Misconceptions

There are a lot of misconceptions surrounding alcohol & tobacco which make us develop a belief “Though some others get harmed, a smart & responsible person like me will not get harmed by alcohol”. Here we have answered some of the popular misconceptions…

  1. Alcohol/ tobacco is a sign of masculinity.

  2. So far as my will power is good and I drink responsibly, I have nothing to fear.

  3. In todays age of stress, alcohol is a good way to unwind.

  4. Alcohol addiction is a genetic disease. If I don’t have a family history of alcohol addiction, then most probably I will not get addicted.

  5. Alcohol earns our government so much revenue! It gives employment to so many people. Alcohol industry is essential for our economy.

  6. If we ban, illegal alcohol will be sold anyways in equal amount.

Answers 

 

2) Alcohol/ tobacco is a sign of masculinity.

Ans 2: Alcohol & tobacco companies try hard to promote the notion that drinking/ smoking make you more masculine. But the reality is exactly opposite.

  • Alcohol & tobacco are one of the most common physical causes of impotence.

  • The damage various organs of the body and decrease a person’s stamina for physical effort.

  • Work absenteeism, deterioration in occupational functioning and decreased ability to earn are common consequences which we all have seen in the lives of people who drink alcohol.

  • Financial disaster: People end up squandering all their earnings on addictions and at times enter into a cycle of debt which ruins them completely.

  • Besides, these poisons cause various nutritional deficiencies, skin problems like early wrinkling, tooth fall, etc. and make a person look less attractive.

Thus by all parameters, alcohol doesn’t increase; but actually decreases your masculinity!

Another misconception companies promote is that women get attracted to men who drink alcohol. How can someone feel attracted to a person whose mouth is stinking from the use of alcohol or tobacco? Surveys have consistently shown that women actually don’t like men when they have drunk alcohol. Eg. A survey of 4,000 people commissioned by Cancer Research UK has showed that

  • 35% men believed that they looked more attractive after having a few pints of alcohol while only 13 % women shared this belief of theirs.

  • 40% women reported that they find their partners less attractive after drinking;

  • 50% women reported that men are worse in bed when they have been drinking and 42 % went as far as to say that they ‘hate’ it when their partner gets drunk.

  • Also, in this survey, a large proportion of people confessed that alcohol makes them do things they later regret, with 28% admitting they have made phone calls or sent texts which came back to bite them the next day.

3) So far as my will power is good and I drink responsibly, I have nothing to fear.

Ans: Out of every 100 people who touch addictive substances, percentage of people who get trapped in the addiction is as follows:

Alcohol

15%

Cocaine

17%

Heroin

23%

Tobacco

32%

(Source: Stephen Stahl’s Textbook of Psychopharmacology)

Addictiveness (withdrawal symptoms, tolerance, craving) is a property of these substances. It is not about your will power. There are enough number of otherwise successful people who had a lot of good qualities and will power, but still got ruined just because they touched these addictive substances. The founder of alcoholic anonymous was a surgeon whose practice had got ruined because of his addiction. Anyone can get trapped, including you & me.

Those who have killed someone under intoxication or destroyed their own families by addiction also had made a decision to drink ‘responsibly’! Does anyone drink out of control by choice? Can there be a responsible way of drinking an addictive poison?

And once addicted it is extremely difficult to quit. Most people keep relapsing. So it is silly to say that I will quit it if it gets excessive. The best way to protect oneself from falling in the trap, is to never touch them even once..

  1. In todays age of stress, alcohol is a good way to unwind.

Ans: Attend any stress management workshop and they will tell you that using alcohol or tobacco to deal with your stress is an unhealthy way to deal with your stress. Alcohol does not give any answers to your questions; it just makes you forget your questions!! Because you forget the questions, you don’t attempt to answer them. And the questions of your life keep getting bigger and more complicated….A loan of 10 thousand becomes 20 thousand…. then 1 lakh and then 20 lakhs…. soon the land is sold, job is lost, health deteriorates and the problem becomes unmanageable… forcing the person or his family members to commit suicide…This ostrich mentality of closing one’s eyes and not seeing the reality, soon destroys your life….Using alcohol to deal with one’s stress is an indication that one doesn’t have the sanity to use better & efficient coping skills in his life. Using intoxicating substances is not a symbol of one’s smartness; it’s a certificate of his stupidity!!

It might bring joy in the short run. But in the long run, this addictive poison becomes the cause of all the stress. Eg. There was a Chief Medical Officer in my hospital who had signed my completion of casualty posting, during my internship. But few years later, I used to see him in our campus in shabby clothes, begging to various doctors for some money. He had become the laughing stock in the campus. Alcohol may have given him great joy for many years. But now it had taken away his job, his respect, his everything….

