It is a golden opportunity for people who want to quit alcohol: Dr Ambedkar of AIIMS-D

By Joymala Bagchi

New Delhi [India], May 6 (ANI): As India has stepped into much relaxing third phase of lockdown, liquor shops across the country have witnessed long chaotic queues with variant versions of social distancing.

In this scenario, many have raised concerns over the decision of the government to open up liquor shops, fearing it may escalate the number of communicable disease further. However, there are experts who see an opportunity for liquor addicts to quit the intake of alcohol.

Dr Atul Ambedkar, National Drug Dependence Treatment Centre, AIIMS- Delhi, speaking to ANI, said: "This period should be considered as a golden opportunity for the people who want to quit alcohol. In case someone decides to continue with consuming alcohol, he should not consume an excessive amount."

The Government of India has allowed the opening of liquor shops since May 4. However, with a regular spike in the number of COVID-19 positive cases, India is close to 50,000 cases with an exact figure of 49,391, according to the Union Health and Family Welfare Ministry.

Since May 5, the Delhi government has imposed a whopping 70 per cent value-added tax (VAT) on liquor. Many other states including Andhra Pradesh and Haryana have increased VAT on liquor.

When asked to comment on the craze among people, waiting for hours in a queue for liquor, Dr Ahmedabad said: "Whoever is out on the street for buying things -- be it vegetables or alcohol -- maintaining social distancing is the most important task to be followed. Irrespective of the reason crowds should be avoided at all cost."

Alcohol is a commonly used psychoactive substance in India. Quite a large proportion actually use liquor as an addiction. Dr Ambedkar said: "If after a certain gap, a person consumes alcohol in the same amount as earlier, that is going to be harmful and riskier for them. The people consuming alcohol should be advised against doing this. The overdo can be potentially harmful and also fatal particularly in this situation."

People, who suffer from addiction or dependence, are advised to stop the intake. However, stopping alcohol suddenly without any medical advice or treatment can actually be dangerous and fatal.

Talking about stigmatisation, Dr Ambedkar said: "There is a general discussion about the people standing in these queues. There is a kind of judgement attitude against them as if they are accused of committing a crime. But not many know that some of them are suffering from addiction and they are patients trying to satisfy their needs. People should be sensitive to them."

People trying to quit an addiction face withdrawal symptoms. Fortunately, for alcohol effective medical treatments and medicines are available, which take care of withdrawal symptoms.

A local liquor shop in central Delhi's Karol Bagh district observes that the sale is five to six times more than on an average day. Since they opened on May 4, liquor shops are gushing on sale across the country. (ANI)