Survey: Alcohol abuse a growing problem in Bahamas
The mean age for Bahamians seeking treatment for alcohol abuse is 36, according to a recent study done by Sandilands Rehabilitation psychiatrist Dr. Kirk Christie, though he contends much of Bahamian society does not recognize alcohol as a problem. He insists, however, that it is a growing problem.
Christie’s research showed that of the 120 patients sampled it was males who chiefly sought treatment and checked into the Sandilands Rehabilitation Center and the Community Counseling and Assessment Center.
He suggested that women typically shy away from treatment because of their family obligations.
“There is a predominance of males presenting to the government treatment facilities,”said Christie.
He added that 10 percent of the individuals who checked in for treatment for alcohol abuse were suffering major depression.
“We have an underlying diagnosis of alcohol use disorders and we’re talking specifically about more severe illness in alcohol dependents who are overusing alcohol and also have negative medical side effects related to alcohol consumption,”said Christie.
“We know that in this group they tend to be very depressed and also have a tendency to complete suicide as well.”
Another shocking statistic Christie revealed is that an alarming number of primary school-aged children are being introduced to alcohol and other drugs at cultural festivals, such as regattas.
He lamented though that Bahamians do not see alcohol use as a major problem, even while evidence suggests that a growing number of people are afflicted by alcohol-related physical and alcohol induced psychological illnesses.
A study released by the British Medical Journal last November revealed that alcohol ranked highest among 20 of the world’s most harmful drugs.
Christie revealed that the effects of alcohol consumption have much to do with the amount ingested and the period over which it is ingested.
“Alcohol consumption in small volumes is a stimulant, but if it is ingested periodically and there is recurrent use in larger volumes, it becomes a depressant,”he said.
“So people who are consuming volumes of alcohol they tend to become depressed over time and that could be one of the persons or group of individuals who are encountering difficulty(in The Bahamas).
“And so as psychiatrists we have to educate persons about the dangers of repeated and recurrent use and also ingesting alcohol in large volumes. It can cause many physical effects and mental health effects on the individual.”