5. Alcohol addiction is a genetic disease. If I don’t have a family history of alcohol addiction, then most probably I will not get addicted.

Ans: Some people believe that only those with some sort of vulnerability for developing dependence get addicted; eg. who have low will power or those who start drinking to deal with some pain or only those who have a family history of substance dependence, etc. This is a misconception. Withdrawal symptoms, tolerance & craving are properties of addictive substances and they have nothing to do with your will power or genetic makeup. A person with family history of diabetes has an increased risk of developing diabetes. But this doesn’t make diabetes a genetic disease. The most important factor that decides whether you will get diabetes or not is your lifestyle. Similarly, though genetic make up and some other vulnerability factors have some influence, the single most important reason why a person gets addicted is his decision to touch an addictive substance. For some addiction will develop fast; for some it will be slow – but it can happen to anyone. There are enough number of otherwise successful doctors, engineers, businessman, etc. who have been ruined by alcohol. One of the founders of Alcoholic Anonymous was a surgeon whose practice had got ruined because of alcohol!

6. Alcohol earns our government so much revenue! It gives employment to so many people. Alcohol industry is essential for our economy.

Ans:

  1. What about the cost of treatment of alcohol related diseases that result from its sale? What about the cost of other complications like accidents, crimes, premature deaths, work absenteeism, etc? An analysis by economist Mr. Shifrin and Mr. James Sarsone (from World Bank), shows that the price society pays for alcohol is 25 to 40 times more than the revenue generated from it. While government earns a large amount of excise revenue through alcohol, it doesn’t have to compensate for all its adverse consequences. It is the alcohol users and their families who have to bear this loss. So the government finds this deal profitable; but society as a whole suffers.

  1. Let us consider the example of a liquor shop owner. He calls local youth and distributes alcohol free to them. He does this for just 2 or 3 times and he gets customers for life. He is prepared to ruin the lives of other people in his society, just so that he can earn his revenue. If a government lets its citizens become victims of alcohol & tobacco, just so that it can earn its revenue; how is it any different from that exploitative liquor shop owner? Does the government exist primarily for the welfare of people; or primarily to accumulate revenue for making regular fat payments to the government employees, MLAs, corporators, etc? Yes, for a government addicted to revenue from alcohol sales, managing finances without it would be a challenge; but it needs to be faced.

  1. The reason for the heavy taxation on alcohol is not that government would earn revenue. In order to discourage people from using this addictive poison, governments worldover impose heavy taxes on alcohol, so that it becomes more expensive. However, with time some people have lost perspective of the situation – now they are even prepared to encourage the production of this addictive poison, stating increased government revenue as an advantage! In front of glitter of money, public welfare has become a non – issue.

  1. Human resource is the most important resource of a country. What is the sense in earning revenue for the government by harming our human resource physically, mentally, financially and socially? Is this our idea of development? Again, around 85% of this government revenue is spent on salaries and infrastructure. Only 15% is directly spent on the people. This is utterly inadequate to compensate the society for the harmful consequences of alcohol. In his book ‘I too had a dream’ Dr. Verghese Kurien, father of India’s white revolution, says “I have often claimed that I have had but one good idea in my life: that true development is the development of women and men… I cannot help but feel some disappointment that our policy makers and implementers still believe that our nation’s women and men are means, not ends… Our greatest national resource is our people, and too often we have neglected this resource”

  2. In recent times, Gujrat government is widely regarded as the most efficiently running government and in Gujrat official sales of alcohol are banned since years. Just an example to show that it is not necessary to drug the society to earn the revenue.

  3. For calling it employment generating industry, the industry has to be constructive to the society and not destructive. Even pick-pocketing and stealing help a lot of poor to earn money. So should we encourage them too as an industry? If alcohol & tobacco are banned, farm lands & other resources consumed by these industries will get free for other industries and people will get employment in that. Anyways, which number is larger? Number of families getting employment from them or number of families getting destroyed by them?

7. Even if we ban it, illegal alcohol will be sold anyways in equal amount.

Ans: a) Yes, some people who are addicted will try to get it anyways; but new people will not try it. Youngsters don’t start drinking in illegal alcohol shops. They start with legally available alcohol in the shop next doors; and when it ruins them then they go to the cheaper varieties of alcohol. The most common question I am asked by youngsters is, “If alcohol is so bad, why doesn’t the government ban it?” If a substance is allowed to be legally sold and marketed using the most popular filmstars and cricketers, then our youth is bound to feel that it must be relatively safe.

b) Though it doesn’t solve the problem completely, banning a substance decreases the magnitude of the problem in a huge way. Most people avoid doing illegal things. Brown sugar is more harmful than alcohol. Yet the magnitude of its problem in our society is far les