…Abuja residents speak on why they are hooked on beer, local gin, others
By Nguamo Aka
They represent the ever rising population of self-confessed lovers of the bottle. Call them proud (or unrepentant?) worshipers of Bacchus, the god of alcohol, and you would not be wrong.
For the majority of this group, any strong drink ranging from the relatively cheaper local gin popularly known as ‘Ogogoro’ or ‘push-me-I-push-you‘ to Burukutu, palm wine and the various beer brands, can take the place of their daily food. Ironically, while most of them drink their oft-tried souls away, not few members of their families find it difficult to tolerate the nuisance that their drunkenness constitute.
Moved by many such cases witnessed in parts of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), especially in the densely populated slums, Abuja Metro went to town in search of these lovers of the strong drinks to ascertain why they would not turn away from alcohol or at least, consume less of it.
A resident, Ezekiel Sambo, who boasted that he could drink eight bottles of beer at a stretch, said he derives much pleasure from drinking alcohol.
“At the same time, I take it to ease myself of any emotional pain. Whenever I am in pain, I start thinking and I hate it; so, I come to the beer parlour to drink and each time I am there, I feel at home because to me, my pains will go away.
“My wife hates seeing me drunk, but i cannot stop drinking. Maybe, I will stop in future, but for now, I have to enjoy my youth, he said.
Another, Mr John Okoro said: “If you do not smoke, then you have to drink. For me, I do not smoke, but I drink very well, I do this to belong, because people say that if you do not drink or smoke, you are a weakling. So, I drink to feel good among men. Only men that behave like women do not drink. Each time I drink, I feel happy. There is this feeling of relief in my body each time I drink. And I cannot say I will stop drinking any time soon.”
Mr Terhenba Tarhenba said his drinking is hereditary. His words: “ I got this habit from my father. When I was growing up, my dad used to drink very well and each time he drank, he would give me to taste and he would say to me, ‘this is for men’. So, from then, I grew up drinking alcohol and I love it. It is a part of me and any day I do not drink, I feel very incomplete and empty.”
Richard Isu said alcohol gives him energy and helps to kill boredom. “I feel elated, energetic and very enthused when I drink, I also drink to chase boredom, to socialise and awaken my mental state”, he said, stressing, however, that he can stop drinking if he wants to.
A middle-aged woman, who refused to identify herself, said she feels relieved and talks better whenever she drinks. For her, there is no stopping the habit until after marriage and having her first child, adding: “It is something I do occasionally when I am out with my friends.”
Expectedly, operators of beer parlours in the federal capital and the suburbs have no regrets helping to meet the needs of liquor lovers as long as it brings them good profit.
Daniel John, a beer parlour owner at Gishiri, said he enjoys selling beer to people, because it is good business.
“Also, I meet many people daily. You just see someone enter and say, ‘give me beer, let me drink and forget my sorrow’. It is not easy doing this business because I face a lot of challenges.
“Some people will drink until they become drunk and when this happens, they lose control of themselves and they start breaking bottles and glass cups. They go as far as wanting to kill themselves and because of this, they end up not paying you and most times, they drink more than what they have in their pockets”, he said.
Another beer parlour owner at Garki village who did not want her name in print, said the business was originally managed by her late husband, but she had to sustain it to enable her train their children in school. She said: “The business is profitable. A lot of people come here to drink. The business booms in the evening and you find them drinking until they forget themselves, and cause a lot of trouble. They always misbehave when they drink in excess.
“The other day, a man drank almost 12 bottles of beer and ended up urinating on himself. Not just men, even women come here. As a woman, managing this business is not easy.”
Health experts told Abuja Metro that it is sheer self-deception for anyone to say that he drinks to ease emotional pain because excess alcohol has serious adverse health implications.
Dr. Benjamin Nongo of the Teaching Hospital in Gwagwalada, Abuja, said those that drink for any reason, forget that alcohol causes a lot of damage to the body.
He said: “Alcohol affects every organ in the body. When alcohol enters the body, some of it goes immediately to the stomach and the bloodstream. The rest of it, about 80 per cent, goes to the small intestine and is released into the bloodstream. Once alcohol enters the blood, it is pumped throughout the body by the heart.
“The liver is responsible for detoxifying the alcohol and removing it from the blood. But, the liver can only process a small amount of alcohol at a time. The rest continues to move throughout the body. It mixes with the water in bodily tissue. It also enters the central nervous system and the brain. Ethanol acts as a drug, affecting emotions, coordination and thinking ability.
“Excessive alcohol use has been linked to chronic conditions like cirrhosis of the liver, pancreas disease and cardiovascular disease. It has also been linked to many forms of cancer, including cancer of the mouth, throat, larynx, oesophagus, breast, colon and rectum.”
The medical doctor advised those who drink to reduce their intake of alcohol, saying: “ if you can take one bottle in a week, then it is better for your health than drinking six to 10 bottles in a day.”