompanies the flipchart (this set of four posters is also available separately at Kaingu-Mayombe). (10) Catalogue No. 5, which available at no cost from Kangu-Mayombe' contains a comprehensive list of available educational material and depositories in Africa and Europe.
2. A slide projector or a microfiche projector or PC, as these pictures on alcoholism are also available as slides or microfiches or on CD-Rom
3. A bottle of inethyl alcohol and a laboratory alcohol. Bunsen burner. A bottle of ethyl alcohol, denatured with ether. A bottle of 100%-proof alcohol. A bottle of beer, a bottle of whisky. A calabash of palm wine. A bottle of wine. A bottle of traditional alcohol.
4. Various other drinks: a glass of drinking water, a glass of grenadine, a bottle of soda, a bottle of orange juice, a cup of coffee, a cup of tea.
5. Pictures of wrecked cars and injured people (showing wounds and fractures) resulting from road accidents; pictures of malnourished children.
6. A driving hcence,
7. A bicycle, a sewing machine, a football.
8. Medecines in their packings: vitamin B1, B-complex, caffeine, aspirin.
In order to obtain the best results with a group, the educator must use the didactic material wisely:
1. The material must be prepared before the lesson to be ready when needed.
2. One should avoid whenever it is possible displaying the material to the listeners before talking about it, so as not to distract their attention.
3. The pictures are meant first and foremost to illustrate the educator's talk and to make understanding easier. Health education thus does not consist of merely leafing through the pictures, while explaining their meaning.
4. To facilitate the educator's work, all the explanations that he can use directly as comments for the pictures have been put each time between inverted commas.
5. The time needed to explain alcoholism using the flipchart will vary according to circumstances. One is advised to present the material in several sessions. We suggest:
Session one - group discussion: Questions on diseases in general
and on alcoholism in particular.
Session two: 1. The happy, successful family and 2. The damaging effects of alcohol.
Session three: Preventing alcoholism
Now please look at the pictures in next boxes ...
The first session begins with a short introduction on the reasons why the group will meet several days. Then the session will be devoted entirely to questions. The educator will first explain the reasons for these questions:
1. We must learn at all times and learn to combine our knowledge
"Nobody in the world can claim to know everything Even the most famous scientists, who invent extraordinary machines, still do not know many things. That is to say there is no end to learning. We must learn at all times and all ages in order to know what we do not know yet. Each of us knows things that maybe another do not know. That is why I am going to ask you some questions today so that we can combine all our knowledge on diseases and the ways to combat them. "
The lecture will begin only in the second session. While the group is freely talking, the educator asks all kind of questions on diseases in general and on alcoholism in particular. The talk should be friendly and informal. The questions aim at three goals:
1. Making the group at ease and winning their trust: the group should immediately consider the educator like a friend rather than a teacher.
2. Making the educator feel at ease. He should try to know his group in order to adjust his teaching. He should find out what the group already knows about alcoholism and its dangers.
3. Stimulating the group's curiosity and desire to learn, because each man is eager to acquire new knowledge. Indeed, the incompleteness and contradictions they discover will very quickly make them realise they lack much knowledge and they will ask to be enlightened without urging.
2. Important remark for the educator
Although the first session consists mainly of an opinion poll,
the educator will frequently have to intervene to correct certain
misconceptions. He must thus be competent, so as to inspire confidence and
respect. Such ability is all the more necessary as educated people may sometimes
ask more difficult questions. But he must be careful not to adopt a pedantic
tone and give the impression that he has learnt the secrets of a science of
which the group remains ignorant. The manner must be friendly; the educator is a
discussion leader, not a professor.
3. Questions to ask
The following typical questions are merely examples. The educator may ask other questions. He may also change the order of the questions:
3.1 Typical questions concerning the preparation, distribution and consumption of alcohol.
Where do beer, wine and alcohol come from ?
How are traditional beer, wine, alcohol prepared ? Can a palm tree produce both nuts and wine ?
How many palm trees are there in your village ? How many are used for making wine and how many for their nuts ? in your village, how many people extract the palm wine ? For what uses ?
On which occasions do people drink ? Do the children get some, too ?
Do pregnant women receive some ?
Have you already seen how traditional alcohol is prepared ? How is it made ?
Who drinks it and under which circumstances ?
Do they sell beer or other alcoholic drinks in your neighbourhood ?
Who buys it ? On what occasions ?
How many sales outlets are there in your neighbourhood, in your village ?
How many sales outlets are them in your neighbourhood, in your village ?
How many sales outlets are there near your school ? Do the students patronise them ?
How much does a bottle of beer cost ? A bottle of whisky ? How many days does a male adult need to work in order to buy a bottle of beer ?
How many bottles does the dispensary nurse drink per month ?
How much of his salary does the teacher devote to buying beer ?
3.2 Typical questions about alcohol as social factor
Why do people drink beer ? On what occasions ?
For what reasons ? Is this habit dangerous ? Why ?
After several glasses of beer, is a person still thirsty, still hungry ?
Does beer help you work better in school ? Is beer food ? What about palm wine ?
Does beer diminish the sensation of tiredness ?
Does beer increase a player's strength before a match ? Does beer increase a work's strength and courage ?
When it is very hot, does beer quench one's thirst ? How soon does one feel thirsty again after having had a drink ?
Does drinking alcohol or beer raise one's prestige ?
If you do not offer a glass of beer to a friend visiting you, what will he think ?
What do people in your neighbourhood think of someone who drinks only soda ?
How do you think beer affect sexual performance ? Is your prestige increased if you drink beer regularly ? Do you consider a man who drinks a lot of beer each day a rich man ?
Is it possible for a woman whose husband drinks to have a happy family life ?
Are children of a heavy drinker happy ?
Has a heavy drinker many friends ? Does he keep them long ? Can a heavy drinker have children who study well and succeed at school ?
You are visiting some friends, they offer you a beer, what do you do ? Why ?
