Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse
Ethyl Alcohol or Ethanol is the intoxicating ingredient in wine, beer, and liquor which affects the human body adversely. Excessive alcohol consumption causes deformation of the brain, Headache, Nausea, Vomiting, impaired judgment, slow reflexes, lack of co-ordination, flushed appearance, and blurred vision.
Alcohol lowers inhibitions and affects thoughts, emotions, and judgment. It also affects speech, and muscle coordination. Over indulgence may cause a life-threatening Coma or even lead to death.
Alcohol Abuse is the condition whereby the drinker can set limits on the consumption. On the other hand Alcoholism refers to a disease known as Alcohol Dependence Syndrome.
This is the most severe stage of a group of drinking problems which begins with Binge Drinking and Alcohol Abuse. Alcoholism involves all the symptoms of alcohol abuse, but it also involves another element – physical dependence on alcohol.
Various social, genetic, psychological, and environmental factors lead to Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Some of the common causes include:
- Family history of Alcoholism
- Severe childhood trauma
- Lack of family support
- Physical/sexual abuse
- Peer pressure
- Psychological issues such as Depression, Anxiety and many more
The signs and symptoms of Alcohol Abuse include:
- Neglecting responsibilities
- Violating rules, such as, drinking and driving, operating machinery when drunk
- Experiencing legal problems such as getting arrested for driving when drunk
- Experiencing problems with family & friends
- Drinking to reduce stress and to relax
The signs and symptoms of Alcoholism include all the above. Additionally it also includes:
- Neglecting social, occupational, or recreational activities
- Consuming large amounts of alcohol over a longer period than intended
- Unsuccessful efforts to control consumption of alcohol
- Spending lots of time in alcohol related activities which include obtaining & consuming alcohol, as well as recovering from the effects
- Feeling the need to increase the amount of alcohol to feel its effect
- Drinking alone or hiding and drinking
- Not remembering conversations
- Becoming irritable if alcohol is not available
- Storing alcohol in unlikely places at home and office
- Losing interest in hobbies
- Withdrawal symptoms include Nausea, Sweating, Anxiety, Tremor, Headache, and many more
Contact a General Physician and a Counsellor to treat Alcoholism.
Tests and Investigations
There are no specific tests to diagnose Alcoholism. However, the doctor may recommend other tests for health problems linked to alcohol use. Correct diagnosis of Alcoholism depends on the drinker’s willingness to honestly answer questions about his or her drinking. The most common screening tests include:
- The Michigan Alcohol Screening Test (MAST)
- The CAGE Test for Alcohol Addiction
- The AUDIT Test for Alcohol Addiction
Treatment Modalities Available
Alcoholism is treatable and many treatment programs & approaches are available in this regard. Depending on the stage of Alcoholism, the treatment may involve a brief intervention, personal or group counseling, an outpatient program, or a residential inpatient stay.
The treatment for Alcoholism includes:
- Detoxification Programs
- Rehabilitation and Psychological Counseling
- Oral Medication
- Injected Medication
- Post Treatment Care Programs
- Treatment for Problems relating Alcoholism, such as, High Blood Pressure, High Blood Sugar, Liver Diseases, Heart Diseases and many more.
Complication in Management
Excessive drinking reduces judgement skills and lowers inhibitions, leading to poor choices and hazardous situations or behaviours, such as:
- Road accidents
- Domestic problems
- Poor performance
- Increased possibility of committing crimes
Health problems caused by excessive drinking include:
- Liver Diseases
- Heart Diseases
- Digestive Problems
- Sexual Function and Menstruation
- Eye Problems
- Fetal Alcohol Syndrome during Pregnancy
- Weakened Immune System
- Neurological Complications
- Increased risk of Cancer and many more
Precautions during Treatment
The alcohol withdrawal symptoms force many people to go back to drinking. They start drinking again to feel better.
Recovery from Alcohol Abuse & Alcoholism needs a broad-based approach, which may include family involvement, group therapy, education programs, and participation in self-help groups. During the treatment the patient may come across many challenges which may discourage him. However, regular counselling, medication, and support from family help the patient to recover.
Dietary and Physical Activity Requirements during the Course of the Treatment
Diet: Alcoholics are often deficient in Vitamins, Zinc, Magnesium, Selenium, and Folic Acid. Restoring such nutrients through a nutritious diet helps the patient to recover fast and enables him to lead a normal life.
Physical Activity: Exercises and walks release chemicals in the brain that provide a “natural high.” Hence, physical activity can help the patient to recover fast.
Risk of Infection to other Family Members
There is no risk of infection to the family members though Alcoholism does have a genetic influence.
Prevention to Avoid Recurrence
Post-Treatment Care Programs and Support Groups help people recover from Alcoholism, manage relapses, and cope with necessary lifestyle changes. This may include medical & psychological care or attending support group activities. People involved with some type of regular spiritual practice may find it easier to maintain recovery from Alcoholism.
Support from Family
Many people with Alcoholism are unaware that they are suffering from a disease. Intervention from the family helps the patient recognize and accept that he or she needs professional help. During the treatment love and care from the family helps the patient to recover fast.