By Jyotsna Gulati (A Clinical Psychologist at Tulasi psychiatric and rehabilitation centre)
Alcoholism is a chronic disease, progressive and often fatal. It is among the most common psychiatric disorders in the general population. Alcohol is the most widely abused substance worldwide. People might not think of alcohol as a drug, perhaps because it is so common, or because it is ingested by drinking rather than by smoking or injection. Alcohol misuse is associated with considerable morbidity and mortality (1 million deaths annually), social and legal problems, acts of violence, and accidents. The lifetime prevalence of alcohol dependence is 8 to 14%. The incidence of alcoholism is still more common in men, but it has been increasing in women. Serious drinking often starts in adolescence; approximately 40 percent of people develop their first symptoms between 15 and 19 years of age. For people with alcoholism, drinking becomes the primary medium through which they can deal with people, work, and life. Progressing alcoholism will significantly disrupt the life of users and their families.
Signs and symptoms of a problem with alcohol use may be overlooked by friends and family members until the damage starts to become obvious. If a person is abusing alcohol or if he/she has progressed to alcoholism, here is what the concerned people can look for: • Being unable to limit the amount of alcohol the person drink • Wanting to cut down the current level of drink or making unsuccessful attempts to do so • Spending a lot of time in drinking and getting alcohol • Feeling a strong craving or urge to drink alcohol • Failing to fulfill major obligations at work, school or home due to repeated alcohol use • Continuing to drink alcohol even though you know it's causing physical, social or interpersonal problems • Giving up or reducing social and work activities and hobbies • Using alcohol in situations where it's not safe, such as when driving • Developing a tolerance to alcohol so you need more to feel its effect or you have a reduced effect from the same amount • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms — such as tremors, nausea, sweating and seizures, hallucinations and extreme agitation — when you don't drink, or drinking to avoid these symptoms.
These symptoms of alcoholism are warning signs that damage is occurring, whether to health, mind, relationships, legal issues and life in general. Excessive alcohol consumption should not be overlooked because when a person loses control of their drinking then that may end in illness and destruction of the family and life. Long term use of alcohol also causes changes in other brain chemical systems, affecting functions that include: learning, judgment, decision making, memory and behavior. It is a serious condition which requires treatment. So, if you feel that you drink too much alcohol and it is causing problems in your life then it’s time to consult any mental health professional such as psychiatrist, clinical psychologist, addiction counselor and the people who are working in this field for healthy and better life.