In your area, is it impolite to refuse a drink you have been offered, or ask for something else ? What do you think of this ? What do you prefer, a fish or a bottle of beer ? Why ?
3.3. Typical questions relating to alcohol seen as a medicine
Do your neighbours consider alcohol a remedy ?
Against which diseases are your neighbours used to using traditional alcohol ?
Do you neighbours sometimes stop drinking beer for a few days for medical reasons, during a medical treatment. for instance ?
Are there diseases during which people stop drinking beer Which ones ? Why ?
Is alcohol used at the dispensary ? What for ?
Do drinkers live longer then those who do not drink ?
3.4. Typical questions about the repercussions of alcohol on people's abilities
What are the consequences of alcoholism on men ?
Are alcohols dangerous for the rest of the population ?
Do some neighbourhoods or localities have more alcoholics than others ? Why ?
Are babies allowed to drink beer ? What are the dangers ?
Can a pupil both drink beer and pass his examinations ?
Can a pregnant woman drink beer and then give birth to a beautiful baby ?
Can a football player both drink beer and score ?
Can a teacher teach properly if he drinks beer before school ?
Can a nurse leaving a bar give an injection to a patient safely ?
Can a hunter both drink beer and hunt successfully ?
Can a man clear the forest and get the fields ready for planting after drinking palm wine ?
Can an actor play his role correctly if he drinks before the play ?
3.5 Typical questions about accidents
Have you already seen a damaged lorry ?
Was it a new lorry, old one, in good condition ? Why did the accident happen ? Were there fatalities ? Injuries ? Did you know the driver of this lorry ? Was he in the habit of drinking beer before driving ? Did he keep his job ?
Do drivers who drink a lot cause more accidents then those who do not drink ?
In your opinion, what is the proportion of lorry accidents due to alcohol ? One-fourth ? One-third ? Half ? Three-fourths ?
Do you know people in your family, village or neighbourhood who were injured or died in lorry accidents ?
How did these injuries affect the family ?
"If a driver who has been drinking beer has a strong cup of coffee or tea afterwards, he can drive without danger", Do you agree with this ?
Is a hunter who drinks dangerous for the other hunters ? In a group of hunters, is a gun given to someone who has had beer before setting out ?
Do you know any hunting accident stories ? What were they due to?
Is it dangerous to climb a palm tree after drinking palm wine ? Why ?
Do alcoholics fall out of palm trees more frequently then non-drinkers ?
3.6 Typical questions about the causes and the nature of diseases
Where do disease come from ? Which diseases do you know ? How do you recognise them ? Have you already had headaches ? With fever ? Without fever ?
What causes headaches ? is alcohol necessary for your health ? "Palm wine is a natural product, it cannot possibly be harmful to ones health". Do you agree with this ?
Does alcohol cause diseases ? Which ones ?
Can drinking beer every day make the drinker ill ? His children ?
Can an adult drink alcohol without danger ? How much ? How many times a day ? At what time of the day?
What dangers hang over a person who drinks alcohol regularly ?
What dangers hangs over his/her children ?
In your opinion, is whisky more harmful than beer or palm wine ?
Do you have neighbours who have. diseases caused by alcoholic drinks ?
Do you have the impression that an alcoholics young children are not as well fed as the other children in the neighbourhood ?
Do you know diseases which strike heavy drinkers more often than non-drinkers ?
Have you already seen a drinker feel ill after a drinking bout ? Can a man who looks well, strong and does not feel any pain nevertheless have a disease ?
3.7 Questions which are more specifically related to preventing or treating alcoholism
Is it possible to stop drinking ?
Can one be cured of alcoholism ?
Is there any difference between alcoholism and drunkenness ? Can someone who is never drunk become an alcoholic ?
Do you think it is dangerous to continue drinking heavily for several years ?
Do you know people who absolutely cannot do without alcoholic drinks ?
Do you know any traditional taboos concerning alcoholic drinks ?
Do all religions permit the drinking of alcohol ?
Would it be wise to have a law forbidding the consumption of alcohol, or the production of traditional alcohol, or the preparation of palm wine, or the selling of imported alcohol ? Do such laws exist in some countries ?
How can people be informed of the dangers of alcohol ? Do you know authoritative figures (government officials, teachers, nurses, doctors) who set an example by reducing their consumption of beer or alcohol?
How do your neighbours behave towards a chronic alcoholic ? Do your neighbours take medicines to eliminate the effects of alcohol ? Which ones and how much?
Can a cold shower eliminate alcohol's effects on a drunk ? Should drunk drivers who cause an accident have their driving licenses taken away ?
Should the government increase taxes on beer and whisky in order to discourage drinkers ?
4. The use of parables to teach people
The educator should not dwell on exhaustive answers to all the questions, since the following sessions are meant for that. The instructions per se start with the second session. The educator's talk will follow the order of the pictures. The set of pictures is divided unto the following sections:
1. The happy successful family (pictures 2 to 10)
2. The damaging effects of alcohol - alcohol creeps into family life like a thief in the night (pictures 11 to 29)
3. Preventing alcoholism - the means of fighting against alcoholism - how to recover happiness, strength and good health (pictures 30 to 40)
The great religious prophets have always taught people with parables. This method may be very well adapted to use in health education; that is why we have included several tried and true comparisons in the following commentaries.
This chapter shows how a normal family lives in a village. "Before the father had the habit of drinking alcohol, the whole family lived happily and had no major problems" . To make it easier for the educator to prepare the lesson, we have provided text and wordings that may be used with little or no change. These comments are in italics. Happiness in a Village (pictures 1 to 10)
As an introduction, the educator will say: "Only one drink is necessary for all beings: water. However, we all tend to drink other drinks, either for pleasure, or for other reasons. Some people are used to coffee, others to tea, to sodas, etc Besides these harmless drinks, there is a wide range of drinks containing alcohol, the abuse of which could have serious consequences. We knew many of these drinks: various beers, palm wine, whisky, etc.
