Ever since South Africa re-banned alcohol in their country, noises about doing the same in Namibia are louder. We disagree with the clamor. Bans are not solutions; they only reveal your fears.
Banning anything is the lazy man’s governance path. It is harder to investigate a problem from the bottom-up and delve into the ugly side of life; so, people avoid doing it. And, empty state coffers make such programs nearly impossible these days.
Prohibition will not work; it has already been tried and failed over and over again. And yet, the police and church groups keep demanding that everyone run down that same dead-end street.
The people getting drunk and fighting or urinating in public while they are drunk have been doing that long before anyone ever heard of the pandemic. Let the police stop acting as if alcohol-related crimes are a new thing. They are NOT. Separate the issues: pandemic solutions on one side; substance abuse on the other.
One of the leading causes of alcohol abuse is mental health problems like depression. Anxiety, bipolar disorder or other mental health issues can increase the risk of alcoholism. It’s easy to turn to alcohol when you feel down, lost, or hurt. The effects of alcohol may seem to temporarily ease those feelings.
Another cause of alcohol abuse is living in a stressful environment. Unemployment, living in poverty, financial pressures, divorce/abandonment, family/peer pressure, domestic abuse, and worries about children can lead to a stressful environment.
Not every person turns abuses alcohol to relieve stress, but some people do.
The list of other causes includes the experience of trauma. People who experience some traumatic event are at an increased risk to use substances like alcohol. Certain types of experiences, such as physical or sexual abuse, the loss of a parent at a young age, being the victim of a violent crime, etc., can cause alcohol abuse. (www.alcohol.org/alcoholism).
Banning alcohol does nothing to address these psychological or social problems. If alcohol is not the escape hatch for these mental and emotional conditions, then drugs, sex, shopping, eating, running away, violence and other outlets will be found. Banning alcohol means people will turn to something else for their escapism. The problem is not solved only changed to something worse.
Government bans on entire economic sectors of the economy are arguably unconstitutional. Blanket bans will deprive some households of their revenue. And, government will lose massive tax revenues from alcohol sales.
And alcohol will not magically disappear just because of an unenforceable total ban. There will be a mushrooming of infromal, unregulated backyard shebeens. Stills will pop up everywhere and these contraptions might brew real poison when they are rusty and unhygienic. People will find something to drink, smoke, snort, or chew to get high if they feel compelled to do so. We must address why they feel compelled to do so.
Not so long ago, under apartheid laws, whites used to prohibit black people from consuming alcohol on certain days. Did that keep their white supremacist system in place? Alcohol was produced in local areas anyway. Beer or whiskey was not the problem, institutional racism was.
COVID does not come from 5G or comets in the cosmos or Chinese bioweapons labs, US soldiers based in Asia, green monkeys, or drinking a cold beer. Let us stop the vapid rumours and learn the science. To mandate a remedy when you do not yet know the cause of the pandemic is folly.
Government alongside private health insurance companies must invest funds into systematic solutions for alcohol abuse. Money most go into mental health solutions. Funds must be found for detox/rehab centres and social workers and psychologists to work with those in need. Families suffering with loved ones that are substance abusers need more help.
Let’s focus on these harder-to-achieve goals instead of useless temporary bans.