Connect with us
Advertisement

HOLISTIC HEALTH

Booze vs. Body (Weighing the Risks)

Welcome back! Last week we learnt some simple screening tools.  This week we will look at what constitutes a drink, how to measure our alcohol consumption, and its effects on the body.
So, what is in an alcoholic drink? Well, one Standard drink is equivalent to 10 grams of pure alcohol, which raises Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) by 0.02. This is commonly taken as 1 can of beer (330ml at 5 %), a single shot of spirits (40ml at 40%), a glass of wine (140 ml at 12% or 90ml at 18%), or a small liqueur or aperitif (70 ml at 25%). Each milliliter of Ethanol is the equivalent of 0.79 gm of pure ethanol.

One of these standard drinks per hour will raise your BAC by about 0.01-0.03g%. Your BAC is more likely to rise at a greater rate if you are female, a fast drinker, have a low body weight, have not eaten recently, and if you are drinking highly carbonated drinks (e.g. champagne).  The liver breaks down alcohol at an average rate of approximately one standard drink per hour, which may vary between different individuals. A liver damaged, for example by hepatitis, will break down alcohol more slowly.

To prevent your BAC rising further doesn’t drink more than one standard drink per hour.  The only reliable method of reducing your BAC is to wait out the time for the alcohol to go through your system. Cold showers, black coffee, fresh air, exercise, vomiting and other home remedies will help you feel more alert but will not reduce your BAC.

How does alcohol consumption affect my body?  There is totally no consumption of alcohol without a risk. There is a correlation between your BAC and the degree of impairment, intoxication and depression of Central Nervous System
(CNS). Death may occur at about 20-30 BAC, dependent on the physiology of the person (age, gender, state of liver etc).

Lets breakdown alcohol’s effect on behavior.  Drinking up to 0.05g% will likely cause the drinker to be talkative, relaxed and be more confident. Up to 0.08g% the talkativeness continues, she acts and feels confident, judgment and movement are impaired and inhibitions are reduced. At 0.15g% speech is slurred, balance and coordination are dodgy, reflexes are slowed, visual attention is impaired, emotions become unstable, and usually some nausea and vomiting. Guzzling up to 0.30g% there’s no walking without help, you feel apathetic, sleepy, you have labored breathing, inability to remember events, loss of bladder control and possible loss of consciousness. Pushing it over 0.30g% could sadly result in a Coma or Death!

While the symptoms above might result from a night of festivities, the long term effects can consist of brain damage, addiction and stroke, blurred vision, slurred speech, a bleeding throat, heart disease and an irregular heart beat, stomach ulcers, liver disease and liver failure, muscle weakness, intestinal cancer, intestinal ulcers, impotence in men, infertility in women and osteoporosis!

You may also need to be aware of the link between alcohol use and quarrels, bad moods, a depressed mood, tiredness, irritability & poor appetite. High risk drinking also leads to leads to lower cognitive functioning in decision making, planning, regulation of emotions, motivation, memory (storage, retention and retrieval) and motor control. Other behaviours that could be associated with metabolic changes include the inability to learn from previous mistakes/to detect a previously committed error (Dutch pilot study), and difficulties with abstract concepts of time and money.

Now, let’s redefine and rate the risks of our drinking habits.

Abstinence: Botswana, like most other African countries, has high alcohol abstention rates among men (54.3%) and women (85%) [WHO Global Status Report on Alcohol and Health 2011]. However, among the drinkers, there is significant drinking to intoxication (binge drinking).

Low-risk: No more than 2 drinks a day, no more than 5 days week (WHO). The US agency National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) defines low-risk drinking for women as no more than 3 drinks on any single day and no more than 7 drinks per week. For men, no more than 4 drinks on any single day and no more than 14 drinks per week.

