Time to deal with alcohol addiction in Sabah – Jainab
KOTA KINABALU: Awareness on alcohol abuse needs to be heightened to help curb social illnesses in Sabah.
Community Development and Consumer Affairs Minister Datuk Jainab Ahmad Ayid stressed that Sabah’s fondness for alcohol culture puts its people on high and constant risk to alcohol addiction, which is the root to many social problems in the state.
“In Sabah, we have a monthlong celebration of ‘aramaiti’. I feel the time has come to maybe go back and study this. We can aramaiti but there is no need to get excessively drunk. I think we need to sit down together and do a National Blue Ocean Strategy,” she said, adding that the government had taken gradual steps to send the message to people such as taking down banners with pictures of beers and such.
“We shouldn’t compartmentalize ourselves, put it that way. I feel we need to work with Tan Dri Joseph Pairin’s KDCA (Kadazandusun Cultural Association),” Jainab added when officiating at the 4th Asia Pacific Behavioural and Addiction Medicine (APBAM) Conference at Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS) Medicine and Health Sciences Faculty here yesterday.
The minister said Sabah recorded the third highest consumption of alcohol in Malaysia at 18.4 percent after Kuala Lumpur (20.3 percent) and Sarawak (19.7 percent). This is a confirmation that we must collaborate,” said Jainab.
“A researcher from UMS itself has stated that 17% of the population of Sabah are heavy alcohol drinkers, and about 50% of them drink in a hazardous way.
“While we continue to take action from a welfare standpoint, we also need support from professionals, clinicians and the people of Sabah and Malaysia as a whole to combat the menace of addiction. With greater progress comes more problems if we do not cooperate. If we know our problems, we have to treat the problems together, not only the government,” she added.
Singapore Promises executive director and senior consultant paychiatrist cum APBAM Conference 2016 chairperson Prof Munidasa Winslow stressed that treating any addiction, including drug or alcohol problem, is the same as any other medical conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes, or asthma.
However, he added that no form of treatment would be effective if a person continues with unhealthy habits.
Therefore, the combination of drugs and biopsychosocial model must be used to encompass treatment in terms of biology, psychology, social, and spiritural, chimed in Solace Sabah cofounder and CEO Dr Prem Kumar Shanmugam.
“When they have been addicted for a long time, to be able to change their thinking or change the behavior so that they can get well, they have got to do a lot of family therapy,” said Dr Prem.
“The whole family must also get involved, not only the person with alcohol and drugs issues. The whole family must also learn how to talk. Don’t just point the finger but also learn to help the people get better as addiction is not only related to the person alone. When we treat the sick person, we also need to treat the family because the family becomes ill along with the sick. Their roles and perception will also change with their way of thinking.
“Some people are predisposed and they have a higher chance of becoming addicted. But it does not mean everybody will become addicted. We can all drink alcohol but maybe one or two of us cannot stop, that’s the problem. There is 40% to 60% genetic predisposition to alcohol. There are many reasons basically, but not all people will become an addict,” he clarified.
National Anti-drug Agency (AADK) Sabah director Bakri Bibi was also amongst the distinguished guests and over 120 international participants at the opening ceremony.
Jainab (front, sixth right) with Winslow (front, centre) and Prem (front, second right) with distinguished guests and the international APBAM Conference 2016 team at 4th Asia Pacific Behavioural and Addiction Medicine Conference in UMS Medical and...