Dealing with alcohol

Bhutanese have a complicated relationship with alcohol. It is so deeply rooted in our culture that even as we know that alcohol is behind most of the social vices we are grappling with today, we cannot pull ourselves to keep it at a distance.

In fact, we have hardly ever made an effort to deal with free-flowing alcohol and related issues in our society. Accepting something just as part of culture could prove to be expensive. Already, alcohol is one of the biggest killers in the country.

It is as if we had to wait for National Commission for Women and Children’s (NCWC) report on violence against children to tell us that alcohol abuse is one of the main drivers of violence against children in Bhutan.

As Bhutanese society is undergoing rapid change, we are having to deal with many scourges of modernity. Drug abuse is a major problem affecting a wide range of population, particularly youth. These are the problems that are getting in the way of the future of many a promising youth of this country.

But the real challenge we face today is that we have let alcohol be easily available. Look at Thimphu, for example. Every next shop is a bar. And we do not have regulations to make sure that children below drinking age are not served alcohol. We might have regulations but that doesn’t do anything unless there is monitoring. Even monitoring will do only half the job because it depends largely on the moral duties of the shopkeepers. Making money could be important but destroying a generation of productive citizens is a crime.

It is time the government sought ways to limit the number of bars and tighten the regulations. Let’s face it: we haven’t done enough. It won’t be a popular move for the government, but it is a right thing to do. We must not flinch from doing what is good for the society even if we risk becoming unpopular.

The sad fact is that as if the government distilleries aren’t producing more than destructive amount of alcohol, we are licensing new ones. Is this how we are tackling issues related with alcohol abuse? We can certainly do better.

There is an urgent need to deal with consumption and availability of alcohol in our society. Alcohol is the biggest killer. It is at the heart of our family and societal problems. It is destroying the future of our children.

Unless the move comes to the highest authorities, our society is in the danger of sinking in this most pathetic scourge of our time – alcoholism.

3 replies
  1. irfan
    irfan says:

    Alcohol and alcoholism is a subject that gets discussed every now and then in our societies. On many occasions, we even discuss it over a glass of drink. Some of us also boast of our check and control dealing with the quality habit. And when it’s considered a fine quality for some, it brings destructive consequences to many.

    Alcoholism usually gets discussed for its health affects and the way it affects different values in our personal and social lives. That’s all very true to our understanding. What we don’t often discuss is how alcoholism has been affecting our abilities to think clearly.

    Lack of clarity in our thinking can lead to temporary gaps in our human like intelligence. It also affects our abilities to execute fine judgement. Probably that’s where lies the roots of a social problem that we try to associate with alcoholism.

    It’s also true that different quality of alcohol is going to have its ill affects on different minds and bodies at different levels. But if one is naturally poor with his abilities with the mind when it comes to intelligence and judgement, alcoholism will only make things even worse. I actually can’t recollect it now where I have read something on this line…’the possible good influence of alcohol consumption is not meant for every mind and body’. But we all accept it that the ill affects of alcoholism spare none.

    There are many among us who consume alcohol hoping that it enables us to fight with a mental or physical pain or some kind of psychological agony. Alcohol is also consumed by many to deal with extreme cold conditions. The reasons may be numerous, but not always it’s true that alcoholism makes us better equipped in facing the reality.

    But we cannot expect everyone to become an alcoholic first to understand alcoholism and then he tries to quit at a point of realisation that it’s doing more harm than good. This is important from a policy framework as we need to approach both alcoholics and those who haven’t still started in two different and separate ways.

    The path that leads us out of the alcoholism trap is not same for every individual. Help is needed here. But sealing the access of alcoholic or hard drinks to any non-alcoholic individual is same for all in a society.

    • MIGNIEN
      MIGNIEN says:

      IRFAN one of the seldom commentator accepted by the moderator , is right in the big problem of alcoholism in Bhutha .

      In France , where the abuse of alcoholism and its social conseques ( women battered , physical abuses of chidren , rapes of young girls , chidren abandonned , family ouburst ) the courrts prosecute strongly by weanned off alcohol ; and this dry out period is submitted to a special judge who sentence to check if it is carried out during probation and post release periods. Despite non respect of the desintoxication treatement , the judge can sentence jail with compulsary treatement .

      Some testimonies :

      During a stay in Bhutan , during an end of an afternoon , i had a walk along the center of Thimphu , near the clock tower place , i meet a violent druken brawl beteween young men , some of them with knifes ; they stank alcohol very strongly .

      Some days after , i saw some drunk young men coming out from a bar and staging !

      At every time our guide told us to get out of the place.

      In a remote village ( i keep annymous to respect the organizers ) , some days after , i attended to a traditional feast very coloured and full of magnificence as the Bhutaneses have the quality to organise those traditional performance .
      During that feast , i took away from the group of tourist and i preferred to mix with the assistance of poor peasants .
      We saw an important Lama coming with a great devotion of the crowd.
      But after He get in the VIP stand , i saw bottles of alcohol exchanged and many drunks among them after having drink . It was smelling alcohol of bad quality !

      Why the Body of monks who managed that feast did not interfer to forbide drinking alcohol ? Oour guide tell us it the Tadition ; In the assistance around the hills , there was many children : what an example for them !!!

      How IRFAN can suggest restriction to drink alcohol despite alcohol is used in so called traditional feast ? I

      • MIGNIEN
        MIGNIEN says:

        This text is to suggest ideas of abroad to solve ithis nternational problems of alcoholism ; let it give ideas to Bhutanase Policy makers to help them to solve a bit this insolvable problem ; and let they know they are not isolated to make effort to reduce that curse ;even in so called sophisticated country this problem occurs !

        Alcohol : new rules in France on the 1st January 2017

        Against the spreading of alcoholism among youth population , new rules will be promoted since next January in France.

        This result to “the disturbing of massive alcoholism youths between 15/25 years old.
        The French Ministry decided by law that “every alcohol seller has to expressively the proof that the buyer is above 18 Years old by showing his or her ID card ; if he does not respect this measure , he will be culprit in front of the law

        Until this date , only a policeman in duty had the right to require ID card to anybody in the street.

        The obligations of the seller will be expressed on a legal public notice put up in every door of bars exposing the general restriction to sell alcohol.

        And more this notice will be put up at the entry of any seller of take away food and fuel station .

        ( Because in France fuel stations sell alcohom )

        Those drecrees were published last October in the newspaper of the gvt .

        Moere “it is forbidden to accept the entry in the alcohol seller shop minors of less than 16 Years old without being accompanied by his parent or by a relative adult.

        Elven in France currently as in some east country for the moment , youngs do not operate “Binge drinking ” as in some east country in Europe they get used to get plastered and have a hard drinking session.

        16% among female of 15 Years old and 15% among male of the same age declare having being drunk at least twice in their life according the organization for cooperation and development recent report ( European organization) the european average is 24% for female and 27% for male

        Consumption of alcohol in France , generally speaking , is over the european average with about 12liters of crude alcohol by year per capita ; France is ranked at 8th place among european country as drinking alcohol .

        I hope those informations will be usefull to bhutanese friends.

        jcmignien@orange.fr

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