Thiruvananthapuram: Medical professionals are now up in arms over the Kerala government’s decision to make alcohol available, through the Excise Department, for those with alcohol craving based on prescription by a doctor.
The government, a few days after the lockdown began, finally decided to close down all the bars and then the retail outlets selling liquor and beer in the state.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, whenever asked why is that he is not closing down these retail outlets, said that if it happens, then there will be other social issues created by the addicts.
But after all the outlets were closed on Wednesday and the first case of suicide-related to non-availability of liquor came, he was quick to point out the repeated questions on the outlets being open.
When other reports of addicts showing withdrawal symptoms surfaced, Vijayan said that the Excise Department was asked to give free de-addiction treatment and open counselling centres.
And depending on medical professionals’ advice, liquor can be given.
This is what has now been strongly opposed by medical professionals.
The Kerala Government Medical Officers Association on Sunday said that it is unethical and against the medical practice to do this.
“We will not do such a thing and the government should withdraw this direction,” said the doctors’ body.
Meanwhile the Indian Society of Gastroenterology’s Kerala Chapter, while appreciating the steps taken by the state government in dealing with the Covid-19 outbreak, said they are concerned about its recent decision to make alcohol available through the Excise Department for those with alcohol craving.
“We take care of patients with alcohol withdrawal syndrome in consultation with psychiatrists by pharmacological means. Moreover, we have been strongly advocating and advising patients with alcohol related liver disease and harmful drinking practices to abstain from alcohol. Our training and the guidelines from international societies do not recommend use of alcohol as treatment for these patients. Hence it raises an ethical and scientific dilemma for us to recommend alcohol to these patients with alcohol use disorder,” said the ISG
“This would also send a wrong message to public at large regarding alcohol intake and the treatment for withdrawal syndrome. In the current situation, we feel this may be a blessing in disguise to treat patients with alcohol use disorder and in fact would help patients with alcohol addiction,” it added.