The Determinants of Alcohol Use among Commercial Bus Drivers in Lagos

DETERMINANTS OF ALCOHOL USE AMONG COMMERCIAL BUS DRIVERS IN LAGOS (Chapter 1-5)

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   CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

Background to the Study

Fermented grain, fruit juice and honey have been used to make alcohol (ethyl alcohol or ethanol) for thousands of years. Fermented beverages existed in early Egyptian civilization, and there is evidence of an early alcoholic drink in China around 7000 B.C. In India, an alcoholic beverage called sura, distilled from rice, was in use between 3000 and 2000 B.C. (Adams, 2014).

The Babylonians worshiped a wine goddess as early as 2700 B.C. In Greece, one of the first alcoholic beverages to gain popularity was mead, a fermented drink made from honey and water. Greek literature is full of warnings against excessive drinking. Several Native American civilizations developed alcoholic beverages in pre-Columbian times. A variety of fermented beverages from the Andes region of South America were created from corn, grapes or apples, called chicha (Adams, 2014).

In the sixteenth century, alcohol (called spirits) was used largely for medicinal purposes. At the beginning of the eighteenth century, the British parliament passed a law encouraging the use of grain for distilling spirits. Cheap spirits flooded the market and reached a peak in the mid-eighteenth century. In Britain, gin consumption reached 18 million gallons and alcoholism became widespread. The nineteenth century brought a change in attitudes and the temperance movement began promoting the moderate use of alcohol”which ultimately became a push for total prohibition (Brent, 2011).

In 1920 the US passed a law prohibiting the manufacture, sale, import and export of intoxicating liquors. The illegal alcohol trade boomed and by 1933, the prohibition of alcohol was cancelled.  Today, an estimated 900 million people suffer from alcoholism and 40% of all road accident deaths involve alcohol (Schep, Slaughter, Vale & Beasley, 2013).

It is classed as a depressant, meaning that it slows down vital functions”resulting in slurred speech, unsteady movement, disturbed perceptions and an inability to react quickly. As for how it affects the mind, it is best understood as a drug that reduces a person’s ability to think rationally and distorts his or her judgment. (Logan & Jones, 2012).  Although classified as a depressant, the amount of alcohol consumed determines the type of effect. Most people drink for the stimulant effect, such as a beer or glass of wine taken to loosen up. But if a person consumes more than the body can handle, they then experience alcohol’s depressant effect. They start to feel stupid or lose coordination and control.

There are different kinds of alcohol. Ethyl alcohol (ethanol), the only alcohol used in beverages, is produced by the fermentation of grains and fruits. Fermenting is a chemical process whereby yeast acts upon certain ingredients in the food, creating alcohol. Fermented drinks, such as beer and wine, contain from 2% alcohol to 20% alcohol. Distilled drinks, or liquor, contain from 40% to 50% or more alcohol. The usual alcohol content for each is: Beer 2“6% alcohol, Cider 4“8% alcohol, Wine 8“20% alcohol, Tequila 40% alcohol, Rum 40% or more alcohol, Brandy 40% or more alcohol, Gin 40“47% alcohol, Whiskey 40“50% alcohol, Vodka 40“50% alcohol, Liqueurs 15“60% alcohol ( Lodgsdon, 2014).

Explaining how alcohol affects the body, Majerza (2016) explained that alcohol is absorbed into the bloodstream via small blood vessels in the walls of the stomach and small intestine. Within minutes of drinking alcohol, it travels from the stomach to the brain, where it quickly produces its effects, slowing the action of nerve cells. Approximately 20% of alcohol is absorbed through the stomach. Most of the remaining 80% is absorbed through the small intestine. Alcohol is also carried by the bloodstream to the liver, which eliminates the alcohol from the blood through a process called metabolizing, where it is converted to a nontoxic substance. The liver can only metabolize a certain amount at a time, leaving the excess circulating throughout the body. Thus the intensity of the effect on the body is directly related to the amount consumed.

When the amount of alcohol in the blood exceeds a certain level, the respiratory (breathing) system slows down markedly, and can cause a coma or death, because oxygen no longer reaches the brain. The risk of a driver under the influence of alcohol being killed in a vehicle accident is at least eleven times that of drivers without alcohol in their system.  For most people, these are only statistics”shocking, perhaps, but only statistics. But for the families and friends of those who die as a result of teenage drinking and driving, each number represents a tragic loss (Majerza, 2016). Alcohol distorts a person’s perceptions and judgment. People under the influence of alcohol readily admit their reaction time is slower than when not drinking, and they take many chances they would never take when sober. Too often those chances are fatal.

Depending on how much is taken and the physical condition of the individual, Majerza (2016) revealed that  alcohol can cause: Slurred speech, drowsiness, vomiting, diarrhea, upset stomach, headaches, breathing difficulties,  distorted vision and hearing, impaired judgment , decreased perception and coordination,  unconsciousness, anemia (loss of red blood cells), coma, blackouts (memory lapses, where the drinker cannot remember events that occurred while under the influence).

On the long term, binge drinking and continued alcohol use in large amounts are associated with many health problems, including: unintentional injuries such as car crash, falls, burns, drowning;  intentional injuries such as firearm injuries, sexual assault, domestic violence; increased on-the-job injuries and loss of productivity, increased family problems, broken relationships, alcohol poisoning, high blood pressure, stroke, and other heart-related diseases, liver disease, nerve damage, sexual problems, permanent damage to the brain, Vitamin B1 deficiency, which can lead to a disorder characterized by amnesia, apathy and disorientation; ulcers, gastritis (inflammation of stomach walls), malnutrition, cancer of the mouth and throat.

