All about Alcoholism

An overview of alcohol use disorder

A pattern of alcohol use that includes problems with controlling your drinking, being preoccupied with alcohol or continuing to use alcohol even when it causes problems is referred to as an alcohol use disorder. 

A further symptom of this disorder is the need to consume more alcohol to achieve the same effect, as well as the experience of withdrawal symptoms when one suddenly reduces or stops drinking. A level of drinking that is sometimes referred to as alcoholism is included in the category of alcohol use disorder.

When you drink alcohol in a way that puts your health or safety at risk or causes other problems related to alcohol consumption, you are engaging in unhealthy alcohol consumption. In addition to that, it encompasses binge drinking, which is a pattern of drinking in which a male consumes five or more drinks within two hours while a female consumes at least four drinks during the same period. A significant number of health and safety risks are associated with binge drinking. Binge drinking is also a pattern of continuous drinking for a few days, followed by a period of abstinence and then repeating the drinking.

You likely have alcohol use disorder if your drinking pattern causes you to experience significant distress regularly and causes you to struggle to function in your day-to-day life. To a certain extent, it can be mild or severe. Nevertheless, even a mild disorder can potentially worsen and result in more serious issues, which is why earlier treatment is essential.

Signs and symptoms

  • The quantity of symptoms that a person experiences when they have an alcohol use disorder can help determine how severe the condition is. Among the possible signs and symptoms are:
  • The inability to control the amount of alcohol that you consume
  • Wanting to cut down on how much you drink or making unsuccessful attempts to do so 
  • Devoting a significant amount of time to drinking, obtaining alcohol, or recovering from alcohol consumption
  • Having a strong desire or urge to consume alcohol
  • The inability to fulfil significant obligations at work, school, or home as a result of excessive consumption of alcohol
  • Continuing to consume alcohol despite being aware that it is causing problems with your body, your social life, your job, or your relationships
  • Giving up or reducing social and work activities as well as hobbies due to compulsion to drink
  • Consuming alcohol in potentially hazardous circumstances, such as while driving or swimming
  • Developing a tolerance to alcohol, which means that you require a greater quantity to experience its effects or that you experience a diminished effect from the same amount of alcohol consumed
  • To experience withdrawal symptoms, such as nausea, sweating, and shaking, when you do not drink, or to drink to avoid experiencing these symptoms when you do not drink

More adverse impacts of alcohol consumption

The symptoms of alcohol withdrawal and periods of intoxication caused by alcohol consumption are both possible manifestations of alcohol use disorder.

As the amount of alcohol that is present in your bloodstream increases, you will experience intoxication from alcohol. The higher the alcohol concentration in the blood, the greater the likelihood that you will experience adverse effects. The intoxication caused by alcohol results in behavioural issues as well as mental changes. 

Inappropriate behaviour, unstable moods, poor judgement, slurred speech, difficulties with attention or memory, and poor coordination are some symptoms an individual may experience. Periods known as “blackouts,” in which you cannot recall past events, are another possibility. The presence of extremely high levels of alcohol in the blood can result in coma, irreversible brain damage, or even death.

What is alcohol withdrawal?

Alcohol withdrawal can occur when heavy and prolonged alcohol consumption is followed by a period of abstinence or a significant reduction in alcohol consumption.

 The event may occur from a few hours to four to five days later. Sweating, a rapid heartbeat, hand tremors, difficulty sleeping, nausea and vomiting, hallucinations, restlessness and agitation, anxiety, and seizures are some of the signs and symptoms that may be present. There is a possibility that the symptoms will be severe enough to hinder your ability to function in social or professional settings.

It is advisable to consult a physician to supervise your detox process.

What is the exact amount of one drink?

Any one of the following is considered to be a standard drink according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism guidelines:

  • Regular beer: approximately 5% in alcohol content, 12 ounces (355 millilitres) in volume
  • There should be approximately 7% alcohol in 8 to 9 ounces (237 to 266 millilitres) of malt liquor
  • 1 ounce (148 millilitres) of wine with an alcohol content of approximately 12%
  • 150 millilitres (44 millilitres) of hard liquor or distilled spirits, which contains approximately 40 per cent alcohol

When should you see a doctor?

Discuss your drinking habits with your primary care physician if you believe that you consume excessive amounts of alcohol on occasion if your drinking is causing you to experience difficulties, or if your family is concerned about your drinking. Talking to a mental health professional or seeking assistance from a support group like Alcoholics Anonymous or another self-help group of a similar nature are two additional ways to get help.

As a result of the prevalence of denial, you might have the impression that you do not have a problem with drinking. You may be unaware of the amount of alcohol you consume or the number of issues that are associated with your drinking habits. Whenever your family members, friends, or coworkers ask you to examine your drinking habits or seek assistance, listening to them is important. You might want to think about having a conversation with someone who has struggled with alcoholism but has since quit.

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Are you concerned about your loved one’s drinking?

It is common for individuals who suffer from alcohol use disorder to be reluctant to seek treatment because they are unaware that they have a problem within themselves. An intervention from loved ones can assist certain individuals in recognising and accepting that they require a professional’s assistance. If you are concerned about someone who consumes excessive amounts of alcohol, it is advisable to seek the guidance of a substance abuse treatment expert on how to approach that individual.

If you or your loved one is struggling with issues related to alcohol consumption, call Freephone at 0800 140 4044

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