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The Sudden Reinstatement of the Alcohol Ban – Lessons and Potential Consequences

On the evening of 12 July, South African President, Cyril Ramaphosa shocked the nation when he announced the reinstatement of the nationwide ban on alcohol sales.

Naturally, there are many mixed feelings about the ban regarding the impact its going to have on the economy, the alcohol industry and the health and well-being of people in South Africa.

alcohol ban in south africa

Reinstatement of Alcohol Ban in South Africa

According to the President, there has been a notable increase in alcohol related trauma cases in the country, from road accidents to domestic violence related issues.

Because of this, the number of hospital beds available for COVID-19 positive patients has decreased, placing immense pressure on exhausted medical staff and overwhelmed healthcare facilities.

Therefore, in order to ensure that hospital beds are available for COVID-19 patients, President Ramaphosa made the decision to once again ban the sale of alcohol across the country, along with another curfew.

However, we are once again faced with the question: “what does this mean for individuals who are addicted to or dependent on alcohol?”

Sudden Alcohol Ban and Alcohol Addiction

Although it’s easy to see that alcohol can have a hugely detrimental impact on various areas of our lives, the abrupt withdrawal of alcohol can have equally devastating consequences.

As with any addictive substance, when someone stops drinking alcohol, the withdrawal symptoms can be extremely difficult to cope with.

This is the fundamental reason that rehabilitation centres and programmes exist. Although withdrawal symptoms may vary from person to person, it’s crucial that individuals receive the medical, emotional and psychological support they need to endure the symptoms in the safest way possible.

The concerns about the alcohol ban, with regards to alcohol addiction are blatantly clear. The President nobly encouraged people to take this opportunity to go into recovery, to find other, more constructive means of fulfilment and to “come into a centre and get treatment and deal with the underlying issues.”

However, the following are some of the pressing factors that need to be considered in light of the ban:

  • Not everyone in South Africa with alcohol addiction has access to or the means to access treatment centres or programmes
  • Many are facing daunting job insecurity and there may not be an opportunity to take leave in order to receive professional rehabilitation treatment
  • Both casual and dependent users of alcohol will be more inclined to engage in criminal activity in order to obtain alcohol from bootleggers
  • The well-being of family members is at risk as those who have mild alcohol dependency may respond to their withdrawals with aggressive behaviour
  • The withdrawal symptoms of sudden alcohol withdrawal can be severe and sometimes fatal
  • Many will turn to brewing their own alcohol at home which can cause damage to one’s health if not done correctly

Symptoms of Sudden Alcohol Withdrawal

Alcohol is a highly harmful and addictive substance and the side effects of sudden withdrawal from alcohol can be harsh.

However, the severity of the withdrawal symptoms will depend largely on the level of alcohol dependency of each individual.

It’s also important to note that withdrawal symptoms can start showing after just a few hours after the last drink has been consumed:

6 – 12 hours post-ingestion
  • Anxiety
  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Shaking
  • Agitation
12-24 hours post-ingestion
  • Seizures
  • Disorientation
  • Hand tremors
48 hours or more post-ingestion
  • High blood pressure
  • Seizures
  • Insomnia
  • High fever
  • Excessive sweating
  • Tactile, auditor and visual hallucinations
  • Delirium tremens (a rapid onset of confusion and disorientation)

Although symptoms may start improving after about 5 days, some individuals may experience prolonged symptoms.

The duration and severity of alcohol withdrawal symptoms depend largely on the following:

  • Frequency of drinking
  • Amount of alcohol consumed when drinking
  • Length of time that one has been drinking and/or abusing alcohol
  • Medical history
  • Co-morbidities

Step Away Rehabilitation Centre South Africa

Many occasional drinkers will find themselves in a place where they are not anxious about the alcohol ban and are confident that they can ride the wave until the ban is lifted once again.

However, if you consider yourself an occasional or social drinker but find yourself experiencing withdrawal symptoms or wondering where you will be able to get alcohol during while the ban is in place, it may be time to consider the fact that you may be heading towards alcohol dependency or addiction.

If you or a loved one is in need of support, or if you would like to find out about our rehabilitation programmes for alcohol addiction, please feel free to contact us.

Comments are closed for this post, but if you have spotted an error or have additional info that you think should be in this post, feel free to contact us.


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