Involve church, teachers in war on alcohol


A collection of alcoholic beverages.

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The government’s efforts to curb alcohol consumption are bound to fail if other stakeholders such as religious organisations and teachers are not involved.

The government should also declare the menace a national disaster and make alcohol and drug abuse education a compulsory subject in the school curriculum.

Religious and faith-based leaders command a lot of respect in the communities and millions of people trust them because they stand for moral order, integrity, support groups and social bonding.

For a vice that is deeply entrenched in the country, harsh measures and laws cannot be used as a means to curb it and consumers are likely to become more defiant and resistant.

Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua needs to shift the focus from punishment to prevention and treatment if he wants to curb the spread of alcohol consumption.

Why can’t government officials ask themselves why, despite heavy taxes on alcohol and its by-products, the number of people consuming alcohol increases every financial year?

We must first agree that alcohol and drug abuse are a social, economic, spiritual, mental and general health problem before planning to tackle them.

Religious leaders are central pillars in promoting the fundamentals that provide a solid foundation on which to deal with alcohol and drug abuse in society.

Young people, who are also victims of this system, can be nourished spiritually and mentally through religion and faith-based support groups.

Personally, I was an alcoholic for about twenty years and a cigarette smoker for the same period, but I quit both through involvement in religious activities and gaining positive-thinking friends.

The National Authority for Campaign Against Alcohol and Drug Abuse (Nacada) should take the initiative to make good policies and start and regulate programmes that can involve religious leaders and teachers in this fight against alcohol.

By declaring it a national disaster, the government and stakeholders can seek international funds to manage the programmes to fight the menace.

Inclusion in the school curriculum will ensure that children learn at an early age that vice can destroy health, economy, social bonds and even family and marital status.

Otherwise, the line the government has taken is likely to make the drinkers more defiant and resistant, as the majority are addicted and it’s compounded by rampant unemployment.

I am willing to share my experience with Nacada if invited.

Special centres can also be set up by the government to rehabilitate and teach skills to those who are serious alcoholics.

Damson Opiyo Onger, Kisumu