Alcoholism is a broad term for any drinking of alcohol that results in problems. It was previously divided into two types; alcohol abuse and alcohol dependence. Alcohol abuse is the repeated use of alcohol despite recurrent adverse consequences and alcohol dependence is alcohol abuse combine with tolerance, withdrawal and an uncontrollable drive to drink.
Origin or the Background
Alcohol in Acholi is traditionally believed to have been invented long time ago by a generous woman called Latiina. She introduced the first local brew known as “Kwete”. The first time she brewed this drink, she thought of taking it to Rwot (Chief) so that He have a taste of it. On tasting, Rwot found it very nice that He praised Latiina for the nice Drink and demanded for more. After taking a lot of this drink, Rwot became very drunk that He could not properly speak, couldn’t even walk and He felt asleep a strange behavioral change which caught everyone’s attention. Latiina was then mistaken by the guards to have poisoned their boss (Rwot), immediately she was caught and beaten up to death then after a long rest Rwot eventually woke up and to people’s surprise He asked for Latiina to thank her for the nice Drink. To his disappointment He was informed of Latiina death on allegation of poisoning him. Rwot became furious about this. He wept dearly for the woman.
This led to a common saying among the Luo speaking groups that: “Yomcwiny oneko Latiina” translated “Generosity killed Latiina” and it is the first Demonic action alcohol did on the surface of the Earth. It is then believed that all the problems associated with alcohol, is brought about by the demonic spirit (Cen) of this generous innocent Lady killed.
Myths about alcohol;
There are a lot of myths that people associate with drinking alcohol these have contributed to the widespread drinking of alcohol amongst members of various community around the globe as well as here in Pajule. Others cultural, others social and others political:
- Some people believe that alcohol improves their sexual performance especially the males. Therefore they drink so that they perform well on bed. It’s always common with men who like going with many women and think of satisfying them sexually. They look at alcohol as the energizer.
- Some people believe that to have a good social relationship with friend, you have to drink alcohol, so they drink to create friendship or getting together with the associates. They also think that it is only at drinking place that one gets a lot of information.
- Others drink to relieve them from stress, anxiety, worry and many other mental confusions. They always say alcohol makes you forget your problems, relieves you from all sort of worry meaning it refreshes your mind.
- Some people drink because they want to fight down their weight. Many people believe that alcohol reduces the level of fat in the body and makes the person reduces in weight. Therefore, as a result people resort in taking very conc. Liquor or Waragi to reduce on the weight.
- Some people drink in order to build courage especially when one is to deliver a public speech. They believe that alcohol diminishes the public fear and makes you face the public without any fear or shyness.
- Others believe that alcohol improves on their thinking capacity. They can only think and reason well when they tasted something alcoholic. So, when they are stack in the mind either because of fatigue or exhaustion of the mind, they think of drinking alcohol to open up their mind.
- Some herbalists (traditional healers) believe that it is only when their herb is taken with alcohol that it can work well to cure the sickness it is meant for. They believe that digestion of alcohol is fast and alcohol moves with blood in all parts of the body. Therefore the best medium for getting this herb work well is through taking alcohol which has introduced many to drinking alcohol
Effects of alcoholism
Alcohol has got its two importance duties that it employs people to carry. These are; alcohol abuse and alcohol dependence. A moment you are recruited, you either take on one duty or both. For you to be recruited you apply by having a slight taste of it then it gives you a probation period of continuous taste ranging from one month to three or six months, a period known as orientation to alcoholism. When you are fully oriented it gives you now an impalpable appointment letter called an addiction after which you become entitled to the following wages:
Alcoholism has led to a breakdown of many families in almost every community including mine here in Pajule. This comes as a result of Domestic violence, Gender-based violence, unfaithfulness or sexual starvation through low sexual performance on the side of men contrary to the myth that it improves on men’s sexual performance. This are tools alcohol uses to attacked the smallest cell of human social set-up the family.
Low economic productivity
Alcohol affects the economic productivity of a family as well as the gross domestic product of the all country. It’s when an individual is infected with a minor sickness known as “hang-over” a condition where an individual becomes unable to perform normal duty due to dizziness and general tiredness. Others are general weakness from prolong effect of alcohol in the body and sickness that arise as a result of alcoholism. All these conditions affect physical strength of a person hence economic productivity is affected.
Alcohol affects the mental strength of an addict negatively, this result in mental inability in reasoning things out. A condition common to most of the people addicted to alcohol in our community. In this condition, a person forgets easily, frustrated when sober, silence most of the time, dull and above all a person can’t make genuine decisions as an adult.
Continuous consumption of alcohol affects the health of a person both mentally and physically. It brings about general weakness, brain damage, loss of appetite, cirrhosis a condition that develops sores in the liver which eventually becomes scars rendering the liver functionless. Sometimes liver cancer which leads to death and this has already claimed a number of lives in our community.
Degradation of dignity
Alcohol has led to loss of dignity of many presentable individuals of all calibers. i.e. doctors, teachers politicians, businessmen, religious leaders as well as traditional leaders. These comes in a form of unacceptable conducts; like sexual promiscuity, peeing on the body, vomiting in public, staggering and falling in the community which bring disgrace and humiliation on the person and lowers his or her dignity.
Loss of job
Many employees loss their jobs due to alcoholism, it is a common phenomenon in our community, could be as a result of late coming at work place, poor performance, coming to work when drunk or portraying an acceptable conduct.
Alcohol has brought about accident in many areas of life both on roads as well as at home for example; burnt, electric shock, motor accident, fractures from falling and many others.
Measures to address the vice
Alcohol is a dangerous hungry wolf which is eating our community alive, but people are always silence about it. It should be treated as an epidemic if we want our community to survive from it. The following can be some of the ways to address the vice;
Parliament should enact laws regarding the consumption of alcohol. As it is in Kenya our neighbor, drinking should start at 2:00pm so that the morning hours are used for productivity. A person found drunk before stipulated time should be arrested and fined and the seller should also be arrested and heavily fined.
Heavy tax should be levied on alcohol so that the price is raised, this will make it very expensive hence reduces the consumption since the local consumers are low income earners. Taxation should be on all sorts of alcohols, the ones from factory as well as on those locally brewed or distilled.
Community should be sensitized on the danger of alcohol. All the key figures in the community should work as advocates so that the information reach everyone in an understandable way. Political leaders, religious leaders, traditional leaders, teachers as well as health workers must rise up to campaign against the danger of alcohol if our community is to be saved.
Special care unit
A special care unit should be established in our local places so that people who are addicted are given special attention. That is they have to be counseled, diagnosed and treated if the conditions require medical treatment. And later they have to be rehabilitated to become a valuable member of the community.
The district leaders should put in place strict by-laws restricting importation of bad alcoholic drinks like the one locally known as “Guu” imported from Lira which has become the major alcoholic drink people are taking within Pader District.
- Best wishes from Ojok Geoffrey –