Alcohol, most of the time referred to as the ‘Heavenly beverage of pleasure’, has become a popular subject for discussion due to good and bad aspects associated with it. Ethanol, which is derived from grapes, and grains as well as rice are the main components of this popular beverage. However there can be hundred and more additives used in alcohol which help give or make different flavors, concentrations and up-shots.
There is no doubt about your knowledge of alcohol that it effects one’s health. So keeping a step-ahead, we thought of discussing about alcohol addiction with the sole intention of making our readers be aware of how these people would present, what ill-effects they would own over time and more importantly how this habit could be dropped with prompt and proper interventions.
If you have a look at a crowd, you would see different types of people who would explain their opinions about alcohol in different ways. Some people would just sip a glass of alcohol occasionally; once or twice a month during a social gathering. Some would get drowned in alcohol making it a part of their daily routine. Some would just forget and move on after a single drink while some would find it extremely difficult to get over the drinking session. The later category get addicted big time and are affected by a range of negative consequences. They also develop poor health and their lives are dotted with domestic violence, vandalism, fights, quarrels etc.
So, today we decided to talk about alcohol addiction, with Dr. Dulmini Jayasundara, Specialist Registrar in Psychiatry in order to look more into it using expert knowledge. This article will help many people who have become addicted. These alcohol addicts fail to shelf the drinking habit and need help.
“Alcohol is more or less the same as a chemical you get to see in the chemistry lab, but since it is legally and socially accepted in our society and has a long history it is viewed differently compared to other drugs or chemicals. Most people tend to use alcohol as a relaxant which helps them to relax and calm themselves. Some would also think it as an anxiolytic, which helps in diluting your agitation or anxiety, while in a crowd. However, even if one can argue on the beneficial effects of alcohol, the long-term downside is that it can make you unfit; to drive, operate machinery and affects your ability to make decisions. It also dulls your perception to a greater or less extent, depending on the amount of alcohol consumed. If you go on drinking, your speech starts to slur, you become unsteady on your feet. You may start to say things you may regret the next day. If you drink even more, most people start to feel sleepy, sick or dizzy. You may pass out. The next day you may be unable to remember what happened while you were drinking” says Dr. Jayasundara.
Alcohol can be a very effective way of feeling better for a few hours. If you are depressed and lack energy, it can be tempting to use alcohol to keep going and cope with life. The problem is that it is easy to slip into drinking regularly, using it like a medication. The benefits soon wear off and drinking becomes part of a routine. Following are the features of an alcohol addict; ones that you can check for yourself.
- Instead of choosing to have a drink, you feel you have to have it
- You wake up with shaky hands and a feeling of nervousness
- You start to drink earlier and earlier
- Your work starts to suffer
- Your drinking starts to affect your relationships
- You carry on drinking in spite of the problems it causes
- You find you have to drink more and more to get the same effect (tolerance)
- You start to ‘binge drink’ regularly
- Other things have less importance than alcohol.
Time to ask for help!
Answering the following 4 questions can help to find out whether drinking has become a problem for the particular individual.
Have you ever felt that you should cut down on your drinking?
Have people annoyed you by criticizing your drinking?
Have you ever felt bad or guilty about your drinking?
Have you ever had a drink first thing in the morning to steady your nerves or to get rid of a hangover?
“One “yes” answer suggests a possible alcohol problem. More than one “yes” answer means it is highly likely that a problem exists. If you think that you or someone you know of might have an alcohol problem, it is important to see a doctor or other health care provider right away” says Dr. Jayasundara.
Mental illnesses like depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder and psychosis are common among alcoholics. Often, people drink to try and reduce the symptoms (sometimes known as ‘self-medicating’), but in the long-term alcohol makes these disorders worse because it interferes with the chemical balance in our brains.
Alcohol dependence can be properly treated with timely interventions before the habit develops. But like other chronic illnesses, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and asthma, there are varying levels of success with regard to treatment. Some people quit drinking and remain abstinent. Others have long periods of abstinence with relapses. And still others cannot stop drinking for any length of time. With treatment, one thing is clear, however: the longer a person abstains from alcohol, the less likely he or she will be to have related health problems.
Time and training are the most important aspects of treating alcoholism.
While you’ll never get rid of the cravings completely, you can diminish them and train yourself how to avoid situations involving alcohol.
Three oral medications are currently used to treat alcohol dependence.
These medications have been shown to help people with alcohol dependence reduce their drinking, avoid relapses to heavy drinking, and achieve and maintain abstinence.
- Naltrexone acts in the brain to reduce craving for alcohol after someone has stopped drinking.
- Acamprosate is thought to work by reducing symptoms that follow lengthy abstinence, such as anxiety and insomnia.
- Disulfiram discourages drinking by making the person taking it feel sick after consuming alcohol.
Other types of drugs are available to help manage symptoms of withdrawal (such as shakiness, nausea, and sweating) if they occur after someone with alcohol dependence stops drinking.
Although medications are available to help treat alcoholism, there is no “magic bullet.” In other words, no single medication is available that works in every case and/or in every person. Developing new and more effective medications to treat alcoholism remains a high priority for researchers.
Can someone who is not willing to receiving treatment be treated, with the request of family, using medication hidden in food and drinks? If so is it effective?
This can be a challenge. An alcohol dependent person can’t be forced to receive help. But you don’t have to wait for someone to “hit rock bottom” to act. Many alcohol dependence treatment specialists suggest the following steps to help someone in need of treatment:
- Stop all “cover ups.” Family members often make excuses to others or try to protect the alcohol dependent person from the results of his or her drinking. It is important to stop covering for the alcohol dependent person so that he or she experiences the full consequences of drinking.
- Time your intervention. The best time to talk to the drinker is shortly after an alcohol-related problem has occurred – like a serious family argument or an accident. Choose a time when he or she is sober, both of you are fairly calm, and you have a chance to talk in private.
- Be specific. Tell the family member that you are worried about his or her drinking. Use examples of the ways in which the drinking has caused problems, including the most recent incident.
- Get help. Gather information in advance about treatment options in your community. If the person is willing to receive help, call immediately for an appointment with a counsellor. Offer to go with the family member during the first visit to a treatment program and/or an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting.
- A friend who is a recovering alcoholic may be particularly persuasive, but any person who is caring and nonjudgmental may help. The intervention of more than one person, more than one time, is often necessary to coax an alcohol dependent person to seek help.
- Find strength in numbers. With the help of a health care professional, some families join in with other relatives and friends to confront an alcohol dependent person as a group. This approach should only be tried under the guidance of a health care professional who is experienced in this kind of group intervention.
- “Treatment of alcohol dependence is unlikely to be beneficial without the corporation of the person hence medication given in food is not recommended at all” says Dr. Jayasundara.