High-risk drinking e.g. Binge Drinking: NIAAA defines binge drinking as a pattern of drinking that brings BAC levels to 0.08 g%. This typically occurs after 4 drinks for women and 5 drinks for men—in about 2 hours.  Alcoholism/Dependency: You should stop drinking if i) You have tried to cut down but not been successful OR ii) You suffer from morning shakes. To be noted, the 2015 DSM-5 now talks Alcohol Use Disorder Diagnostic Criteria as:  

a problematic pattern of alcohol use leading to clinically significant impairment or distress as manifested by at least TWO of the following within a 12-month period.

Alcohol is often taken in larger amounts or over a longer period than was intended.
Persistent desire or unsuccessful efforts to cut down or control alcohol use.
Spending a great deal of time in activities necessary to obtain alcohol use or recover from its effects.
Craving or a strong desire or urge to use alcohol.
Recurrent alcohol use resulting in the failure to fulfill major role obligations.
Continued alcohol use despite persistent or recurrent social or interpersonal problems caused by or exacerbated by the effects of alcohol.
Important social, occupational or recreational activities are given up or reduced because of alcohol use.
Recurrent use in situations in which it is physically hazardous.
Alcohol use continued despite knowledge of having a persistent or recurrent physical or psychological problem that is likely to have been caused or exacerbated by alcohol.
Tolerance as defined by either  (a) a need for markedly increased amounts of alcohol to achieve intoxication or the desired effect, and (b) a markedly diminished effect with continued use of the same amount of alcohol.
Withdrawal is evident by (a) the Classic withdrawal syndrome, specifically described, and (b) when Alcohol (or a closely related substance) is taken to relive or avoid withdrawal symptoms.
 
Our topic of weighing the risks of alcohol intake will be continued next week. For now remember:
“The best way to avoid these problems is to cut down on frequency and quantity of your drinking or to abstain completely from alcohol”.

If you are in any way worried about your drinking, there are resources in the community that can help.  You can learn more or get the help you need at Botswana Substance Abuse Support Network (Bosasnet), Gaborone HYPERLINK "http://www.bosasnet.com/" http://www.bosasnet.com/ Cell: +267 72659891, Tel: +267 395 9119/ 391 3490

As well as from
Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), Francistown: 73576244
AA Gaborone:     7232 0827
AA Palapye:         71240895
AA Mahalapye:     72846889

See you next week as we learn more about alcohol!
By Team Holistic Health

RESOURCES

AUDIT-Guidelines for use in primary care-WHO  "http://www.alcohol-phaseiv.com/" www.alcohol-phaseiv.com

Project NEADA (Nursing Education in Alcohol and Drug Abuse) kit from www.health.org

NASD(National Alcohol Screening Day) sponsored by NIAAA (National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism) "http://www.niaaa.nih.gov/" www.niaaa.nih.gov

SAMHSA(Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration)  "http://www.samhsa.gov/" www.samhsa.gov

 "https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/alcohol-health/overview-alcohol-consumption/moderate-binge-drinking" https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/alcohol-health/overview-alcohol-consumption/moderate-binge-drinking

“Specifying alcohol-related brain damage among heavy social drinkers”   "http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2004-04/ace-sab040704.php" http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2004-04/ace-sab040704.php


DSM V Criteria  "https://dsm.psychiatryonline.org/" https://dsm.psychiatryonline.org/
 https://www.psychiatry.org/psychiatrists/practice/dsm

Continue Reading

Opinions

The Taiwan Question: China ramps up military exercises to rebuff US provocations

18th August 2022

US House Speaker Nancy Pelosis visit to Taiwan has violated the One-China policy, and caused the escalation of tensions across the Taiwan Strait. Experts and political observers across the spectra agree that Pelosis actions and subsequent pronouncements by US President Joe Biden gave impetus to an already simmering tension in the Taiwan Strait, provoking China to strengthen its legitimate hold on the Taiwan Strait waters, which the US and Taiwan deem as international waters.

Pelosis visit to Chinas Taiwan region has been heavily criticised across the globe, with China arguing that this is a serious violation of the one-China principle and the provisions of the three China-US Joint Communiqus. In response to this reckless move which seriously undermined China’s sovereignty, and interfered in China’s internal affairs, the expectation is for China to give a firm response. Pelosi visit violated the commitments made by the U.S. side, and seriously jeopardized peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.

