An informal experiment aimed at the replacement of strong alcohol drinks in our everyday life has being held in Russia for several years already. The population is being accustomed to drinking beer, first of all, and other canned cocktails, such as gin with tonic, cola with vodka, etc.
It seems to be an attractive idea to introduce a so-called moderate Mediterranean type of drinking alcohol in Russia. However, as is well known, the road to hell is paved with good intentions, and the number of people addicted to alcohol is rapidly increasing. What is more alarming, women and youth are more and more becoming involved with hard drinking.
PRAVDA.Ru asked Alexander Magalifom, senior scientific officer with the Psychiatry research institute, why the “Mediterranean experiment” proved to be such a great success.
The idea to replace strong alcohol drinks, which are so typical in Russia, with low alcohol drinks, certainly contains homespun truth. Why has this idea produced such an effect?
Europeans can be divided into two types regarding their alcohol consumption: southern types and northern types. The southern type includes people from areas where grapes are grown; low alcohol drinks and wine are preferred there. France, Italy, Spain, Georgia, and Armenia belong to this type. Feasts there are usually slow, with songs and toasts; people drink a lot of wine, but the drinking is done slowly. It is easier for the organism to process the wine. The northern type prefers strong alcohol drinks: vodka, gin, and whiskey. The drinks are taken in large portions before meals.
What is a traditional Russian feast? People drink more than eat, within first 15 minutes of the feast, 100-150g of vodka are traditionally taken in 40-50g glasses. It is a dangerous alcoholic blow! The Alcoholic concentration hits the brain and liver. Street drinking of alcoholic drinks is also popular in Russia. And now, the range of beer varieties has become wider in Russia. Can you imagine how it may influence our northern type?
How great is the possibility to become alcohol addicted by drinking beer or Fanta with vodka?
I would like to stress, no matter what we drink, we drink ethyl alcohol in fact. People become alcoholics not because of drinking some exact drinks, but because of the ethyl alcohol the drinks contain. It depends upon the amount of ethyl alcohol we consume. For example, a 0.5 liter bottle of ordinary beer contains 20g of pure alcohol. To compare this with vodka, the amount of alcohol in a beer bottle corresponds to the alcohol content in 50g of vodka. Therefore, a bottle of beer with a 9% alcohol content is adequate to 100g of vodka. So, when you see young girls drinking beer, please, remember, how much alcohol they are consuming.
Does beer alcoholism really exist, or it is just a fable?
Beer alcoholism does not differ from a wine, vodka, or cognac alcoholism at all. Why is beer especially dangerous? People get used to beer very quickly. It usually takes some time to organize a feast with drinking vodka or wine, but no special ceremonies are required for drinking a bottle of beer or other tinned cocktails. And this happens against the background of TV commercials, when people are persuaded that beer is as harmless as fizzy water.
Drinking beer produces quite a different effect compared with vodka or cognac. Beer contains products of hop zymosis that awfully affect the brain, that is why people feel rather stupid after drinking beer. Dangerous ptomaine, cadaverine, is also among these dangerous substances. Beer also contains a vegetative analogous of a female sex hormone. That is why men drinking too much beer acquire feminine lines and they get fatter. What dose of alcohol is considered to be normal for a person's health?
-Americans consider 24g of ethyl alcohol per day for an adult man to be a norm; for women, 16g only (it means a bottle of beer or 1.5 glasses of wine). In France, the norm is a bit higher: up to 40g of ethyl alcohol. The World Health Organization determined a limit that is considered to be safe for health: 10-30g of ethyl alcohol per day. Compare the figures with traditional drinking in Russia: a bottle of vodka contains 200g of ethyl alcohol.
When do people become addicted to alcohol?
When people drink wine or beer just to make the taste of meals rich, meat for example, it is quite ok. However, when they drink regularly to feel comfortable, to relax in other words, it is time to be alarmed, it means people are becomihg addicted to alcohol.
What is your opinion of advertising alcohol drinks on TV?
Prohibitions usually produce an effect contrary to that one desired. Prohibition, in the USA or Russia, always entails aggravation of hard drinking. Doctors calls it “spreading of psychical active substances.” In Russia’s case, good traditions are to be inculcated in people; children should be taught what are dangerous doses of alcohol and how to drink alcohol beverages. I am not against beer or low alcohol drinks; I am personally against persistent slogans declaring that a large amount of beer should be great.
Alexander Lusov PRAVDA.Ru
Translated by Maria Gousseva
Read the original in Russian: http://pravda.ru/north-west/2002/07/17/44266.html