Special Report: Alcoholism in Peru (English Part, also in Spanish)
Special Project Report (May, 2007)
For the Universities and Mantaro Valley Region (Junin) on:
The Effects of Alcoholism on the Individual and Peruvian Society as a whole; and how to deal with it in Junin, and the Mantaro Valley of Peru
By Dennis L. Siluk
Agony in the Valley
Part One: is there a problem?
A) The Problem: the question in this overview (or report) on drugs and alcoholism within Junin, and the Mantaro Valley, of Peru, in particular, is: what are their effects on society, the individual, and what can be done to curve mood altering chemical (alcoholism) usage; and do the folks of the Region (and the Mantaro Valley) believe they have a problem: better put, how did we get to were we are at now with mood altering chemicals (drugs and alcohol): and what can we do about it? And the premise of this report, the hidden one that is, is to make aware to the reader, I do believe there is a problem.
In essence, how bad is the crisis for chemical usage and its abuse; and is it bad enough to make the people take action…? I worked for twenty years in dual disorders; that is to say, depression mixed with drugs or alcohol; to include: manic, psychotic and schizophrenic disorders coupled with alcoholism. In this report of sorts, I will be using Lima, Peru, and the USA for comparisons, and connecting them to the Central Region of Peru (which consists of some 12-million inhabitants); that is, Huancayo, and Junin, in particular I will be using some historical data to make my point, that being drugs and alcoholism exists, is a problem not only for the Central Region of Peru, but for all of Peru, and the Valley of Mantaro, along with Huancayo.
B) First we have to define the problem here (and if the people of the Valley believe that there is a problem; or I have to prove there is a problem), perhaps people in the valley do not think there is one, yet there are many suicides, most are alcohol related; also there are many car accidents (as any taxi driver will tell you: ¨Yes, there is a problem in the Mantaro Valley with alcohol.¨ I’ve asked many of them). Furthermore, family battering is also a drug and alcohol related issue, in the Huancayo region. In the USA, 90% of all crimes are drug or alcohol related, and I am sure the data is relatively the same here: as we shall look at some statistics in a moment.
C) The Robber: everyone will agree there are lots of them out there, and why are they robbing and what are they spending their money on (9 out of 10 times it is not because they cannot find a job either); believe it or not, robbers usually do not rob to feed their children, or cloth them, or pay the phone bill or electric bill with the money. They spend the money on alcohol, drugs, gambling and good times. Most robbers rob children, old folks, and women because they are easy prey; they do not want a heavy challenge, they want to get the money, gamble and drink it up it, and they got to continue to rob because they cannot hold a job down living this life style. This again becomes a societal problem. Drug addicts are a big issue in this area, as is alcoholism. And the police and communities seem not to be bothered all that much with it, almost accepting it as a normal norm for Huancayo.
Note (collateral data): With a number of people I’ve talked to about the local problems, particularly with alcoholism within Huancayo, and in particular, with children and teenagers—their main peeve is that there is a lack of cultural, literary, and social outlets, or groups available to them, and with this lack of activates, they feel the course of action they may take is alcohol and drugs: pointing out: economic issue.
Part Two: Some Statistics and Data:
Note: To understand the problem, one needs to go below the surface of the situation, that is where the problem lies, and where one needs to look at, where I have to bring to the reader the issues that exist (to show); and why. One may say after reading this, we all have a lack of resources here to do much about the problem; but we can look at that issue, later:
A) Population figures 1: there are about 12-million inhabitants in the Central Region; in the Junin region 1.2 million inhabitants which includes the Mantaro Valley; a little more than 365,000-thousand inhabitants live in Huancayo; in the inner city 118,000, (and some 488,000 inhabitants, if you take into account the rural area), and around seven to ten thousand in each of the many surrounding town-lets—and about 27-million inhabitants in Peru.
B) Population figures 2:out of this large figure of 27-million, there is about 10 to 13 percent of Peru’s population who are Alcoholics, problem drinkers, chronic drinkers (in the USA, it is about 8%) So out of the 27-million we have about 3.1 million inhabitants that drink to excess, around 80% of Peru’s adults drink, whereas, 70% of American adults drink.
(All these figures can be corroborated, and will not fall too short of my rounding off figures.)
Note 1: In referring to Alcohol Dependence I mean, Alcoholic; when I refer to Alcohol abuse, I am referring to, a problem drinker, perhaps with an antisocial disorder.
Note 2: Often alcohol abuse can be traced back to poverty, stress and issues with cultural mores; whereas, all these elements may exist in the Alcoholic, he has one other curse, he has the biochemical, psychological obsession, the genetic disposition, the saturation of the body with the drug or alcohol.
Note 3: Historically, the Inca Empire also had its excessive drinking habits, due to the trauma of conquest, or continued war, and surprised values, and often they became self-destructive, with behavior by toxic consumption.
