Alcohol use disorder, commonly known as alcoholism, has been strongly linked to South African shebeens with two thirds of respondents meting the criteria for alcoholism.

“Of the men who met criteria for an alcohol use disorder nearly one-third were classified as having a severe disorder. Men with an alcohol use disorder also reported engaging in unprotected sex more than men without a disorder,” says Dr Scott-Sheldon, the lead author of the study.

“Not only do South Africans bear the heaviest HIV burden, they also have the highest levels of alcohol consumption per adult drinker worldwide,” says Scott-Sheldon.

Signs and symptoms of alcoholism according to Mayo Clinic include:

      Being unable to limit the amount of alcohol you drink.

You feel a strong need or compulsion to drink.

Develop tolerance to alcohol so that you need more to feel its effects.

Drink alone or hide your drinking.

When you experience physical withdrawal symptoms such as nausea, sweating
and shaking when you don’t drink.

Not remembering conversations while drunk

When you make a ritual of having drinks at certain times and become annoyed when this ritual is disturbed or questioned.

When you become irritable when your usual drinking time nears.

When you keep alcohol in unlikely places at home, at work or in your car.

You gulp drinks, order doubles or become drunk intentionally to feel good, or drink to feel “normal”.

You develop legal problems or problems with relationships, employment or finances due to drinking.

You lose interest in activities and hobbies that used to bring you pleasure.

For an in-depth read of alcohol abuse among students in South Africa, read our feature writers piece, Why Are Our Students Drunk?

The study was conducted on 763 men from townships in Cape Town. The men self-reported their alcohol use and sexual risk behaviours. The study was conducted by researchers from The Miriam Hospital.

The study is published in Drug and Alcohol Dependence.