Drinking and driving: a social illness

first_imgDrinking and driving is a social illness that plagues societies across the globe: from the well-developed to the Third World.In Guyana, it is well-known that accidents on the roadways account for a large percentage of deaths in the country. Recently, there have been measures such as a curfew put in place to curb the number of drunk drivers who will be on the roads. However, I think that even though we can put measures in place to deal with consequences of alcohol abuse, we should put measures in place to prevent alcoholism to begin with.In our country, alcohol use and, in many cases, abuse, is something of a culture. Our idea of a good time is often centred on the consumption of alcoholic beverages. Our regional and local music that we’re expected to support encourages it. It’s not to say that drinking alcohol is inherently bad, but our culture promotes excess: Drink until you lose consciousness; drink one more; how can you have fun if you don’t drink? It normalises the overuse of alcohol.Of course, this is not unique to just Guyanese or Caribbean culture, but particularly in Guyana I believe it has far-reaching consequences. Guyana has one of the highest suicide rates in the world. This speaks volumes of mental health care. Persons with mental illnesses often times feel stigmatised, and are afraid to speak about their problems. This is because many Guyanese believe that mental illnesses aren’t real sicknesses. They think that they’re made up, are an overreaction, or just cries for attention. When there isn’t anyone one feels comfortable talking to, and you’ve grown up with alcohol being used casually, it becomes easy to turn to the bottle. If this happens, and one becomes dependent upon alcohol to solve one’s problems, alcoholism is quick to follow.While that may just be one reason why people drink excessively, it is of course not the only one. There are many cultural and social influences that engender the “alcohol culture”. However, one thing that shouldn’t happen under any circumstances is drunk driving. This endangers not only oneself, but innocent people around you.What can we do? I think the first step has to happen in our homes. We need to encourage everything within limits. We have to show the younger generation the meaning of the phrase “drink responsibly”, rather than just stating it and never giving them real-life examples. It is not an easy task to accomplish, but it starts with the individual. If you notice someone drinking excessively, step in. It takes an active rather than passive effort. We cannot see something going wrong and say that it’s someone else’s problem. That same drunk driver could end up killing a dear friend or relative of yours. We also have to encourage our friends to take it easy. Often, we tend to encourage our friends to do just the opposite in the interest of “fun”. However, if you care about that person, you should care about their safety.last_img

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