Alcohol consumption has a protracted historical past in Nigeria, particularly within the southern area, the place it was not forbidden by faith. Prior to now, solely grownup males had been culturally allowed to drink. It was taboo for younger folks to drink alcohol as a result of it was usually believed that “ingesting was an indication of being an elder”.
Alcohol served a number of societal features up to now. It flowed throughout celebrations and vital occasions. These included chieftaincy enthronements, new yam festivals, little one naming ceremonies, and even funerals. Though ingesting was central to nearly each social gathering, intoxication was forbidden. Intoxicated drinkers had been punished by the neighborhood elders, as a deterrent to others.
With assist from the British colonial authorities, Nigeria’s ingesting tradition modified, ditching abstinence and moderation. The British colonial authorities relied closely on income from alcohol taxes and levies. To extend their cash-flow, the British inspired the provision and heavy ingesting of imported alcoholic drinks. When Heineken-owned Nigerian Breweries and Guinness Nigeria had been established in 1946 and 1962, their advertising and marketing focused ladies and younger folks. Their advertising and marketing departments drove gross sales by associating alcohol consumption with modernity and sexual enhancement.
Nigeria is a key marketplace for competing multinational alcohol corporations. To achieve market share, these corporations have developed refined and aggressive advertising and marketing strategies focusing on younger folks, together with adolescents. Alcohol availability has tripled, and so has the variety of heavy drinkers. Consequently, alcohol-related issues are additionally rising. Alcohol is related to issues akin to most cancers, violence, sexually transmitted infections and truancy.
Nigeria lacks alcohol management insurance policies. Alcohol manufacturing and advertising and marketing are largely unregulated. Multinational alcohol producers usually employed advertising and marketing methods outlawed of their international locations of origin, to promote their manufacturers in Nigeria. The outcomes are evident. Analysis has proven that abstinence and reasonable ingesting are actually uncool, and heavy ingesting and intoxication make good badges of honour in Nigeria.
In my latest analysis, I examined why adolescents and younger adults in Nigeria drink closely, and why they contemplate it a supply of enjoyable or pleasure. I additionally recorded whether or not they noticed heavy ingesting as revolt in opposition to traditionalist values. My analysis is necessary as a result of it exhibits treating alcohol use as pathological, and denying pleasure-seeking as a motive for ingesting, is not tenable in up to date Nigeria. The examine additionally exhibits that understanding these altering motives for ingesting may inform interventions that concentrate on dangerous ingesting practices.
Deliberate intoxication for enjoyable and pleasure
I interviewed 72 younger folks aged 18-24 years, who reside in Benin Metropolis, Nigeria, to know their views. A lot of the members had been college students. All of them agreed that ingesting alcohol was trendy in communities of younger folks. Sobriety was thought of out of date, and deliberate over-consumption of alcohol was widespread. The explanation they gave was that younger folks simply wish to really feel drunk.
In line with my examine, enjoyable and pleasure – instantly and not directly – had been acceptable causes for heavy ingesting and intoxication. People didn’t contemplate the related lowered psychological management an enormous deal.
I took whisky; I needed to drink to stupor. I needed to see the way it felt wish to be actually drunk and misbehaving; that was my goal of ingesting that manner. So I drank and drank and drank till (I grew to become drunk).
One other added:
There was a day I took one full glass of (Johnnie Walker) Pink Label (40% alcohol by quantity), and in lower than 10–15 min, I couldn’t really feel myself once more. I may barely stroll, my pal took me dwelling … To me, it was enjoyable. I felt the best way I’ve by no means felt earlier than, so that’s enjoyable … it was thrilling as a result of buddies will now remind you that this was what you probably did and you can’t keep in mind.
There are additionally gender facets to youth ingesting tradition. Feminine members who had been filmed whereas drunk thought of the clips hilarious. Male members mentioned they took turns in offering alcohol for members of their friendship networks. This apply is usually believed to strengthen friendship bonds. Though offering alcohol could partly be a way of reenacting the male-dominated conventional ingesting apply in up to date Nigeria, it additionally led to heavy ingesting and intoxication.
Surprisingly, these youths believed they’d not breached any social norms by ingesting to intoxication. However they did admit all of it got here at a price. Some had skilled unfavourable occasions like hangovers, accidents, violence, and lacking key tutorial assessments whereas handed out from alcohol consumption.
Resolution to ingesting issues
The present lack of alcohol insurance policies in Nigeria solely serves the pursuits of alcohol producers to the detriment of public well being. Although alcohol is a authorized drug, growing proof has proven that no quantity is risk-free.
Policymakers ought to give attention to offering data on low-risk ingesting measures for authorized drinkers. Tailor-made, evidence-based interventions that discourage heavy ingesting and assist protected ingesting norms or abstinence needs to be developed in Nigeria.
Interventions ought to draw from the weather of native ingesting cultures that prohibit heavy ingesting and intoxication. Given the outstanding position of friendship networks, policymakers ought to develop interventions utilizing such platforms to advertise protected consuming cultures and different pleasurable actions with zero or low threat.
The World Well being Organisation has additionally developed efficient methods referred to as SAFER to cut back alcohol abuse and associated hurt. Nigeria may additionally undertake comparable measures.
Emeka Dumbili obtained funding from the Tertiary Schooling Tax Fund (TETFUND) in 2012.
The TETFUND is a Nigerian authorities group that awards scholarships to Nigerians working within the tertiary establishments.