Infidelity, loneliness drives ladies to alcoholism

Almost half of all adult women say they drink alcohol four times a week on average. [iStockphoto]

The number of women alcoholics in Kenya has been increasing, with Nairobi leading the way, followed by Nakuru and Kiambu.

Counties with patriarchal societal hierarchies and highly paternalistic cultures have the fewest female alcoholics in the country alongside those where the religion frowns on alcohol consumption.

However, Mombasa is an exception.

Despite being a primarily Muslim city, it has a high population of female alcoholics who target tourists due to the huge cash flow that attracts hordes of sex workers.

According to experts, drinking has more social and medical consequences for female alcoholics than for men.

The consequences are morally bankrupt children, broken families and the beginning of early prostitution.

Such women are also rejected by their parents, husbands and children, which affects the families even more. Stigma only makes matters worse as most rarely seek help.

dr Florence Jaguga, a consulting psychiatrist, once explained that some chemicals in alcohol cause cirrhosis and liver cancer, and the effects of alcoholism are worse when a woman becomes pregnant: she may give birth to a child who is not well-formed, or to someone who later in the life difficulties, including heart-related complications.

For a woman to be classified as an alcoholic, she must be of the race that consumes about eight liters or more a week, according to Tamara Ochieng, a clinical psychologist in Kisumu County. The beverage can be beer, traditional beer, wine or spirits.

Social distrust and infidelity in relationships that see drinking as a coping mechanism are reasons behind the increasing number of women who are bottling, says Dr. Moses Araya, Lecturer in Sociology at the University of Nairobi.

He adds that economic hardship and the many demands make women alcoholics too

dr Araya explains that immorality and infidelity in marriages and relationships have also dragged women into bars and other social gatherings in search of partners with whom to “get revenge” on their husbands.

Other factors include poverty and financial constraints that drive women to booze bars in hopes of finding a potential mate who can meet their needs.

According to a 2017 report by NACADA, 28 percent of women of childbearing age binge drink.

Most working-class women drink because they can afford it, barring floods of loneliness and peer pressure.

Tamara says women also have higher alcohol levels than men, and Western influences have increased alcohol consumption in Kenya.

dr Araya of the University of Nairobi estimates that almost half of all adult women drink alcohol four times a week on average.

“In fact, female students crave alcohol more than males,” says Dr. Araya.

Mwendwa Kiogara, a communications officer at the UNPD in Nairobi, says that women get into alcoholism through “premature trust, and men usually take advantage of this weakness to introduce them to alcohol”.

She adds that women are also very emotional and “a small flame source can start a big fire. But women facing serious challenges do not seem to turn to God, but to alcohol, which aggravates their condition and can lead to premature death,” says Kiogora, who, on behalf of social gatherings, includes women’s welfare groups like Chamas as another driver of alcoholism .

Morris Kamenderi, senior researcher at the National Campaign Against Alcohol and Drug Abuse (NACADA), cites urbanization and lifestyle as other drivers for women alcoholics.

In particular, he argues that single women-headed families have made the situation worse, “because these women are not in control. Nobody controls them. They do what they want as they have no rules or restrictions on their behavior.”

According to a 2017 report by NACADA, about 28 percent of women of childbearing age are binge drinkers.

The report added that women who drink heavily tend to consume more calories, sodium and fat than those who don’t drink.

“That’s because excess fat in women’s bodies makes them crave alcohol,” explains Tamara, adding that people with large bodies drink a lot of alcohol because the fat in them neutralizes the alcohol. Body fat is distributed in the abdominal area.

Alcoholism in the family has psychological and economic implications.

dr Jaguga, who is in charge of the alcohol and drug abuse rehabilitation unit at Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital, in a previous interview listed the health risks faced by female alcoholics: liver disease, dementia, vulnerability to HIV due to risky sexual behaviors of poor judgment due to Alcohol.

Female alcoholics also fail to adhere to birth control and end up having multiple pregnancies, experiencing miscarriages, or giving birth to underdeveloped babies.

Alcoholics, and not just women, commonly suffer from cancer of the mouth, esophagus, pancreas, colon, stomach, and rectum. There are also liver diseases such as liver cancer and cancer of the reproductive organs such as the prostate, uterus and cervix, but according to Dr. Jaguga, liver cirrhosis is the most serious damage caused by alcohol abuse.

Alcoholism in the family has psychological and economic implications. [iStockphoto]

Aside from the physical effects, mental health is also usually affected and “studies in Kenya link mental symptoms to substance abuse, including psychosis or suicidal thoughts,” Jaguga said, adding that alcohol abuse overwhelms the health care system because “the time that nurses spend being present could save a life for such people elsewhere”.

According to a 2017 NACADA survey, Nairobi County tops the number of female alcoholics, followed by Nakuru, Kiambu, Kisumu, Mombasa, Uasin Gishu, Nandi, Kericho, Nyeri, Machakos and Kakamega.

The counties with the fewest female alcoholics are Garissa, Mandera, Wajir, Isiolo, Marsabit, Turkana and Samburu.

Nairobi leads because the capital’s cash flow is higher than other districts. Nairobi has richer “sponsors”.

“In short, Nairobi leads in the number of celebrity bimbos as a den of inequality,” says Margaret Were of Redeem Gospel Church in Kariobangi South.

Who says divorced women usually resort to drinking to forget frustrations, as do single moms and single women who find solace in alcohol. As a church, she adds, they advise such women to seek spiritual help.

dr Araya argues that counties with fewer female alcoholics are because “there aren’t many executive clubs in poor counties like Siaya, Turkana, West Pokot, Homa Bay, and Kitui where women can get alcohol buyers.”

Then there are counties where traditions drive women from some communities to drink alcohol, says Kamenderi.

Kamenderi, who is from Kuresoi, explains that the Kalenjin tradition allows women to prepare and drink alcohol and this is the main reason Uasin Gishu, Nandi and Kericho counties are among the counties with high numbers of female alcoholics.

However, national data from NACADA shows that men still drink more than women, but women suffer dire consequences, including poor job performance and high levels of immorality.

The rules, stemming from the law sponsored by former Naivasha MP John Mututho, requiring bars to be open from 5pm to 11pm and 2pm on weekends, have been largely ignored due to a failure in enforcement by law enforcement.

Related topics

Comments are closed.