EDITOR, The Tribune.
Recently I was informed by a businessman that one of his employees died unexpectedly. Even without the benefit of an autopsy, the grieving businessman is convinced that his employee's excessive drinking played a significant part in his demise. About three years ago an individual I personally knew drowned due to his inebriation. He was also a chronic alcoholic. I know of another young Bahamian, about 41-years-old, who is always either drunk or sobering up.
Bahamian stakeholders seem to be either oblivious or nonchalant about the ongoing destruction of so many lives due to the high amount of alcohol consumption in this country, made possible by the plethora of liquor stores and taverns. It would appear that the government has made it extremely easy for aspiring businessmen to attain a liquor licence. It would be interesting to know if the Ministry of Health has conducted a study on the level of chronic alcoholism among Bahamians. Based on the crowded taverns on Thursday and Friday evenings, it would appear that we have a massive problem on our hands that is being conveniently ignored.
The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States claimed that in 2010 alone the economic costs of alcoholic consumption was estimated at $249 billion. Between 2015-2019, one in five deaths in the United States was caused by excessive drinking of individuals between the ages of 20 and 49. Some of the short term health risks of binge drinking are injuries sustained from car accidents, falls, drownings and burns. Other risks includes violence such as homicide, suicide, sexual assault and intimate partner violence. Inebriated individuals lack coherence and sound judgment. Alcoholic poisoning, fetal alcohol spectrum disorders and risky sexual behaviours are other short term health risks, according to the CDC. Long term health risks includes high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, liver disease and digestive problems. Alcoholics are also at risk of contracting cancer in the mouth, breasts, throat, esophagus, voice box, liver, colon and rectum.
Additionally, excessive drinking can weaken one's immune system; cause dementia and social problems in the home and on the job. I knew a woman who was verbally and physically abused by her husband who was a chronic alcoholic. His death, I believe, was related to his binge drinking. His son inherited his violent behaviour, as he was also physically abusive towards his wife. This is one of the catastrophic results of the liquor industry in this country. Inebriated men are also known to sexually abuse their underage dependents. Many Bahamian winebibbers want to stop but are now struggling with alcohol use disorder.
We are in a crisis made possible by the unwitting assistance of the government of the Bahamas in allowing so many liquor stores to open. The government has recently talked about introducing a sin tax on greasy foods in order to reduce the high rate of noncommunicable diseases among obese Bahamians. Yet it is sitting idly by while the liquor industry is reeking havoc in the lives of thousands of Bahamians.
August 28, 2023.