By Richard Harrison: An epidemic of mammoth proportions is spreading across Belize…..men who are giving up on life and sitting on the street corners and drains in almost every city, town and village….drinking themselves to death.
While small pockets of alcoholics are nothing new to Belize cities and towns….the past 10 years has seen a rapid escalation of the numbers of men falling through the socio-economic cracks.
No city, town or village is immune to this epidemic….it is now a national challenge with exponential growth.
While in the past it used to be mostly men over their 40’s…..there is now a new wave of young men in their late teens and early 20’s who are suffering from this plight.
Society cannot continue to play blind to this reality….we must ask ourselves why is this trend occurring? What is the root cause? And what does society need to do to slow down, stop and reverse this trend.
Is there not a law that governs the strength and quality of alcoholic products that can be sold for human consumption?
Is there not a law restricting the consumption of alcohol in public spaces?
Are there institutions that provide help for persons who have given up hope? Who have turned to addictive substances (especially alcohol) to cope with their “failed” circumstances?
Is there a point when society has to step in and save people from themselves? Persons who are no longer capable of being responsible for themselves? Or should society just leave them to exercise their freedom to die a long, slow, painful death?
It is obviously more publicly evident that men are suffering from this illness….since they are easily seen on the street corners and drains. BUT….are there also women who are going through this same loss of hope, and suffering in other ways that are not so obvious to the public eye? How is this affecting the children associated with the families from where these persons originate?
Yesterday I met an elderly woman in Belize City….she was hustling, doing errands for anyone near a supermarket, that she might earn tips….she said she was putting together $70 for her grandchild to graduate from pre-school at the YWCA (she had to buy shoes, bow-tie, pants and shirt)….and needed another $50 to complete the $100 it is costing her for the grandchild to register for primary school at Trinity Primary School. I had to wonder what is the mother of the child doing to help? Do we really need expensive graduation from pre-school?
Belizean families are under a lot of pressure…..economic, social, moral and otherwise.
This plague of alcoholism is spreading too rapidly now…..this needs an institutional, systemic and comprehensive approach to better understand the causes of the challenge….and to develop sustainable solution options….so that our society does not continue to crumble before our very eyes.
Let those who have eyes…let them see.
Let those who have hearts….let them reach out to those of our society who have or are losing hope. After all, they are our fathers, brothers, sons and grandchildren…
The views expressed in this article are those of the writer and not necessarily those of Breaking Belize News.
This article was written by Richard Harrison, Belizean investor in production and services businesses in Belize. He holds a Masters in Business Administration degree from Lancaster University.
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