C) Crimes and Deaths: In the Junin area, there were 3208 deaths in 2005, of these deaths, about 400 were drug and alcohol related; in Huancayo alone 1200 deaths, and about 160 can be related to drugs and alcohol.
D) The crimes in 2004, dealing with selling and usage: Total Crimes: 3818 of these (drug and alcohol related): 1516 were men, and 472 women.
E) Captured for usage of drugs and alcohol in 2004, were 6425 men, and 536 women.
F) Junin Accidents, in 2004, 271 citizens were hit by cars, and there were 403 car crashes, out of a population of 1.2 Million citizens.
G) Out of these figures above, 1202-people were in jail (or about 20% of the close to 7000 crimes that were committed). In general it has been said 90% of crimes in America are drug or alcohol related, meaning, the person committing the crime, or accident was under the influence. I do believe this figure could be higher for Peru, since all other previous figures are.
H) In one hospital in Peru, out of 276 patients that came in for alcohol and drug issues, 26.1% were there for strictly alcohol, and 22.1% were there for drugs and alcohol consumption, and 15.2 for Alcohol with pot usage (the difference were alcohol and other drug related chemicals mixed, not mentioned here). Again I stress this is one hospital of many, and it has been estimated most folks do not ever make it to the hospital.
I) Drug trafficking is still alive, but I only have date for 1997 to 1999, close to 8-years old. But it indicates this, 14319 drug traffickers were jailed in one year.
The point to be made here is, the point of which this report is trying to say, or make the reader aware of, is: there is a problem in Peru with drugs and alcohol usage, and in particular, the in Junin (Huancayo, Mantaro Valley area).
Part Three: Chemically Speaking and Societal Issues:
A) alcohol is a depressant, among other things, and those who have abused it beyond their capability to stop using it, often cannot define their problems, thinking they do not have one, or unwilling to admit they got one, and it has to do with alcoholism addiction, obsession, denial (and we can add drug usage into this paragraph also); which accounts for: 1) people going to work late, 2) lack of production at work 3) higher medical bills 4) many family issues that would not be issues had alcohol not been involved 5) thieves 6) child abuse 7) car accidents 8) suicides 9) killings and crimes in general. Thus, Alcoholism and drug addiction, and we can add compulsive gambling, becomes a family issue, an individual issue, and a societal Issue.
Note: the question comes up: ´…can the social fiber of the Mantaro Valley in particular, and the Central Region (as a whole), take the strain of its intoxicating unrestrained inhabitants causing all this maladaptive behavior, and what is the legacy that will hand down to our siblings, meaning, if they do what they see, they also will become alcoholics or drug addicts, thus the future does not look too bright.
B) Three: Social Issue: As I pointed out, this is a societal problems, not just an individual one alone, even though the individual would like to believe it is his problem, and no one else’s, and has the right to drink, and do as he pleases, without limits, yes, he wants rights without responsibilities. But can society allow this, can society afford this for everyone around the drug or alcohol user becomes infected with the behavior of the user.
If the people or the government or society as a whole, cannot see it as a problem, but rather a custom, or tradition, it is hard to fix, or prevent. But again, we can see this by the crisis within the society, it is a problem. And it will not go away by itself. And I realize, as I sure all folks in Peru do, programs cost money. But let’s look at the cost of continued usage unabated:
1—In the Hills of Peru there are still coca-growing, as recent as 2006, seven people were ambushed
2—Social Development is unemotional (alcohol paralyzes emotions, thus, the emotional affect is flat); along with the lack of economic opportunities, for they do not develop for the user or the area involved (meaning the area copies its inhabitants, one usually needs to move out of it to find stability)
3—The Rural Sierra country people (which consist of 4.2 million) are on the poor side of the scale, and 2.3 million come under the very poor side. Poverty enhances distress and depression, and consequently comes with it, a higher crime rate to keep up ones bad habits, such as, alcoholism and drug usage, and selling of drugs. The lack of poverty will reduce these figures (it is not to say the rich or well off will not use alcohol or drugs, for on the other hand, affluent and stressful societies seem to bear the same burden, perhaps because of the boredom and spare time available).
4—what we need to do for these Rural Sierra folks is: add Education, societal protection, and help with self-esteem, and the drug and alcohol problem will be reduced.
5—some of the good factors that the Peruvian society has acquired in the past 35-years is that its life expectancy went from 53 years in 1970, to 70-years in 2004. But it is a proven fact, there are no old Alcoholics, they die in their 40s. Along with the life expectancy increases in Peru, alcohol problems increased too, this could have been curtailed with Education had it went side by side with the growing upward on the ladder of life expectancy.
