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The alcohol ban during lockdown was both celebrated and condemned, creating an extremely grey area from a mental health standpoint.
Although some South Africans fully supported the ban, others were worried about the effects the prohibition would have on those who are addicted to alcohol.
Not only was there a direct threat of sudden and involuntary abstinence where the withdrawal symptoms could be severe, there were also a number of socio-economic concerns.
There were three compelling socio-economic concerns related to the initial prohibition:
However, a new set of concerns came when the President announced that the ban would be lifted at the start of June.
Many South Africans rejoiced when they heard that the alcohol ban would be lifted after weeks of prohibition.
In fact, many made light of the situation as thousands of people queued outside liquor stores across the country, hours before the doors were opened. People danced, sang and played instruments in celebration.
However, what was and will be the impact of alcohol being sold in our country once again?
Almost a month later and there has been a remarkable increase in alcohol related trauma cases in hospitals across the country, including road accidents as a result from drunk driving.
Whether this surge in casualties is related to the lift of the alcohol ban, the concurrent easing into phase three of lockdown or a combination of the two is yet to be determined.
However, the bottom line is that many lives are once again at risk due to alcohol consumption and abuse, both in households and on the roads.
Another important thing to note is that the average tolerance to alcohol has decreased during the lockdown period. This means that it would take less to feel intoxicated now than it did at the start of the nationwide lockdown and subsequent alcohol ban.
Furthermore, more people may be prone to abusing alcohol as a means to cope with the financial stress and job insecurity that COVID-19 has brought upon the country which is also a major cause for concern.
Knowing how to navigate your way around the sudden availability of alcohol may prove to be challenging after weeks of prohibition.
If you or a family member is struggling with this or ongoing alcohol addiction, please feel free to contact us.
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