Alcoholism Problems in South Africa

Monday 7th February 2011

Alcoholism problems in South Africa have been studied by government and other health agencies for several years.  The studies have shown a wide range of problems associated with drinking.

Some obvious alcoholism problems in South Africa could be around how alcohol itself can cause health problems.  Chronic alcohol abuse can result in cirrhosis of the liver and other organs getting damaged. 

Heavy drinking sessions can also result in physical problems.  Being intoxicated can result in death through accidents and also raises the risk of suicide.  Psychological theory believes that people are more likely to commit suicide while drunk because alcohol leaves them feeling less able to face problems and removes the inhibitions that would normally protect them from self-harm.

South Africa has a known problem with HIV/AIDS and one of the alcoholism problems in South Africa is the fact that people who are drunk are more likely to engage in unsafe sexual practices.  This increases their chances of contracting or spreading HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases.  This occurs as a result of promiscuity associated with loss of inhibitions due to intoxication as well as through not taking preventative measures during sex.

If the person does not eat healthily their immune system is weakened.  Therefore malnutrition can compound alcoholism problems in South Africa as it increases the chances the drinker will fall pretty to opportunistic diseases.  People who receive a large portion of their calories from alcohol (that is to say they are not eating properly) may eventually suffer from organ damage as a result.

There has been a very high incidence rate of fetal alcohol syndrome in infants, particularly in the Western Cape.  This occurs if a mother to be misuses alcohol while she is pregnant.  These babies are born with a particular set of handicaps and will struggle to lead any sort of normal life.  Fetal alcohol syndrome babies are instantly recognisable by their small eye openings, smooth philtrum, and thin upper lip.  This is a particularly tragic example of alcoholism problems in South Africa.

Criminality is also associated with heavy drinking.  The criminal justice system is also impacted by the increased load of alcohol related cases.  People who are intoxicated as a result of alcohol abuse are more vulnerable to become victims of crime.  The common sense behind this research is that if a person is drunk they are easier to mug and more likely to wander into dangerous areas that they might normally stay out of.

A study conducted by the Medical Research Council in 2002 found that 46% of people who died from non-natural causes had an elevated concentration of alcohol in their blood.  The percentage was significantly higher for people who died in car accidents or who were murdered.  This illustrates the fatal nature of alcoholism problems in South Africa.  This trend was also shown to exist in Intensive Care Units (ICU) where 39% of all patients arriving in a trauma unit were above the legal driving limit for breath alcohol concentration.

Specialist treatment centre’s for people with alcoholism problems in South Africa showed that just over half of all people arriving in rehab reported having alcohol as their primary drug of abuse.  This makes alcohol the leading cause for people to require rehabilitation, which should make us think twice about whether abuse of this substance should be considered socially acceptable.

Reducing alcoholism problems in South Africa

International research has shown that there are a number of strategies that can be effective in reducing societal abuse of alcohol. 

One obvious approach is to restrict the availability of alcohol.  This can be done by legislating who may sell, when they are allowed to sell, and preventing the sale of alcohol to minors. 

Another approach is to increase the tax level on alcohol beverages.  This raises their price which helps to reduce the amount that people can drink.  The extra tax can be used towards creating programs to deal with alcoholism problems in South Africa.

Drunk driving now carries much harsher sentences than it used to as a deterrent to this dangerous practice. Additionally the government has invested money in mobile testing units which can check random drivers to see if they are under the influence.  Another idea is to use breathalyzers on pedestrians to ensure that they are sober enough to be alert to oncoming traffic.

Alcoholism problems in South Africa are wide ranging and impact negatively on society.  If you feel that you may have a problem with alcohol then please contact an addictions counsellor at WeDoRecover for addictions advice on how to reclaim your life.

Please call us if you’re looking for an addiction solution specific to your needs:

SA: 082-74-REHAB (73422) Normal Cell rates apply or

UK: 0808 26 REHAB (73422) free phone helpline.

Article by We Do Recover

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