Alcohol usage in India is deeply rooted in history, dating back to ancient times. References to various alcoholic beverages can be found in ancient scriptures, such as the Rigveda and the Atharvaveda, highlighting their role in rituals, celebrations, and medicinal purposes.
The regulation of alcohol usage has been a contentious issue for decades, with arguments ranging from personal freedom to public health. Alcohol is a widely consumed substance with both social and health implications, making it a complex topic for policymakers. In this blog, we will explore the reasons why alcohol usage should be controlled by the government, examining the various aspects of this debate.
The Global Status Report on Alcohol 2004 is a new edition of the Report published by WHO in 1999.The Report seeks to document what is known about alcohol consumption and drinking patterns among various population groups, alcohol’s impact on health worldwide, and what is needed on a global basis to prevent and reduce alcohol-related injury and disease.
One of the primary reasons for government intervention in alcohol consumption is public health. Excessive alcohol usage is associated with a range of health problems, including liver disease, cardiovascular issues, addiction, and even mental health disorders. The economic burden of alcohol-related healthcare costs is substantial, putting a strain on healthcare systems worldwide. By implementing regulations, such as minimum drinking ages and alcohol pricing policies, governments aim to reduce the negative health impacts of alcohol usage.
Evidence suggests impaired control is highly relevant to young adult problem drinking, so impaired control is a valuable construct to the study of young adult problem drinking and that measures of impaired control should be included in more young adult alcohol studies ( Leeman et al, 2012).
Alcohol usage – especially in excess is linked to a number of negative outcomes: as a risk factor for diseases and health impacts; crime; road accidents; and for some, alcohol dependants. Globally alcohol usage causes 2.8 million premature deaths per year (Hannah Ritchie and Max Roser, 2018). So, alcohol should be controlled by Government.
The effect and impact of alcohol usage was examined in a cross sectional manner with the combined use of quantitative and qualitative research methods among four population groups of rural, town, slum and urban areas in Bangalore, India. The study shows the phenomenal burden and impact among individuals and families of alcohol users in the areas studied. In the final analysis, the economic impact would be much higher than the conservative estimates noted in the study and Indian society might be losing more than it is reportedly gaining (Gururaj. G, Bangalore study).
Governments also have an economic interest in regulating alcohol consumption. The alcohol industry is a substantial contributor to the economy, generating billions of dollars in revenue and providing jobs. However, the costs associated with alcohol misuse, such as healthcare, law enforcement, and lost productivity, can offset these economic benefits. Therefore, it is in the government’s interest to strike a balance between promoting a responsible alcohol industry and mitigating the negative economic consequences of excessive alcohol use.
Children exposed to alcohol prenatally are at risk of suffering from impaired cognitive abilities and other secondary factors, said Lin Gao. So, there is no safe amount or safe stages during pregnancy for alcohol usage.
Nikki Crowley ( Assistant Professor) and Avery Sicher, a doctoral student in Penn state’s neuroscience program, heavy alcohol consumption may cause permanent dysregulation of neurons, or brain cells, in adolescents, according to a new study in mice.
Governments have a responsibility to protect vulnerable populations, such as minors, from the harmful effects of alcohol. Enforcing a minimum drinking age is a common method used to prevent underage alcohol consumption. This regulation helps reduce the risk of alcohol-related accidents, addiction, and other adverse consequences in young people.
The question of whether alcohol usage should be controlled by the government is a multifaceted issue. Public health concerns, economic interests, and the social impact of alcohol misuse provide compelling reasons for government regulation. However, it is essential to find a balance that respects individual freedoms while safeguarding public health and well-being.
- Saxena S. Geneva: Memorandum to World Health Organization; 1997. as cited in WHO Global Status Report on Alcohol- 2004 World Health Organization.
- Leeman et al (2012). Impaired control over alcohol use: An under-addressed risk factor for problem drinking in young adults? Experimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology, 20(2), 92-106.
- Ritchie H. and Roser M., 2018: Alcohol Consumption.
- Gururaj G, Girish N, Benegal V., 2006: Burden and socio-economic impact of alcohol use: The Bangalore study. World Health Organization, Regional Office for South-East Asia. New Delhi.
- Gao L., Stephen J. et al., 2019: Quantitative assessment of cerebral connectivity deficiency and prenatal alcohol exposure. Chaos: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Nonlinear Science, 2019; 29(4).
- Crowley N. et al, 2023: Adolescent binge drinking leads to long-lasting changes in cortical microcircuits in mice. Neuropharmacology; 234.