Global Health Asia-Pacific Special Issue - Page 92

Addiction

All you need to know about alcohol addiction

Not only is alcohol dependence harmful to the person using it , its abuse places a heavy strain on the family and is also detrimental to society . Car accidents , sexual assaults , domestic violence , and aggravated assaults are frequently caused when individuals are under the influence of alcohol .

This article is an overview of alcohol dependence — who it affects , the causes , the signs , and the symptoms of someone struggling with alcohol addiction . We will also discuss its effects and highlight treatment options .

Alcohol dependence ranks as one of the most dangerous kinds of addiction , as this “ drug ” is so easily accessible and socially acceptable in many societies . Many people feel that alcohol consumption is safe and use it as a form of relaxation , without realising that many scientific experts deem it to be the deadliest drug of all .
Alcohol is a depressant and lends itself to being easily abused . It can lead to devastating health issues such as liver , kidney , and heart disease . It can cause increased blood pressure , elevated chances of stroke , and even increased cancer risk when consumed at high levels .
Not only is alcohol dependence harmful to the person using it , its abuse places a heavy strain on the family and is also detrimental to society . Car accidents , sexual assaults , domestic violence , and aggravated assaults are frequently caused when individuals are under the influence of alcohol . Unlike other dangerous drugs , such as cocaine and opioids that can cause death by overdose , alcohol tends to kill by impairing people ’ s judgment , leading to fatal accidents , and by slowly deteriorating critical organs in the body .
What is alcohol and alcohol addiction ? Alcohol used in beverages contains ethanol or ethyl alcohol , an intoxicating and depressant ingredient . It produces a drunken , disinhibited sensation . The three most common forms of alcoholic drinks are beer , wine , and spirits .
This dangerous and addictive psychoactive substance is created when yeast ferments the sugars in grains , fruits , and vegetables . Twenty percent of alcohol consumed is absorbed by the stomach and the remaining 80 percent through the small intestine . Although the liver breaks down most of the alcohol , what is not metabolised travels through the blood stream , disrupting the normal functioning of the body . Alcohol interacts with neurotransmitters when it reaches the brain , and normal mood , awareness , and perception are affected .
The term alcohol addiction , or alcohol dependence , is defined as a chronic relapsing disorder associated with compulsive alcohol drinking , the loss of control over intake , and the emergence of a negative emotional state when alcohol is no longer available . An impaired ability to stop or control alcohol use , despite adverse social , occupational , or health consequences , is referred to as alcohol use disorder ( AUD ). The spectrum of mild , moderate , or severe forms of this encompasses the conditions that some people refer to as alcohol abuse , alcohol dependence , or the colloquial term , alcoholism . The moderate to severe range of the AUD spectrum is known as an alcoholic addiction .
Several debilitating physical and mental problems caused by alcohol addiction can result in death if not treated . Damage to the liver , stomach , and pancreas are just some of the physical effects of alcohol abuse . The mental effects include but are not limited to confusion and memory loss .
The alcohol addicted person also faces a variety of social issues such as destruction of family relationships , divorce , loss of job , homelessness , and financial insecurity . If alcohol addiction is not treated , it may eventually consume the person physically , mentally , and socially and frequently results in premature death . It is never too early or late to get effective alcohol addiction treatment . Most residential treatments consist of evidence-based group programmes and individual psychotherapy . Medical detoxification when needed involves the prescribing of medication to help reduce symptoms and assist people to regain a happy , healthy , and wholesome life .
The short-term and long-term effects of alcohol abuse Alcohol slows down brain activity since it is a central nervous system depressant . Some of the short-term effects of alcohol addiction may include :
• slurred speech
• distorted vision and hearing
• reduced inhibitions
• impaired judgement and memory
• altered or decreased coordination , senses , and perception
• loss of consciousness
• coma
• blackouts
• anemia
• tiredness
• drowsiness
• vomiting
• diarrhea
• upset stomach
• headaches
• breathing difficulties
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