May 27, 2024

Mental Health Experts Advocate for the Ban on Sachet Alcoholic Drinks to Curb Mental Illness



As the House of Representatives investigates the ban on sachet and small bottled alcoholic drinks in Nigeria, mental health experts are urging lawmakers to maintain the prohibition, citing studies that link high intake to mental health problems, particularly among young people.


The ban, implemented by the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) in January, aimed to address rising drug abuse, especially among the youth. However, the investigation by the House of Representatives has sparked debates on the potential consequences of lifting the ban.


Mental health professionals stress that sachet alcoholic drinks have a more detrimental impact on mental health, making the ban in the best interest of Nigerians. They argue that the affordability and accessibility of these small-sized alcoholic beverages contribute to increased alcohol-related health issues, social problems, and negative consequences, especially among vulnerable populations.


During the parliamentary session, members Paschal Agbodike and Philip Agbese raised the motion, leading to the committee on NAFDAC’s investigation. The mental health experts caution against suspending the ban, emphasizing the potential complications related to substance abuse and addiction.


Dr. Kehinde Oderinde, a Consultant Drug Addiction Psychiatrist at the University of Benin Teaching Hospital, highlights the negative impact of sachet alcoholic drinks on individual and public health outcomes. Studies have linked these beverages, known for their high alcohol content and affordability, to liver disease, cardiovascular problems, neurological complications, and mental health disorders.


“The suspension of the ban on sachet alcoholic drinks by the House of Representatives could potentially lead to an increase in rates of alcohol-related illnesses and deaths in Nigeria,” warns Dr. Oderinde. He underscores the association between sachet alcoholic drinks and high alcohol content, affordability, and accessibility, making them attractive to individuals, especially those vulnerable to alcohol abuse.


Dr. Yesiru Kareem, a Consultant Psychiatrist at the Federal Neuropsychiatric Hospital, Aro, Abeokuta, adds that alcohol consumption can contribute to various mental health conditions, including depression, suicide, memory impairment, psychosis, and other alcohol-related mental health issues. He commends NAFDAC’s decision, emphasizing the potential disastrous effects of high-alcohol-content drinks.


While acknowledging economic considerations, Dr. Kareem urges lawmakers to focus on strategies to regulate alcohol consumption rather than suspending the ban solely for economic reasons. He emphasizes the importance of addressing the rising trend of alcohol intake among the youth population through effective regulation and strategic implementation.

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