Columnists Features

Alcohol abuse danger to health

DEXTER NJUKA
THERE is this radio station in Lusaka called Komboni Radio, located in Kamwala residential area that I inadvertently tuned on to when I could not sleep.
The disc jockey captivated me with his humorous antics on the airwaves. He was very casual and ironic.
He kept on teasing the Zambian women about the news that they had been rated as the world’s worst binge drinkers. And true when I checked that out on online blogs, the rating had been done by the World Health Organisation.
This is a real source of concern for good citizenry. Abuse of alcohol has even been passed on to our younger generation.If this behaviour goes unchecked then our society is headed for fermentation, if not already so.
This is not just a health hazard but very retrogressive in terms of production for our struggling economy. What time does one work to be drunk as early as 05:00 hours in the morning?
To make matters worse, our children start consuming alcohol at a tender age.
As parents, we have somehow contributed to this. I asked a couple why they could expose their two young children to their unsecured cocktail lounge which had a numerous variety of ciders, wines and spirits.
The years that I have worked with young people have taught me that most of them first sipped alcohol from the refrigerators in their homes.It still mystifies me to see a two-year-old child throwing himself to the ground for being denied a sip from a cider in the hands of a guest.
One does not need to be a rocket scientist to tell that such a child must have been indulged by the mother as far way back as when he was still in the womb. Even when local authorities have put up measures on age restriction, we still see children buy alcohol in these supermarkets in view of everyone.
We have seen abuse of alcohol even among the so-called ‘learned people’ who are fully aware of its devastating biological, social and economic damage to the abuser.
The Road Transport and Safety Agency (RTSA) warns against drinking and driving. Zambian Breweries warns against excessive drinking, and that it can be harmful to one’s body.
The Bible warns that alcohol is “a mocker and whoever is led astray by it is not wise” (Proverbs 20:1 NIV).
Alcohol and or any other harmful substances are neither a solution nor an emergency exit for problems. No matter how much one drinks his lungs out, the problem does not go away.
As Reverend Willie Nyendwa wrote in this very newspaper, one does not need to get high on drugs to relax.
How much more should it be emphasised that it takes several hours for a pint of liquor to be gotten rid of as a poison by the liver? So when the rest of the digestive system is at rest during sleep, the liver is made to work excessively to break down and detoxify the alcohol.
I have lost one or two relatives as a result of alcohol abuse. Not to mention the friends I have lost because of their binge drinking. One friend will not even read this article because he is ever drunk. He can start drinking as soon as he crawls out of his bed.
He has allowed liquor to turn him into something else. Bruises all over his body from fights and fallings have turned him into society’s laughing stock. Wetting his slacks, losing his shoes or the way to his home have become part of his daily life.
This friend was once brilliant and intelligent. Once adored as a respectful child with a bright future.
But now his mouth is full of cursing and idle talk. Whatever went wrong with him? His beautiful wife and children have already left him. His parents are ashamed of him. The neighbourhood has disowned him. His business has folded up.
Each time I want to see him, I am told to look about for him in the ‘tunnels’ in the vicinity of Lusaka’s Simoson building.
And when I meet him, he is either too drunk or ashamed to talk to me.
A relative, whom I lost due to alcohol abuse, assured me he would never slip back into that vice once back on his feet.
Little did we both know that those were his last words.  After praying for him and before I had left the vicinity of the University Teaching Hospital (UTH), life ebbed out of him.
His liver and kidneys had failed him because of excessive alcohol intake. He had been coughing chunks of clotted blood as a result of abuse of alcohol called tujilijili.
Let us think twice before we indulge in the abuse of alcohol!
The author is a chaplain at a school for the Seventh-day Adventist
Church on the Copperbelt and a Journalism student at Rusangu University.

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