The recent feature by the Sense Group (December 24) treads on dangerous territory. To say that alcohol is not a drug is misleading and I would ask Sedqa Agency to either confirm this declaration or else contest it.
Moderate drinking is a positive aspect of our culture and should be encouraged and, in this regard, I will start by praising the Sense Group for constantly warning against excessive alcohol intake, in particular during the festive season. However, it has never, to my knowledge, advised the younger generation (under-17s) to adhere to the laws of the country nor did it tell all retailers of alcoholic drinks not to serve these persons any alcoholic drinks. I stand to be corrected.
According to authoritative sources, alcohol is the most commonly used and abused psycho-active drug worldwide. When consumed, it interferes with many of the systems in the body and may cause many problems, including heart disease. Alcohol can produce cravings and leads to a physiological addiction. Alcohol affects each person differently, depending on factors including the individual’s age, gender and weight.
Alcohol is widely accepted as a normal part of life. With drug use illegal but alcohol legal for those over 21 in the United States (over 17 in Malta), many argue that alcohol is not a drug. The reality is that alcohol interacts with the body just like any other drug and has serious ramifications when abused.
A drug is simply “any substance which when absorbed into a living organism may modify one or more of its functions. In reality, any substance that by its chemical nature alters structure or function in the living organism is a drug. . .” Finally, from my experience with substance abusers, the gateway to the use, abuse and dependence on serious and illegal drugs is by far alcohol. Therefore, it is far better to classify it as a socially acceptable and legal drug than to deny its holistic effect on the person.
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