CHENNAI: A string of crimes have been reported from across districts just within two days of liquor stores being opened. Most of them have been attributed to intoxication-induced derangement. Does alcohol really trigger people to commit crimes? Experts say that though alcohol does not lead to direct violent behaviour, it amplifies inhibited tendencies in people after consumption.
“There is a definite correlation between alcohol use and violent tendencies. Other impulsive behaviours linked to alcohol abuse are rash driving, fighting over trivial reasons, irritability and high risk sexual behaviour,” says psychiatrist doctor Vivian Kapil. For instance, women whose husbands frequently drink face five times higher emotional violence, three times higher physical violence, and six times higher sexual violence compared to those married to teetotallers, says the fourth National Family and Health Survey.
So, did the lockdown help many kick the habit? Experts say that while the initial days of the defacto prohibition imposed on the country did cause a spike in crimes related to alcohol deprivation, the 44-day lockdown was a long-enough time for many to kick the habit. “Around 7-8 of my patients have given up the habit,” claims psychologist N Sethil Kumar, of the Kasturba Gandhi Memorial De-addiction Centre. “The lockdown helped them realise how much relief spending time with their family can provide.
They were also surprised at the amount of money they were able to save by giving up drinking.” The withdrawal, however, may not be easy for many trying to kick the habit. It’s crucial that family members are supportive and empathetic of the trauma an addict may undergo while giving up alcohol, add experts.
Research also shows the biggest problem in dealing with alcoholism and addiction is moralization -- wherein a preference is converted into a value.
Alan Leshner, a former director of the USA’s National Institute on Drug Abuse says the biggest hindrance to treating addiction is ‘moral interference’. “One of the major barrier is the tremendous stigma attached to being an addict,” he says in published works on drug addiction. “...the common view is that drug addicts are weak or bad people, unwilling to lead moral lives.” “The gulf in implications between a ‘bad person view’ and ‘chronic illness sufferer view’ is tremendous.
There are many who believe addicted individuals do not even deserve treatment,” writes Leshner. The explanation relates well to the situation in India, where protests over alcohol is more on the moral grounds than for health reasons. The protests for complete prohibition and denial of liquor to those producing medical prescriptions are a reflection of that, say experts.