150 New Rehabs to Open in Iran and Alcohol Isn’t Even Legal
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150 New Rehabs to Open in Iran and Alcohol Isn’t Even Legal

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The Washington Post recently ran a story about 150 new rehabs opening in Iran (six full blown residential facilities and 144 outpatient). Sure, 150 treatment centers for 70 million people isn’t that many but considering the fact that alcohol possession and consumption is illegal in Iran, this is a fairly significant move.

Less Access, More Allure

Can we use this news to address the fact that maybe the alcohol ban isn’t really effective? I imagine it’s probably making the problem worse. It’s like underage drinking, which was especially fun because it was forbidden. Successfully getting into a bar where you’re technically not allowed? Heaven. Then again, the only ramification I had to worry about was an honor code violation at my college. If I was at risk for a physical beating, or potentially death, I might have thought twice before whooping it up at Burke Street Pub. (I doubt 19-year-old me would ever have used the term “whooping it up” but you get the idea.)

The Iranian government labels drinking alcohol a crime against God so the punishment for getting caught making, selling or consuming it is harsh. Still, the citizenry finds loopholes, among them smuggling it in from nearby countries and brewing it at home. Some possible risks of DIY booze? Oh just blindness and death. Iran experienced this firsthand in 2013. Seems like that would be concerning to the country’s leaders but, if they’re willing to physically harm people as punishment for drinking, they probably just consider those health hazards the repercussions the deviants deserve.

In Good (And Sober) Company

Iran certainly isn’t the first country in the Middle East and Asia to outlaw alcohol. In fact, several Asian countries, including Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Brunei, Kuwait, Libya, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and certain parts of India, have prohibitive laws around liquor, wine and beer sale and consumption, mainly in the name of strict adherence to the Islamic faith. Laws vary from country to country in terms of how severe the policy is. For example, in Afghanistan, non-Muslim foreign visitors can buy booze all day long but citizens are on a severely tight leash. Yay, tourism?

How are these societies faring with the alcohol ban? Well, as recently as a few years ago, alcoholism rates in Pakistan were skyrocketing with some pointing to the myriad of rules forced upon citizens in the country being one of the main reasons why so many people want to “escape” via alcohol abuse. And in 2013, Libya had one of the worst and largest cases of widespread alcohol poisoning in recorded history of such outbreaks. The culprit was once again homemade hard stuff. If your citizens are willing to risk kidney failure and blindness in order to get some liquor down their gullet, maybe it’s better to cross your fingers that they’ll drink responsibly and make their own peace with Allah.

Admitting Powerlessness

The Iranian government is clearly getting some insight and awareness if they are being this proactive about treating alcoholism. They’ve admitted there is a problem, despite the fact that this is an admission of their obviously flawed—or totally failed, depending on how you look at it—policy. Of course, it’s never bad for people to have more access to treatment. It’s kind of reminiscent of when you were young and afraid to tell your parents you did something bad but they ultimately applauded you for being honest, rather than shamed you for being in the wrong.

And no, I never thought I’d call the Iranian government good parents, either.

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About Author

Mary Patterson Broome has written for After Party Magazine, Women's Health Magazine Online, AOL, WE TV and Mashed. She has been performing stand-up comedy at clubs, colleges, casinos, and festivals for over a decade.