South Africa: Collective Cold Turkey - Mental Health Professionals Concerned About Sudden Withdrawal of Alcohol

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The blanket prohibition on the sale of alcohol during the Covid-19 lockdown has raised serious concerns among mental health professionals of the risks associated with the sudden and unsupported withdrawal of addictive substances, particularly alcohol.

South Africa is a country ranked by the World Health Organisation as the fifth highest in the world when it comes to alcohol consumption. We are a country of heavy drinkers and substance abusers, and the prohibition on the sale of alcohol during lockdown has raised serious concerns among mental health professionals.

According to a 2018 study, in 2015, 62,300 South African adults died from alcohol-attributable causes with 60% of the deaths occurring in low-income communities.

Alcoholism and substance abuse, across the globe, is regarded as a disease and in South Africa, it is one of "epic" proportions. Those in the public health sector witness how this is intricately linked to socio-economic conditions.

It is with this in mind that mental health professionals in the public sector have sounded the alarm in the wake of the total ban on the sale of alcohol during South Africa's lockdown.

Forcing alcoholics, particularly, to go "cold turkey" can be life-threatening, could lead to serious depression and suicide as...

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