The drinking habit can cause much misfortune in a family. First of all, these purchases cost a lot of money. Second, alcoholism is associated with many diseases. Finally, it can eventually disturb the family's harmony. We are going to follow the story of a man who starts to drink and all the consequences this has for him and his family"
Picture 3: "A happy atmosphere reigns in the family. Each person is busy and the parents devote themselves to developing the talents of their children"
Picture 4: Palm nuts are a source of income for the family. A palm tree which is looked after well can yield several harvests of nuts per year. "An energetic, healthy father harvests the nuts as soon as they ripen
Picture 5: Palm nuts have several uses. Some of them are sold, bringing the father regular income. Many villages have craft industries to extract the oil on the spot. Part of this locally made oil is then sold in the market, after an amount corresponding to the family's needs has been set aside. The palm nuts are then crushed and the almonds are sold in the local market.
Picture 6: "Thanks to the family's savings the mother has bought a sewing machine which is an invaluable help in making and mending the clothes of the whole family"
Picture 7: The mother and father work in the field with regularity. They have a satisfactory income. They are thus able to feed and care for their children. "At the age of four months, the mother's milk a/one is not sufficient to feed the baby. The mother then starts to give him additional mea/s. The children in this family have no prob/em getting protein-rich food they need for growth"
"A happy, prosperous family, good health, a relatively affluent standard of living: these are the important advantages which allow the children to succeed at school and devevelop their bodies through sports"
Picture 11: "Now let us see how the family's happiness can be destroyed by a false friend, alcohol which sometimes becomes part of the family without anyone noticing it" .... see next item on the know tree ...
(Pictures 11 to 29)
Picture 11: Alcoholism comes into the family like a thief
Picture 12: "We tend to adapt new habits from the outside, a city or a foreign country, because we sometimes consider them to be progress"
Picture 13 at home in the evening.
"We all know that beer is the most frequent means to establish friendly relations, to attract sympathy, to seal reconciliation after a quarrel. A friend's visit is thus very often an opportunity to offer something to drink. We are used to offering alcoholic drinks. We know very well that a glass of beer relaxes the atmosphere, makes conversation easier. A little bit of alcohol creates a good atmosphere favourable to friendly contacts. Unfortunately, sometimes the visitor does not stop after the first drink or bottle"
Picture 14: A whole rang of sweet liquids derived from plants can be used to make beers or wines.
These alcoholic drinks are made by fermenting juice from palm tree, sugar cane, pineapples, sorghum, bananas, etc. One can then distill these fermented alcoholic liquids to obtain alcoholic drinks. In many countries the preparation of these traditional alcohol is prohibited by law in order to protect the population's health. Indeed, habitual consumption of such "hard liquor" brings great misfortune to the families which adopt such a habit.
Picture 15: "The people who tap palm wine devote much time to this activity.
This wine, which must frst be fermented, is then often drank by a bunch of friends. This activity thus does not bring in any additional income. Moreover, a palm tree used for the production of wine bears no more fruit"
Picture 16: "The tapping of palm wine, is often an occasion to drink a lot of palm wine, sometimes as early as the morning...
So, how much energy is left for the other tasks: chopping down trees, clearning the forest, working the soil before planting?"
Picture 17: "A palm tree used to produce wine often remains sterile. The female buds are sacrificed, a substantial part of the sap is extracted.
The bunches of nuts disappear: there are no more nuts to sell; no more cooking oil either; the family's income, as well as its available food supplies, drops"
Picture 18: It is extremely tempting to use a substantial part of one's revenues to buy alcoholic drinks. What little money is left is often spent on beer. indeed, the palm wine drinker does not content himself with this cheap traditional drink. Bottled beer is more prestigious, but it costs more. its price is even higher when it is imported. Drinking beer thus takes a large slice out of the family's budget.
Picture 19: A drinker's home is a troubled home,
"The father, who is often drunk, seems to live in another world. He does not take care of his family any more. All their problems seem very far away. He no longer sees the numerous difficulties in life clearly;he drowns them in alcohol. The consequences of this are rapid to appear.
The house becomes almost uninhabitable after a few years because it is not kept up Not only the house, but the whole family falls apart for lack of moral, emotional and financial support"
Picture 20: An alcoholic who at the beginning may seem to be a cheerful, amusing fellow quickly becomes aggressive, particularly at home.
He becomes quick-tempered and rough because he has progressively lost his will, sense of right and wrong and respect for the rules of society. A bout of drunkenness can provoke the end of a friendship or the beginning of a familial quarrel. The day after an acute attack of drunkenness, the alcoholic may have forgotten everything that he said and did the night before; but the people who suffered because of him may not forget as quickly and may harbor resentment
A Yombe proverb says: "He who insults you when he is drunk already had the intention earlier" This proverb shows that alcohol can make us say things that we would normally keep to ourselves if we were sober.
Picture 21: Spending lots of money on beer or wine is a real danger for the nutrition of the whole family. First of all they are useless expenditures, wasting money that could be used for more vital needs.
Alcohol reduces the feeling of hunger; one does not feel as much the need to eat. Moreover, alcoholic drinks make one less enthusiastic about working.
"All one's money, all one's efforts are gradually diverted into the preparation, the search for, and the buying of drinks. Consequently, the family's table remain empty, the children have nothing left to eat.
The father does not worry about that. He is only interested in getting his daily ration of alcohol"
Picture 22: We say in the first part how the father cares about his children's education, giving them financial and moral support. But once his primary concern is to get alcohol he neglects his family duties.
Consequences are not slow to appear. The children's studies are affected: they do not pay attention in class since they are hungry, they miss school repeatedly because they have diseases which are not cared for on time, sometimes they are even sent away from school because of unpaid tuition.
Picture 23 Drinking fellows are in the habit of gathering in the bar, where they like the noisy, warm atmosphere.
