Get Involved

Individually our power might be small;

But together, we can make a big difference !!

Here are few things which each one of us can do to contribute towards halting the spread of this serious epidemic.

A) Working towards removing its social acceptability and making sure that youngsters around us don’t touch the 1st drink or the 1st smoke

Our understanding is that the extent to which a particular society regards alcohol/ tobacco consumption to be socially acceptable, decides the magnitude of the addiction problem in that society.

Example: a) It is a common belief that the alcohol problem is more in India compared to the developed countries of west because of the illiteracy & poverty over here. However the fact is exactly the opposite. Consider the statistics below

South East Asia

America

Europe

Proportion of male deaths attributable to alcohol

3.9%

9%

11%

Prevalence of alcohol use disorders in males (Alcohol dependence & alcohol Abuse)

4.3%

8.2%

9.1%

   (from www.thelancet.com Vol 373 June 27, 2009, pg 2225-2226)

These statistics bust the myth that educated people in west know how to drink responsibly/ have good social norms about drinking – and hence do not get harmed. As alcohol is socially acceptable in the west, its consumption is very common out there. The proportion of drinkers who drink in harmful pattern is definitely smaller out there, but it is not zero. Addictiveness is a property of the substance and it shows up irrespective of the socio-cultural background of the people who are using it. Even if a smaller proportion of those who touch it become addicted over there in the west, because the number of people in western countries who experiment with alcohol is so large (70-90%), that eventually it ends up being a bigger problem there compared to in India (where only around 20% experiment with it). However, thanks to ‘great’ filmstars and cricketers, the social acceptability of alcohol and cigarettes in India is fast increasing; and we are losing this advantage. Imagine what will happen when the social acceptability to alcohol in India will become similar to what it is in America…. The alcohol related problems that we see around us will simply double !

If you agree with the hypothesis explained above that social acceptability is one of the most important determinants of how many people will experiment with alcohol; and hence of the level of alcohol related problems in the society – then you can make an efforts to decrease its social acceptability. Once a youth touches alcohol or tobacco, then it is very difficult to make him/ her quit. Hence it is important that we as a society take a strong stand against these addictive poisons and warn our youth adequately against touching them even once. If we rebuild a strong social opinion against it, it would no longer be perceived that it is cool to drink alcohol. Thus the main reason why youth experiment with this addictive poison will go away; and they will get protected from falling in the trap. For that we need to:

  1. Spread awareness about alcohol related facts & remove prevalent misconceptions. Youngsters don’t plan to experiment with rat poison because they are clear about the adverse consequences they will have to face if they take it. Whereas with respect to alcohol there is a lot of ambiguity. They are given false promises that drinking/ smoking will make them more successful, will make them more brave, will attract the opposite gender, etc. Also there is propaganda to make them believe that so far as they drink responsibly, it is safe to drink alcohol & even beneficial! As a result most youngsters are of the opinion that using alcohol/ tobacco is not going to harm them much; and hence they are open to experimenting with them. But if we let them know details about how these addictive poisons harm us and the large number of people who end up suffering because of them; then they are not fools to hit the axe on their own leg. Is it not our duty to provide them the right understanding over the prevalent misconceptions, so that they don’t get fooled? Otherwise how can we blame them? Also, as more and more youngsters become aware of the truth of these addictive poisons, the peer pressure will also change in the opposite direction…As all of us know, this peer pressure many a times can get stronger than family influence. Hence, we cant be sure of safeguarding even our own children unless we spead awareness at the community level.

We have made more than 180 presentations till now and are quite sure that in the classes where we have presented, the peer pressure would have changed significantly. You can also spread awareness in ways you are comfortable with – talks in schools/ colleges, discussions in small groups, one to one sharing, articles in magazines, putting up facts on your building/ hostel notice board, etc.

  1. Recommend strongly to our near & dear ones to stay away from it. A lot of people, including famous filmstars & cricketers are recommending to our youngsters to take alcohol. But hardly anyone is recommending them against it! In such a situation if more and more youth fall in the trap, are we not to blame ourselves for it? It is rightly said, ‘The evil in society is not so much because of the violence of the bad; rather it is because of the silence of the good!’ Man is a social animal. He doesn’t respond so much to scientific facts; as he does to emotional requests from near and dear ones… Eg. In a particular unit in my college all males used to drink; and each new doctor who joined that unit would generally follow suit. But one guy didn’t. The reason he stated was, “My mother has taken a promise from me that I will not start drinking even after joining hostel” – Make your request today! You don’t have to tell all the fact to everyone. You can just say one or two facts and then make a strong recommendation to stay away from these addictive poisons.

  2. Lead by example: As is said, ‘Our children may not listen to what we say; but they will definitely observe what we do!’ I am very thankful to my father for giving up his party drinking – to send across a strong message to me that drinking alcohol was a very harmful thing to do.

  3. Removing alcohol from our family & social get-togethers: Taking a firm stand against alcohol in this manner will send a strong message to the young generation about its un-desirability. This will go a long way in de-normalising the use of this addictive poison; atleast for youngsters in our families. Also, this will break its association with socialisation; thereby decreasing the peer pressure to drink. If we wish that the problem of alcohol use should decrease in our society, then we as a society, need to take a stand on this issue.

  4. Write to filmstars & cricketers who do surrogate ads, to not misguide their fans for the sake of just money. Advertising of addictive poisons alcohol & tobacco is banned by law – so that new youngsters don’t get tempted towards and trapped in their addiction. But surrogate advertisements of alcohol & tobacco are rampant; and the companies are blatantly violating the spirit of this law. How can we allow the selfish cricketers & filmstars to mislead our youth? If daily they get hundred messages of protests on their fanpages, do you think they will continue this? As individuals and as members of various social organisations we must demand from government a complete ban on alcohol & tobacco surrogate advertisements

B) Refer people who are addicted for treatment:Though quitting is difficult, some 10-20% people do succeed in quitting completely; and many others are able to decrease partly/ intermittently. There is no reason why your dear one will not be one amongst them. Most people who seek treatment, do get benefitted, in some way or the other. So when you come across someone who is not able to quit by self, definitely refer him to a deaddiction centre, psychiatrist, psychotherapist or alcoholic anonymous. Your initiative can change their life and their whole family will remain thankful to you forever !!

There are medications available to deal with the withdrawal symptoms and there is counselling available to help them deal with the craving in a better way. Alcoholic anonymous is a self help group which doesn’t charge any money and its local contact number can be obtained by contacting their website or on number 090227 71011

The evil in society is not so much because of violence of the bad;

as it is because of the silence of the good!

Friends, please pass on the information given on this blog, which you found relevant, to 10 more people. If you have any doubts/ need any type of assistance for spreading awareness/ want to share your experience with regards to addictive substances/ would like to give us any feedback, we are eagerly waiting for your email. Kindly contact us on dharavshah@gmail.com

We encourage you to see our presentation on the issue of alcohol epidemic on you-tube. The link is: https://youtu.be/gLPJD3-AYIE.If you like it, please recommend your contacts on facebook & whatsappto check it out.

For cool posts on this issue, which you can circulate around, like us on facebook: www.facebook.com/truthofalcoholandtobacco 

(To prevent getting exploited by advertisements; and to be able to make informed, smart choices for yourself & our planet, kindly watch the mind blowing presentation ‘Story of stuff’ on You-tube)

Be healthy..be happy

JAI HIND !