Anyone whose life is negatively affected by alcohol on a consistent basis is considered to have an alcohol use disorder.
What happens when we drink alcohol?
Alcohol acts as a depressant of our central nervous system (CNS) and it slows down the body, both mentally as well as physically. It tends to cause a decrease in feelings of anxiety and stress and this is one of the main reasons why people tend to get addicted to the use of alcohol.
Certain people are more prone to alcohol addiction
- Alcohol addiction might run in families due to a genetic problem.
- People with depression or other mental health issues are more prone to alcohol addiction.
- Having a parent with alcohol addiction problems can make a person more likely to emulate that behavior.
What are the risk factors for alcohol addiction?
- Regular drinking over time
- One is prone to alcohol addiction mostly in the 20s and 30s
- Family history and genetic predisposition
- Psychological problems like depression
- Company of friends and family who are addicts themselves
Are there any warning signs about alcohol addiction?
There are some warning signs that might point towards alcohol addiction.
- Having an increasing number of drinks to feel the same effect.
- Feeling the desire to have a drink in the morning.
- Lying to people about the reason you drink or how much you drink.
- Losing interest in the things you once enjoyed.
What are the effects of alcohol addiction?
Alcohol addiction can have a negative impact on a person, not just mentally and emotionally, but physically too.
Excess alcohol is linked to several medical conditions. The common ones are
- Liver disease
- Diabetes mellitus
- Infection of the pancreas
- Cancers of the breast, ovaries, and prostate
- Cirrhosis of the liver
- Drinking during pregnancy can harm the fetus and cause permanent brain damage.
- Alcohol can cloud one’s judgment and make a person more prone to risky behavior, including road accidents and violence.
What is the treatment for alcohol addiction?
If you are a loved one are having any of these issues, then it’s best to get help at the earliest. It would be best to consult your doctor who would do an assessment to check if there have been any negative effects due to alcohol use.
This could include:
- General examination
- Liver function tests
- Kidney function tests
- Ultrasounds to check on the abdominal organs
- Blood sugar test
- Cholesterol check
Treating alcohol addiction
- Treating alcohol addiction is a long process and, in most cases, lifelong monitoring might be needed, as relapses can happen.
- In addition to a psychiatrist, there is generally the need for regular counseling sessions with a psychologist.
- Family support is also important to ensure that the person feels emotionally supported.
- There are some medicines that are available to control the symptoms due to alcohol withdrawal. These can include medicines to deal with anxiety, called benzodiazepines, and some drugs called Antabuse drugs, like disulfiram. These Antabuse drugs cause nausea and vomiting if alcohol is taken with it, so it acts as a deterrent to alcohol use.
- Regular counseling sessions can help in dealing with underlying emotional issues, anger issues and also help in learning techniques to relax and deal with stress without taking recourse to alcohol.
What can the family members do to help?
Dealing with alcohol addiction can often be a lifelong commitment for the entire family. The following measures can help to keep a person on track and prevent any relapses.
- Avoid keeping alcohol at home
- Maintain healthy interpersonal relationships
- Ensure the person gets regular exercise
- Group meditation
- Ensuring a healthy diet