Alcohol is a double-edged sword! A controversial liquid! We have felt how it injects “life” into a social gathering; and we have seen it bring death to the human body and into homes. It is both a tonic and a poison. Researches (and advertising companies) point out its health benefits; other researches (and religious houses) scream its harm to the body and the mind! And the rest of us are caught in the middle!
Why is this so?
Firstly, it is because alcohol is a drug. It affects, not only the body, but the mind (and the emotions). It could make one feel happy, excited, and relaxed; it could dampen one’s judgment, making one bolder and able to take risks (and ignore consequences); it decreases concentration (“helping you to forget your problems”). Many people wants this stimulation from alcohol, thereby making it attractive. But every drug has side-effects!
Secondly, alcohol is highly addictive. “Just a sip” could become a “shot”, then a cup, a bottle, bottles… and so on. From “once in a while”, to weekly, to daily, twice daily… to “I can’t do without it!” The problem is once you become dependent, you may not be able to stop even if it’s killing you! You will, helplessly, prefer drinking to living!
Thirdly, “drinking responsibly” requires a delicate, risky balance! Yes, it is true that alcohol has some health benefits IF taken moderately. Yes! It could even make you live longer! The problem is:
- We don’t exactly know what “moderate” is, especially in this part of the world. Unlike in developed countries, we are not sure about the exact quantity to take and how often. We have very few researches done with the alcoholic beverages and spirits we consume here.
- The researches that point to the health benefits use alcoholic drinks that may not be readily accessible to the average Nigerian. So we may not be bold to say the ones we consume here are the beneficial ones.
- There are several additional criteria needed to get the supposed health benefits which needs to be individualized; like sex, age, weight, health status, family history, social habits, etc. These has to be considered before adjusting the individual amount of daily alcohol intake
- Alcohol, as we said, is highly addictive, making the discipline of not taking excessive and not becoming dependent very difficult.
- The benefits that researchers talk about could be gotten through other safer ways like exercise and healthy eating.
- Lastly, the benefits are fewer compared to the risks involved.
Lets take a glance at the risks (of prolonged heavy alcohol intake):
- It affects the mind, emotion, and will, therefore, it could lead to difficulty in relationship with others, domestic violence, broken homes, challenges in workplace, academic problems, poor religious commitment, sleep problem, sex issues, accidents, depression, outbursts of anger, etc.
- It affects virtually all the organs of the body thereby increasing the risk for liver damage, stroke, hypertension, cancers, impotence/infertility, abnormalities and birth defects (if a pregnant mother consumes it), etc.
Personally, I would say, if you don’t drink, there’s absolutely no need to start. And if you are already “in the business” and would like to take steps to reducing or, even, stopping, watch out for the next article!
Shine your eyes! Every breath is a second chance.