21 March, 2015

Saudi Gazette | Why I Don’t Drink

Why I Don't Drink
Fri, 19 Sep 2014 18:27:36 AST
Saudi Gazette |
Amal Al-Sibai
Saudi Gazette

First and foremost, I don't drink because I am a Muslim, and Islam strictly prohibits drinking alcohol, and also selling, buying, making, transporting, or serving it.

Being a Muslim is my most important reason to completely avoid alcohol, but not the only reason.

There are plenty of non-Muslims too who don't drink because of the devastating effect that alcohol can have on their lives and the lives of those around them.

Drunk driving and the consequent loss of lives and property is a major problem plaguing some societies.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in the US, in the year 2012, more than 10,000 people died in car accidents caused by driving under the influence of alcohol. Every 53 minutes, someone is killed in a drunk-driving crash. Every 90 seconds, someone is injured in an accident that involves drunk-driving. Alcohol impaired motor vehicle crashes in the US cost more than $37 billion annually. 

The Office of Road Safety for the Government of Western Australia published statistics stating that intoxicated drivers have a 4 times higher tendency to speed than sober drivers.

Consuming alcohol, prior to driving, increases the risk of being involved in a car accident. With a blood alcohol concentration of 0.05 per 100 ml of blood, the risk of being involved in a crash doubles. With a blood alcohol content of 0.08 you are 7 times more likely to crash, and with a blood alcohol content of 0.15, you are 25 times more likely to crash. 

Alcohol affects decision-making, reaction times, distance judgments, concentration, perception, balance, and alertness. It also gives a driver a false sense of confidence, which may encourage risk taking.
Alcohol is absorbed rapidly into the blood and travels to all parts of the body. It affects your brain's ability to make sound judgments and process information. It slurs your speech and impairs your consciousness and vision.

Drinking alcohol has a long list of deleterious effects on health. "Habitual drinking increases the risk of cancer," says Jurgen Rehm, PhD, chairman of the University of Toronto's department of addiction policy. Drinking alcohol increases the incidence of cancer of the mouth, pharynx (throat), larynx (voice box), esophagus, liver, breast, and colorectal region. 

Alcohol is toxic to liver cells, and many heavy drinkers develop cirrhosis, a sometimes-lethal condition in which the liver is so heavily scarred that it is unable to function.

The effects of alcohol on the brain are not merely temporary, they are long-lasting. The normal aging process causes a slow loss of brain function at a rate of 1.9% per decade. But heavy drinking speeds the shrinkage of key regions in the brain, resulting in memory loss and dementia. 

"Heavy drinking can lead to deficits in the ability to plan, make judgments, solve problems, and perform other aspects of the higher-order abilities that allow us to maximize our function as human beings," said James C. Garbutt, MD, professor of psychiatry at the University of North Carolina.

Studies are showing that heavy drinking leads to depression, and not the other way around.

Drinking alcohol raises blood pressure and causes eye problems and neurological complications.

Alcohol suppresses the immune system, making the victim of alcohol abuse more susceptible to contracting infections.

According to a report by Mayo Clinic, heavy drinking can result in inflammation of the stomach lining and can cause stomach and esophageal ulcers and can damage the pancreas. 

A strong correlation exists between alcohol and domestic violence. In a large study of women physically injured by their partners, 52% of the women reported that their partner consumed alcohol just before the assault. A 1994 study conducted by the US Department of Justice on cases of murder of a spouse found that more than half of the perpetrators had been drinking alcohol at the time of the incident. Children of a parent abusing alcohol are at a significantly higher risk of experiencing physical, sexual, or emotional abuse than children living in non-alcohol households.

The prohibition of alcohol in Islam is not a constricting life-style restriction; it is protection for the body, self, mind, psyche, and family unit.

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