Cold facts on cold turkey: the brutal toll of the booze ban

Lifestyle

Cold facts on cold turkey: the brutal toll of the booze ban

Alcohol withdrawal is more dangerous than that from any other drug. Many in SA are being forced to endure it

Natasha Burger

With alcohol sales banned since the beginning of the lockdown and people's personal stocks having run out, addicted South Africans may be experiencing severe alcohol withdrawal. This is not only torturous for them, but may be life-threatening in some cases.

“There is little doubt that the ban on alcohol has brought with it a number of benefits to our society, including a reduction in violence and trauma as a result of accidents caused by intoxication,” says Dr Duncan Laurenson, a GP and substance use disorder specialist, who manages the detoxification programme at Akeso Stepping Stones in Cape Town.

“The ban on alcohol sales could potentially have a darker side, however, in that sudden alcohol withdrawal in a heavily addicted person may cause a range of symptoms that can vary from being physically and psychologically uncomfortable to life-threatening. Mild symptoms include mood swings, irritability, anxiety, fatigue and insomnia, which in some individuals may last for weeks and even months...

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