Yes, I Have a Drunkard in My Family. Is There a Brazilian Who Doesn’t?

Brazilian drinking liquor from tap Alcoholism is rampant in Brazil. No wonder, you can buy alcohol practically at any corner. Even in padarias, a liquor store-cum-bakery-cum-snack bar. If you don’t want your kids to drink, why do we have bars and padarias serving alcohol across from schools? And many of them don’t even care if they are serving a minor. So if you like to be three sheets to the wind; Brazil is the place to be.

Am I a teetotaler? No! I believe people should be able to drink, but unfortunately, not everybody. Some people can’t hold their liquor and start making all sorts of trouble. Alcohol has been destroying families for a very long time in Brazil and it’ll keep on doing so for a very long time to come.

Virtually every family has a pé-de-cana, drunkard. So of course, mine has one. Actually, we had three, but two of them are pushing up daisies now. I may sound callous by using that expression, but tipplers have that effect on me. We feel pity and anger all the time we are around them.

Brazilians need a lot of detox clinics. Lots of spouse beatings and child abuse are triggered by alcohol intake, more so in the poverty-ridden layers of society, but it affects all walks of life. And neighbors are victims, too, not only of beatings; they also have to put up with a lot of screaming, scandals, and noise, because most boozers are loudmouths and troublemakers.

If you do some research on emergency rooms, you’ll find how many acts of violence perpetrated by victims or aggressors are somehow alcohol related. In the city of São Paulo, 42.5% of homicide victims submitted to a toxicology test had consumed alcohol, and in the city of Curitiba, Southern Brazil, 50.2% of victims of interpersonal aggression by firearm or bladed weapon, cared for in an emergency room, were under the influence of alcohol.

Yes, lushes also become victims because one day somebody’s supply of patience runs out. And let’s not forget the number of people injured or killed by drunk drivers. The fact in Brazil they go to jail doesn’t seem to keep plenty of people from drinking and driving. There is a great number of campaigns saying “If you drink, don’t drive”, but that doesn’t seem to deter many Brazilians.

If you can buy easily, you drink more. Booze is certainly not for everyone. If you realize you’ll become a problem for others, stop drinking now (if you can’t on your own, seek help), if you just want to escape reality, drink alone and don’t bug anyone. If you are able to hold your liquor, then, you can take part in human interaction.

Drunkards are similar to manic-depressive types, or people with bipolar disorder. I noticed that a long time ago. When they are drunk the id takes over and they do all sorts of evil stuff. Then, when they sober up many of them regret the harm they have caused and become nice to compensate for all the nastiness. So a lot of people say, “He is so nice when he is not drunk”, which becomes the motto of people who have to live with boozehounds.

Should we enact the Prohibition law in Brazil? No way! It didn’t work in the USA and it certainly wouldn’t work here. That would just increase crime because people need to get inebriated in order to escape the harsh reality of their empty lives or to relax enough to muster the courage to do something, etc.

Just a curious observation, how can you tell a Brazilian is drunk?

Some of them become too mushy and hug you a lot, others want to show everybody they are macho and pick fights. In Brazil the personal bubble is much closer in general, but for drunkards it seems they can’t talk without touching and hugging. They either become too friendly, taking a lot of liberties with your person, or too belligerent, or both. When you don’t show your friendship in their mushy mode, they become angry and get into the spoiling-for-a-fight mode. Some just stay in one mode.

A few drunken women get too dada (DAHda), another Brazilian word for friendly, with a double meaning in this case because in Brazil dar, to give, is the verb used to mean “to have sex with”. “Ela me deu” means “She had sex with me.” “Dar” is used only about the person on the receiving end of intercourse.

I guess many people wouldn’t mind if the woman got too “dada“, unless you’re a straight female or a gay man. In Brazil, we have a saying, excuse my French, “Cu de bêbado não tem dono“, which means “A lush’s ass doesn’t belong to them.” I guess you can imagine how this saying came about.

