Alcoholism may affect more than 2,400 locals

POSTED: 10/28/15 5:29 PM


alcoholism_sxmA government brochure about alcohol and alcoholism. Photo Today

St. Maarten – The fellowship of the Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is a global organization that also is involved in solving the problems of alcoholics on the Friendly Island. Most people probably know of the existence of this organization, but not everyone knows what they do exactly. Based on global statistics, alcoholism could affect 6 percent of the population, meaning that St. Maarten would be home to around 2,400 alcoholics.

The organization focuses on the problems that come with the use and abuse of alcohol. Worldwide millions of people are struggling on a day to day basis with the specific problems that go hand in hand with the use and / or abuse of alcohol. Also here on the island a lot of people are suffering from these exact same problems.

The local St. Maarten based division of the organization and their members meet on a daily basis on several locations on the Island. For example each day at 6 p.m. at the Red Cross building in Simpson Bay. But the members of the AA also meet at 8.30 a.m. on every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at the Greenhouse Restaurant in Philipsburg and at 8.30 a.m. at Mullet Bay on each Saturday and Sunday.

Both men and women are welcome to join and work on their problems by talking with others that are suffering from the exact same problems. The organization itself is a self supporting organization thanks to the contributions of their members and trough fund raising campaigns. There are no dues or fees for an AA membership.

The organization of the Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) was originally founded in 1935 (two years after the end of prohibition in the United States in December 1933) by Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob Smith in Akron, Ohio.

The organization states that its primary purpose is to help alcoholics “to stay sober and help other alcoholics achieve sobriety”. The founders of the organization developed the so called AA’s Twelve Step program. The program mainly focuses on spiritual and character development. The initial Twelve Traditions were introduced back in 1946 to help the fellowship become a stable and unified organization, while being disengaged from certain “outside issues” and influences.

There are no real insights that show exactly how much people are suffering from alcoholism on St. Maarten. The government did some research on it, but they did not communicate the results. The government also printed some flyers and brochures about the facts and the risks that are connected to the use of alcohol.

Compared to worldwide averages as presented in a report by the World Health Organization (WHO), it could very well be that the percentage of people suffering from alcoholism on St. Maarten is somewhere around the international average of 6%. This would mean that the number of alcoholics on St. Maarten could easily top 2,400 people, or even more.

Looking at these averages one could conclude that any company or organization with 20 employees has at least one employee that is suffering from the problems caused by alcoholism. These problems that go hand in hand with suffering from alcoholism differ from things like money problems to health problems and from unchecked aggression and violence to committing suicide.

One of the many downsides to alcoholism is that alcohol is also responsible for many traffic accidents. Most of these accidents are caused by people who drive a vehicle while they are under the influence of alcohol. Often other people that are taking part in traffic are getting involved into these accidents caused by driving under influence, which causes many deaths every year, even here on the island.

Of course people are responsible for their own deeds, but over the last decades other countries around the world, have taken many measure to decrease the number of problems and accidents that were caused because of the consumption of alcohol. In some countries for example, you are not allowed to drive a vehicle or take part in traffic when you are under the influence of alcohol.

Another problem is the consumption of alcohol under the younger generations. In St. Maarten some kids (both boys and girls even as young as 12 years old) suffer from the effects caused by the consumption of alcohol. To some of these kids the consumption of alcohol is quite normal because it is socially accepted. Sometimes it even leads these kids into committing crimes or joining gangs.

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