September 29, 2014
Is alcoholism Belize’s best kept secret? Maybe it was, but not any more. The recent, highly publicized, deadly traffic accident attributed to heavy drinking by a top official, and other recent deaths related to abuse of alcohol are front page news and point to a serious problem in The Jewel. One that we have ignored and failed to find or even look for solutions.
While medical science says alcoholism is a disease as serious as cancer and even suggests it is beyond the control of the alcoholic due to genetic and other biological issues, it is a social and medical problem we need to address NOW, as well as cigarette smoking and AIDS. For example, a large sign hanging from the overpass at the Pallotti High School traffic circle implies it is better to drink than work! What a message to display to the children and others who go to school or wait for buses in the area. And, when we spend more money on flags than we do for rehab programs, we need to examine our priorities. Does anybody really care?
I hope that in the near future our politicians show they really do care by offering to help those with drinking problems, funding free counseling, education and treatment programs for alcoholics. While there is research showing the value of social drinking, our society should no longer sanction alcohol abuse by anyone. Responsible drinking needs to become a practice for all to advocate. No wonder it was a secret: who wants the world to know we have this serious problem? Together, we can start to solve it now.