Drinkers all fit this Yombe proverb, which, however, is not part of our ancestors wisdom: "Kondolo kopo kondolo mayangi, wena ye kopo wena mayangi" which approximately means: "He who is deprived of alcohol is sad, he who finds a drink, finds happiness"!
Picture 24: A merry evening may sometimes ends up in bar-room fights among people who were friends when the evening started.
Picture 25: The alcoholic wants to escape the social restraints imposed by village life and customs. He neglects family and professional obligations.
The lack of understanding he often encounters at home may lead him to leave his family in order to flee his responsibilities. Most of the time his family's reproaches will not help him to abandon drinking, On the contrary, they will isolate him even more. The presence of his family and friends is very important; they must give him moral support and encourage him to change his habits, strengthen him with their trust.
Picture 26: "Alcohol abuse is even more dangerous when the driver of a vehicle is concerned.
The alcohol excites him, he thinks he is strong, he no longer recognizes danger, he drives roughly and too quickly. He takes risks when passing. He stops anywhere in search of more drinks. He no longer obeys traffic regulations often the consequences of such behavior are not slow to appear"
Picture 27: The passengers of a drunk driver's vehicle truly risk their lives.
The speed of the driver's reflexes are considerably slowed. If danger appears suddenly, he will brake later than if he had not drunk and an accident will occur... Studies have shown that almost half of all road accidents are due to alcohol, justifying the wise precept: "If you drive, don't drink, if you drink, don't drive"
Picture 28: "Road accidents, which are mostly due to drinking alcohol, fill the hospitals with seriously injured patients.
Some victims remain crippled for the rest of their lives, Many others die in the accidents or on the way to the hospital"
Picture 29: This is a recapitulation, an overall view of the problems.
This picture is very important, as it helps the educator and the listeners to summarise the talk. It displays some of the main consequences of alcoholism. We might add ruined health due to alcohol's effect on the various organs of the body.
Quickly visit the next slideshow to see how the father can stop drinking and how family can regain happiness.
(Pictures 31 to 40)
Before continuing the talk, the educator should question the group on the previous lessons to see if everybody has understood them well.
Picture 30: "alcoholism is an illness that can be cured, especially if it is caught early"
Picture 31: "The most difficult thing for a man who drinks to do is to decide to stop, and, above all to rigorously stick to his decision.
He absolutely needs strong moral support from his family"
Picture 32: "A chronic alcoholic who wants to be cured and not relapse cannot let himself take even one drink of alcohol.
If he tries simply to reduce his alcohol intake, without eliminating it, he is sure to fall back on his old habits. One must learn to respect and not ridicule or laugh at the person who does not drink alcohol when offered a drink.
If a person refuses a drink, do not insist, do not force him to drink. When friends gather, they should always plan to have enough fruit juices and sodas available for everyone':
Pictures above: Instead of spending our energy and time making and drinking beer and wine, we should devote ourselves to other activities such as fishing, hunting, breeding, agriculture, etc, which can help the family, provide it with good food and be a source of revenue"
Picture 36: Instead of wasting his money buying beer and alcohol, the father decides to buy a bike for himself, another one for Diela, a new sewing machine for his wife. Each one can thus get what he or she needs to feel fulfilled,
Pictures 38: The parents earnings allow them to go together at regular intervals, not to the bar, but to the shop and buy what they really need.
Picture 39: "Diela is the one who benefits most from the harmony reigning in the family. He goes back to school; he no longer lives in the permanently tense atmosphere that prevailed when his father was an alcoholic"
Picture 40: "Man himself must work to create his own and his family's happiness.
But he can only achieve that if he faces reality, not by trying to live in a sort of dream world. Alcohol can make him forget his troubles and problems but it does not solve them. The whole family needs to stick together when facing difficulties Only this mutual support allows them to solve the problems of every day life"
* The black American Jesse Owens won 4 golden medals (notably the 100 meters, the 200 meters and the broad jump) at the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin. He was asked one day if he ever used alcohol. "All the time", he answered. - "Really ?... Then, what do you drink ?" "I never drink alcohol, but I use it to rub down before the start of each race"!
* Health Safety Sobriety
* One can become alcoholic without ever having been drunk.
* A large number of young deliquents were brough up by alcoholic mothers or fathers.
* The future belongs to sober people.
* The best way to fight alcoholism is to abstain from alcohol oneself.
* A mother must not drink alcohol while pregnant or breastfeeding.
* Alcohol is worse for women than for men. Women have lower levels of tolerance to alcohol than men. Some tribes have a wise custom, the fruit of centuries-old experience, forbidding women to drink alcoholic drinks.
* Have another drink ? No, thanks, I am driving.
* When you are with a friend, do not force him to drink alcohol, do not insist. Respect those who do not drink.
* We drink to the health of others; let us think about our health, too.
* Alcoholism, a curse discovered by man, can be overcome by man's will alone.
* If we need alcohol to relax and to enjoy ourselves, how can we imagine that our children will not start drinking at a very early age ?
* Louis Veuillot (French writer 1813 - 1883) wrote: "Drunkenness has never brought anyone victory, but, rather, defeat. It has never prevented any accidents but often caused them. Drinking has led thousands of human creatures to misery, but not one to fortune; it has ruined the health of thousands of people but improved no one's; it has shortened thousands of lives but lengthened not one; it has lost thousands of souls, but never saved a single one. Women do not become better when they take up drinking; how many have grown worse. No son who took to drinking has ever grown more loving towards his parents; how many became the source of their parents' shame and sorrow ?"
* According to WHO, chronic alcoholism affects 6 % of the world population.
Which one of those two drinkers is not "a man" ? .The one which is drinking soda, which is calm and in good health ? Or the one who is drinking beer, is quick-tempered, unsteady on his feet, overcome by drink, unable to hold his glass upright ?
*One study gives the following statistics for France in 1979:
38 % of the drivers responsible for traffic accidents had more
than 0.8 grammes of alcohol in their blood.
