Addiction to alcohol known medically as alcoholism or alcohol dependence is quite common. It also cuts across all classes, creed, race and sex.
Whereas, the rich might become alcohol dependent by affording to take a binge of beer, refined whisky, champagne etc, the poor can easily achieve the same effect with bouts of illicit gin.
Addiction to alcohol is a condition marked by some combination of physical dependence on alcohol/loss of control over the use of alcohol and the continued use of alcohol despite knowing that it’s harmful to one’s mental and physical health.
When an individual’s body is dependent on alcohol, he/she might need to drink more and more alcohol to feel drinking less.
Another sign of physical dependence is that the person will have bodily changes such as shakes or sweat when he/she stops drinking.
In similar way, signs that one has lost control over the use of alcohol include :
- Trying to limit one’s drinking but being unable to
- Dpending a lot of time and energy getting or using alcohol or getting over its effects.
There are many factors that lead to alcohol dependence. Examples of such factors are :
- Having it in one’s family as a trait or traditional upbringing.
- Stress that is ongoing; family environment and the addictive nature of it.
Signs of alcohol dependence on an individual takes many forms which might include: drinking alcohol from time to time and binge drinking.
Many alcoholics become able to drink ever larger amounts of alcohol before feeling or seeming drunk. Alcohol users often drink to avoid withdrawal symptoms.
People who are dependent on alcohol may have the following features…
- Trying to hide evidence of drinking
- Promising to give up drinking
- Drinking stronger alcoholic beverages or start to drink earlier in the day
- Having long periods of being drunk
- Drink alone
- Having problems at work
- Missing work
- Black out
- Losing interest in food
- Having mood that changes easily (be angry, irritable, violent)
- Having personality that changes often (be jealous, distrustful)
- Repeatedly driving while drunk
- Being careless about their appearance
- Being confused and have memory problems
- Losing the ability to think quickly or concentrate
- Having memory problems that are caused by drinking.
Physical symptoms may include:
- Nausea or shaking in the morning
- Poor eating habits
- Stomach pain
- Cramps or tingling
- Weakness in the legs and hands
- Red eyes, face, or palms
- Unsteady walking or falls
- New and worsening medical problems.
DIAGNOSIS OF ALCOHOL ADDICTION
Many may not consider the possibility of alcohol dependence or they tend to overlook it. The individual or a family member may need to bring up the subject.
The diagnosis of alcohol dependence is based on how one uses alcohol and the effects of alcohol on one’s life or family.
Ordinarily, the attending doctor will take a careful medical history of your symptoms. Especially important are, how and when one drinks alcohol.
The doctor will ask about the following:
- The history of using drugs and alcohol.
- Ability to function socially.
- One’s work history
- Prior and current emotional or mental problems.
- Thoughts of suicide
The doctor will examine clinically to look for medical problems caused by alcohol use. Lab tests of urine and blood may be done. The most frequent and severe effects of alcoholism are not medical problems, however, but problems with emotions, relationships, accidents and work.
TREATING ALCOHOL ADDICTION
One must stop drinking alcohol. The attending doctor can help an affected individual quit drinking and recover from disorders related to alcohol. Psychotherapy and social programs will also aid in one’s recovery.
It usually help better if family members are included in the treatment program. After immediate withdrawal from alcohol (detoxification), the individual on treatment.
If he/she is able to or must continue working, the treatment might be an outpatient treatment program. Often, counseling sessions can be set for before or after the person’s work hours.
The attending physician may prescribe a drug called Antabuse (disulfiram). This drug will cause severe nausea and vomiting if the person drinks alcohol and thus will discourage him/her from drinking.
There is a newer medication called ReVia or Depade (naltrxone) that can help you overcome cravings for alcohol without the side effects of disulfiram.
This drug is thought to work by blocking the brain receptors that produce the feelings of pleasure drinking gives somebody.
Alcoholism doesn’t go away. One may feel a need or desire for alcohol throughout one’s life. One of the most important aspects of alcohol counselling and treatment is to learn the behaviour patterns that usually cause you to start drinking. Recognizing these patterns and changing them is important.
If one stops drinking, related health problems can often be controlled or prevented. However, severe damage such as injury to the liver, heart or pancreas may be lasting and possibly fatal.
Medical help must be sought.
One important thing to note is that, recovery from alcohol dependence almost always requires the help and support of others. Make sure you get this support; people and resources in your community that can help you include your physician, pastors, mental health centres, and or substance abuse treatment programs.
Follow doctor’s advice for treatment of any other medical problems. Avoid situations where alcohol bus concerned. One should also work to improve the general health.