Boris Mendelevich: ‘Alcoholism is taking big steps across the country’

Sober New Year night: real possibility or science fiction

Boris Mendelevich: ‘Alcoholism is taking big steps across the country’
Photo: Maksim Platonov

In his column for Realnoe Vremya, Deputy of the Russian State Duma, doctor Boris Mendelevich is trying to break with tradition of making a wish with a glass of champagne: he is urging to refuse the alcoholic drink on New Year Night. But in case this is impossible, he is telling us how to check alcohol’s legality.

There is no harmless dose

The clink of glasses to the chiming clock, tangerines and morning hangover — this is a standard New Year night for millions of Russians. While some directly measure the successful celebration of New Year with the dependence on the amount of alcohol consumed.

But a handful takes into account when counting the “feats” and preparations for them that any dose of alcohol is a load on the organism. There is no harmless dose of alcohol. For instance, alcohol raises blood pressure, and if you have heart problems, alcoholic beverages can provoke complications, even a heart attack. Here are special recommendations for chronic patients: if you constantly take medication, you should carefully read the instructions because there is a medication that is incompatible with alcohol. And we don’t need strokes, allergic reactions, a load on the liver and kidneys at New Year’s table at all.

It probably sounds as even blasphemy for a Russian person, but New Year may not have alcohol. Try to consider other alternatives. There is another problem this year: the formation of negative psychological patterns among children who see that the clock is chiming to the clink of glasses. This is why growing up many Russians can’t imagine that the New Year miracle can happen without alcohol. Also, there are individual peculiarities. Some can drink up the half of the bottle and are as sober as a judge, while others start to play the garmon after 1,5 shots.

The clink of glasses to the chiming clock, tangerines and morning hangover — this is a standard New Year night for millions of Russians. Photo: Maksim Platonov

Shot to warm yourself up

It is no secret that long New Year holidays are a busy time for the ambulance. Sadly, some calls are linked with drunkenness. The ambulance visits drunken citizens not only to cope with heart or kidney problems but also banal injuries: joint dislocation, fracture, sprain. All this happens because if drunken one’s reaction slows down, coordination gets worse, this is why it is easy to slip, fall down and hurt the limb when one is tipsy.

But freezing cold weather seems to be the key threat to drunken New Year walks. It only seems to us that we drink to warm ourselves up. Why don’t many feel the cold after a certain dose then? Having an impact on the vascular centre, alcohol causes dilation of small peripheral veins, the organism’s heat generation to the environment goes up. And this creates a feeling of warmth. But one should understand that it is a deceiving feeling: because actually warmth is consumed faster.

This is why doctors register tens of deaths from overcooling every winter: not sober people sat down on the snowdrift to have a rest and fell asleep there forever. So control yourself, please, and try not to go outside in the cold after the festive meal.

But even if you went outside on the New Year night, remember that drunken people need your help when it is cold. This is why if you meet somebody drunken laying on the ground, call the ambulance.

Pyrotechnics is another moment. Welcoming New Year brightly is quite a spread desire. But alcohol and pyrotechnics are incompatible. Photo: Oleg Tikhonov

Half a shot can claim tens of lives

Of course, after consuming alcohol, one shouldn’t drive. Yes, the number of accidents caused by drunken people has reduced in the last three years. But there were 16,500 traffic accidents with 4,600 casualties because of drunken people in 2018. Offenders almost in one in eight road accident were either drunken or refused medical examination. We should clearly understand that a drunken driver risks a lot of people’s lives.

Pyrotechnics is another moment. Welcoming New Year brightly is quite a spread desire. But alcohol and pyrotechnics are incompatible. One should always go by the instructions or safety rules. Also, experts recommend studying the quality certification, purchasing only licensed goods and be very cautious when dealing with it. Almost all pyrotechnics to a certain degree is dangerous.

Good alcohol: how to spot?

Special attention should be paid to the quality of alcohol. Russia’s consumer protection watchdog Rospotrebnadzor recommends studying a store’s licence to sell alcohol and the label on the bottle: it must be whole, without damage, with the federal label (for Russian alcohol) or excise label (for imported alcohol). A commodity’s legality can be checked via Anti-counterfeit alco app for smartphones. The store must sell a commodity only through the till — the bottle must go through the United State Automated Information System.

Special attention should be paid to the quality of alcohol. Photo: Oleg Tikhonov

According to the Russian Federal Statistics Service, the total number of patients who are diagnosed with alcoholism in the country from 2008 to 2017 reduced by 37% — from 2,08 million to 1,3 million people.

The incidence of alcoholic psychoses decreased 2,2 times — from 70,4 to 32 per 100,000 people. But despite the better statistics, we should understand that alcoholism is taking big steps across the country and influences not only the consumer but also one’s relatives, family, friends. This is why it is early to be happy, excessive alcohol consumption is one of the important problems of our society.

And if New Year is a time for new wishes and new opportunities, I recommend starting it with a good habit — active and interesting holidays without alcohol.

Happy New Year!

By Boris Mendelevich