The harmful use of alcohol is a real problem that significantly influences society and must be addressed appropriately to prevent mental and behavioural disorders. High alcohol consumption has been linked to a range of negative health outcomes including high blood pressure, heart disease, and cirrhosis of the liver. In addition to this, high alcohol consumption may also lead to crimes, violence, brain injuries, domestic violence, accidents and suicides (Saddichha et. al, 2015).
Underage alcohol use among teens and youth is a growing problem today. According to surveys, about 825,000 youth between the ages of 12 to 20 reported heavy alcohol use in the past month. Alcohol consumption among youth can hinder brain development and lead to other health consequences. The adolescent brain is sensitive to alcohol and alcohol consumption among youth interferes with motor functioning and memory (Ewing et. al, 2014).
Statistics show that in 2016, 5.3% of all global deaths were due to alcohol consumption. Light or moderate levels of alcohol consumption is consuming no more than one or two drinks per day. According to Hines and Rimm (2001), moderate alcohol consumption is beneficial to the cardiovascular system. However, alcohol if consumed in excess can have several short-term and long-term effects.
Apart from underage drinking, alcohol consumption among pregnant women is a major cause of concern as it increases the risk of miscarriage, premature birth and low birth weight. A serious condition called foetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) occurs if a child is exposed to alcohol during pregnancy. According to the study done by Khalil and O’Brien (2010), 80% of women admit to consuming alcohol before pregnancy, 50% admit to drinking during early pregnancy and 18% continue to drink alcohol throughout pregnancy. This may cause FASD which is a leading cause of intellectual disability in most developed countries.
In the Indian context, alcohol is the most widely used psychoactive substance. Gastrointestinal (GI) complications, cancer, neurological complications and psychiatric complications due to alcohol are prevalent in India. According to Eashwar et al (2020), hospital admission rates are rising because of the direct and indirect problems caused by alcohol consumption in the country. In addition to this, there is a huge economic impact of alcohol consumption on people belonging to the lower socio-economic strata in Indian society. Alcohol is also responsible for increasing crime rates in India. As per the data published by NCRB “Alcoholism plays a major role in 70-85% of offences against women.”
Though moderate alcohol consumption may have some uses for health, it is evident that the risks outweigh the benefits. The debate over alcohol control is an ongoing one. However, it is safe to conclude that drinking alcohol has risks for many and there is a dire need for alcohol control policies, especially in developing countries like India, where crimes related to alcohol are often overlooked.
Eashwar, V. M., Umadevi, R., and Gopalakrishnan. S. (2020). Alcohol consumption in India– An epidemiological review. National Library of Medicine.
Available at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7014857/#ref20. Accessed on [22 Sep 2021]
Ewing, S., Sakhardande, A., and Blakemore, S. (2014). The effect of alcohol consumption on the adolescent brain: A systematic review of MRI and fMRI studies of alcohol-using youth. Science Direct. Available at https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2213158214000874. Accessed on [21Sep 2021]
Hines, L. M. and Rimm, E. B. (2001). Moderate alcohol consumption and coronary heart disease: a review. BM Journals. Available at https://pmj.bmj.com/content/77/914/747. Accessed on [21 Sep 2022]
Khalil, A. and O’Brien, P. (2010). Alcohol and pregnancy. Elsevier, 20, 311-313.
Saddichha, S., Manjunatha, N., and Khess, C. (2015). Why do we Need to Control Alcohol Use Through Legislative Measures? A South East Asia Perspective. National Library of Medicine. Available at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2888346/. Accessed on [21Sep 2021]