The country is witnessing unprecedented levels of alcohol consumption, so much that clubs have now found their way into residential estates.
A new clubbing phenomenon has been creeping into the country and is spreading like wildfire; Aluta Sundays. The Jamaica-inspired Sunday morning carnival sees revellers, especially in Nairobi, flocking to nightclubs as early as 6am to enjoy endless hours of unlimited reggae.
Add to this the fact that there are plans to introduce ‘light beers’ that can be taken together with meals, and we have a serious problem brewing.
Scientifically, you will not necessarily feel alcohol’s impact on your body right away, but it starts from the moment you take your first sip.
Common knowledge is that alcohol interferes with the brain’s communication pathways, and can affect the way the brain looks and works. These disruptions can change mood and behaviour, and make it harder to think clearly and move with coordination.
Those behind this craze say they are catering to reggae lovers who just won’t go home or who, for lack of a better thing to do on a Sunday morning, find it fit to imbibe while enjoying the music. Never mind that most of these people are often already drunk since they rove from club to club until the wee hours.
According to the National Cancer Institute, there is a strong scientific consensus that alcohol can cause several types of cancer. In its report on carcinogens, the National Toxicology Program of the US Department of Health and Human Services lists consumption of alcoholic beverages as a known human carcinogen.
Most people assume the occasional beer or glass of wine at mealtimes or special occasions doesn’t pose any cause for concern. Drinking any amount of alcohol can lead to unwanted health consequences.
Shrink your brain
If you drink heavily for a long time, alcohol can affect how your brain looks and works. Its cells start to change and even get smaller.
Too much alcohol can actually shrink your brain. And that’ll have big effects on your ability to think, learn and remember things. It can also make it harder to keep a steady body temperature and control your movements.
The Aluta Sunday idea has become such a massive hit with club owners that they have now created specific zones for it. What they fail to realise is that over time, drinking can also damage the brain’s frontal lobe, the part responsible for executive functions, like abstract reasoning, decision-making, social behaviour and performance.
In other words, the country is staring at another enormous problem being perpetuated by those hell-bent on making profits at any cost. Some people who drink eventually develop a tolerance to alcohol. As a result, they eventually need to drink more to notice the same effects they once did.
Drinking alcohol on a regular basis can also lead to dependence, which means your body and brain get used to the effects of alcohol.
Mr Mwangi is Manager, Corporate Communications-NACADA; [email protected]