When liquor withdrawal in lockdown pushes tipplers to the edge

Liquor withdrawal lockdown
Research has shown that reduction in the availability and consumption of liquor saves costs indirectly | Image - Eunice Dhivya

After 40 days of lockdown, the serpentine queues outside liquor shops across the country, disregarding social distancing norms, became a telling sign of the importance of alcohol consumption for thousands and the extent of addiction, even when a pandemic like COVID-19 was close on heels.

Hilarious memes have been made of those waiting patiently for hours to get their ‘essential’ stock, after close to two months of abstinence.

However, for some, this is a serious issue. A few days into the lockdown, three men from a family approached the Institute of Mental Health, Chennai, with complaints of withdrawal symptoms, such as restlessness, nausea, headache and body ache. They were given medicines and sent back as they were unwilling to get admitted.

The same week, a man, who had been alcohol-dependent for the last 13 years, was brought in by his brother. The 30-year-old man from North Chennai had begun to hallucinate — hearing voices and seeing images — indicating severe withdrawal symptoms. He was treated with injections and given a week’s dosage of medicines and sent home after he too refused to get admitted, on the condition that they visit the facility if the symptoms recur and for a follow up examination in the next week.

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