Reports in the Stabroek News (June 26) and the Guyana Chronicle (June 28) from the 60th Caribbean Public Health Agency Research Conference in Grenada say that Guyana has been highlighted as one of the countries with high levels of alcohol use in children and young people.
Guyana seems determined to nurture its alcohol culture and alcohol industry. There have probably been one or two prosecutions for anyone selling alcohol to children and there is aggressive marketing targeted at young men especially. Anecdotal evidence suggests that the majority of alcohol consumed by children, young people and others is legally made and distributed with taxes, supposedly contributing to Guyana’s development.
There have been reports of accidents over the last few months which involve young people ‘who were drinking.’ There are other violent episodes (and the conference talked about violence as a public health issue) with persons, men especially, who ‘were drinking.’ There is hypocrisy in telling boys and girls that they should not drink when adults can do so. Many adolescents and young people would probably rebel at such hypocrisy.
Statisticians and philosophers can probably argue over correlation and causation related to Guyana being home to the finest rum in the world where the laws do not matter, and the amount of lives destroyed by alcohol consumption. The reality for many is that the alcohol culture has made it difficult for many Guyanese, children especially, to achieve their full potential. Discussions about moderation are irrelevant when many of the persons who believe that they are in control are not.
Many persons who enjoy their drinks and have continued their lives resist any idea of a responsibility to change the alcohol culture in Guyana. Can’t Guyanese commit to reducing alcohol consumption in Guyana now? Can’t Guyanese have a good time without drinking? Can’t Guyanese men ‘roll’ without drinking as one campaign pushes? This is not about saints who do not drink and villains who drink. Hitler was reported to have been a teetotaller. It is just calling for Guyanese to take some personal action with a collective responsibility to ensure that alcohol does not destroy any more lives.