x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

Spike in alcohol addiction in UAE's young generation sparks new alert

Young people have been urged to learn more about the dangers of alcohol abuse amid a sharp increase in the number of those in their twenties and thirties seeking help for drink problems.

DUBAI // Young people have been urged to learn more about the dangers of alcohol abuse amid a sharp increase in the number of those in their twenties and thirties seeking help for drink problems.

One young Emirati has told The National how his alcohol addiction cost him his future with the woman he loved, led to numerous failed businesses and almost cost him his life in a drink-driving incident.

Obaid (not his real name), 29, started drinking white wine when he was 19 and has now sought treatment for his addiction.

"When I was 19 I used to hang out with friends in new trendy restaurants - sushi and stuff - and there was always alcohol around us," he said. "Me and one friend, just out of curiosity, thought of trying alcohol. And we liked it.

"My friend wasn't an alcoholic, he only drank at weekends, but he drove after he drank and had accidents. But he was able to stop, and I wasn't.

"I realised I was an alcoholic. I was drinking a large amount almost daily. It was always my plan to have just two glasses and then go home, but I would never have just two glasses. It was always binge drinking."

Obaid is being helped by Johanna Griffin, of the LifeWorks counselling centre in Dubai, who said alcohol abuse affected people of every age, nationality and community, but the number of young people with problems was increasing.

There is a lack of awareness and education, she said. "It's important that young people do understand the effects of alcohol."

csimpson@thenational.ae