EDITORIAL: Drinking nation? There is still room to abandon the brown bottle

Friday December 02 2022

Customers laugh as they buy alcohol at a liquor shop in Hillbrow, Johannesburg, on August 18, 2020. PHOTO | AFP


Alcohol abuse across the country has become a major concern over the past five years. The crisis intensified during the pandemic as strict lockdowns were enforced, but some people could not resist flauting the strict rules and organised social gathering to facilitate a drinking spree.

Yet even when the Covid-19 pandemic has receded, and restrictions have been relaxed with many now back in office and schools, cases of alcohol abuse is still rising.

This week, alcohol abuse became a trending topic on the social media after it was highlighted during a social gathering of retired and serving public servants under their umbrella organization — Unity Club. On Monday, a Member of Parliament resigned after being involved in a drunk-driving incident.

This was after President Paul Kagame’s remarks at a social gathering where he expressed frustration about limited enforcement which would ensure that those who drink alcohol don't endanger lives of others.

The president also raised a pertinent issue, regretting that the government can’t police morals. Families have to do more to ensure that they raise human beings with a value system that enables them to become responsible adults living with dignity.

Indeed, families have a bigger role to play because many unhealthy behaviors often begin during adolescence. What’s more, substance abuse has a major impact on individuals, families, and communities, as its effects are cumulative, contributing to costly social, physical and mental health problems.


A family is a big part of people’s lives, especially in tough times, such as when a loved one is battling a substance addiction. Addiction affects more than one person; it affects the entire family. Someone’s drinking or drug use can have adverse effects on everyone that can last a lifetime.

Thoughts, actions, and behaviors that accompany addiction can disrupt home life and create an environment of fear, distrust, and danger.

There is research that suggests children who grow up in homes where substance use disorders can develop emotional and behavioral problems that can change or shape them as adults. They are also at a higher risk of using and/ or abusing substances themselves.

However, they could also play a significant part in the role of the family in preventing drug abuse. Families have to do more to help address substance abuse. There is a great deal of stigma around addiction and addiction treatment, and these negative perceptions and stereotypes do nothing for the person who needs help.

They also don’t help families who have someone who needs treatment for a substance abuse problem. This calls for more campaigns to reduce the stigma and encourage everyone who needs help to seek it.