“Is anyone out here on drugs? I’m not, but if you ask me in about an hour or so I may give you a different answer.”
– Mark Ronson, on-stage at the Melbourne’s Global Gathering Music Festival.
But in this article, I will dwell more on the alcohol issue. Few days ago, my work related meeting look longer than usual. By the time I finished, it was 11:30pm. And as I stepped out into the streets, I was surprised to see so many young people everywhere. Christmas and end of year office parties have started. Once again, as in previous years, it was disheartening to see so many young people completely under the influence of alcohol and possibly drugs. Many looked well-dressed while others had costumes on. You could see them so drunk that they could hardly walk. Some sat on the footpath with their heads in their hands. And you could see how vulnerable the young women were under such heavy intoxication.
As a young Hare Krishna devotee, armed with knowledge of the body and mind, I could do nothing. There are so many agents in the country whose job is just to destroy lives – smoking, alcohol, drugs, prostitution, animal slaughter and they are still permitted to run. People in general know the harmful effects and yet they support its presence. And when I say that I believe in God and they should try as well, people think you are superstitious and backward.
As the drinking season commences, the government commenced their campaign towards “responsible drinking” too. Graphic ads depicting young people getting involved in fights, accidents resulting in serious injuries, trouble in judging etc have started. They are hoping that such ads will restrict the level of consumption.
But the alcohol companies are in a position to display better looking and more number of ads to woo the young.
In 2007, Kahlua, a well known alcohol brand commenced very colorful set of print, web and street advertising, which is still going strong. The press release says:
Challenging consumers to explore their curiosity, Kahlúa coffee liqueur today introduced a new global advertising campaign featuring the kings and queens of the brand’s pre-Columbian heritage. “The mysterious origins and mystical heritage of Kahlúa inspire discovery and curiosity, which we brought to life in this campaign,” said Cyril Claquin, senior vice president of marketing for Malibu-Kahlúa International. In each execution, those who explore their curiosity are richly rewarded, an idea that we believe will inspire consumers.”
As per the research of “Geoffrey Munro & Johanna de Wever. Drug and Alcohol Review, Volume 27, Issue 2 March 2008 , pages 204 – 211. Culture clash alcohol marketing and public health aspirations“, they conclude that if we are going to develop policies which effectively change Australian drinking culture to reduce alcohol-related harm, we need first to accept that the alcohol industry and the health field have separate and conflicting interests.
Srila Prabhupada’s KGO Radio Interview, March 12, 1968 San Francisco : Krishna.com
Interviewer: You believe that sex is only for having children. You do not believe in alcohol or the use of any stimulants.
Prabhupada: No, that is prohibited.
Interviewer: What do you believe in?
Prabhupada: We believe in Krsna consciousness. We have to purify. Just like this is also a belief, that you will be happy by drinking alcohol. That is your consciousness. I don’t believe in that.
Few months ago,in one of the city newspapers, I was surprised to see a small article on how drinking alcohol increases one’s chances of being better at socializing.
Here is a nice passage from an article on Helium.com by a freelance writer:
“There is a reason why many individuals choose to imbibe while socializing with others especially those they do not know yet. The main reason for drinking alcohol when with friends or in any social situation is to help one relax as they say that alcohol helps open the mind and loosen the tongue. In this regard, drinking some alcohol while socializing can help a person shake off anxieties about social interaction, feel more comfortable talking with others, and overall feel more confident in themselves and in their conversations.
However that is where alcohol as merely a social networking tool stops. The problem lies in the fact that some individuals while enjoying a few drinks to become socially adept either due to a desire to fit in with other’s drinking or to become looser socially become addicted to the alcohol not only due to chemical dependency but more commonly in social situations due to a comfort in drinking while socializing. That is, some people will come to rely on drinking alcohol as the main tool through which to successfully network and interact socially. Alcohol can become a social crutch for these individuals and they may either use the alcohol as a temporary fix to underlying psychological issues such as depression, anxiety, social fears or other psychological disorders and end up merely masking the problem and replacing it with an alcohol dependency problem.”
On 5th December 08, Australian Health Ministers agreed to look at tougher measures to restrict or even ban alcohol related advertisements. The New South Wales Health Minister John Della Bosca said cutting the use of alcohol, especially by young people, would have a positive impact across many areas. How so?
“There would be a massive impact on the incidence of road and industrial accidents which would have huge health benefits, take a lot of pressure off emergency departments and a huge impact on the burden of alcohol-related disease. The numbers are very clear – the savings to the economy alone are measured in the billions.The cost of alcohol abuse to the community nationally is estimated to be more than $15 billion, which is mostly made up of sickies, road accidents and health care. According to NSW Health data, since 2000, the biggest increase in alcohol-related emergency department admissions has been among 18 to 24-year-olds, up 130 per cent, while female admissions within that group have risen 200 per cent.”