To give context to Chinas position over Taiwan region, the history behind gives us perspective. It is also important to note that the history between China and Taiwan is well documented and the US has always recognized it.

The Peoples Republic of China recognises Taiwan as its territory. It has always been the case even before the Nationalist Republic of China government fled to the previously Japanese-ruled Island after losing the civil war on the mainland in 1949. According to literature that threat was contained for decades first with a military alliance between the US and the ROC on Taiwan, and after Washington switched diplomatic recognition to the PRC in 1979 by the US One China policy, which acknowledges Beijings position that Taiwan is part of One China. Effectively, Taiwans administration was transferred to the Republic of China from Japan after the Second World War in 1945, along with the split between the Peoples Republic of China (PRC) and the Republic of China (ROC) as a consequence of the Chinese Civil War. Disregarding this history, as the US is attempting to do, will surely initiate some defence reaction on the side of China to affirm its sovereignty.

However, this history was undermined since Taiwan claimed to democratise in the 1990s and China has grown ever more belligerent. Furthermore, it is well documented that the Biden administration, following the Trump presidency, has made subtle changes in the way it deals with Taipei, such as loosening restrictions on US officials meeting Taiwanese officials this should make China uneasy. And while the White House continues to say it does not support Taiwanese independence, Bidens words and actions are parallel to this pledge because he has warned China that the US would intervene militarily if China attacked Taiwan another statement that has provoked China.

Pelosi, in her private space, would know that her actions amount to provocation of China. This act of aggression by the USA seriously undermines the virtues of sovereignty and territorial integrity which has a huge potential to destabilize not only the Taiwan Strait but the whole of the Asia- Pacific region. The Americans know very well that their provocative behavior is deliberately invoking the spirit of separatism masqueraded as Taiwan independence. The US is misled to think that by supporting separatism of Taiwan from China that would give them an edge over China in a geopolitics. This is what one Chinese diplomat said this week: The critical point is if every country put their One-China policy into practice with sincerity, with no compromise, is going to guarantee the peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait. Therefore, it was in the wake of US House speaker Nancy Pelosis visit to Taiwan, that China, in a natural response revealed plans for unprecedented military exercises near the island, prompting fears of a crisis in the Taiwan Strait and the entire Asia-Pacific region. The world community must promote and foster peace, this may be achieved when international laws are respected. It may also happen when nations respect the sovereignty of another. China may be in a better space because it is well capacitated to stake its territorial integrity, what about a small nation, if this happens to it?

As to why military exercises by Beijing; it is an expected response because China was provoked by the actions of Pelosi. To fortify this position, Chinese President, Xi signed a legal basis for Chinas Peoples Liberation Army to safeguard Chinas national sovereignty, security and development interests. The legal basis will also allow military missions around disaster relief, humanitarian aid and peacekeeping. In addition the legal changes would allow troops to prevent spillover effects of regional instabilities from affecting China, secure vital transport routes for strategic materials like oil, or safeguard Chinas overseas investments, projects and personnel. It then follows that President Xis administration cannot afford to look weak under a US provocation. President Xi must protector Chinas sovereignty and territorial integrity, of which Taiwan is a central part. Beijing is very clear on One-China Policy, and expects all world players to recognize and respect it.

The Peoples Liberation Army has made it clear that it has firepower that covers all of Taiwan, and it can strike wherever it wants. This sentiments have been attributed to Zhang Junshe, a researcher at the PLA Navy Research Institute. Zheng further said, We got really close to Taiwan. We encircled Taiwan. And we demonstrated that we can effectively stop intervention by foreign forces. This is a strong reaction from China to warn the US against provocation and violation of the One-China Policy.

Beijings military exercises will certainly shake Taiwans confidence in the sources of its economic and political survival. The potential for an effective blockade threatens the air and shipping routes that support Taiwans central role in global technology supply chains. Should a humanitarian situation arise in Taiwan, the blame would squarely be on the US.

