Alcoholics should not be treated as threat; they are also human
Eastern Mirror Desk
Dimapur, Jan. 30: It has been almost three decades since the Nagaland Liquor Total Prohibition (NLTP) Act of 1989 was passed to make Nagaland a ‘dry’ state. The Act prohibits possession, sale, consumption, manufacture, import and export of liquor, but the state has not been ‘dry’ with almost all brands of liquor easily available.
The NLTP Act has turned into a topic of debate over the years with the church and several other social organisations favouring a complete ban while many want it to be lifted. Yet, various liquor brands continue to flow into the state and are ‘easily’ available in every nook and corner.
A resident of Kohima, who wants anonymity and describes himself as an ‘occasional drinker,’ told Eastern Mirror that alcohol was easily available in the state capital town, Kohima. “Liquor can be found in goods shops, hotels, and restaurants. It can also be found in the homes of some families. There are also vendors renting rooms exclusively for the purpose of selling liquor,” he said. He claimed that there were some liquor dealers in Kohima who sell it in shops decorated with mineral water bottles, potato chips, and other eatables.
“Liquor is found even in paan shops,” he said.
The situation is similar, or even worse in Dimapur, the commercial hub of the state that has people from different parts of the state and country. Liquor is available in the city even on Sundays.
For those who drink, dozens of liquor brands, from vodka to scotch to beer to local rice beer are available in the state. Even highly adulterated liquor, which can cause serious health problems to consumers, is widely available.
Regardless of the negative effect that alcoholism can have on one’s health and personal life, and the prohibitive Act still in place, people continue to consume alcohol. Youths and students drinking has become a matter of worry for parents too.
Jenpu Rongmei, chief functionary of a local nongovernmental organisation in Dimapur, CAN Youth, told this newspaper that ‘many youth consume alcohol for fun and gradually fall prey to alcoholism and leads to addiction, making them difficult to live without its (alcohol) influence.’ The organisation focuses on dealing with school dropouts and youths affected by violence.
“Many young Nagas turn alcoholics because of frustration and tension due to less avenues (sic), lack of proper guidance, family problems, and unemployment; and many women too fall victims to its consequences. Families living in poverty are more likely to face domestic violence from the head of the family,” Rongmei said.
According to Dr. Deepak, who owns a private clinic in Dimapur, regular consumption of liquor can damage organs like liver, lungs, kidney, and the intestine.
‘Indulgence in alcohol will also lead to tuberculosis, high blood pressure, heart failure, stomach cancer, and even gastritis,’ he said. He added that alcohol use can also lead to mental deterioration as it destroys the brain cells, physically inflames the brain, and disturbs its function.
Pointing out that most liquor found in Nagaland are adulterated, and are mixed with spirit or medicine, the physician warned: alcohol weakens the nerves. This leads to shaking of the hands; less stamina, and paralysis.
Velhou Koza, who wrote a Ph.D thesis on the topic “Consequences of Drug Addiction and Alcoholism on Naga Society,” considers alcoholism a disease that needs ‘proper treatment like any other diseases.’
Koza said it is important to understand the problems of alcoholics. They should be made aware about the dangers of drinking, and that people should show concern instead of disparaging those who drink. He opined that social organisations must publicise this “major problem.”
Rongmei added that alcoholics should not be treated as a threat to the society ‘as they are also human beings.’
“They need support, proper guidance, and counselling instead of discrimination. Church and family have to play an important role on this issue,” he said.