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close this bookAlcoholism: 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.)
close this folderPart 7: Slideshow: Preventing alcoholism
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentA few anecdotes, some medical advice and a few statistics which make one think
View the documentSimple health education problems related to alcohol
View the documentHealth education talk on alcoholism given in industries at noon

Health education talk on alcoholism given in industries at noon

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 taste.
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".