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100,000 Thais Face Severe Alcohol Withdrawal During Virus Booze Ban


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BANGKOK — Up to 100,000 Thais who are severely dependent on alcohol are at risk amid the nationwide booze ban, an expert said Monday.

According to Sawitri Assanangkornchai, the director of Center for Alcohol Studies at Prince of Songkla University, the withdrawal syndromes include high fever, profuse sweating, nausea, seizures, and severe anxiety. The ban on alcohol sale was imposed in a bid to deter large gatherings and minimize coronavirus infection risk, officials said.

“These people must be monitored,” Sawitri said by phone. “If the situation is severe, then the person must be taken to hospital.”

Sawitri said drinking alcohol, even when done alone, weakens one’s immune system and makes people more prone to being at risk of coronavirus infections.

She said around 1 million Thais are dependent on alcohol, and as much as 10 percent of them are considered to be severely dependent – the common term “alcoholics” comes to mind, though Sawitri said the word is loaded. They could experience withdrawal symptoms as soon as within six hours or up to within three days.

The director added that those severely dependent on alcohol should not stop drinking right away; instead, they should seek to drink less and less.

Government spokesman Taweesin Visanuyothin also advised those experiencing alcohol withdrawal, such as hearing strange voices, to seek medical treatment immediately.

According to Sawitri, at least one man in Buriram is believed to have died due to alcohol withdrawal over the weekend.

A construction worker also climbed a tamarind tree in Nonthaburi on Monday morning, reportedly because he could not buy alcohol for his daily consumption. Rescue workers spent an hour trying to talk him down, to no avail. The man eventually fell down and was taken to a police station for questioning.

While Sawitri sees more room to reduce alcohol dependency, such as limiting the sale time of the day further, she said Thailand is still far from the ranks of heavy drinkers in the world, compared to China, South Korea, and Japan.


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Seriously if you are a heavy drinker, go see a doctor.  They can prescribe medication that will safely bring you down. 

I don't disagree with the Director, in these times it's best to lay off the sauce.  However having said that - an old platitude - the road to hell is paved with good intentions.  Prohibition doesn't work.  The black market price will be steeper, that is all.  Amateur distillers endangering peoples sight, and their lives. 

These type of decisions, based on cursory insight are rarely of any value.  All the more because it's a rushed decision.  Most of the world knew about the pandemic in January.  Songkran was three months away.  It didn't need to be a rushed decision.  Far from it. 

I mean I don't claim to be Nostradamus, but even I ruled out Songkran in January.  I'm a big drinker, not so much these days.  I dislike Songkran because it brings out so many amateur drinkers - I'm put out by it.  From an anthropological point of view, I'm taking it all in. 

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On 4/13/2020 at 4:01 PM, Mekong said:

This is exactly what caused my Heart Seizure 8 years ago, I tried to stop 100% straight away and it nearly killed me. 

Me too.  Came out of a heavy binge period in November 2018, stopped completely - and within 24 hours was in the hospital with an MI, got stented up but the hallucinations got so bad a day later that I was convinced the hospital was run by a murderous mafia that was stealing my blood in order to set me up for murders they planned on committing, voices in the head, voices from the walls, the works.  Yanked out the cannula (if that's what it's called) from my arm, grabbed my stuff in a plastic bag and marched out of the hospital AMA, in my shorts and shoes and a down winter jacket, and hailed a cab.  The injection site bled like a motherfucker since I was all full of anticoagulant and so on, looked bloody murder... Ah, yeah I remember: that's why I didn't have pants on, I was bleeding all over the place and used my pants to stanch the bleeding.  What a fucking mess.  Didn't help that it was in an Arabic speaking country, and I don't speak shit for Arabic... The thing about that kind of DT paranoia stuff is that once it gets going, it's not like you can tell your doctor that you're having hallucinations that he and his staff are trying to kill you - because you don't recognize the hallucinations as unreal, they seem real as day... Also with those real withdrawal periods, I don't sleep at all - two nights with no sleep is par for the course in those grim times.

Went back to drinking after the heart attack, but had some bad times over the next few months, and finally got myself into rehab and made a real effort to clean up - 11 months currently without a drink - hopefully these 100k Thais will not have to go as long as that, and this thing will be over soon!

Thought I wouldn't survive drinking, but then it was the stopping almost killed me... Word to the wise: stop with medical supervision!  And whether you're a drinker or not - if you think you *might* be having a heart attack, go get checked at the hospital, it takes a few minutes, and makes all the difference.  I waited a long time, and by the time I decided to go get checked, I could barely turn the steering wheel...🥴  Delay could've killed me, and it definitely resulted in a lot more scar tissue in this ticker than is good for me.  Was 45 when it happened, too young; made me doubt that it could be a heart attack, since I didn't seem to be high risk (just a drunk, smoker, about 20 or so kg overweight, no exercise to speak of, KFC-and-shawarma diet, and years of substances behind... but other than that, not a high risk...).


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Well based on your description I would add hypertension, atherosclerosis, possible portal vein thrombosis and cirrhosis of the liver. 

But you did the right thing by sorting yourself out.  I have to say though, you are incredibly lucky to still be alive. 

Of course if you snap your fingers and say alcohol be gone - what happens?  It will still be there on the shelf, except it has now gained a premium.  That bottle of Sangsom just went up by whatever price the desperados will be willing to pay for it - or worse steal it. 

Perhaps climbing up a Tamarind tree and refusing to come down - well I thought what a noble protest, then I realized that was the most likely place he kept his emergency stash.  He fell down after polishing it off. 


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