Funerals in Ghana The deadly mix of painkillers and alcohol at Ghanaian funerals

It has become obvious that too much time, energy and resources are being spent in organizing and celebrating funerals.

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OPINION: Growing up, I always knew Auntie Vic as a lover of funerals. Every Saturday is a funeral day for her.

And why does she fancy funeral ceremonies?  Alcohol. Excessive drinking of alcohol has become one of the enjoyable moments in the lives of Ghanaians during funerals.

It has become obvious that too much time, energy and resources are being spent in organizing and celebrating funerals.

Gone were the days when funerals in Ghana were just organised with water and soft drinks to bid farewell to the dead.

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Now, along with expensive coffins, bereaved families go in for expensive clothing to show off at such funerals. Live bands are sometimes hired to make the occasion glamorous. And to top it off, alcoholic beverages, in large quantities, are not left out.

play Some funeral 'celebrants'

 

You dare not organise a funeral in Ghana without much alcohol. Yes! “There has to be beer,” Auntie Vic tells me.

It is commonplace to find funeral organisers busily looking for strong alcoholic beverages to buy to satisfy themselves and their so-called mourners. Some even go to the extent of buying such drinks on credit.

I am sure you are already used to the different kinds of alcoholic beverages you will find on roundtables at such funeral ceremonies. From vodka to beer, all the way to strong alcoholic red wines, families and friends of the bereaved, who are expected to mourn, make merry at the sight of such drinks.

But what greatly worries me now, is the rate at which painkillers are being combined with binge drinking on funeral grounds.

Check the bags and purses of mourners, and you will be amazed to find different kinds of painkillers. Auntie Vic tells me that with the painkiller, she can take more than 5 or 6 bottles of beer at a go at such ceremonies.

It appears that she, like many others, have ignored the health consequences associated with the combination of alcohol and painkillers.

Health experts have over the years warned that prolonged use of both alcohol and painkillers builds tolerance and has the potential to be addictive.

The act causes severe damage to the liver, as many painkillers contain acetaminophen, a drug that damages the liver when taken in excess.

play Some funeral 'celebrants' (Pulse Ghana)

 

Already, alcohol alone can have wide-ranging consequences on the liver, so when it is combined with over-the-counter drugs, the risk of liver damage increases greatly.

What is more, funeral ‘celebrants’ who cannot do without the painkiller and the alcohol, risk weakening their immune system, with the consequences being high blood pressure, stroke, irregular heartbeat, among others.

If you are already into the practice being discussed, kindly reflect deeply on the above. The country is already losing souls almost every day, but not much has been done to find out why.

I can humbly say that Ghanaians are dying prematurely because we seem to have ignored the warning signs.

We need to change the status quo. Certain habits and lifestyles of many Ghanaians must change.

As Mr. Alban Bagbin said in a debate on the floor of Parliament in 2007, ”we are investing in the dead rather than the living through expensive funerals and that is bad”.

It is unfortunate that some of the dead on whom much is spent were simply denied proper attention and care when they were alive.

Let’s drop the lavish funerals; let’s drop the beer, and then there might be no need for painkillers.



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