Sikhs need to start talking about alcohol problem

When looking at the reasons people drank alcohol, the survey's qualitative data found a 'very deeply culturally engrained' of alcohol consumption relating to being a good host at home or at a wedding in particular - according to a survey on Sikhs in UK

| Derby, UK | 20 June 2017 | Asia Samachar |
Jaz Rai: BBC interview

Sikhs needs to start talking openly about addiction to tackle the problems of “shame” and “stigma”, said a recovering alcoholic in an interview with the BBC.

Jaz Rai, who runs the UK-based Sikh Recovery Network, said there was a growing problem with all kinds of addiction within his community and people were not getting the help they needed.

Though “condemned” in their faith, at one point Jaz was drinking a litre of vodka a day, which put his job at risk and saw him convicted of drink driving.

He quit when given an ultimatum by his wife to choose their family or alcohol.

He is now holding several events at Derby Gurdwara to help rid the “taboo” and help people “get out of the misery” he had suffered.

The report also referred to a study that found alcohol-related hospital admissions in the Punjabi community had risen and it noted a loss of status was feared more than health issues.

The survey, dated December 2013, said the Punjabi Sikh community became the focus of the study due to increasing concerns about presentations to hospital by men with alcohol-related harm indicating a history of heavy drinking

The two-part research project set out to explore the possibility of developing a Community Alcohol Support Package (CASP) within a selected community in Birmingham.

SEE: Developing a Community Alcohol Support Package: An exploratory study with a Punjabi Sikh Community (Final report, December 2013) by Sarah Galvani and Gary Manders with Sarah Wadd and Shaheen Chaudhry

The report noted that it was a challenge to discuss alcohol with people of the Sikh religion.

“Repeatedly we were told ‘real Sikhs’ do not drink alcohol. Yet we were also aware that Punjabi culture often involved heavy drinking,” it said.

It also made an interesting connect between alcohol consumption and the need to display one’s wealth.

“When looking at the reasons people drank alcohol, the survey’s qualitative data found a ‘very deeply culturally engrained’ of alcohol consumption relating to being a good host at home or at a wedding in particular,” it said.

On his part, Jaz told the BBC: “It was so hard at times, when they didn’t know what they were doing… the whole family suffered because there was some violence as well.

“I know of so many people who have suffered because of alcohol, with domestic violence. The people get hurt, the children are scared.”


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