Leader Writer: Paojel Chaoba
Though the state is presently vexed with many pressing issues which need immediate reddressal. The most important issue seems to be the one in which one is directly or indirectly involved.
The state has seen decades of armed conflict, atrocities, underdevelopment, corruption, AIDS and the menace of drug addiction, which concern all. But, one feels that one of the most important threats which need to be dealt with is the disease of alcoholism which has occupied a pandemic situation in Manipur.
Manipur, a virtually ‘dry state’ according to the state government can be termed as a farce. The pipeline of alcohol has been laid from outside the state and presently, everyone is enjoying the delightful ‘flood’ which pours out from the said pipes. The state itself has a colorful cultural background of brewing liquor . Andro, Sekmai and Phayeng areas are synonymous with quality local made brew. The dry state status can be compared to a pact made between a joker and a thief, none is credible.
Many a lives, precious ones also have lost due the conflict situation, intravenous use of drugs and spread of HIV virus. But as of late, it may be safe to say that through widespread awareness programs , the AIDS/HIV pandemic has been brought to a controlled stage now. But, like the proverbial snake in the grass, it can be said that more people have died of alcohol abuse and the effects of alcohol have caused a domino effect to the families of the alcoholic’s and further to the society, which is more cause for concern.
Addressing the seriousness of the abuse and its effects on society, certain civil organizations namely All Manipur Anti Drugs Association (AMADA) and Coalition Against Drugs and Alcohol (CADA) have carried out drives to stop liquor vending and brewing.
The drives were met with mixed responses from the public, but the bottom line is though the all out effort which was time consuming, financially and physically taxing to the anti drug volunteers, the problem refuses to go.
Prior to the drives, certain insurgent groups had issued dictates’ that drug pushers will be given capital punishment and users even severely reprimanded on numerous occasions, had also failed to bear fruit.
Alcohol is viewed as a ‘social’ drug. No one gives much ado if one returns home with a whiff of liquor. Celebrations invoke openings of branded bottles and posing for a photograph in one best suit with a glass of the bubbly is considered a ‘Kodak’ moment. Having a collection of rare vintages is considered a status symbol.
The Manipuri society being an amalgamation of diverse cultures gives equal opportunity to the sections to indulge themselves in the festivities. From the beginning of the calendar till the end, Manipur despite its problems observes a yearlong party. The dipsomaniac at these occasions has a perfectly good excuse for not able to reach home.
‘Controlled drinking’ is a term often used by teetotalers and those who dislike drinking and the angry wife. As two individual cannot have similar fingerprints, the genetic defects and the tendency to be addicted differs from individual to individual.
After some time the tolerance of a person to alcohol develops and thus addiction starts. One may put an alcoholic family member for treatment at a rehabilitation centre. The person may undergo the program, but after getting out from the centre, relapses again.
The causes for relapse are varied, but the most common is the desire to drink and to be in the company of ‘old friends’. The person tends to go back to the old habits.
To give aid to those who wish to stay sober and overcome their addiction ,Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) ,an international mutual aid movement declaring its “primary purpose is to stay sober and help other alcoholics achieve sobriety” must be initiated in the state for the alcoholics seeking recovery.
AA, started in 1935 and is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strength and hope with each other so that they may solve their common problem and help others to recover from alcoholism. The only requirement for membership is a desire to ‘stop drinking’. There are no dues or fees for membership and is not allied with any sect, denomination, politics, organization or institution; does not to engage in any controversy, neither endorses nor opposes any causes. So, the need of the hour is to propagate AA in the state, so that it may spread to each nook and cranny and help those persons who want to be rid of alcohol. It will not be an exaggeration to say that alcohol is a slow poison. An alcoholic dies silently, unnoticed and contemptuously. Its up to you –die a heroic death or have a miserable end. And the society’s responsibility is to ensure that everyone dies honorably. For this, help the helpless. Lets join hands to help the helpless.