Sadiyya Sheik
Sadiyya Sheik

Think dry

What is it about the festive season that makes people want to kill themselves and each other? Strange question, I know, but I spent the night of the 25th and early hours of the 26th December with the drunks and depressives at hospital in the casualty department.

I could probably count on one hand the number of patients that were not intoxicated and on that same hand the number that were at hospital for some reason other than a stab wound or motor vehicle accident. The only variety was in the type of weapon used (knives are more popular than bottle pieces) and the site of injury (although a stab to the chest is often accompanied by one to the head.) If you have a warped sense of humour, you might see the comedy in the case of a patient with a stab wound that was on his way to hospital when he was involved in a motor vehicle accident. He was also intoxicated. I don’t know, I’m just saying it might be funny to some people.

Suffice to say, we spent the night in aprons and gloves, trying to decipher random slurs, dodging projectile vomit and, of course, stitching. We literally ran out of sterile suturing instruments at various points during the night while the queue of patients needing stitches snaked along a blood-splattered corridor.

I can’t help but wonder how different the night would have been, say, if we introduced an alcohol ban around the festive season. Of course, I say this from the point of view of someone who does not drink so I might be just a tad biased, but hear me out.

It is more than common knowledge that the consumption of alcohol, in various concentrations and quantities depending on the consumer, causes loss of inhibition and impediment in a range of sensory and motor skills. The combination is deadly. Why then do we stock our hospitals in anticipation of carnage, litter the roads with policemen and paramedics and claim zero tolerance while watching the daily updates on “how many people died on our roads today”.  Is the “Drive Dry” campaign really effective? How many times do we need to see the unsuspecting “victim” of alcohol veer off the road and into oncoming traffic before the “it won’t happen to me” reality sinks in?

Is it just me or does it seem like we’re doing everything but the most obvious? We’ve identified the root of the problem, why don’t we tackle that?