Should we decriminalize other drugs since alcohol is legal? No way! One legal mood changer or enhancer is one too many. Even though the fact people can’t take those other drugs cause crime for the same reason Prohibition generated gangster in the USA, the fact is, it is better to fight crime and hospitalize junkies than to have more junkies around due to the fact it would be easier to get drugs since they’d be available all over like alcohol is in Brazil.

And those people who want to legalize drugs are so naïve, thank goodness this fad hasn’t gotten to Brazil yet, at least not in force. They think everybody is responsible, they think people can control themselves. The truth is we need government or a big daddy because a great number of people are irresponsible and weak, which is one of the reasons I’m not an anarchist or an advocate of laissez-faire capitalism.

Authority makes it easier for cowards to lead a good life, since if they were given freedom they’d trash their lives, and the lives of those around them as well. Fear keeps them from doing a lot of bad stuff. Some people can’t deal with freedom of choice, they mess it all up. Adam and Eve come to mind.

The price of freedom is responsibility. Brazil is too paternalistic, so I guess we could ease up on some issues, but I’m all for fighting drug-trafficking and helping junkies. We ought to have legalized drug zones in every city and prohibit consumption in other parts of it, except at home, because how could any government keep people from taking drugs in their abode, anyway?

If we sectioned off parts of the city where people would be allowed to take drugs and deployed the police around those areas, it would be much easier to fight crime. And the detox clinics should be in those areas as well to make it faster to rescue overdose victims, etc.

I guess that would be a middle-of-the-road solution. But I doubt very much that will ever happen in Brazil. The odds of that happening are the same as the pope becoming a member of the Igreja Universal, a Brazilian evangelical church, but that’s just my two cents.

To prove my point, just stop and watch the street scenes of drunken disorderliness that pop up every now and then in many neighborhoods as compared to most of São Paulo’s entertainment areas, such as Paulista Avenue, São João Avenue, Pinheiros, Moema, famous for their bars, nightclubs, theatres and restaurants.

And the malls spread out all over the city with every kind of entertainment and, as São Paulo City is inland, people use the Guarapiranga dam as Cariocas, Rio de Janeiro natives, use the beach.

But of course, if you’re willing to drive or commute out of São Paulo, there are plenty of beautiful beaches in São Paulo State, which are very close to São Paulo City. You could go to them whenever it hit your fancy. Some of Rio de Janeiro’s beaches can’t hold a candle to São Paulo’s.

Anyway, there are fewer incidents in those places than in other areas because the police make sure they are under surveillance 24/7.

I rest my case.

The only places that make me a little uneasy when roaming the streets of São Paulo are around the periferia, the fringes of the city. But if you don’t overdress or dress too weirdly, people won’t usually bother you. When putting on your clothes, just make sure you don’t stand out too much.

I travel all over São Paulo and I can tell you it has people from every ethnic or racial background. What makes you stand out like a sore thumb is the way you dress more than your looks. So, just survey your surroundings.

Anyway, the only way to control drugs is by controlling the supply, not the demand. Criminalizing drug or alcohol users will take us nowhere. We have to treat them as patients and detoxify them somehow, or as many as we can. But if drugs are so easily available, it is much easier for people to get addicted. The overabundance of bars in São Paulo and the problems they cause is evidence enough.

And I don’t believe everybody is equal, this is a pipe dream invented by democracy, which I defend, even though I don’t like everything in it. Some people are able to hold their liquor, some aren’t.

If you can’t hold your liquor, don’t hold me accountable for my actions if you give me hell on earth because of the drunken monkey on your back. I understand your situation but I’ll give you hell right back because I’m no saint.

And I can always say I have a mood-control disorder when faced with a blotter. That can be a disease, too, can’t it?

Bibliography of the stats:

Author: My name is José Moreira da Silva, but I prefer Joe because José is such a common name that if you shout it in the middle of the street, anywhere in Brazil, about 70% of the people would turn their heads. I live in São Paulo. I’m Brazilian and work as a teacher and translator, as well as a freelance subtitler and editor for Rede Globo, Globosat and several other TV channels, such as Fox, etc. Check out my blog on


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