A study published in a Sri Lankan newspaper exposes that pseudo-happiness of alcohol causes harm to people after using alcohol. 78% of study participants say the momentary pseudo-pleasure of alcohol is overshadowed by its negative after effects.
The alcohol industry is pushing alcohol into more and more communities and social events in Sri Lanka, to normalize their products and turn alcohol abstainers into users.

A study published in the Sri Lankan newspaper Sunday Observer exposes the pseudo-happiness of alcohol use. The study was conducted on 50 male participants between the age of 18 to 45 years to examine the impact of alcohol addiction.

More than 78% of the participants of the study hold the view that the momentary pleasures of alcohol are mostly overshadowed by its negative after effects. The participants state that this pseudo happiness has caused more harm than benefit to their lives.

‘Pseudo happiness’ of alcohol is overshadowed by its harms
More than 78% of study participants hold the view that the momentary pleasures of alcohol is mostly overshadowed by its negative after effects.

When we go to sleep [intoxicated with alcohol], we wake up with a disturbed mind the next day. Then we are being compelled to cancel all our work and appointments scheduled for the day” said study participants,” as per the Sunday Observer.

Participants of the study

There is a psychological component for alcohol addiction says Dr. Neil Fernando, Consultant Psychiatrist and Senior Lecturer at Kotalawala Defence University.

[Alcohol] addiction is a behavior. Behavior is one of the three components of the Mind. The other two components are thoughts (cognition) and feelings (emotions),” said Dr. Neil Fernando, Consultant Psychiatrist and Senior Lecturer at Kotalawala Defence University, as per Sunday Observer.

The three components are interrelated and interdependent.”

Dr. Neil Fernando, Consultant Psychiatrist and Senior Lecturer, Kotalawala Defence University

Alcohol addiction is dependent on a person’s thinking and feelings as well says Dr. Fernando, describing six features of an addiction.

  1. Intense craving or desire for alcohol use: A person addicted to alcohol will get this craving or desire when they see someone consuming alcohol or even when they smell alcoholic drinks.
  2. Loss of control: The loss of control is about the amount of alcohol consumed and the frequency of alcohol consumption.
  3. Developing tolerance: The need to consume more alcohol to get the same intoxication with time.
  4. Developing withdrawal symptoms: These are unpleasant symptoms that occur when the blood alcohol level goes down. A person develops withdrawal symptoms when they stop or reduce the consumption of alcohol.
  5. Alcohol is given the first priority in life: Alcohol use becomes the only pleasurable activity in a person’s life. All other activities including the spouse, children, reputation, and status become secondary considerations.
  6. Using alcohol alcohol despite knowing the harm it is causing.

The presence of three of these factors over a period of 12 months is characterized as an alcohol addiction.

Alcohol addiction is a psychological disorder as per the International Classification of Disease 10th version (ICD 10) which is the WHO classification and the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association 5th version (DSM5).

There is treatment available for alcohol use disorder. Brief interventions with medical supervision can help people with alcohol use disorder to recover.

Youth alcohol initiation and future alcohol problems

Alcohol use in social situations is one of the main ways in which Sri Lankan youth get hooked onto alcohol. Using alcohol socially is not seen as a problem and is promoted via alcohol industry marketing that constructs and conditions strong alcohol norms.

Dr. Fernando describes six reasons why young people use alcohol in social situations:

  1. Alcoholisation of the Sri Lankan community.
  2. Availability and affordability of alcohol.
  3. Privilege for alcohol users.
  4. Initiation to alcohol at an early age.
  5. Media publicity.
  6. Peer pressure.

How Big Alcohol hooks Sri Lankans to their products

Sri Lanka is still a largely alcohol-free culture. But the strategy of the alcohol industry is to turn abstainers into consumers.

One strategy is pushing alcohol into more and more social events. This way, more and more children get exposed to alcohol, for instance through family events such as birthday parties, weddings, funerals and even religious rituals. When adults use alcohol and children see this, their behavior is modeled for the future.

There are also unfair privileges given to people who use alcohol. Society excuses anti-social behavior of those who are ‘under the influence of alcohol’. Using alcohol generates a more permissive attitude to otherwise unacceptable behavior. Alcohol users get pribiliges that are constructed through marketing and norms. Thus, young people get increasingly exposed to alcohol norms which model alcohol behaviors. In groups of young people that use alcohol remaining alcohol-free is becoming more difficult, due to peer pressure and the harmful norms attached and propagated with alcohol.

According to Senior Professor in Sociology at the University of Colombo, Subhangi Herath, social transition in terms of alcohol norms is visible in Sri Lanka from being a a ‘culturally controlled’ culture to ‘culturally permissive’ culture.

The increased availability and affordability means youth can access alcohol at a younger age. Despite alcohol marketing being illegal in Sri Lanka, the alcohol industry uses indirect marketing tactics in main media and social media to market alcohol to people, specifically youth to ensure future profits.

Earlier alcohol initiation because of these factors leads to later bigger alcohol problems in later life.

It has been clearly shown the earlier the initiation of [alcohol use] behavior, the more the chance of ending up [with alcohol] addiction,” said Dr. Neil Fernando, Consultant Psychiatrist and Senior Lecturer at Kotalawala Defence University, as per Sunday Observer.

Dr. Neil Fernando, Consultant Psychiatrist and Senior Lecturer, Kotalawala Defence University

Prevention is better than cure

The harms alcohol causes young people are overlooked. But lessons can be drawn from tobacco prevention. When smoking started becoming a serious problem in the country, civil society organizations, public health advocates and activists took action to push for better regulation and more prevention action. This has created a lasting impact and smoking is considered an unacceptable behavior now.

The legal framework to take preventive policy action is already in place in Sri Lanka through the National Authority on Alcohol and Tobacco (NATA) Act. The Act must be comprehensively implemented for alcohol prevention as for tobacco prevention, concerning alcohol marketing, legal age for alcohol purchase, and other provisions in the Act.

Increasing awareness among young people regarding alcohol harms need to be improved, too. Empowering young people to be in control of their lives without falling prey to alcohol industry tactics can benefit them by increasing self-awareness. This can help youth to become alcohol-free or reduce consumption in the long-term.

Source Website: Sunday Observer