alcohol abuse in Naga society

Eastern Mirror Desk | Dimapur, Feb. 1: Researchers have long recognised a two-way association between alcohol consumption and violent behaviour. Not only may alcohol consumption promote aggressiveness, but victimisation may lead to excessive alcohol consumption.

A study carried out by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), a part of the US National Institutes of Health, found that alcohol might encourage aggression or violence in a person by disrupting normal brain function. “It weakens brain mechanisms that normally restrain impulsive behaviours leading to an inaccurate assessment of future risks, thereby acting on an immediate violent impulse,” the study concluded.

Regular alcohol consumption, especially at harmful and hazardous levels, is not just a major contributor to the occurrence of intimate partner violence but a key source of conflict in the family, especially between husband and wife, in which, the wife is often the victim.

Weri-u Mero, administrator of One Stop Centre – Sakhi, in Dimapur, mentioned that one of the key issues for women is that men use much-needed resources (household money) for alcohol, raising conflicts in the family.

According to Mero, violence against women is prevalent in present Naga society. “Whether it is acknowledged or ignored, it exists at homes, in the streets, and in the community,” the administrator pointed out adding, ‘although violence against women may be triggered by many factors, alcohol is often the main cause of conflicts and abuse in the families.’

According to Mero, a drunken man will have fewer inhibitions which can trigger violence towards his partner. “Of all the cases received at One Stop Centre – Sakhi, most of the cases were domestic violence; the abuser or the husband was usually an alcoholic,” Mero disclosed.

While admitting that not all those who abuse consume alcohol, the administrator, however, maintained that alcohol sits at the centre of domestic violence

One Stop Centre – Sakhi, located near District Hospital in Dimapur, provides free legal aid, police assistance, medical support, and psycho-social support to women affected by violence.

However, according to the director of Prodigals’ Home, K Ela, almost 100% of domestic violence cases in Naga society today was under the influence of alcohol. “Domestic violence is confined not only to wife but also the children at home. The trauma on the victim has long-term impacts and it affects them in many ways. Many cases of depression and mental illness are consequences of violence over long period,” she said.

Mentioning that there are many types of violence prevalent in the Naga society today, including mental violence, physical violence, and psychological violence, Ela opined that the society fails to realise the gravity and consequences of domestic violence due to ignorance.

“Also, we are living in denial and indifference, and the victims continue to pay the price,” the activist said.

A young Naga woman, Alice (name changed), who has three children and an alcoholic husband: “Whenever my husband comes home after drinking, he used to say things that I cannot digest (sic). But if I respond to him, he gets violent and physical and that way my children are also mentally affected. If alcohol is removed from our relationship, I am sure we will have a happy family.”

A senior medical practitioner who runs a clinic in Dimapur simply put: “The seriousness of alcohol to our state of mind is fatal. Regular use of alcohol can augment the risk of depression and mood swings. It will also lead to irritability, callous behaviour, unstable temper, among other side effects, which will affect the relationship one has with other people.”

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