As Chinas military exercises along the Taiwan Strait progress and grow, it remains that the decision by Nancy Pelosi to visit Chinas Taiwan region gravely undermined peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait, and sent a wrong signal to Taiwan independence separatist forces. This then speaks to international conventions, as the UN Secretary-General Antnio Guterres explicitly stressed that the UN remains committed to the UN General Assembly Resolution 2758. The centerpiece is the one-China principle, namely, there is but one China in the world, the government of the Peoples Republic of China is the sole legal government representing the whole of China, and Taiwan is a part of China. It must be noted that the US and the US-led NATO countries have selectively applied international law, this has been going on unabated. There is a plethora of actions that have collapsed several states after they were attacked under the pretext of the so-called possession of weapons of mass destruction illuminating them as threats – and sometimes even without any valid reason. to blatantly launch military strikes and even unleash wars on sovereign countrie

Continue Reading

Opinions

Internal party-democracy under pressure

21st June 2022

British novelist, W. Somerset Maugham once opined: If a nation values anything more than freedom, it will lose its freedom; and the irony of it is that if it is comfort or money that it values more, it will lose that too.

The truism in these words cannot be underestimated, especially when contextualizing against the political developments in Botswana. We have become a nation that does not value democracy, yet nothing represent freedom more than democracy. In fact, we desire, and value winning power or clinging to power more than anything else, even if it harms the democratic credentials of our political institutions. This is happening across political parties ruling and opposition.

As far as democracy is concerned, we are regressing. We are becoming worse-off than we were in the past. If not arrested, Botswana will lose its status as among few democratic nations in the Africa. Ironically, Botswana was the first country in Africa to embrace democracy, and has held elections every five years without fail since independence.

We were once viewed as the shining example of Africa. Those accolades are not worth it any more. Young democracies such as South Africa, with strong institutions, deserves to be exalted. Botswana has lost faith in democracy, and we will pay a price for it. It is a slippery slope to dictatorship, which will bring among other excess, assault on civil liberties and human rights violations.

Former President, Festus Mogae once stated that Botswanas democracy will only become authentic, when a different party, other than the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) wins elections, and when the President of such party is not from Serowe.

Although many may not publicly care to admit, Mogaes assertion is true. BDP has over the years projected itself as a dyed-in-the-wool proponent of democracy, but the moment its stay in power became threatened and uncertain, it started behaving in a manner that is at variance with democratic values.This has been happening over the years now, and the situation is getting worse by the day.

Recently, the BDP party leadership has been preaching compromise and consensus candidates for 2024 general elections. Essentially, the leadership has lost faith in theBulela Ditswedispensation, which has been used to selected party candidates for council and parliament since 2003. The leadership is discouraging democracy because they believe primary elections threaten party unity. It is a strange assertion indeed.

Bulela Ditswewas an enrichment of internal party democracy in the sense that it replaced the previous method of selection of candidates known as Committee of 18, in which a branch committee made of 18 people endorsed the representatives. While it is true that political contest can divide, the ruling party should be investing in political education and strengthening in its primary elections processes. Democracy does not come cheap or easy, but it is valuable.

Any unity that we desire so much at the expense of democracy is not true unity. Like W. Somerset Maugham said, democracy would be lost in the process, and ultimately, even the unity that was desired would eventually be lost too. Any solution that sacrifice democracy would not bring any results in the long run, except misery.

We have seen that also in opposition ranks. The Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) recently indicated that its incumbent Members of Parliament (MPs) should not be challenged for their seats. While BDP is sacrificing democracy to stay in power, UDC is sacrificing democracy to win power. It is a scary reality given the fact that both parties ruling and opposition have embraced this position and believe democracy is the hindrance to their political ambitions.

These current reality points to one thing; our political parties have lost faith in democracy. They desire power more than, the purpose of power itself. It is also a crisis of leadership across the political divide, where we have seen dissenting views being met with persecution. We have seen perverting of political process endorsed by those in echelons of power to manipulate political outcomes in their favour.

