With the easy access to alcohol now a days – pubs, supermarkets, corner shops etc. – it is no wonder that people are drinking more alcohol. Most people drink moderate amounts, but more people are becoming dependant on alcohol as it is the most widely available.
The more a person drinks, the more difficult it becomes to lead a normal life, this is why it is vital to recognise the danger and know when to stop. Occasional drinking can encourage appetite and produce a feeling of well-being, anxiety seems to reduce and self-confidence increases. In moderation, this is quite a pleasant experience.
On the other hand dependency and heavy drinking are quite another matter. If it is repeated over a long period of time, changes can occur in your personality, because it causes a chemical imbalance. You can either be the life and soul of the party, it can make you aggressive, and it may make you sleep for long periods of time.
So what do we mean by Alcoholism?
Alcoholism or “alcohol dependency” is a disease that includes alcohol craving and continued drinking despite alcohol-related problems.
The symptoms include:
Craving - this can lead the person looking for their next watering hole, or even carrying drink around with them – there is an urgency and a desire to get their next fix. That’s when you know dependency has reached its height.
Dependence - symptoms of withdrawal include sweating, nausea, anxiety, and trembling, these begin when alcohol use has ceased after a period of heavy drinking. The first drink will always relieve these feelings until the next time.
Tolerance - There is a need for increasing amount of alcohol to feel its effects.
In its early stages, it is more psychological than physical dependency, as anxiety and stress are often what leads to drinking in the first place. But then alcohol becomes a necessity to keep them at ease. This now stops being psychological and now becomes a dependency. The drinker will probably not notice or see the signs – but when dependency increases and withdrawal symptoms begin, it becomes more difficult and uncomfortable, and most will go to any lengths to get a drink.
But, you should remember that alcohol does not relieve stress and tension – it is a depressant, not a stimulant. As soon as it is in your blood stream it impairs judgement, self-control, and you are more accident-prone. With any alcohol intake you should never drive.
Alcoholism as a disease
Alcoholism is a chronic disease which leads to a strong need to drink despite the negative consequences of doing so. Alcohol dependency is influenced by environmental factors such as friends and peer-pressure, stress, and the ease with which alcohol can be obtained; and certain people are more susceptible to become alcohol dependent. More men than women suffer from alcoholism, and young adults aged 18-29 experience the highest rates of alcohol-related problems.
Alcoholism tends to run in families and researchers are on their way to finding the genes that make certain people vulnerable to the disease. However, alcoholism running in a family does not necessarily mean that a child will grow up to develop alcohol dependency, whilst a person with no history of alcoholism can become dependent on alcohol.
Treatment for Alcoholism
Medication is often used in treatment of alcoholism. There are two types most commonly used – (1) Benzodiazepines, which help patients withdraw safely from alcohol during the first few days of treatment; (2) and drugs which help patients remain sober. When used with counselling, this medication can relieve the craving for alcohol and prevent the return to heavy drinking. Other medications are used to discourage drinking, as they cause nausea, vomiting and unpleasant physical symptoms.
Treatment is effective in many cases. However, many people relapse one or more time before they reach sobriety. This does not indicate weakness or failure – if a relapse occurs, try to stop drinking again and get help to abstain from alcohol. The support of friends and family are important during the process of recovery.
Important: if you think you have any of these symptoms, please consult your doctor. There are many groups you can join such as Alcoholics Anonymous etc. to try and get some help. Or confide in a friend. Your first step will lead you to your last step. Remember take one day at a time.
The information contained in or made available through This Site cannot replace or substitute for the services of trained professionals in the medical field. We do not recommend any treatment, drug, food or supplement. You should regularly consult a doctor in all matters relating to physical or mental health, particularly concerning any symptoms that may require diagnosis or medical attention.