Alcohol consumption is a growing national concern, especially among the youth and people within the productive sector in Saint Lucia.
So said the Ministry of Health (MOH) and Wellness this week following heated debates on social media over Health Minister Mary Isaac’s comments regarding an alcohol ban in the country.
The statement put out by the Ministry observed that alcohol consumption, as a psychoactive substance, is considered a norm and a part of social gatherings.
“The 2015 Regional Status Report on Alcohol and Health in the Americas informed that alcohol consumption in the Americas is higher on average than in the rest of the world. In the World Health Organization 2014 report, Saint Lucia and Grenada recorded the highest Alcohol per Capita Consumption (APC) in the Americas among both men and women. While the rest of the Americas recorded 8 liters, Grenada and Saint Lucia recorded 12.5 L and 10.4L respectively,” noted the Ministry in its statement.
According to the Ministry the 2018 Saint Lucia National Drug Report indicated that alcohol is the drug most often used and warrants treatment (45.45%), with marijuana being the second (43.64%).
“The ABUSE AND MISUSE of alcohol has negative impacts on the health of the population among both males and females, including but not limited to liver cirrhosis, motor vehicular injuries, cancer, mental and neurological disorders, and fetal alcohol spectrum disorders. The latest videos and discussions on social media pointed to how some individuals perceive alcohol. As stated, people seem to think that alcohol takes away their stresses and makes them happy,” noted the Ministry.
The Ministry stated that “these notions about alcohol consumption serve as a more urgent need for us as a Department of Health and Wellness and the rest of the country to now improve on educational programs and other support services in a bid to curb irresponsible consumption and abuse of alcohol.”
“While many may see the use and misuse of alcohol as a social activity, it is crucial to note its impacts on individuals, families, and communities. It is important to note that alcohol, or any other harmful substances, should not be used as a means to solve challenges or problems. The abuse and misuse of alcohol are likely to create more challenges, including domestic violence, child abuse and maltreatment, poor mental health, a weakened immune system, and other financial implications,” noted the Ministry.
The Ministry stated that “While alcohol is seen as a means of earning an income or livelihood, license holders must take responsibility for their engagements as per the stipulations from a business point of view. Similarly, consumers must adhere to the stipulated laws, likewise, exercise responsibility with their alcohol intake. The misuse and abuse of alcohol does not take away problems. Alcohol does not solve the problems. It weakens the immune system, thus placing increased burdens of disease and injury on the body.”