Visakhapatnam: As the liquor shops were locked down in a bid to check the spread of Coronavirus, alcohol addicts all across the country are bearing the brunt of withdrawal.
Alcohol withdrawal is what a person undergoes when he or she suddenly stops drinking after prolonged and heavy alcohol use. Symptoms include trembling, insomnia, anxiety, and other debilitating physical and mental problems.
The desperation in them has become so much that a liquor shop was burgled in Vizag. On Thursday, unidentified persons barged into a closed liquor shop and made away with 144 bottles of booze in the Gajuwaka area which is close to a police station. All the liquor shops in the state come under the excise department. In Kerala, a 38-year-old daily wage labourer committed suicide, on Friday, allegedly depressed over not being able to get liquor.
Some alcoholics, under the brunt of withdrawal, argue that the government should not have closed liquor shops abruptly. “Overnight, we cannot stop our habit and the body would not support it too. Liquor bottles are being sold in black that only the rich can afford to buy. I haven’t slept properly in the last two days,” rued a tippler.
“Liquor should be made available. I am not advocating the use of alcohol but it is an essential item for addicts. Abruptly stopping the supply to the body would disrupt them mentally and physically. It sounds silly, but preventing liquor could force tipplers to take extreme steps,” reasoned Parvati Kashyap, psychologist and counselor.
“Moreover, the tipplers may leave their homes in a frantic search for booze, giving scope for the virus to spread,” she warned, stressing the need for liquor shops to be opened.
Suggesting ways to take care of the regular boozers, Uma Raj - founder of Green Valley Foundation, which runs a de-addiction and a rehabilitation centre - said, “Family support is crucial when liquor is out of reach. Moreover, they should be kept engaged in recreational activities and indoor games. I hope the government deals with the issue pragmatically.”
The de-addiction centres are also unable to hold their group therapy sessions due to the curfew. Counselors say hundreds of addicts may suffer and end lives as the lockdown progresses. The hospitals may need to open additional de-addiction wards.
Notably, the Andhra Pradesh State Beverages Corporation Limited (APSBCL) had taken over liquor trade in the state, curbing sales by private players. The YSRCP had promised implementation of total prohibition in the state during their election campaign in 2019