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How To Safeguard Your Child/Home From Alcoholism

Reading Time: 9 minutes
Ugoma By Ugoma Johnson

(Note: this writeup is based on what I have learnt working with teenagers in my community and also my observation living in a community that is ravaged by the menace of alcoholism; hence, I do not claim expertise in this field)

A few days ago I made a post here about a 6-year-old boy I saw in my community drinking captain jack. (An alcoholic liquor)

If not that I saw the boy and dragged him to their house to report to the mum, he would have finished drinking it, gone back home, and pretended as though nothing had happened.

Maybe, when another person’s child is caught in the same act, the mother would have also joined to dissect how the parents of that child are so irresponsible to have brought their child up in that manner not knowing that her own child is also a victim of the same thing she is criticising in another person’s child. This is why we all have to be careful of how we criticise others.

I assume that this is the same way some people would have seen the title of this post and quickly scroll past because to them, their children are currently not doing alcohol and can never be a victim, even when they know 1 or 2 persons whose kids are already trading this path of destruction who this knowledge can help them offer help to. But no, they don’t care, as long as it hasn’t gotten to their doorstep.

That said, let’s move on.

It is no longer news that the world is evolving and as such many things are changing. Things that were considered abominable in the past few decades which can never be heard among people, especially children, and adolescents are now becoming the norm.

For instance, in the past, you would hardly see secondary school pupils drinking in public, but today, many of them (male and female) can drink beer, smoke, kiss and caress one another and even make a video of it and post on social media without any fear or respect for their parents.

Today, a teenager can boldly light up a weed in front of adults, inhaling and exhaling it while walking in the streets. Beer on one hand and weed on the other hand and dem no send anybody papa.

Alcoholism has become one of the major tools that the devil is utilising today to destroy young folks around the world and Nigeria is no exemption.

In fact, according to the 2016 Global Burden Of Disease study, Nigeria is one of the countries with the highest use of alcohol among people of 15 years and above.

You and I already know the resultant effect of that statistics on the health of these youngsters, right?

Let me shock you, do you know that currently, the high consumption of alcohol by underage is posing a serious public health challenge? And this is a major dilemma confronting many developing nations.

This is one of the reasons many young people are coming down with organ failures/diseases. (Please this is not to say that anyone having organ issues is an alcoholic. We pray for God’s healing upon anyone with organ issues or any form of illness) 🙏🏽🙏🏽

So, let’s get into the koko of the matter.

WHY ARE YOUNG PEOPLE GETTING INTO ALCOHOLISM???????

1 – #Adventure: one of the things I have discovered working with teenagers is that sometimes, they just do things for no reason at all.
You see a young person doing something wrong and when you ask them they can’t even give you any reasonable explanation as to why they did it. Some will even tell you they just did it.
I think there is something about human nature that just wants to experience certain things for no reason, and this side of human nature is what pushes people to be adventurous regardless of the risk involved.

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2 – #Environment: environment matters a lot in the shaping of human behaviour. People are most likely to be an expression of their environment more than anything else, except in cases where an individual makes an extra effort to become otherwise.
For instance, when you see children raised in more organised areas, the way they speak and act is usually different from those raised in the slums and ghettos.
While the former might appear more organised, the latter can easily be identified by the rascality and lousiness that follows his words and actions, except if the individual begins to make extra effort to be different.
What this means is that children raised in environments where alcoholism is the order of the day are more prone to falling for it.

3 – #Peer Pressure: I do not need to say much about this because almost all of us have at one time or the other experienced what it means to be pressured to belong.
Most young people who are into alcoholism often mistake those who are not as people with light brains, and as a way of proving a point, some teenagers usually give in to the pressure to belong in the league of guys with ‘strong’ brains.

4 – #Curiosity: some people started their journey into alcoholism by simply trying to satisfy their curiosity.
How does this thing that these guys usually drink/smoke taste?
What does it feel like to drink/smoke?
It was while on a journey to find answers to the above questions that most young people have become addicted to alcohol.

5 – #Hereditary_Factor: according to a report by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) “Some of the behavioural and physiological factors that converge to increase or decrease a person’s risk for alcohol problems, including tolerance to alcohol’s effect, may be directly linked to genetics. For example, being a child of an alcoholic or having several alcoholic family members places a person at greater risk for alcohol problems. Children of alcoholics (COAs) are between 4 and 10 times more likely to become alcoholics themselves than are children who have no close relatives with alcoholism. COAs are also more likely to begin drinking at a young age and to progress to drinking problems more quickly.”

6 – #Abuse: children who grow up in abusive homes/environments have a higher tendency to get involved with alcohol. And by abuse, I mean abuse in its encompassing nature, #physical_abuse which includes, constantly hitting a child for no just cause, starvation as a form of punishment, bounding a child with chains, using hot iron on a child, using pepper on the body/private parts of a child, aubjecting a child to hard labour, stripping a child naked as a form of punishment, etc, #sexual_abuse, this includes all acts of sexual exploitation whether physical, verbal or any act of selfishly taking advantage of an underage sexually. #verbal_abuse, to constantly curse a child, heap swears on a child, trash-talk, always comparing them with their mates, always pointing out their wrongs and reminding them of how ugly or unintelligent they are.
All these can drive a child to begin to seek succour from peers who may lead them astral.

