Written by News On Sunday

Alcoholism is becoming a great health concern in Mauritius. More and more people are falling into alcoholism, including women and youngsters. It is a disease that requires treatment and the Ministry of Health is working on a strategy to combat this scourge.

The number of alcoholics in Mauritius continues to rise. Alcoholism is affecting people in all spheres of life and is causing health, mental and social problems.

Dr Vasantrao Gujadhur, Community Physician at the Ministry of Health, says that a person is considered to be alcoholic when he is found to be completely dependent on alcohol. “He has to drink several times during the day to be able to perform his daily routine. He does not feel well without his usual dosage of alcohol and show withdrawal symptoms like shivering, a state of confusion and memory problems,” he explains.

According to the Ministry of Health, 58% of men and 29% of women were consuming alcohol in 2004. In 2009, the figures have gone up, with 65% men and 38% women drinking. An increase has also been noted among youngsters. A study conducted by the Global Based Student Health Survey from 2007 to 2011 shows that the figures have increased from 20.8% to 25.2%.

“It is disturbing to see youngsters falling prey to alcoholism. Being young, they are more vulnerable and consequently, they are more exposed to health problems along with a higher risk of dependency,” adds the doctor.

Change in behaviour

“Alcohol has a direct impact on the brain. It alters the behaviour of the person. For instance, an alcoholic can become aggressive or, on the contrary, isolate himself. An alcoholic is often at risk of having hallucinations which may cause him to fight with his close ones. Moreover, he will often absent himself from work since his priority will be alcohol. He will also be subject to financial problems since most of his money will be spent on alcohol. In young alcoholics, a decline in his school performance can be noted. He will also tend to isolate himself,” remarks Dr Gujadhur.