Chennai: The alcohol de-addiction centres here are receiving calls for emergency counselling from the family members of tipplers as the state-owned liquor shops are closed due to Covid-19 lockdown, said counsellors.
They said the state government and the media could help in spreading the de-addiction message aggressively as the time is right now.
Owing to the coronavirus scare and also due to the lockdown, the de-addiction centres do not accept new patients but refer them to government hospitals where they are received.
"The calls received now are emergency/crisis calls from the family members on seeing their loved ones suffering from alcohol withdrawal symptoms. The nature of calls received now are different from the calls received prior to lockdown," Jacqueline David, Senior Counsellor, TTK Hospital told IANS.
The de-addiction centres are receiving calls from family members citing intense anger and violent behaviour on the part of the affected member.
According to David, the state has already seen deaths due to the craving for alcohol post lockdown.
Three persons died after drinking paint varnish with water and two persons lost their lives after consuming after-shave lotion with water.
She said though the hospital is closed for new admission, two counsellors attend to the calls of distressed family members and counsel them.
"We have two dedicated numbers for tele-counselling - 9940656081 (10 a.m to 2 p.m. and 9840821627 (2 p.m. to 6 p.m.) for people to call for advice," David said.
"In these days of coronavirus spread, one does not know the health condition of an alcoholic - whether he is a coronavirus infected or not. We request the callers to approach the government hospitals," A. Felix, Manager, Trust Way Foundation, told IANS.
David said not many realise that alcoholism is a mental and nervous disease needing medical attention.
She said when an alcoholic is deprived of his drink then he suffers from what is called withdrawal symptoms.
The withdrawal symptoms are anger, shaking hands, heart burn sensation, anger, fits, hallucination, hearing voices in the ears, sleeplessness, violent behaviour and others.
According to her, to manage the withdrawal symptoms, an alcoholic's fluid intake should be increased.
"An alcoholic could be given lime juice with sugar and a dash of salt. One can also give other juice. The other steps that family members could take is to distract the alcoholic and keep his mind engaged," she said.
According to Felix, family members should see that the suffering member is well fed -food and lots of vegetables- and he should not be allowed to feel hungry.
"A hungry stomach will trigger craving for liquor in an alcoholic. Apart from food, the person should be given lots of juice," Felix added.