If asked what country has the highest consuming rate in the world, many would be quick to say America. However, not a lot of people know that it is a small country in Eastern Europe, Belarus. Alcohol use and abuse is also a leading cause, to the suicides and homicides, within this country. Alcoholism in Belarus has become an epidemic as studies have shown only 11% of Belarusians are completely not drinking alcohol (Williams, 2018).
Alcohol drinking in Belarus is extremely high, with people drinking an average of 4.62 gallons of alcohol every year (Rudnik, 2017). Excessive drinking of alcohol has left many in Belarus physically reliant on the drug. Alcohol is also one of the contributing factors leading to the country’s suicides rate, which has one of the highest rates in the world. People who live in rural areas lack entertainment activities, and recreational places to pass time. This leads to an increase in alcohol drinking and abuse (Williams, 2018).
Unlike the U.S.A, Belarus rural areas have no recreational parks, public libraries, or gyms. That being the case, drinking has become a popular activity for farmers and those in their community. Liquor is readily available at just about every local store for purchase. Drinking at a young age is another problem to take into consideration. The legal age of drinking is 18 years old in Belarus (Williams, 2018).
In Belarus alcohol prices are much cheaper than countries that border it. During elections, or economic difficulties, the prices of alcohol are lower. Cheap alcohol is being used to manipulate the public masses. It is a tool used to neutralize and numb the minds of any would be activist against the Belarusian government. By making alcohol prices lower, the authorities of this dictatorship regime are able to achieve further support and loyalty (Rudnik, 2017). It’s also a tool to hide the economic and social difficulties that Belarus has yet to overcome. Some Belarusians make their own homemade liquor. This has become a huge problem, and at times leads to death. The Belarusian government has begun to combat the alcohol epidemic, trying to slow the alcohol use, but still try and gain from the sale of alcohol. Starting in 2011, the government presented an anti-alcohol program. This program put restrictions on the sales and promotion of alcohol. However, in 2013, Belarusian president, Lukashenko A., took the restrictions put in place back. He was convinced not to ban the sale of cheap wine, also called ‘Charnila’ or “Byrlo”; which is one of the most well liked alcoholic drinks in Belarus. Also in 2013, the Ministry of Trade considered selling alcohol online. This corrupt government not only ignores the alcoholic epidemic before their eyes, they encourage its sales. Beginning 2015, Belarusians could buy alcohol at night with the law cancelled, which had not allowed it to be sold between 10pm and 9am. In 2016 there was 18,370,788.69 gallons of alcohol purchased (Rudnik, 2017). With alcohol benefiting the country, being sold cheap, and common availability, its highly unlikely a ban will ever take place. It is believed by Cavusau a scientist that a ban is nearly impossible and highly doubtful due to the local resources being filled with around 30% of the profit from the sale of alcohol He also believes that local finances completely depend on these profits. Alcohol has led to poverty and wide spread drinking among the majority of the population of Belarus (Rudnik, 2017).
Alcohol related suicide, is one of the most common causes of death, for young adults in Belarus. Suicides in females have been found to be much lower than men in of Belarus. One study shows the ratio of women to men, who committed suicide, at 1 to 4. Also those who attempted suicide, yet lived, called ‘parasuicide’ had these same statistics. In the ages between 18-29 years of age (34.2% in women and 57.8% men were found reliant on alcohol, and with a BAC- positive result (Davidouski, Razvodovsky, 2017).
There was a disturbing rate of growth in suicides beginning in the 1990s in Belarus, which led to the country becoming one of the highest for suicide rates in the world (Razvodovsky, Kandrychin, 2014). Studies were done to consider regional alcohol consumption with suicides. It was found that specific regions of Belarus did indeed have a much higher rate of suicides due to alcohol consumption of the individuals. In Minsk region (0.68) and Mahilow region (0.55) there was found the highest rates of suicide, while lower rates were found in Brest and Vitebsk at (0.41) This study supported the hypothesis that specific regions had higher suicide rates due to alcohol consumption and alcohol related psychoses in Belarus (Razvodovsky, Kandrychin, 2014).
In another study of premature death in Belarus, it was found again that alcohol played a major role. Alcohol intoxication was stated as (AAF) Alcohol- attributable fraction. The results of AAF were compared with the BAC (blood alcohol concentration) based on suicides found. Blood alcohol concentration related suicides were shown to be lower in women (30.6%) than in men (60.2%). Likewise the AAF gave results of males (63.4%) and females to be (35.2 %). This study also established that the relationship between alcohol related suicides was higher in men 30-44 and 45-59 years old (Razvodovsky, 2016). From the 5 examples of evidence shown above, we can correlate how the lower incomes farming, and rural areas, have a higher death rate, with suicide as the cause, because of drinking alcohol.
Next we will look at, the well documented connection, between alcohol, and homicide in Belarus. In an analysis study, done between the years of 1970 to 2005, revealed a close relationship between homicide, and alcohol poisoning, in Belarus. This evidence will support the hypothesis that homicide and alcohol are closely related in areas where drinking prevails. This evidence will suggest that a significant amount of the homicides that occurred in Belarus is due to the effects of excessive drinking alcohol. Alcohol has been considered as a major reason for aggressive behavior (Razvodovsky, 2008).
The cause in this relationship is not known. In terms of alcohol lowering a persons inhibitions, which is also known as disinhibition hypothesis; alcohol use is shown to lower the person’s inhibitions which can cause acting out in thoughtless violence. The individual’s frontal lobe has essentially been shutdown, causing the neurons to misfire, and miss connections with other neurons all together. This lack of connection causes a lack of inhibition. In the economic deprivation model it shows poverty or unfairness as the reason that may increase the chances of violent conduct. Showing alcohol and violence as directly related is not easy, but actually it’s quite complex. Several researchers believed that stressful conditions resulting from political, economic, and social changes were the main reason for more drinking alcohol, and homicide rates (Razvodovsky, 2008). From these examples, we can get a clear understanding, that alcohol effects those under stress, in making the good decisions .The link between alcohol and homicide is a complicated one, but it can be shown to be related through these studies.
With Belarus officially having on record 170,000 alcoholics, and 80% of murders and serious injuries committed under the influence of alcohol, drastic measures need to be taken to save my home country, Belarus, from the alcohol epidemic. Suicides, and violence due to the drinking of alcohol, are not going to stop, unless measures are put into place. Belarus is the leading country for alcohol consumption, and suicides related to alcohol use, in the world. This has been shown in countless studies and documents.
There are many solutions we could implement to lower the rates of suicide and homicidal deaths related to alcohol in Belarus. First, they could implement alcohol awareness, and cognitive intervention behavior classes. These classes would focus on teaching people how to make healthy decisions. It would show them their incorrect behaviors and choices they believed to be correct. Through self-recognition of these destructive behaviors, and learning the process of the addictive cycle, their lives could be transformed for the best. Also, training in Suicide awareness, and the early warning signs to be aware of those thinking about suicide, could help prevent suicide attempts. 12 steps related programs such as Narcotics Anonymous, Alcoholics Anonymous, and Winner’s Circle could be offered for free. Those wanting a change in their alcohol consumption, tired of being tired, and ready to surrender their lives over to a higher power, could find freedom from their addiction in such programs. With these programs, classes, and help given from the Belarusian government, as a solution to the current alcoholic epidemic (Rudnik, 2017). I believe we would see a decrease in homicide, suicide, and alcoholism among my native people of Belarus.