41 % of the deaths caused by traffic accidents were directly related to the effects of alcohol.
15 % of work accidents, 60 % of murders, 65 % of rapes, 45 % of arsons occurring in France in that year were due to alcohol.
* A piece of advice for drivers: Do not drink any alcohol or in any case make sure that the level of alcohol in your blood is lower than 0.3. g/l before setting out. Consult the preceding table which indicates the amount of alcohol in the blood an hour after drinking various alcoholic drinks.
* Either drink or drive, one has to choose!
* 16,322 persons died of cirrhosis of the liver in France in 1977; 90 % of the cases were due to an excessive consumption of alcohol.
* 8 % of the Canada's adult population are alcoholics and 40 % of hospital admissions result from alcohol abuse.
* 25 to 45 % of the men hospitalized in internal medicine departments in France are alcoholics.
* The liver eliminates about 0.1. to 0.15 g of alcohol per liter of blood in an hour. So, if one goes to bed at midnight with 1.8 g/1 alcohol in the blood and sleeps seven hours, at 7 o'clock in the morning the level of alcohol will still be 0.8 to 1.1 g of alcohol per liter of blood. Neither a copious breakfast nor a cold shower will change anything and driving safely to work is not possible.
* If a 65-kg man drinks 1.5 to 2 liters of 10- proof beer in one hour, the level of alcohol in his blood will reach a maximum of about 1.3 g/1 after one hour if he drinks on an empty stomach and about 0.8 g/l after 2 hours if he drinks during a meal.
If this man drinks the same quantity of beer in 6 hours, the level of alcohol in his blood will not exceed 0.2. g/l.
* In a home where alcohol is king, the man is a brute, the woman is a martyr and the children are the victims.
* He who does not drink is more precise, resistant and rapid in his movements.
* One reasons and calculates less well after drinking beer.
* Having character means knowing one's limits, being able to say "no" or stop in time.
* A sober man lives better, an alcoholic dies young.
* If you drive, don't drink, if you drink, don't drive!
* "The son of the vine is a sultan, the son of the grape is a satan" (Arab proverb). The son of the vine = the grape. The son of the grape = wine.
* An Arab fable:
"The palm tree had just been planted. Satan saw it and watered it with the blood of a monkey, then withdrew. The tree put forth flowers.
Satan came back and watered it with the blood of a lion. Finally, when its fruit was ripe, Satan appeared a last time and watered it with the blood of a pig. That is why palm wine took on the natures of these three animals. When the vapours of palm wine start to go to a man's head, he jumps and leaps about like a monkey. Once he is drunk he becomes fearsome like a lion before falling down and wallowing in the mud like a pig".
* Advertising which puts alcohol and sport side by side has no respect for human beings.
* At first as thin as a silk thread, a habit eventually becomes as strong as a steel cable.
* We should not judge our neighbour, but try to understand him,
* To abstain from drinking on the job is like fastening one's seat belt.
* alcoholics are not incurable.
* Neither alcohol nor other drugs can bring lasting solutions to human problems.
* Drinkers often try to escape their problems by means of alcohol.
However, alcohol only increases the number and seriousness of their problems.
* An alcoholic is an ill person who does not know he is ill and whose illness is unrecognised by others.
* According to a survey done in France in 1977, alcoholics take 15 times more leaves for illness exceeding 3 weeks than non-alcoholics. An alcoholic runs a 5 times higher risk of dying between the ages of 35 and 55 than a sober man or woman.
* Any boy or girl will soon hate their family if parents are always nervous and overexcited from wine or alcohol, where the slightest conversation ends up in quarreling, where their parents hit them at the slightest pretext.
* Many young people naively think they are protected from the ravages of alcohol... precisely because of their youth.
* Alcohol causes more ravages than any other type of drug abuse. It is more harmful than any other drug.
* "Liqueurs, strong beers and wine are bad for any children of mine".
* Slavery is no longer tolerable today, yet alcohol makes you a devoted slave.
* A short story:
One day Mary said to her husband:
"Peter, you are ruining yourself with drinking"! But Peter replied in amazement:
"You're exaggerating! I drink only a few glasses of beer or palm
wine each day... I'm hardly ever drunk"!
Without a word the woman took a completely dry sponge and put it on a plate. Every day she poured a few drops of water on it. After a fortnight the sponge was swollen and wet, because it had little by little become filled with water. Then Mary called her husband:
"Look carefully, Peter! Do you see the sponge ? Well, it looks like your body: the sponge has absorbed the water, while your body has soaked up alcohol".
Peter understood the lesson. He kissed his wife and promised not to drink again, and he kept his promise.
* With the first glass the man drinks the wine. With the second glass the wine drinks wine. With the third glass the wine drinks the man.
* Health education should not seem to moralize, deprive man of his own freedom and joy of living. It must strike man's mind, conscience and heart.
* Alcohol is a poison that even kills the yeast which produces it.
* alcohol is a caustic liquid; it kills the body's tissues; try to pour a few drops on a wound to see the result!
* Just one glass of beer drastically increases the odds of an accident. "Don't drink if you drive".
* Just one glass of beer drastically reduces the playing abilities of a football player.
* A few glasses of beer will reduce real sexual ability.
* drinking three glasses of beer a day will in one out of two cases lead to cirrhosis of the liver after a few years.
* The only thing that a chronic alcoholic cares about: "How shall I get my ration of alcohol today" ?
* Someone who wants to avoid health disorders should not drink more than a maximum of 1 liter of 12-proof beer per day.
* A hunter who has drunk will have troubles hitting his target.
* An alcoholic is a person who has lost the freedom not to drink alcohol.
* A drinker's home is a troubled home
1. John wants to buy a bike that cost 2 400 local money units (lmu). Every day he drinks 3 bottles of beer at 8 local money units. a bottle. He decides to give up drinking. How long will it take to buy the bike with the money saved by not drinking ?
