As I shared yesterday, i feel that when drinking goes beyond acceptable limits, it affects not only the drinker but family, friends and community at large. Drinking a lot of alcohol is bad for the drinker’s health, both in the short and in the long run. According to a research involved in a study that covered my neighbourhood, drinking often affects others adversely, too. For example, this is well recognised for drink driving in the hood, and once the size of the problem was established, community policies were put in place that successfully drove down rates of drink driving injuries that had seen more than a dozen members of the neighbourhood suffer serious injuries. There are other range of harms to others from drinking. In my neighbourhood, I have seen effects on family life and members, sometimes just a bad moment, sometimes very serious. I know a retired solder, a drinker who spoiled a family summer holiday in 2016 by fighting with a fellow holidayer and ended up in prison. A fortnight ago, a skirtie failed to pick up a child from preschool because she was too drunk and couldn’t even walk. The school van driver knocked my gate wanting to know whether i knew the kids parents, sadly i didn’t know the names but kid explanation helped me direct the driver to the actual place. Shameful to say the least. No doubt drinking is often implicated in family violence and in child neglect as was the case with that kindergarten kid.There are effects on friends and on work life like friendships are broken off, injuries in a drunken fight, work time spent filling in for a drinker or getting help for him or her. Also adverse effects on people who don’t know the drinker, irritation like late night street noise, and more serious impacts, such as injury from trying to break up a drunken fight, costly costs of fixing or replacing broken items which is too common in neck of the wood pubs or torn clothing when someone had a bit too much like one woman i saw whose skirt was shredded and her upper parts were naked last week.In my hood, the kinds of effects are immediately recognised when they’re mentioned.However, they mostly haven’t been quantified and researcher i spoke to didn’t have the kind of routine statistics even for serious events that we have for drink driving. It is common a social problem needs to be quantified to focus on people’s attention on it.The researcher did however lay out how many different types of problems there are, looked at how common the problems are in the hood, and the costs to people like your blogger other than the drinker.
Researcher looked at the problems through the case records of the agencies that are the front line of response to problems in our hood including the police, the ambulances, the hospitals, the child protection services. Also shared with me how such data acts as an indicator for how deep the problem is in the neighbourhood. The other view was what people in the neighbourhood told the researcher about problems they’ve had with others’ drinking.Researchers’ finding found that the problem is large and that there are many serious cases and events, and that the experience of problems from others’ drinking is widespread in the neighbourhood at large.At the most serious end, researcher found that in a given month, 3 people die because of another’s drinking, and 50 are hospitalised. At least 25 cases substantiated child protection cases involve a carer’s drinking and another 18 were assaults on family members reported to the police involving drinking and remaining 7 were assaults on the neighbourhoods streets. Overall, at least 80% of my neighbourhood adults experienced some kind of adverse effect in 2016 from drinkers. Of these, 10% were negatively affected in their work by a workmate’s drinking, 40% by a relative’s or household member’s drinking, 13% by a friend’s and 17% when a stranger’s drinking resulted in abuse, threat, property damage or worse.According to the study, adverse effects of strangers’ drinking were more widely reported to the local police, the adverse effects in the household and family were more substantial in damages measured in terms of seriousness or of out-of-pocket costs and lost time from work.Listening to the researcher and reading the whole study, i can confidently say that alcohol related violence has nothing to do with nightlife in pubs or clubs but it is just a problem of the few individual drinkers in the neighbourhood. As the research told your blogger, my neighbourhood can’t arrest itself way out of these problems.The option is to decide that our neighbourhood need to do what was done with drink driving and take the problem seriously, and take measures that actually have an effect. In researcher’s own words, taking the problem seriously has to include rethinking neighbourhoods policies of a free market in alcohol and how clubs and pubs open and operate their business. As I told the researcher, if it were just the drinker’s health at stake, my view would have been neighbourhood community should just leave them alone to drink to oblivion because after all, its their lives and not ours. But the problem is that stakes are higher and the impact broader than that for those of us who live in the hood.