What is Alcoholism? Effect and Treatment
Alcohol Use Disorder is classified as a disorder in which the individual's in facing problems in controlling their drinking, they are filled with/ consumed with alcohol, or they are pursuing alcohol even when its consumption is causing issues. This disorder is also referred to as alcohol addiction and alcoholism. In this disorder, the person develops unhealthy habits of alcohol use that endanger their safety, and health, or cause other problems related to alcohol use. There are various forms in which this disorder surfaces in a person's life, like, intoxication, binge, withdrawal, tolerance, etc. When the individual's drinking procedure causes a lot of problems and distress in their normal functioning, then it can be understood that the individual is experiencing an alcohol-use disorder. This disorder varies in the level of damage or harm that it causes in the person's life, from mild to severe. In this disorder, the person regularly increases the intake of alcohol to achieve the same impact as they did earlier, or the person may continue drinking just because when they stop, they have withdrawal symptoms that they are not able to deal with.
Signs & Symptoms:
According to the DSM 5 classification of disorders, there are several symptoms of the alcohol-use disorder, which are as follows:
- Long duration and larger quantities of alcohol intake rather than that was intended earlier.
- Constant want for alcohol and disappointing efforts to control or restrain alcohol-use.
- strong urge or craving for alcohol-use.
- Repeated alcohol consumption causes negligence or failure in significant parts of life, such as home, school, or work.
- Significant amount of time is consumed in task to obtain alcohol, use it and recover from its effect.
- The person loses important activities related to occupational, recreational, and social aspects due to alcohol-use.
- Persistent alcohol-use despite having continuous interpersonal or social issues as a result or magnified by alcohol effects.
- Continuous use of alcohol in circumstances that are dangerous or hazardous physically.
- Recurrent use of alcohol even after knowing that it has a psychological or physical impact is consistent either due to alcohol consumption or amplified because of it.
- Tolerance is either expressed by a significant rise in alcohol consumption to achieve the desired effect or expressed by a decreased impact of a persistent amount of alcohol.
- Withdrawal is either defined by a characterised alcohol withdrawal syndrome or defined by alcohol use to eschew or mitigate symptoms of withdrawal.
If the person presents 2-3 of the symptoms listed above, then the alcohol-use disorder is at a mild stage. If the person experiences 4-5 of the symptoms listed above, then the alcohol-use disorder is in a moderate stage. If the person experiences 6 or more of the symptoms listed above, then the alcohol use disorder is in a severe state.
Causes & Risk Factors:
The impact of this disorder can be influenced by the psychological, genetic, environmental, or social characteristics that surround the person. Some theories also indicate that for some people, the effects of drinking can be tougher and stronger and it can lead to this disorder. Prolonged drinking of alcohol might alter cognitive functioning and the regions associated with it (like, judgement, pleasure, and the ability to control your behavior). Due to these issues, the person might get engaged or crave alcohol to reduce these symptoms and feel better.
There is no prescribed age for alcohol consumption, it can start as early as teen age or any time later on, according to the various cultural and societal understandings. But alcohol-use disorder is usually first noticed in the 20's and 30's. Thus, there are several risk factors associated with the diagnosis of this disorder, such as, early onset of alcohol consumption, history of disorder in the family, regular consumption of alcohol, depression or other mental health concerns, history of emotional or other trauma, cultural and social factors, etc.
There can be several complications associated with this disorder, which include safety (like, trouble in relationships, deteriorated performance at school or work, legal concerns, prone to criminal activities, prone to accidental injuries, practising risky sexual behavior, greater risk associated with attempting suicide, etc.), and health concerns (like, issues with the liver, heart, digestive system, damage in bones, diabetes, complications with vision, concerns with sexual functions, birth defects, greater risk of cancer, neurological complications, vulnerable immune system, etc.).
There are various treatment procedures available for alcohol use disorder. There are various programmes that are held to detoxify the body and support the individual with this disorder. There are various medicinal treatment methods combined with therapeutic approaches (like, Cognitive Behavior Therapy, Family Therapy, Aversion Therapy, Psychotherapy, Behavioral Therapy, Counselling, etc.). The individual can also take several self-care measures to eliminate alcohol use from daily functioning (like, keeping a record of alcohol consumption, limiting the use, consuming slowly, not having easy access to alcohol, devoting more time to work or other activities, not giving up on your regime of peer pressure, etc.).
If you or your loved ones are experiencing the symptoms, then get a medical check-up to understand the process to deal with alcohol use disorder effectively. Try to encourage the person to get help and support them in their journey of treatment.