CHAPTER 14: Rising Alcohol Consumption in Africa: A Sobering Thought by Oluwatobi Daniel Odediran
Alcohol has been an important part of our society and culture for many centuries. People of all ages across Africa have an intimate relationship with alcohol, with perceived positive as well as negative effects in the short and longer term. Alcohol is said to be the most widely used and abused drug in the world today mostly among the adolescence. Many people do not regard it as a drug, which it actually is.
It creates vastly more social, economic and moral problems than the several illegal drugs combined.(Folawiyo, 2000)
Alcohol is tied up with many areas of our lives, and we use it in a plethora of ways: to help us relax, feel brave, introduce ourselves, seal business deals, celebrate life events, drown our sorrows, remember, forget, welcome people, say goodbye to people, get to know people, manipulate people, because we feel like it, because we need it, to numb ourselves, to feel grown up, to feel young, to belong, to distinguish ourselves, and sometimes, because we’ve forgotten how to do anything without alcohol.
Alcohol consumption is one of the main risk factors to health. It is responsible each year for about 3.3 million premature deaths worldwide, more than AIDS, tuberculosis and violence combined (WHO, 2014). Injuries both unintentional and intentional account for more than a third of the burden of disease attributable to alcohol consumption (WHO, 2009). These include injuries from road traffic crashes, burns, poisoning, falls and drowning as well as violence against oneself or others. The impact of alcohol-related injuries affects not only those who are intoxicated at the time of injury occturence, but also those who fall victim to their behavior. These include the pedestrian or cyclist knocked over by a drunk driver or the woman or children beaten by a drunkhusband or father.
It is against this backdrop that this review critically explores the rising alcohol consumption in
Africa, its consequences for the contemporary African society and suggests some remedies. It then looks to International Best Practices with regard to alcohol prevention and asks how relevant such
recommendations are for Africa.