7 – #Low_Cost_Of_Alcoholic_Products: the easy affordability of these spirits is another reason why many underage children are getting into alcohol. With as low as 50 or 100 Naira one can buy weed and hot drinks, and with as low, as 200 one can buy beer, this low cost makes the products handy for underage people.

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DANGERS OF ALCOHOL ON UNDERAGE/ADOLESCENTS

1 – #Health_challenges: you can do research on this to see the damage that most of these products do to your body/organs even as an adult and then compare it to the damage it can do to the organ of an underage who is still developing.

2 – #Low_Academic_Performance: “Serious alcohol use among youth has significant neurological consequences. Alcohol damages areas of the brain responsible for learning and memory, verbal skills and visual-spatial cognition. Diagnosticians often find that these skills in adolescents who drink are deficient in comparison to those who aren’t drinking.”- The Alcohol Cost Calculator For Kid.

3 – #Incoherent_Communication: one of the characteristics of alcohol addicts is their inability to make coherent and reasonable comments.

4 – #Acting_Without_Thinking: there have been many cases where people engage in a fight and end up getting seriously injured because they were not in their right senses to walk away. I have also seen cases where young people as a result of intoxication got into a fight and stabbed someone over a minor misunderstanding because alcohol did not allow them to think properly.

5 – #Violent_behaviour: adolescents who are into alcoholism are more inclined to suicide, sexual escapades, homicide, bullying, clubbing, etc.

HOW TO SAFEGUARD YOUR WARDS/HOME FROM ALCOHOLISM

1 -#Model_A_No_ALCOHOLISM_LIFESYLE_TO_THEM: I know many people will not like this fa, 😂😂but the truth is that, whatever you want to see or do not want to see your kids doing, you must set the example for them.

As much as I know that some of you who are reading this now are also into alcohol, and I cannot ask you not to drink, after all, even if I do you will not heed my instruction. 🤷‍♀️But at least, try as much as you can to be discreet about it. As much as you can, avoid alcohol, or at least, be discreet about it.

Some of you will even drink and give to your kids to sip, while some of you send them to buy it for you. That’s wrong.

2 – #Establish_A_No_Alcohol_Errand: make it clear to neighbours and families that your children do not run alcohol errands.

In my home and neighbourhood, they already know me for that, I established the rule and made it known to my neighbours never to send any child under my care to buy them anything alcohol, initially, they would grumble, but that’s not my problem, they will be fine. Then I also warned my nephews and nieces who live with me never to run alcohol errands for anyone no matter who the person is.

I live in an environment where people, young and old can drink and smoke on the streets anyhow, I might not be able to control what they see out there but I can at least control what kind of errands they run for people.

Will that stop them from drinking/smoking later on in life? Maybe yes, maybe no, but at least I will do the best that I can to help them make the right choice.

I have heard adults say that running alcohol errands for people at a younger age was what led them to it. As they kept buying it for them, one day they too decided to taste it and know what it is like, and boom, that is how we have ended up having drug addicts littered everywhere today.

Some of you parents will even send your kids to buy you spirits and cigarettes, I hope you realise the damage that can do to them and stop it.

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3 – #Do_Not_Be_In_A_Hurry_To_Send_Them_Off: the long holiday is here again, and as usual, some parents have already bundled their kids to relatives, without even spending a week or two with them.

What most of you don’t know is that the holiday season is an opportunity for you to be with your kids, study them more closely, bond with them, etc. There could be certain behaviour that might have been hidden from you all along that the holiday season can help you unravel.

And even if you must let them visit, you must be sure that the family they are to be with is such that is not givens to the vices that you are trying to protect your children from. For instance, I can’t imagine myself letting my child spend the holidays with any of my relatives who can drink and smoke anyhow in the presence of their kids, e wrong na.

4 – #Secure_Your_Home: you don’t drink or smoke in the presence of your child, but you let a friend or colleague visit your home, and send your kids to buy them Captain Jack. Dem no dey sell captain jack where him dey come from? I just say make I ask o.

Wrap your weed, smoke it in your house, don’t bring it to my home, I no get ‘bunk’ for my house mbok. Some of you just let anything come in and out of your home, in the name of friends, colleagues, and family members. You’ve got to step up.

5 – #Do_Not_Expose_Your_Home_To_Abuse: as you read earlier, abuse is one of the reasons why underage people get into alcohol, so as much as you can try to make your home a no-go area for abuse of any kind.

Abuse might not just be about abusing the child, it could also be about abusing your spouse, children who grow up seeing their parents fight and curse each other are also prone to alcohol.

6 – #Prayer: “So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.”
Romans 9:16
“Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it: except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.” Psalms 127:1

The place of prayer in parenting cannot be overemphasised. Whether we like it or not, there are many things we cannot do, we can only guide our children and pray that God helps them to listen.

Parenting is very hard work, and no parent can claim to know it all, we only prepare ourselves as much as we can and learn on the job.

So, instead of always resorting to cursing, beating, and punishing every now and then, I suggest you start praying too. Pray for them, bless them and prophesy over their destinies.

From the scriptures above, you can see that our human strength can fail us, and our strategies can fail us except if God helps us. So while applying all your parenting strategies, also ensure you pray.

God help our children, may they continually make us proud.

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  • Ugoma Johnson is a journalist, published author of 3 books, a social worker, and founder, Teens Empowerment And Rehabilitation Centre (TercHub), a foundation that is saddled with the mandate to curb teenage pregnancy, illiteracy and period poverty, through transformational teachings, provision of school materials and sanitary pads for teenagers in ruler communities.

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