2. John wants to buy a bike that costs 2 400 lmu. Every day he drinks 3 bottles of beer at 8 lmu. a bottle, plus 8 additional bottles at the end of the month (I month = 30 days). He decides to give up drinking How long does he need to wait before he can buy a bike with the money saved by not drinking ?
3. Question removed
4, One bottle contains 3/4 liter of 8 - proof beer. How many liters of beer are there in a 12 bottle pack ? What is the total quantity of alcohol in the 12 bottles ?
5. Two workers each earn 15 lmu a day. One spends an average of 4 lmu. per day on palm wine. The other does not drink. How much does he latter save in one year compared with the first worker ?
6. Henry just got his wages. He decides to have a party with a bunch of 8 fellow construction workers and he buys two 10-liter bottles of palm wine at 45 lmu a piece. How many liters of palm wine will each person drink during the night if all the wine is drunk and each person drinks exactly the same amount ? The wine contains 4 % alcohol, how much alcohol will each person drink ? How many kilos of dried fish at 30 lmu. a kilo could Henry have brought home for the same amount of money ?
7. Every day, on the pretext of growing more robust, David
750-ml bottle of beer containing 4 % alcohol. How many ml of alcohol does David drink in a week ?
8. William drinks a bottle of beer at 8 lmu. a piece every day. After 30 days, how much does he spend ? How many kilos of rice at 12 lmu. a kilo could he have bought with this money ? How many glasses of rice at 2.5 lmu. a glass ?
9. Which of the following glasses contains the most alcohol ? Which one contains the least ? A 33-ml glass of 96-proof whisky, a 200-ml glass of 16 - proof hard beer, a 40-ml glass of 80-proof liqueur, a 133-ml glass of 24-proof wine or a 80-ml glass of a 40 - proof aperitif
10. How many milliliters of alcohol does a man who drinks three 3/4 liter bottle of 10 - proof beer absorb ? How many grammes of alcohol does he tolerate given that I ml of alcohol = .79 g?
11. Which of the following three quantities contains the most alcohol ? Which one contains the least ? Ten liters of 10 proof liter; six liters of 20- wine; two liters of 100-proof whisky.
12. A nurse's income is 450 lmu. per 28-day month and he drinks 2 bottles of beer at 7 lmu. on week days and 3 on Saturdays and Sundays. How much did he spend on beer in a 28 day month ? How much is left for living at the end of the month ?
13. A bar retails 30 packs containing 12 3/4 liter bottles of 8 - proof beer every Saturday; 120 people patronize it. How many bottles of beer are drunk in liters ? What is the total amount alcohol ? How many bottles of beer does each person drink on average every Saturday ? How many liters of beer ? How much alcohol ? How much does each drinker spend on average every Saturday ? How much does each of them spend on average on drinks on one Saturday, in one month (= 4 weeks), in on year (= 52 Saturdays) If a bottle of beer cost 10 lmu. ? if the bar owner makes a profit of 4 lmu. on each bottle, what will his profit be after one week ? One month ? One year ?
14. How long must each of the 120 persons of the preceding problem abstain from drinking beer on Saturdays in order to buy a bike that cost 3120 lmu. ?
15. The State police report one death in road accidents per year per kilometer on the Kasaingulu-Kinshasa road. How many deaths were reported between January l, 1960 and June 30, 1983 on 40 kilometers of road ?
16. A driver earns 40 lmu. to drive from Matadi to Kinshasa. If he stops 4 times on the road to buy a bottle of beer each time at 9 lmu a bottle, how much will he have left to bring home to his family ?
17. Two drivers each earn 375 lmu. per 28-day month. One of them spends on average 7 lmu, in beer per day; moreover, he is not able to work on Mondays, thus a lost of income amounting to 15 lmu. How much does the other driver, who does not drink beer, save compared with his dried in one month ? in one year ?
18. Paul is in the habit of drinking 2 bottles of beer per day at 8 lmu. a bottle. If he gives up drinking can he pay the tuition for his son with the money he saves? The entrance fees are 900 lmu. per term (100 days). Does he have enough money left over to buy school books too at 70 lmu. a book ? if yes, how many of them?
19. Simon's uncle lives in Kinshasa. Simon decides to go and visit his uncle. It cost 400 lmu. to go there and back. Simon usually drinks 2 bottles of beer at 8 lmu. per day. If he decides to stop drinkiing and save his money, how many days will he have to wait before starting out on the trip ?
20. Tom and his brother want to build a tomb for their late father. They need a bag of cement, which costs 96 lmu. a bag, and 20 flagstones at 5 lmu. a piece. Tom and his brother each drink 3 bottles of beer at 8 lmu. a bottle every Saturday night. If they stop drinking, how many weeks will they have to save in order to build the tomb ?
21. Jack and Susan became engaged in May 1. To please his fiancee, Jack decided to give up drinking completely. Before his engagement he used to drink 2 bottles of beer per day at 7 lmu. When will he be able to buy Susan a piece of cloth costing 476 lmu, thanks to the money he saves ?
22. Sam drinks a bottle of beer everyday; on Saturdays he drinks 4. One bottle costs 8 lmu. He wants to start raising rabbits; a pair of rabbits costs 168 lmu. If he decides to stop drinking, how many pairs of rabbits will he be able to buy after one month (I month = 30 days, including 4 Saturdays) of saving ? If each female rabbit gives to 20 baby rabbits per year, how many rabbits will he have after one year ?
23. My friend Robert wants to buy chickens at 35 lmu. a chicken. If he stops drinking his nightly bottle of beer, which costs 7 lmu. a bottle, how many chickens will he be able to buy after 3 months (= 90 days) of saving ? If each chicken lays 3 eggs per week, how many eggs will his family eat each week ?
