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From our correspondent in Roma

Italian study: 25% of the Romanian immigrants have alcohol issues

Joi, 4 martie 2010, 19:48 English | Top News

An organisation meant to protect East-Europeans from Alcohol abuse was set-up in Rome. Wit the launch of the new body, we found out some surprising facts about Romanians living in Italy and suffering from alcoholism. Romanians have he same Bahic preferences as their Italian cousins, but they find it more difficult to escape from alcohol's charming traps, suffering of a higher degree of dependency. Following a two-year study, Doctor Mauro Ceccanti, university professor doctor at the Clinic Medicine Department of La Sapienza University reached a shocking conclusion: 25% of the Romanian immigrants face alcohol issues.

The Alcohol SOS East-West Commission introduced end of February in Italy's capital is actually a permanent working group uniting several profile Italian organisations. Among supporters are Italian state institutions, one foundation specialised in treating and preventing alcoholism and several Romanian associations. One of the projects of the newly-founded group was to print a bi-lingual informative leaflet, targeting Romanians and Italians.

Professor Mauro Ceccanti has been working on the alcohol dependency issue for over a decade. He coordinates the Centre for Alcoholic Reference for Lazio Region (CRARL). During the last years, he carried out quite a number of studies on alcohol dependency, targeting various people groups and even nationalities. His conclusions were surprising.

Romanian alcoholics count twice the number of Italians

Romanians suffering from alcohol issues, as most of the immigrants coming to live in the Peninsula, are twice more numerous than the locals from a ratio perspective. "It is not only the Romanians who face ore serious alcohol problems, but foreigners in general", professor Ceccanti explains. "Immigrants have faced a major stress situation related to adaptation to the new environment. If 12% of Italians face alcohol problems, when it comes to immigrants, including Romanians, then percentage may reach 25%. Taking into account that in the Roma Province live around 120,000 Romanians, we can say that approximately 30,000 of them had to face alcohol issues. But not all of them are addicted to drinking. About half of those facing problems become addicted", professor Ceccanti adds.    

The form of toxic addiction

How did it come to such a large percent of alcoholic Romanian immigrants?
"It is difficult to estimate the exact number of those facing drinking issues. We're talking of a real form of toxic addiction, similar to that caused by drugs like cocaine and heroine. The approximate figures are the result of research and studies carried out for about two years. Plus, our Centre has been studying alcoholism for three decades. One of the conclusions was that there is not a significant difference between ethnic groups and foreigners. For example, among Muslims there are many immigrants facing problems, even if religion forbids alcohol", Mauro Ceccanti says.

Wine and beer in the top

The major causes leading Romanian immigrants to start drinking are plenty: "Firstly, we can talk about a stress situation caused by a new environment. Many foreigners find a refuge in alcohol to occupy their time, they see drinking as an "encouraging" factor or a "true mate".

Just as Italians, Romanians prefer wine and beer (around 75%), followed in a lower proportion by strong alcoholic drinks. "Prom this point of view, we can say that the Romanians are well integrated' among Italians. The wine and the beer are reasonably cheap and have a quite similar alcoholic core".

Difficult detox

During the years dedicated to his studies, professor Ceccanti remarked that in contrast to Italians, Romanians and Polish develop a higher level of alcohol addiction. "Romanians, Polish and mainly East-European drinkers face huge problems when they join a treatment to rid them of their addiction. Many of them require hospitalisation, which is not always possible".

In order to analyse in great detail the causes of the phenomenon, CRARL are among the pioneers of the Alcohol SOS East-West programme. Project initiator Iris Azzimonti, president of a foundation for aiding alcoholics - Silvestrelli Foundation (FISPA) said that the "project was born from a joint cooperation with several Romanian association that have responded to our appeal. We believe we have made the first step to prevent the phenomenon. For our next meeting, we have invited several union leaders from Lazio region, where Romanians live. Those interested will get, straight from the union network, additional information regarding the prevention and treatment of alcoholism".

"We're afraid of Romanian drunkards"

One of the Romanian Women who became actively engaged in the prevention and information campaign is Daniela Badea. She has psychology studies. "The idea of a leaflet targeting Romanians belongs to programme coordinator Iris Azzimonti, because she talked with a Romanian woman by chance in the waiting room in a clinic. At some point, she told the Romanian to be careful with Italian men. She was surprised at the reply: "It is not Italian men I'm afraid of, but the Romanians, because many of them drink and if they hear me speaking Romanian, they want to get hooked on the street".

"We're in our baby phase. We're now making surveys in order to scientifically assess the situation. We meet with Romanian alcoholics to see which the causes that have led them to drinking are", Daniela Badea added.

There's a green number for all facing alcohol issues in Italy: 800046655. Here one can get not only information, but a real support from trained staff. There is a team of psychologists and medical staff at the other end of the line. The main objective is to promote health for all citizens, foreigners and their families and to prevent difficult situations relating to alcohol abuse. Many of the issues relating to alcohol abuse are: accident at work, road accidents, aggression, domestic violence, sexual abuses.

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