According to statistics provided by the World Health Organization the number of Singaporeans aged between 18 and 69 years of age who never touch alcohol is 59.5%. This implies that the local drinking culture is far less prevalent than somewhere like the US where only 27% of adults would be classified as abstainers. Despite the fact that Singapore is well behind many other nations when it comes to the acceptance of alcohol there is a growing concern about alcohol abuse. This is because Singaporeans are drinking more now than they ever did in the past and this trend seems likely to continue.
Singaporeans have shown a growing interest in alcohol as the country has become more prosperous. Drinking is a relatively expensive pastime because of the sin taxes imposed on alcoholic beverages, but there are plenty of people who can afford to pay these high prices on a regular basis. Muslims make up 17% of the population and consumption of alcohol is frowned up by this group for religious reasons. Displays of public drunkenness is not acceptable to Singaporeans, and losing control while under the influence of alcohol can lead to problems – including judicial canning or spending time in jail.
It is believed that 4.3% of males and 0.8% of females regularly drink alcohol in Singapore. In this case regular drinking is defined as consuming alcohol on more than 4 days per week. One of the most dangerous patterns of drinking is binge drinking. This is where people consume an excessive amount of alcohol in a short time period with the intention of becoming inebriated. It is possible to be a binge drinker and not a regular drinker. The number of Singaporeans who binge drink is believed to be 9% of males and 1.2% of females. The World Health Organization report from 2004 also provided evidence for how alcohol abuse is often closely associated with road traffic accidents, rapes, and mental health problems in Singapore.
There is a growing number of Singaporeans who are engaging in binge drinking. This is a worrying development because:
* This pattern of alcohol consumption causes the most damage to body organs. It is not necessary for the individual to be binge drinking for long before they experience the early stage of alcoholic liver disease.
* Those people who binge drink are far more likely to develop alcoholism.
* When people are inebriated they tend to make poor decisions. This means that they do things that they later regret.
* The fact that alcohol impairs judgment also means that people are more likely to be victims of crimes such as sexual assault or violence.
* Those individuals who drink excessively are at risk of alcohol poisoning if their blood alcohol content climbs to high. People can die from drinking too much in too short a time period.
* Those who drink excessively like this are at risk of blackouts. This means that the individual will have periods of time that they are unable to account for because their memory has been compromised – there have been cases of individuals committing crimes in the midst of a blackout and having no memory of it.
* This pattern of alcohol consumption leads to hangovers the next morning. Those people who have responsibilities the next day will be less productive as a result.
Alcohol abuse in Singapore is not only damaging to the individual and their family but also to society as a whole. The dangers of this type of behavior include:
* Those who abuse alcohol are more likely to engage in crime.
* It can lead to depressive symptoms and suicide.
* It may mean that the individual is unable to take care of their family – it is often children who suffer the most.
* People who abuse alcohol tend to be less effective at work. This means that their employer will be getting less productivity which can be damaging to a company – there might also be senior employees who make bad choices because of their substance abuse.
* A great deal of crime is associated with alcohol abuse.
* This type of behavior is associated with domestic violence and sexually abuse.
The legal age for alcohol consumption in Singapore is 18 years of age, and the laws are heavily enforced. Despite this there is underage drinking taking place. It has even been suggested that the tough stance that Singapore takes on underage drinking may mean that some young people consume more heavily when they get the chance. The WHO study of 2004 found that 73.5% of males and 64.5% of females aged 15 and 19 years of age drank alcohol. This is worrying because the dangers of underage drinking include:
* Those people who start drinking at an early age are more likely to develop problems later on.
* Those young people who are still going through adolescents can suffer problems related to development because of their drinking – it can particularly damage normal brain development.
* It can interfere with the ability of young people to perform well at school or college. This can have grave implications for their future.
* There is a link between alcohol consumption and teenage suicide. Those who are inebriated make bad choices and tend to act impulsively.
* Underage drinking encourages unwise choices in regards to sex. It can also put young people in danger of being sexually abused.
* Those people who drink at a young age are more likely to experiment with illegal drugs.
* When young people are intoxicated they are more likely to be involved in acts of vandalism and other more serious crimes.
The individual is said to be an alcoholic when they have developed a physical and psychological dependence on this substance. In order to avoid developing this devastating condition it is advised that people stick to safe levels of alcohol consumption which would be:
* 2 drinks per day for adult men under 65 years of age.
* 1 drink per day for adult women.
* 1 drink per day for anyone aged over 65 years of age.
* Those who have a problem controlling their alcohol intake should quit completely.
* No underage drinking.
In the above recommendation an alcoholic drink is classified as:
* A standard beer
* A bar measure of wine
* A bar measure of spirits
There are a number of treatment options available to people who have developed an alcohol problem in Singapore including:
* The National Addiction Management Services offers advice on all types of addiction problems. This service is located in Buangkok View and can be contacted on 6389 2387.
* Alcoholics Anonymous is a fellowship of men and women who support each other in an attempt to quit alcohol. There are meetings in a number of places in Singapore and they can be contacted on 6475 0890.
* There are many Singaporeans who decided to travel further afield in search of help for their addiction. The Drug and Alcohol Rehab Asia is the leading destination for those looking for quality treatment in Asia.
* We Care Centre offers support for anyone affected by addiction in Singapore. They can be contacted on 6471 5346.