Solutions to the problems (lmu = local money units)
A. 1. 100 days
A. 2. 3 months and 2 days
A. 3. question removed
A. 4. 9 - 360 ml
A. 5. 1460 lmu.
A. 6. 2,5 - 100 ml 3
A. 7. 210
A. 8. 240lmu. - 20 - 96
A. 9. It is a trap question because all the glasses contam the same amount of alcohol: 16 ml.
A. 10. 112,5 - 88,875
A. 11 500 ml 600 ml 1000 ml
A.12. 448lmu. - 2lmu.
A.13. 360 - 270 - 10,8 liters 3 - 2,25 - 90 ml 30 lmu.120 lmu. - 1560 lmu. - 5760 lmu. - 74880 lmu.
A.14. 104 weeks
A 15. 940
A 16. 4 lmu.
A.17. 256 lmu. - 3072 lmu.
A.18. Yes, because he will save 1600 lmu per quarter yes 10
A. 20 4
A. 21. June 4
A. 22. 2 - 44
A. 23.18 - 54
I would like to talk to you about a subject that many people tend to neglect because they feel it does not concern them. I won't be long, I'll just ask you to spare me about ten minutes of your time; after that, you can leave if you think you are not concerned or you can ask me any question you may have about the subject. I'd like to talk to you about alcoholism.
Potable water is a natural drink which satisfies all our needs.
However, water is hardly a delicious drink. It doesn't have much
That is why man thought it was a good idea to add alcohol to water and thus created the two following classes of alcoholic drinks: fermented drinks: wine, beer, palm wine, etc. distilled drinks: aperitifs, liqueurs, etc.
I am not reproaching you for drinking something other than water but I warn you: immoderate use of alcoholic drinks leads to the most degrading and one of the most dangerous types of intoxication: alcoholism.
Alcohol is found not only in wine and beer but also in all aperitifs, liqueurs, etc.
It is important to know the amounts of alcohol contained in each of these alcoholic drinks because that is what makes their immoderate use more or less dangerous.
One liter of 20-proof red wine contains 100 g of pure alcohol, One liter of light beer contains 20 g of pure alcohol. One liter of strong beer contains 40 g of pure alcohol. So in one 100-ml glass of wine, there are 10 g of pure alcohol; in one 200-ml glass of beer, there are 4 to 8 g of pure alcohol. An aperitif contains about 20 g of pure alcohol.
Alcohol, like everything we ingest, is burnt in the body, but up to a certain quantity. Beyond this level the excess not burnt is toxic, especially for the liver and the brain.
It is generally accepted that an average individual can tolerate a maximum of 1 g of alcohol per kilo per day. Above this quantity, alcohol is dangerous.
Thus that means that an average 60-kg individual can safely tolerate a maximum of 60 g of alcohol per day.
If we refer to the proceeding information on the alcoholic drink rate of alcohol, that means one can drink six 100-ml glasses of red wine per day, that is 2/3 liter of red wine without danger.
Let us do a small personal test. Add up all the glasses of beer and of wine you have drunk today and these you will drink tonight and see if you are within the limits. See if you have not exceeded 1 g of alcohol per kg of your weight.
Alcoholism occurs in two forms:
Acute alcoholism or drunkenness: from time to time, on the occasion of a holiday, people drink more than usual and end up with a real "hangover". This is not serious, provided that it does not happen too often and that, one drinks moderately and within the allowed norms the rest of the time.
Chronic alcoholism is the second form (the most dangerous).
Let us take for example a man never drunk but who drinks more than what he should two liters of palm wine per day. He is not an alcoholic, you'll say, we have never seen him drunk! I will answer: "Yes, he is an alcoholic because the daily excess of alcohol over the years will lead to problems in this person".
How does one know if he or she is under the influence of alcohol
There is a very simple way: try to go two days without drinking any alcohol (palm wine, beer, liqueurs, aperitifs):
1. If you can easily do it you are free from alcohol.
2. If you can do it, though with great difficulties, you must reduce your intake and check from time to time if you are still free from drinking alcohol.
3. At last, if you cannot do it and, what is more, you notice some of the following signs (night cramps, nauseous feelings when you wake up, burning in the stomach, trembling hands, loss of appetite), you are under the influence of alcohol and you must be treated.
Have you ever thought about the consequences of alcoholism ?
Let us look at the effects on family life first:
Do you drink a lot and frequently go to bars ? If so, have you ever thought about all the money you spend which could be used differently ?
But the most important, have you thought about your children ? A proverb says: "when parents drink, children sink". This means that children must bear the consequences of their parents' drinking abuse.
A child who is conceived by alcoholic parents (remember two liters of wine per day for several years make an alcoholic man) has 5 out of 6 chances of having birth defects, mental retardation, malformation, debility, idiocy, etc. These are proven statistics. Please think about your children and restrain yourselves!
Let us examine the social consequences:
Contrary to popular belief, alcohol does not give strength but takes away 15% of a man's muscular force. This means that your professional abilities are reduced and you may have an accident in your factory or on the job.
30% of all work accidents are caused by alcoholic drinks.
Alcohol reduces an individual's abilities, depresses his reflexes and slows down his judgment.
A person driving under the influence of alcohol runs the risk of having an accident at any moment.
50% of road accidents are caused by people driving while intoxicated
A nation where alcoholism is on the rise is on the road to ruin.
France has one of the highest proportion of alcoholics in the world.
Alcohol consumption there in the eighties reached 28 liters of pure alcohol per adult per year.
However there are many people who do not drink alcohol or with great moderation like, for example, all these people who play sports and athletes who must make much greater physical efforts than any manual workers,
I know some of you will say to me: "We know one person who drinks a lot and who is in good health". I will simply answer: "There are exceptions to everything but we should not take isolated cases to prove a rule".
I am no there to tell you: "Don't go to the bar any more; it is a pleasant place where it is nice to meet friends but I tell you: "Be careful how you drink"! There are many nonalcoholic drinks and there is nothing shameful in drinking soft drinks.
If you take an aperitif, do not go any further; do not feel obliged, just to be polite, to offer a round of drinks; if several of you are drinking, remember that the maximum amount of alcohol a person may drink will soon be reached if several of you are buying rounds.