Now let’s look at what society is producing, dealing with Dependence (or ripe alcoholics living among the many (meaning; non users). Let me also add before we get into the figures below, in the educational area, recovering alcoholics need to be taught how to live a sober life, or an ongoing recovering life, for the recovering means exactly that, an ongoing sobriety program for him or her. For kids or teenagers they need to be taught how to live a life without alcohol, taught its consequences if the choose it. These figures below represent the whole population of Peru):
Years of Age
12 to 13 years of age 1% of Peru’s children are developing a dependency for alcohol
14 to 16 years of age 3% of Peru’s teenagers are problem drinkers
17 to 19 years of age 11.5% of Peru’s young adults are dependent on alcohol usage
20 to 40 years of age 13.5% of Peru’s adult are chemically dependent
41 to 59 years of age 7. % of Peru’s aging adults are alcoholics
60 to 64 years of age 7. % of Peru’s Elderly are alcoholics (Usually this group becomes alcoholics because of symptoms of aging and being alone, and depression)
Note 1: Suicidal statistics for 2002 (study done in Lima, Peru): 12. 2 % of the populations have thought of suicide, and out of that, 3% have attempted it. So we have a society of 25-million people, and so we have 6.5 million people thinking of killing themselves, and out of that, 195,000-people attempted to kill themselves in 2002, and these are only known figures, I would expect them to triple this amount should the rest of the folks be counted. So I would figure 600,000 minimum tried to kill themselves in 2002.
Note 2: In the Junin region, 2.15% of the elderly belong to adult centers: which is a very small amount, but such centers can occupy the elderly with activities, making their lives sweeter before they pass on, but normally what happens, is when the elderly do not have access, or attend these, they resort to alcohol use, and even at an old age, one can saturate their bodies, to chemically change their internal structures and thus, produce a chemical dependency.
Note 3: In 2002 1120 case of abuse and violence was reported against the elderly, and I believe this is only 10% of the real figure: most of the cases dealt with the female elderly, under the category of sexual violence. Again, drug and alcohol related.
Note 4: Any poor health system I do believe adds to the risk of its citizens in using chemicals for escape purposes. Here are some figures to review on The Health Systems throughout the world: according to the WHO (World Health Organization): out of 191 countries, Peru is number 129, Ecuador is 111, Bolivia is 126, Chile is 33, and Colombia is 22.
Note 5: Lima has 22,000-Physicians, with approximately, 8-million inhabitants; whereas, the Central Region has 7,500-Physicians, with over 12-million inhabitants. Within Junin there are 454 establishments for health care (7 hospitals, 56 Health centers, and 391 Health posts), that may sound like a lot but in St. Paul, Minnesota, which is less than 300,000 people, they have more than 7-hospitals, and an uncountable number of health centers. Lima has 700-establishemnts, and only 8-million inhabitants to service.
Note 6: Many of the women of Peru contribute much of the domestic violence with husbands while under the influence of alcoholism; which produces aggressive behavior, and chronic physical problems.
Part Four: Prevention
In my eyes, and in many of my colleagues’ eyes, prevention of chemical usage (drugs and alcohol) is the key to reducing alcoholism, and establishing order; what I mean by this is, one needs to stop the problem before it starts, and this problem of chemical usage, can be curtailed by educating our children at a young age of the consequences of using mood altering drugs, such as alcohol.
On the other hand one must look at the nature of the beast. Alcoholism is a disorder, a chemical one, and a disease it becomes. How can I say that, all research has indicated so, and so it must be treated as a disease, and looked at as a disease, just like cancer; one day you get it and the rest of your life you fight it, and you die young. I do not know any old alcoholics, as I mentioned before. But prevention can help; we need to inform our youth of the consequences. They do not see it at the age of nineteen years old; it is hard for them to see when their bodies are fresh and strong, but we must inform them, out of sight, does not mean it should be out of mind, it will have its toll on you, and its grip on you should one start drinking young, and unable to stop, thereafter.
A) Programs: We are not gods or islands, we need people willing to help, and the sooner an alcoholic finds this out (or heavy drinker), the sooner he can look for treatment (but first society, government, or the city has to say this is a problem and be willing to provide a treatment center. You cannot call yourself a Good Samaritan, and just walk on by). But too often treatment does not look at the bare facts either; they go through an orderly A to Z program, and it provides tools for the alcoholic to use, and still the alcoholic may go back to drinking, but the recovery rate at the institutions I’ve worked at, is about 60% recovery; thus we can take 60% of the drunks off the streets and roads.
What I have found as a director of a medical clinic, is you got to offer the chemical abuser, or user, or alcoholic something better than what he has, why else would he stop using something that is doing something for him, I mean, alcohol is providing him with some kind of escape, it just happens to be a false one: then you get him into the program, and then you get him into prevention, and then after this, you get him into what is called Aftercare. But all this time he has that one thing you found out for him, which was better than alcohol; this makes him want to continue.
