If the State wants people to drink themselves into the grave, theyre going the right way about it
Every year in Ukraine 40 thousand people die as the result of alcoholism. This approximate figure is named by consultants on alcohol dependence, however the real figure could be much higher if one considers that alcohol can lead to very diverse human tragedies. Alcohol dependency is a problem that crosses all social and economic divides.
Tetyana Shmihirovska is a doctor who has 25 years experience in this field. She has noted an increase since September last year in the number of people who need help for alcohol abuse.
Each day she pulls out of a serious binge as many as three people in Lviv and the region, though sometimes she has to go much further away in response to calls for help.
Radio Svobodas correspondent accompanied Tetyana Shmihirovska on one of her call-outs in Lviv. The 35-year-old man, married with children, had become drinking heavily 7 years earlier when he got a job as a civil servant. Now every occasion where drinks were available turned into a weeks orgy of drinking. The family didnt want to take him to the city clinic for drug and alcohol abuse because of the publicity, the fact that he would be put on the clinics register, and could lose his job and driving licence. In their case the family could call out a doctor privately.
In that mans case, the source of the problem was in a sense that he was not fulfilling himself, however asked what prompts people, she says that there are a huge number of causes, just as there are of people.
She does believe that one should pay attention to genetic factors, and that if some behaviour is passed on from generation to generation, it must come out.
In the city people drink, starting from young people of 15-17, up to the elderly, however the situation in the villages is catastrophic. Its now winter, theres less work and people have no money. They either cant sell their livestock or earn virtually nothing for it, while what they earned in the summer has been spent. In every household they make moonshine.
She says that in one district, she dealt with the patient shed come to help, and found 4 women waiting to ask her to come to their husbands or sons.
There is even more such drinking now. Politicians are constantly telling people from their television screens that things will be bad and worse. Yes, unemployment is rising, people are not fulfilled at work, in their life and dont see any future ahead. The main thing is that they feel unneeded in their own country. They dont have anyone to turn to for help.
“Im treating people whose children or spouse are living abroad. They want to be together but cant because they wont be able to cope in Ukraine if somebody isnt working abroad”.
Tetyana Shmihirovska says that its much hard to treat women than men for alcoholism. She says that sometimes women begin by taking a glass so that their husbands will drink less, but she is called out by the children to treat both parents.
Alcoholism from beer is particularly dangerous and hard to treat. She is appalled at seeing young people walking around with bottles of beer. She mentions a school in the district with a kiosk near it – kids buy buns, fruit juice and beer. 13-year-olds drink beer and then go off to their lessons.
She believes that a State policy could go somewhere to dealing with the problem but says that there are those who find it convenient that the population is drinking, dying early. “The less people, the less problems”. She does not believe that raising the price on alcohol will solve the problem. Theyll make up by drinking the cheapest things available, or technical spirit and there will be deaths from poisoning.
She believes there should be strict penalties for selling alcohol to people underage, and a lot of work on educating the public.
Heavily edited from an article at www.radiosvoboda.org