Fire gives us warmth, but it also burns us. We use it to our advantage, but never get too close to it. Our sense of survival and self-preservation kicks in the moment it gets too close to us. How come that doesn’t happen with alcohol? In fact, alcohol doesn’t even come with all the various benefits of fire, but in terms of its ability to destroy, I might say it is as devastating, if not more… certainly more treacherous!
Across the country, in every state, alcoholism has destroyed scores of families. It’s a disease, which may afflict one member of the family, but its symptoms, and the destruction it causes, spreads to the whole family. It contributes to domestic violence… it affects the education of children… it affects the ability of a family to spend on healthcare… causes unemployment… These are just a few examples of the collateral damage it causes.
When I used the word ‘disease’ to describe alcoholism, I was not using the word lightly. Today, studies have shown that it is in fact a disease and not a ‘bad habit’ that most of us perceive it to be. Some of us are potential alcoholics, and when such people start to drink, we find ourselves getting sucked into it more and more, and try as we might we are unable to come out of it. It’s like a whirlpool which sucks you in. Unfortunately there is no medical test available which can warn you of this.
There are four indications that you may be headed towards alcoholism. They can be easily remembered as the acronym, C.A.G.E. Cut, Anger, Guilt and Eye opener. Ask yourself the following four questions, one “yes” response suggests an alcohol use problem. More than one “yes” is a strong indication that a problem exists.
1. Cut: Are people who are very close to you, repeatedly telling you that you need to CUT down on your drinking?
2. Anger: Are you getting ANGRY and upset as a result of people close to you telling you that you should cut down on your drinking?
3. Guilt: Are you promising yourself that you will not go beyond a certain number of drinks today, and then once you start drinking you are unable to control yourself, and then the next day you feel guilty and upset with yourself for not being able to stick to your resolution?
4. Eye-Opener: Have you now reached a stage in your life when you sometimes need alcohol to start your day? You wake up in the morning and you realize that you are unable to start your day, unable to function, without having a drink.
Unfortunately, there is no medicine that can cure us of this disease of alcoholism. But there is an organization which can help us if we so decide, and that is, Alcoholics Anonymous. Alcoholics Anonymous is a worldwide organization, and it has so far helped three hundred million people all over the world. In India too they have many centers and are spread across the country. Following are their contact details. To reach AA by phone, call +919022771011. To reach AA by text message, type AAAA <space> your name, address and contact number, and send the SMS to 56363.
Of all the people who consume alcohol, not everybody becomes an alcoholic. In fact, as per experts, of all the people who consume alcohol in India, one in twenty, that is 5%, become alcoholics. But one in two, that is 50%, indulge in what is called ‘hazardous drinking’. So, you may not drink everyday, and you may not be an alcoholic, but every time you drink, you drink so much, that, you are no longer in your senses, and you cause harm to yourself and to others. Or, you may consume just one or two pegs and still behave in a hazardous manner… for example by driving a car after that.
How many times have I heard these lines said by a drunk person… “I’m not drunk, I can drive, I’m in my senses” … or, “ Chill yaar, don’t stress, I’ve had just two drinks, I am totally in control”.
Every drunk person thinks he is the cat’s whiskers and a superhuman in every way! Absurd! A car is like a killing machine in the hands of a person who has consumed even a little alcohol! And if you have decided to sit in the driver’s seat after consuming any quantity of alcohol then you should be treated as a potential murderer.
40-60% of all cases coming into Emergency rooms of hospitals in India are alcohol related! 35% of those are people who themselves have consumed alcohol, and 65% are people who have not consumed alcohol themselves but have been injured by someone else who has.
So guys, if we can live without alcohol… nothing better than that. But if some of us want to drink, then let’s at least be responsible about it!
When I was going through all the research material and interviews for this topic, I was completely shattered after watching the testimony of Mr. Sumir Anand. The tragic story of how he, and his wife Gitika, lost their 14 year old son, Curran, was really heartbreaking. It’s like a nightmare that every parent dreams a thousand times! The first thing I did after watching the testimony was to call up my children Ira and Junaid, who are 13 and 18 respectively, and I asked him to come home. I showed them Mr. Anand’s interview. And what I made them promise me then, is the promise that I think all of us ought to make to ourselves, and that is:
NEVER drink and drive! And, NEVER sit in a car when the person driving has consumed even one drop of alcohol! Make this a rule for life!
Jai Hind! Satyamev Jayate!