Thursday, July 6, 2017

Alcoholic Disorder in Korea

"Teacher, I heard the lecture today. I have prepared a simple meal so let's have a drink." These words begin the View from the Ark article in the Catholic Times. The writer is responsible for the Alcoholic Treatment Center at a Catholic Hospital.

The lecture was given to a Catholic audience. Both the person who mentioned the drink and the lecturer had an embarrassed smile on their faces. The topic of the lecture was alcoholic addiction. To send off the lecturer without some sharing would be a breach of etiquette. In Korea, after the first meeting, the second meeting is even more elaborate and lasts longer than the first.

When the writer was assigned to the hospital which was mainly for those addicted he was glad to see the concern the Church had in this area. His friend a Protestant said he would be busy since Catholics love to drink. He laughed but it is not a laughing matter. Catholics who have more than one bottle of Soju  (Korean whiskey) are 39.3 % which is twice that of the Protestants and even higher than those with no religion.

We as Catholics can comfort ourselves in not seeing the problems of alcohol but this is a prejudiced understanding of the problem. Is it like diabetes and high blood pressure, anyone can have the problem?  In Korea close to 5 million are in danger of becoming alcoholics. In the United States, the Psychiatric Association changed the medical diagnosis of alcoholism to alcoholic disorder: showing concern for the problem right from the beginning.

Always thinking of alcohol, the increase of consumption, without alcohol not able to sleep, making mistakes repeatedly, not doing one's work well, are all signs of a disorder.This is suggestive of a form of dementia.

Most of the alcoholics at one time had no problem with drinking but with the continual use, there is no way to escape the changes to the brain and spirit: not because of a lack of virtue or will power. With the increase in use, depression, sleep problems, stress and becoming overly sensitive all may appear. With the continual use we have the beginning of dementia for which there is no cure.

Those who made a study of the problem see our present approach as ignoring the issue since at the beginning there are no serious problems but he compares it to the tower of Babel for the danger of self-destruction is real.

He concludes the article with a quote from Pope Francis who said to make a beautiful world, first there is a need to make a mess. He understands this to mean when we start challenging the evils in society and the way things are done: in this case a little tobacco and a little liquor what is the problem(?) way of thinking is to make a mess.

The title of the article uses the Chinese character for liquor and the character for the Lord,  both have the same pronunciation. Not infrequently the liquor '주' (Ju) prevents us from being close to '주' 'Ju'  our God.

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