So, cutting alcohol ads will cut young people’s interest in drinking alcohol which in turn will cut the unncessary spending on alcohol related incidents and accidents. Is cutting alcohol ads the best way?
Here is an interesting article from About.com, “Spirituality Deters Alcohol Abuse”
Teens who have an active spiritual life are half as likely to become alcoholics or drug addicts or even try illegal drugs that those who have no religious beliefs or training, a new study reports.
Previous studies have indicated that being spiritual or religious may help persons recovering from substance abuse overcome their addictions later in life, but this new study suggests that adolescents are much less likely to ever develop those problems, if they have a spiritual foundation when they are young.
“Alcoholism, in addition to being a biological disorder, is a spiritual disorder,” lead author Dr. Lisa Miller told Reuters Health. “Adolescents who claim to have a personal relationship with the Divine are only half as likely to become alcoholics or drug addicts, or for that matter even to try contraband drugs (marijuana and cocaine). This is particularly important because onset of alcoholism and drug addiction usually occurs in adolescents.”
To determine the relationship between their religiosity and substance use of 676 adolescents aged 15 to 19, Miller and colleagues at Columbia University conducted a study using survey data. This is the first study to show that personal spirituality strongly protects against ever developing alcoholism or drug abuse. The study shows that teens with a higher degree of personal devotion, personal conservatism, and institutional conservatism were less likely to engage in alcohol consumption and less likely to engage in marijuana or cocaine use.
“The findings show that a personal sense of spirituality helps adolescents avoid alcohol and drug use and abuse,” Miller told Reuters. “Unlike adults in (Alcoholics Anonymous), adolescents in this study were shown not to be helped by a rigid or forced adherence to religion.”
In other words, “religion” forced upon adolescents by their parents or others has little effect, but if teens have made a personal choice to pursue a spiritual life, they are much less likely to drunk and drug. “Spirituality, whether within or without of religion, is the most central baring in an adolescent’s life,” Miller emphasized. “It cannot be ignored by parents, or the adolescent will go ‘shopping’ for meaning, communion and transcendence,” she said.
The study authors concluded that adolescents at high risk might be protected from substance dependence or abuse if they engage with a Higher Power or become involved in a religious community. The survey question teens about their personal devotion, personal conservatism, and institutional conservatism defined as “representing an active personal relationship with the Divine, representing a personal choice to teach and adhere closely to creed, in some cases initiated through a ‘born-again’ experience, and as the degree of fundamentalism in a religious denomination.”
The study was published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.
Lets get back to Srila Prabhupada for a real solution: In Perth, May 16, 1975 (Salagram.net)
Paramahamsa: …to solve the problem of drug and alcohol addiction and, of course, they’re concerned with the causes of it and things like that.
Prabhupada: So you can send all these alcohol and drug patients here and they will be cured. These boys, American and European boys, they were all addicted to alcohol, drugs. Now they have given up. Practical.
Guest (1): In what way would they cure?
Prabhupada: Simply I say that “If you want to be my student, then you must give up four things: illicit sex, meat-eating, intoxication, and gambling.” This is my condition. So they give up, and they become my student.
Guest (2): Do they suffer withdrawal symptoms?
Paramahamsa: He says, “Do they suffer withdrawal symptoms?” Sometimes when a patient is giving up alcohol or drugs, he goes through various symptoms which are painful.
Prabhupada: Yes, yes. That should be… But unless… Find out this, param drstva nivartate. Rasa-varjam raso ‘py asya param drstva nivartate.
Devotee (2): “The embodied soul may be restricted from sense enjoyment, though the taste for sense objects remains. But, ceasing such engagements by experiencing a higher taste, he is fixed in consciousness.”
Devotee (2): Purport? “Unless one is transcendentally situated, it is not possible to cease from sense enjoyment. The process of restriction from sense enjoyment by rules and regulations is something like restricting a diseased person from certain types of edibles. The patient, however, neither likes such restriction, nor loses his taste for edibles. Similarly, sense restriction by some spiritual process like astanga-yoga, in the matter of yama, niyama, asana, pranayama, pratyahara, dharana, dhyana, etc., is recommended for less intelligent persons who have no better knowledge. But one who has tasted the beauty of the Supreme Lord Krsna in the course of his advancement in Krsna consciousness no longer has a taste for dead material things. Therefore, restrictions are there for the less intelligent neophytes in the spiritual advancement of life, but such restrictions are only good if one actually has a taste for Krsna consciousness. When one is actually Krsna conscious, he automatically loses his taste for pale things.”
1st . Dailymail.co.uk
2nd and 5th : Allposters.com
3rd : Advertising Agency: Marketforce, Perth, Australia
4th : Kahlua.com
6th : The Age
7th : Namahatta.org