B) Prevention as Education: We teach our kids how to talk, walk, and eat. Funny we do not teach them how to drink, or how not to drink and use drugs, or teach them the effects of a lifetime of chemical use and abuse. We have a license to drive a car, but first we get Education in that area, yet we get no education on the effects of alcohol damage. And we get married, and we need a marriage license for that also, and our parents usually give us a few comments on this issue, but not on alcohol usage; and we go to specialty schools to learn special educational things to help us in the future, but we again do not get any education on one of the deadliest chemicals in the world, alcohol.
Yes, we need education in the use of alcohol, what damage it can do to us mentally, physically (or biologically), socially, and spiritually. This education can come in the form of movies for children, or mandatory movies for adults who have been sited for driving while drunk; it can be part of their curriculum of a school, college, showing the effects of alcoholism. And it should start at home with the parents. In Minnesota, all these Educational tools are already in place, along with Treatment clinics.
C) Choices under Education: I have told my clients in the past we have choices, and they come in three dimensions: rules, results and responsibilities. If we can get this message out to the youth of the Mantaro Valley, maybe they will chose another way to deal with bad choices in the past to be made now in the future; in my past education programs, this is what I point out. If you are standing in front of a train (as he does when he continues to drink beyond his limits), and he decides not to move, he has, like it or not, made a decision (and of course a bad one), in essence he has decided to get run over by the train; and so our youth needs to know, rethink, their choices, decisions before the train comes.
What can I do without going to Treatment: I have written three books on this very subject, Alcoholism, its prevention, and Aftercare. And those whom are damaged the most in using alcohol are individuals with Depression, Manic behavior, Schizophrenia. Those predisposed to this genetic alteration within their systems, causing dependency. Those who drink daily and saturate their system with this poison also, Women, Alcoholics with liver damage, their living cells die, and you become the living dead. It also produces cancer in women quicker than men. Those with too much stress, thus causing overuse of alcohol, which turns into alcoholism. All these issues can be stopped by simply stop using, for the most part.
In Conclusion: we may want to try to fix this growing problem, perhaps crisis, but simply do not have the funds to do so, if this is the case, there might be a possibility in finding professionals in this field to teach volunteers, and to use community rooms to promote Educational classes on the effects of alcohol to the growing populations, thus curving the growing dilemma: with educational tools that will help fight against the alcoholic problems, although that alone will not solve the problem: a city with a serious problem needs a serious program, and that means its members have to dig into their pockets and create Treatment Centers, I do believe: plus we need to get into the schools to educate the students.
Another idea may be, find someone with a plot of land willing to donate it to an establishment of providing a continuum of care to the alcoholic, or abuser of alcohol, free of charge, and perhaps have these folks with other skilled labors build the establishment (as might be the case in some of the towns of the Mantaro Valley region of Peru).
Afterwards: who will be the ones in the Mantaro Valley to carry forward the banner of progress, for freedom from addicted, the broken families that lay ahead because of addiction; who will do the educating and planting enriching values, for we now have only martyrs, thousands that have come and died for the lack of it. Indifference to drug and alcohol abuse, will not make the issue disappear, and will not enrich the Valley, its unchanging atmosphere in Government for the disadvantaged, the forgotten flesh cannot go on living on bread alone, it needs the help of its educated leaders. I sense the poor and downtrodden are hungry for recovery, if only they can find a helpful hand.
Data collected from several sources, the INEI Reports (National Institute of Statistics, Huancayo). From other journals, and independent reports, found on the internet to include Reports done by UCLA on Peru and Bolivia (University of California in Los Angeles); and Reports done by private institutions on the chemical usage within the Central Region of Peru, to include the Huancayo region. Also data was used from the collected writings of the author, his three books on drugs and alcohol and its effects on individual and society; 2001, 2002, and 2003. Empirical data also collected by the author within the Mantaro Valley region, from cultural institutions; and the more direct way was used by talking to taxi drivers, many folks from the media whom are concerned. Thus, there has been a good cross-section of society the author has used in gathering his information.
About the Author’s background: Post Graduate Studies (two years, 1986-1987: received International Certificates for Counseling); Alcohol and Drug License Counselor, USA, State of Minnesota, No: 300274: issued by the State Health Department. 10-2001; International Ordained Minister (Revered) from ´Independent Christian Churches´ 1-31-93 (Post Graduate Studies at Liberty University, in Theology, 1990 or one year); AA Degree, University of Maryland (Behavioral Science) 1976; BS Degree, Troy State University (in Psychology and Sociology) 1979
Copyright © Dennis L. Siluk, May 23, 2007
Agony of the Valley
The Effects of Alcoholism on the Individual
and Peruvian Society as a whole, and how to deal with
it in the (Central Region) and Mantaro Valley of Peru
Drawing done by the author ©1974