Democracy should not be optional, it should be mandatory. Any leader proposing curtailing of democracy should be viewed with suspicion, and his adventures should be rejected before it is too late. Members of political parties, as subscribers of democracy, should collectively rise to the occasion to save their democracy from self-interest that is becoming prevalent among Botswana political parties.

The so-called compromise candidates, only benefits the leadership because it creates comforts for them. But for members, and for the nation, it is causing damage by reversing the gains that have been made over the years. We should reject leaders who only preach democracy in word, but are hesitant to practice it.

Continue Reading

Opinions

The Big Deal About Piracy

21st June 2022

Piracy of all kinds continues to have a massive impact on the global creative industry and the economies of the countries where it thrives.

One of the biggest misconceptions around piracy is that an individual consumers piracy activities, especially in a market the size of Botswanas, is only a drop in the pool of potential losses to the different sectors of the economy piracy affects.

When someone sitting in Gaborone, Botswana logs onto an illegal site to download King Richard online, they dont imagine that their one download will do anything to the production houses pocket or make a dent in the actors net worth. At best, the sensitivity towards this illegal pirating activity likely only exists when contemplating going about pirating a local musicians music or a short film produced locally.

The ripple effects of piracy at whatever scale reach far beyond what the average consumer could ever imagine. Figures released by software security and media technology company, Irdeto, show that users in five major African territories made approximately 17,4 million total visits to the top 10 identified piracy sites on the internet.

The economic impact of this on the creative industry alone soars to between 40 and 97.1 billion dollars, according a 2022 Dataprot study. In addition, they estimate that illegally streamed copyrighted content consumes 24% of global bandwidth.

As Botswanas creative industry remains relatively slight on the scale of comparison to industries such as Nollywood and Nilewood where the creative industry contributes a huge proportion to West and East Africas respective GDPs, that does not imply that piracy activities in Botswana do not have a similar impact on our economy and the ability of our creative industry to grow.

When individuals make decisions to illegally consume content via internet streaming sites they believe they are saving money for themselves in the name of enjoying content they desire to consume. Although this is a personal choice that remains the prerogative of the consumer, looking beyond the fact that streaming on illegal content sites is piracy, the ripple effect of this decision also has an endless trail of impact where funds which could be used to grow the local creative industry through increased consumption, and revenue which would otherwise be fed back into Botswanas economy are being diverted.

Why cant our local creative industry grow? Why dont we see more home-grown films and shows in Botswana? are questions constantly posed by those who consume television content in Botswana. The answer to this lies largely in the fact that Botswanas local content needs an audience in order for it to grow. It needs support from government and entities which are in a position to fund and help the industry scale greater heights.

Any organisational body willing to support and grow the local creative industry needs to exist and operate in an economy which can support its mandates. Content piracy is a cycle that can only be alleviated when consumers make wiser decisions around what they consume and how.

This goes beyond eradicating piracy activities in so far as television content is concerned. This extends to the importation and trade in counterfeit goods, resale of goods and services not intended for resale across the border, outside its jurisdiction, and more. All of these activities stunt the growth of an economy and make it nearly impossible for industries and sectors to propel themselves to places where they can positively impact society and reinvest into the countrys economy.

So what can be done to turn the tide here in Botswana in order to see our local production houses gain the momentum required to produce more, license more and expand their horizons? While those who enforce the law continue to work towards minimizing piracy activities, its imperative that as consumers we work to make their efforts easier by being mindful of how our individual actions play a role in preventing the success of our local creative networks and our economys growth.

Whether you are pirating a Hollywood Blockbuster, illegally streaming a popular Motswana artists music, or smuggling in an illegal decoder to view content restricted to South Africa only, your actions have an impact on how we as a nation will make our mark on the global landscape with local creative productions. Thembi Legwaila is Corporate Affairs Manager, MultiChoice Botswana

Continue Reading