Society of African Journal Editors

African Journal of Drug and Alcohol Studies

A qualitative study of alcohol risk perceptions among drinkers in Benue State, Nigeria

Authors: James T. Gire, Alex I. Shaahu

Journal: African Journal of Drug and Alcohol Studies

There is evidence in the scientific literature linking alcohol-related deaths and morbidities with excessive alcohol consumption, yet individuals are often undeterred by their experiences of negative alcohol-related outcomes. In seeking to understand this behavior, this exploratory qualitative study was undertaken among Benue State civil servants in Makurdi, Nigeria to explore their reasons for drinking, perception of alcohol risk and, how these shape their alcohol consumption behaviors. Utilizing a purposive and network/snowball sampling technique, twenty-nine self administered open ended questionnaires were administered and analyzed. Findings indicated that drinking was primarily undertaken for enhancement and coping motives. Also, drinkers had knowledge of, and had experienced some alcohol-related dangers such as fights, rape, injury, and driving under the influence of alcohol. However, their drinking motives were valued over and above these experiences of negative alcohol effects, thereby minimizing the perception of personal susceptibility to alcohol related risk. Problem drinking status, the availability of alternative substitutes to drinking and, drinking motives together determine alcohol risk perceptions and drinking behavior. Therefore, in order to fully understand drinking behavior, the influences of drinking motives, personal experiences, drinking status, availability of alcohol substitutes and, risk perceptions should be considered. Keywords: Alcohol risk perceptions, drinking motives, and hazardous drinking