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March 24, 2023 / Topical / Blogger Peter

The thin line between alcohol as a pleasure and as a problem

Today we passed the 31 day mark in the 40 days not a drop! Where Dry January ended today, we jointly set the final sprint towards 40. The last 14 days we do that in spring, which is the most beautiful season as far as I'm concerned. But when it comes to alcohol, perhaps the biggest challenge. That first drink in the late spring sun. Or that first barbecue of the season, doesn't that include a wheat beer?

I wrote earlier that I myself have a fairly strict line in alcohol consumption. Only on weekends, a few drinks, and very occasionally an exception with a bit more consumption. The big exception I forgot to mention were the holidays. Then there is no restriction and I drink a few drinks every day.

Vacations are an addition to my life for me. I enjoy it, my wife and I like to travel and we do it as often as possible. This can be in Europe as well as in Africa, the continent we both fell in love with. In recent years we have traveled to Namibia and Botswana 3 times. There we rented a large 4×4 with a tent on the roof and traveled into the interior. Wandering alone for days without seeing any other tourists or, in some cases, even a resident. The nature, the animals and the adventure. Fantastic!

However, there is also another side to these countries. And it is strongly linked to alcohol. We already know that average alcohol consumption is high in the Netherlands. But alcohol is also a major problem in African countries. Take Namibia as an example. People are often poorly educated, come from relative poverty and seek their happiness in the few larger cities in Namibia. It is often difficult to find work and make a living. As a result, a lot of alcohol is consumed. In numbers: 55.6% of the population drink an average of 33 bottles of beer per week on a weekly basis. Around the capital Windhoek, this is even at 69.9% of the population. With the lack of proper information, you see that many women become pregnant at a young age, there is an increased crime rate and there is a lot of nuisance caused by alcohol.

The Namibian government has had the rule for years that alcohol may no longer be sold in supermarkets on weekends from 12:00 p.m. Actually, the alcohol ban that we also saw in the supermarkets during the lockdown period. However, you soon learn that you can just go to any bar and buy your desired supply of beer at the back door without any government control. Because that's Africa too.

My message from this is that we in the Netherlands, with all the information and knowledge we have, cannot keep a decent measure of alcohol. Look at the figures of addiction, but also at the nuisance, as recently became clear again in the football stadiums. How then can we create an opinion about right and wrong on the other side of the world? The line between alcohol as a pleasure and as a problem is so thin that I don't think it can ever be answered properly.


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