A faint recurrent beep in the background unhinged the man while he lay in deep slumber and as his eyes opened against their will, the blur of green lines and the underlying fatigue quietly pulled him back into unconsciousness. A faint pull on the cheeks, what seemed like a gentle smile was accompanied by a slight twitch, his eyes moving side to side – a visit from dreams of visions from memories gathered over time. Her eyes, dark, deep with an enchanting glimmer; her hair – long, luscious and brown; her voice, her touch – warm and calm. The bubbly giggle his daughter would burst into, the first time a medal found its place around her neck and the long kisses she would generously donate every time he requested for just one. These shades of rainbow soon faded into a rustic grey – the shadow of an arm raised followed by screams and broken glass, the empty space at the office desk, the defaults in payments and the hours lying in bed wiping tears from swollen cheeks.
As he gazed into the mirror, what he saw was me! A dozen wires attached to my body – beeps, lines, and needles. I am now only half of what I used to be and my soul hasn’t been spared either. Things have changed so mighty fast, I remember it was just yesterday when I was filled with joy over the birth of my baby girl. Now she looks at me with despair, her daddy isn’t her daddy anymore-pale, fatigued and empty!
This is an outcome that knocks on many a door; alcoholism doesn’t discriminate – be it rich or poor. Every excessive glass drunk, comes with a shadow picking away silently those years that you’ve been blessed with. What could seem to be a pleasurable, fun filled “few” nights might in fact be weeks and months, the aftereffects of an everyday sloshed, drunk conscious. The damage isn’t explicit to the person, but his entire family – financially and emotionally.
I myself have witnessed irrational almost frenzied behavior from a drunk, who within the solitude of his home committed suicide. The reason – tired of his wife’s endless quarrels, which in most likelihood was due to his binge drinking. Ultimately what he left behind was tears, debts, an empty house and an unforgettable memory; something his wife and 2 little children would be left haunted for many years to come.
What might have started off with peer pressure, plain curiosity or finding comfort could take you into the grey where you cross that fine line of cautious, responsible drinking. Perhaps a parallel could be drawn with that of the Pied Piper has he reels the children in with his entrancing music…Unfortunately once bitten, families and friends seldom see this metamorphosis and rather dismiss it for poor behavior. With time, the individual strays too far out that it takes more than an intervention to pull him back into the light and by then it tends to be too late, especially in societies where culturally drinking is considered a taboo.
Alcohol addiction is a serious concern, and seems to be latching onto greater populations with every passing year. In 2014, WHO came out with a finding mentioning that alcohol abuse had contributed to some 200 plus diseases, not to mention accident related issues! In fact, alcoholism is the 5th leading risk factor for premature deaths and disabilities. And if that wasn’t alarming, for ages 15-49 it ranks right on top!
India isn’t left out of this equation; we have around 3.3 Million deaths attributed to alcohol consumption alone and around 11% Indians fall under the ‘medium to heavy consumers’ bucket. Surveys show this percent unfortunately is only getting larger with a major chunk coming more from the younger generation. (http://www.mapsofindia.com/my-india/india/alcohol-consumption-in-india).
I don’t intend on putting up further facts, figures and heartbreaking pictures to bore you or hit the “X” at the right hand corner of your screen, but rather felt it necessary that we do our little bit of alcohol awareness.
Having said that, alcohol isn’t a bad thing if had in moderation and responsibly! It has been studied that judicious consumption actually reduces risk of heart disease, improves general well-being and minimizes mortality. More good news is that more and more people are turning whisky literate and with that comes an appreciation for the spirit and a greater respect for it.
And though many societies and governments are pushing laws to curb or ban drinking; I believe better awareness, de-addiction facilities and a strong support system might be more of the ask. Banning substances, in this case alcohol, seldom kills the “disease”. Rather it might just encourage illicit liquor trading, uncontrolled consumption and even the use of alternative substances, some of which come cheaper albeit unhealthier- but for one trying to get a high, it really doesn’t matter!
Slainte! And do enjoy that drink, but responsibly!