Survey Finds Alcohol Abuse Is Fueling Domestic Violence

High levels of alcohol consumption are fueling domestic violence against children and there is a growing need for more community-based approaches in supporting those who want to stop drinking, a new survey has found.

The Alcohol Abuse survey, which will be officially launched next week, was carried out by Friends International’s Kaliyan Mith organization with communities in Siem Reap and by NGO M’Lop Tapang in Sihanoukville. The survey looked at the habits and attitudes of drinkers in the two cities and concluded that the consequences of al­cohol consumption are driving a host of societal and health problems.

Researchers spoke with 50 people who identified as non-heavy drinkers in Siem Reap and 100 frequent heavy drinkers in Siem Reap province and Sihanoukville.

Of those who identified as non-heavy drinkers, 58 percent said they lived with an alcoholic family member, 76 percent of which were men.

“Alcohol abuse and domestic violence does not occur in isolation. Children growing up in alcoholic households often experience physical and emotional abuse, neglect and witness violence between the adults that are supposed to provide them with security,” the report says.

Most respondents—90 percent—said parental drinking was the primary reason for violence in the family, and 82 percent of people said drinking causes violence in their communities.

Forty percent of non-heavy drinkers said they felt anger toward those that do drink heavily, while 46 percent said they believed alcoholics to be “bad people” who don’t deserve to be helped by the government or NGOs.

“The finding that most community members feel angry towards those with drink problems has implications for devising and implementing community-based work with alcoholics,” the report says.

Nearly all the respondents—96 percent—said alcohol was the root cause of problems within their communities.

Of the 100 people who identified as frequent heavy drinkers—people who consumed 10 or more drinks on a typical day—77 percent said they prefer to drink rice wine and 68 percent said they suffer from health problems related to alcohol.

“The finding that 31 percent of heavy drinking respondents say they drink due to ‘following friends’ is an interesting result which needs further research in order to try and understand the dynamics involved,” the report says.

“Understanding the social and cultural aspects of alcohol abuse in Cambodia will be crucial in devising and implementing effective interventions to help those that wish to reduce or stop drinking.”

Fifty-nine percent said they want to be able to reduce or stop their drinking altogether.

The researchers said data shows that educational programs do little to help drinkers quit, but that interventions before a drinker becomes alcohol dependent “result in clinically significant reductions in drinking and alcohol-related problems.”

“Other approaches with the greatest amount of supporting evidence are behavior therapy, family work, group therapy and motivational enhancement. One example of behavior therapy is ‘relapse prevention,’ which focuses on coping with situations that represent a high risk for heavy drinking.”

Ninety-eight percent of non-heavy drinkers said they want help from an organization to help address alcohol abuse in their communities.

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