According to Kandel, Huang & Davies (2011), alcohol use can affect all parts of the body but particularly affects the brain, heart, liver, pancreas, and immune system. This can result in mental illness, Wernicke“Korsakoff syndrome, an irregular heart beat, liver failure, and an increase in the risk of cancer, among other diseases. Both environmental factors and genetics are associated with alcoholism with about half the risk attributed to each. A person with a parent or sibling with alcoholism is three to four times more likely to be alcoholic themselves. Environmental factors include social, cultural, and behavioral influences. High stress levels, anxiety, as well as inexpensive easily accessible alcohol increases risk.People may continue to drink partly to prevent or improve symptoms of withdrawal. A low level of withdrawal may last for months following stopping. (Reusch, 2015).

Unfortunately, commercial bus drivers in Nigeria are characterized by dangerously low levels of education and illiteracy (The Punch Newspaper, 2013), which would almost certainly blind them to the status of alcohol as a drug, and the accompanying dangers of its abuse. As a result of this, these commercial bus drivers ignorantly engage in alcohol abuse, predisposing themselves and their passengers to the attendant risks. This study aims to find out the determinants of alcohol use among commercial bus drivers as an attempt to foster safer practices on the wheel and thus ensure greater safety for driver, passengers and also pedestrians.

Statement of Problem

It has been observed that the use of alcohol is a widespread practice among commercial bus drivers. Sights of these drivers binging on alcohol early in the mornings and later in the evenings are quite common. It is also common to see these drivers exhibiting the consequences of alcohol abuse through their driving.

Alcohol use before driving comes with a list of possible effects, which, to take the ones that pose risk to driving, include drowsiness, upset stomach, headaches, diarrhea, breathing difficulties, impaired judgment, decreased perception and coordination.

A commercial bus driver who drives while under the influence of alcohol puts himself, passengers, other vehicles on the road, and pedestrians at risk of accidents and other road mishaps, thereby contributing to the negative statistics of road-related accidents and deaths.

The researcher believes that if the determinants of alcohol use among commercial bus drivers can be identified, steps can be taken by the concerned stakeholders to curb them and thus create better drivers.

Purpose of Study

The main purpose of this study is to find out the determinants of alcohol use among commercial bus drivers in Lagos. Specifically, this study aims to:

  1. Determine whether alcohol addiction is a determinant of alcohol use among commercial bus drivers in Lagos.
  2. Determine whether depression is a determinant of alcohol use among commercial bus drivers in Lagos.
  3. Determine whether genetic factor is a determinant of alcohol use among commercial bus drivers in Lagos.
  4. Determine the influence of social pressure as a determinant of alcohol use among commercial bus drivers in Lagos.
  5. Determine the impact of medicinal purpose as a determinant of alcohol use among commercial bus drivers in Lagos.
  6. Determine the impact of stress as a determinant of alcohol use among commercial bus drivers in Lagos.

Research Questions                    

The following research questions will be answered in the course of this study:

  1. Will alcohol addiction be a determinant of alcohol use among commercial bus drivers in Lagos?
  2. Will depression be a determinant of alcohol use among commercial bus drivers in Lagos?
  3. Will genetic factors determine alcohol use among commercial bus drivers in Lagos?
  4. Will social pressure determine alcohol use among commercial bus drivers in Lagos?
  5. Will medicinal purpose determine alcohol use among commercial bus drivers in Lagos?
  6. Will stress determine alcohol use among commercial bus drivers in Lagos?

Research Hypotheses

The following research hypotheses will be tested in the course of this study:

  1. Alcohol addiction will not be a determinant of alcohol use among commercial bus drivers in Lagos.
  2. Depression will not be a determinant of alcohol use among commercial bus drivers in Lagos.
  3. Genetic factors will not determine alcohol use among commercial bus drivers in Lagos.
  4. Social pressure will not be a determinant of alcohol use among commercial bus drivers in Lagos
  5. Medicinal purpose will not determine alcohol use among commercial bus drivers in Lagos
  6. Stress will not determine alcohol use among commercial bus drivers in Lagos

 Scope of the Study

The study examines the determinants of alcohol use among commercial bus drivers in Lagos.

This study is delimited to the following:

  1. The determinants of alcohol use among commercial bus drivers in Lagos
  2. The descriptive survey research method.
  3. Use of questionnaire
  4. 200 Commercial bus drivers and bus park users in Yaba, Bariga and Surulere Local Government Areas.
  5. Chi-square statistical tool.

 Significance of the Study

This study would be a source of vital information to commercial bus drivers on alcohol use and abuse; and by extension, the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW). Through this study, they would be enlightened on the dangers of drinking before and while driving; and could also be encouraged to pass that information to their Union members and workers.

This study would also serve to educate members of the general public, who make up the body of pedestrians and motorists, about the dangers posed by commercial bus drivers on the road and why they need to be alert while using the road with them.

Operational Definition of Terms

Alcohol use: The habit by commercial bus drivers of taking alcohol during working hours.

Commercial bus driver: An individual whose job is to drive buses used in the business of transportation

Drunk driving: The habit of driving a vehicle while being actively under the influence of alcohol.

Alcohol addiction: The state of being psychologically dependent on alcohol

Depression: Feelings of severe sadness and dejection

Genetic factors: The condition whereby alcoholism runs in a driver’s family

Social Pressure: The influence a driver’s peer group or colleagues exert on him which encourages him to take alcohol.

Medical reasons (for taking alcohol): Situations in which alcohol is taken together with drugs e.g local herbs.

Motorists: A person who drives in a privately owned vehicle

Social reasons: The desire to fit in with friends and acquaintances

BAC: Blood alcohol content

DUI: Drinking under the influence

DWI: Drinking while intoxicated

Project Overview

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