At home, when you have friends, do not feel obliged to offer alcohol because "it is expected". Offer soft drinks (which are cheaper than alcohol) which are excellent. Your friend will be able to choose without being compelled to drink beer or another alcoholic drink.
Avoid drinking alcohol at work or at the factory. It is not necessary to drink pure water, there are many ways to flavour water: syrups, fruit juices, coffee, etc.
Remember: you may drink one-and-a-half to two glasses of palm wine or beer per day without risk.
Alcoholism can easily be avoided. In such matters, prevention is easier than the cure. You only need a little willpower to stop at the beginning. Stopping takes much more willpower "rolling downhill".
Lists of pictures provided for prevention, cure, and educational purposes on alcoholism
An example of health education talk about alcoholism which is presented as a dialogue between James and doctor Smith
James: About which disease shall we talk today ?
Dr. Smith: About a disease which could be easily avoided, it is a disease created by men for their own pleasure,
James: For pleasure ?
Dr. Smith: Yes, this pleasure costs a lot of money.
James: HOW does one catch this disease ?
Dr. Smith: it is very easy by drinking alcohol.
James: Oh, I see, you are going to talk about alcoholism.
Dr. Smith: Yes, that's it.
James: Which drinks give alcoholism ? Does beer give it ?
Dr. Smith: All drinks containing alcohol can cause this disease, beer just like the others. Let's look at the figures: whisky, rum and cognac contain 45% alcohol. aperitifs contain 15 to 20% alcohol. Red wine contain about 10% alcohol. Beer or palm wine contain about 4%. If you consider these figures, you can easily understand that what counts is the Quantity of alcohol a drink contains For example, four or five glasses of beer contain as much alcohol as one glass of whisky and soda.
James: If I follow you, one is mistaken in thinking that beer is less dangerous than whisky or wine.
Dr. Smith: Yes, that's right
James: HOW does one become an alcoholic ?
Dr. Smith: YOU can become an alcoholic by simply drinking a certain amount of alcohol every day or several times a week.
James: How much ?
Dr. Smith: it is hard to say. Some people do not tolerate alcohol as well as others
James Could you give some examples ?
Dr. Smith: Here they are: imagine a worker who drinks three or
four bottles of beer spread out over a week. The risk of his becoming an
alcoholic is slight Now, consider a worker who drinks several bottles of beer
every day. In this case, he runs a yeat risk of becoming an alcoholic.
James: What about the alcohol we make here, Lotoko, Nsamba, Lunguila, Mansongo, etc.
Dr. Smith: All those preparations are as dangerous as the other alcohols; they can contain 15 to 40% alcohol.
James: What are the signs of alcoholism ?
Dr. Smith: There are two kinds of alcoholism, acute alcoholism...
James: That is drunkenness.
Dr. Smith: indeed, that is drunkenness. There is also a second form: chronic alcoholism, where the drinker is drunk less often, Let's start with acute alcoholism: drunkenness; you've probably already seen drunkards,
James: Oh, yes, we sometimes see them coming out of bars, they don't walk straight any more, they zigzag and fall heavily to the ground. They shout, sing out of the tune, talk crudely. They get angry easily, break everything in the house and may beat their wives and children.
Dr. Smith That is exactly the truth. After all this excitement,
they sleep heavily for a long time. This is acute alcoholism. Let's talk about
the alcoholism which has become a habit: chronic alcoholism, This is the illness
of people who drink alcohol every day, many times a day.
After a few years, they show signs of mental disorders, then problems in certain parts of the body.
James: Which mental disorders ?
Dr. Smith: They cannot sleep and have terrible nightmares. Memory becomes poor Minds become confused They become rough and nasty They get angry for no reason and are likely to attack those who live around them.
James: YOU said that some of the organs of the body were damaged by alcohol.
Dr. Smith Yes, the liver and nerves. Their livers are very ill, they no longer let the body's water pass through so the water stays in the tummy and the legs, which swell.
James: What about the nerves ?
Dr. Smith You can see that the nerves are affected because the ill persons tremble, lose their strength and cannot work any more. If they keep on drinking alcohol they may die.
James Alcoholism is indeed a serious disease. Can it be cured ?
Dr. Smith Yes, it can if it is treated early enough. The alcoholic must stop drinking and take medicine to cure his liver and nerves.
James Doesn't alcoholism have harmful effects on the children born to alcoholics ?
Dr. Smith Yes, indeed, you are right to ask that. Doctors know that alcoholics babies are ill. They are small, thinner and sometimes not very intelligent They are not as resistant to illness because their parents don't take care of them.
James: If someone is drunk once or twice a week, is he in danger of becoming an alcoholic ?
Dr. Smith Not as much as someone who drinks every day, but if he keeps up the habit he, too, will become an alcoholic.
James When we talk about other diseases, I always ask you how to prevent them but in this case, I can answer myself. In order to avoid alcoholism one must limit oneself to drinking only a small amount of alcohol.
Dr. Smith It is the only thing to do. Someone who drinks just one or two glasses of beer a day and one aperitif or one whisky a week does not run any risk,
James What about locally made alcohol ?
Dr Smith: It is all the same: they are liquor, too, and if you don't want to become an alcoholic, you ought not to have more than one drink per week.
James One last question,
Dr. Smith. Shouldn't alcohol be completely banned for children ?
Dr. Smith Quite right Children and women are very sensitive to
Children should never drink, women only seldom, but not at all when they are pregnant or breastfeeding. In conclusion, I'd like to say that one must not drink if one drives. "Either drink or drive, make up your mind"
For those who enjoy reading, we suggest a beautiful novel about alcoholics, written by a well-Known French author (the story takes place in Europe):
Emile Zola: The Grogshop
The story is about a worker who is honest and courageous at first, but who sinks into alcoholism under the influence of bad fellows, dragging wife and children with him in his downfall and misfortune.