Literatus: Sari-sari stores and alcoholism-A A +A
Tuesday, July 10, 2012
SO MUCH of the environment can be a factor in human behavior. The same is true with alcoholism. A study in 1993 has documented how the number of alcoholic drinks outlets in a neighborhood relates strongly to the level of diagnosed alcoholics in the same neighborhood.
And it was not only alcoholism that found much influence from the neighborhood.
Certain groups of crimes and diseases related to alcoholism can also be linked.
Such legal offenses include fatal and injury traffic crashes, drunk driving, assaultive violence and liquor law violations. Diseases noted include cirrhosis (which eventually led to death) and sexually transmitted diseases.
A 2007 study also noted the contribution of alcohol outlets in physical disorders (graffiti, liquor advertising, and trash) as well as social concerns (loitering, drug sales, prostitution, and altercations). That was more or less the American picture.
The Theall study in 2011 noted that liquor stores are the strongest type of retailer that serviced minority neighborhoods in New Orleans in Louisiana, more than other types of outlets such as convenience stores and supermarkets. And there seemed to be overconcentration of them among neighborhoods with substantial below poverty households (33 percent) and an average unemployment rate of 12.96 percent. This situation has brought increased cases of alcoholism in men and women among neighborhoods that were in dire financial straits.
In the Philippines, barangays seldom have specialized liquor stores. We do have sari-sari stores. Lots of them. And often they sell alcoholic drinks, unregulated. The density of sari-sari stores in our barangays can be as high as one sari-sari store for every 20 households. At times you will find a sari-sari store after every 10 homes in a row. At times they not only sell liquor in “lapad” (flat), but also in “long-necked” bottles.
Our government health monitoring system, however, seldom has figures on alcoholism among the barangay population. Neither do we have studies on how far sari-sari stores may have contributed to alcoholism rates in specific communities, or political administrative areas. How bad is our alcoholism problem at the grassroots level?
How much do sari-sari stores contribute to it? We have no idea at this point in time.
We hope that students in sociology and community medicine will find time to conduct one.
Mignon McLaughlin wrote in The Neurotic’s Notebook: “The chief reason for drinking is the desire to behave in a certain way, and to be able to blame it on alcohol.” Well, tell that to those who drank and passed out.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on July 11, 2012.