Alcohol abuse differs from alcohol addiction, but they generally exist simultaneously. It is important to understand that alcohol abusers may not be addicted to alcohol, but when they consume it, it knows no boundaries. Alcohol abusers keep drinking alcohol continuously, regardless of the results. They may not indulge in alcohol consumption on a regular basis and may not suffer from any symptoms when not around alcohol. But they have no limits when they start drinking; they are typically heavy drinkers and end up losing control of their actions due to excessive alcohol intake. Alcohol abusers may eventually become addicted to it too.
Having a couple of drinks per day is considered as moderate drinking, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. However, the consumption of too much alcohol and not being able to limit the consumption is alcohol abuse and recognised as a very dangerous disorder. It is the root cause of many social and emotional problems, and if not curbed, a path to alcohol addiction. Alcohol abuse is a disruptive and life-threatening problem and associated with problems like drunk-driving, vandalism, violent behaviour, legal consequences, etc. Everyone understands that all alcohol related problems including alcohol addiction and alcohol abuse are dangerous, but despite the research and awareness about them, they are still common seen. The issue of alcohol abuse is now being observed even among teenagers these days.
No one grows up wanting to deal with alcohol related problems. But alcohol, sometimes, creepily sneaks into an individual’s life. For many people, alcohol is introduced by peer pressure, prompting and poking to drink alcohol. In time, as they fall prey to this peer pressure, they lose the ability to control how and when they drink, and this type of alcohol abuse goes hand-in-hand with alcohol addiction. For some, alcohol consumption may begin as a remedy for some mental illness. But soon, over time, the habit of frequent over consumption of alcohol develops and their lives fall prey to the alcohol abuse and addiction disorder. And for a few people, alcohol abuse and alcoholism result from psychological or social factors, where they might consume a little too much to calm down and loosen up in some social occasion, or to forget or momentarily get rid of some stressful routine.
. Some common symptoms observed include:
There are some long-term symptoms too, which include chronic fatigue, liver failure, cirrhosis, insomnia, chronic anxiety etc. Alcohol abuse can also result in brain damage which may even cause impairments to one’s working memory or visual abilities. It also causes impairment in one’s critical thinking, one’s ability to reason in stressful situations is compromised and shows many other visible neurotoxic effects.
The treatment for alcohol abuse focuses on helping one learn ways to control the disorder. Most people who recover from alcohol abuse must abstain from alcohol altogether because drinking moderately is too hard for them. Abstinence is often the only way to manage this disorder. In general, the recovery revolves around making one realise the ill-effects of alcohol abuse and one’s self motivated commitment towards curbing the habit. The recovery is a long process and includes therapy, learning new coping skills and healthier ways to manage stress. In countries like the USA, rehabilitation groups are made and regular rehab meetings are held where people become conscious of the ill-effects and realise the problem in order to abstain from alcohol on their own. There are no direct medicinal cures for this disorder and all depends on the individual’s will-power.
Prevention is always better than cure and to prevent the problem of alcohol abuse we need to understand the reasons due to which people become alcohol abusers or addicts. It is found that alcohol abuse is more common at certain points of life. Males, college students, and people going through serious life events or trauma are more likely to become alcohol abusers; people who experience depression, loneliness, emotional stress or boredom tend to deal with their problems with alcohol and thus become alcohol abusers and alcohol addicts. Some measures already implemented are increased taxation of alcohol, strict regulation on alcohol advertising and fewer liquor stores. These are not perfect solutions to curb the problem. With better education about the matter, and thus having a families that don’t support alcohol consumption are definitely measures that can reduce the number of people suffering from the disorder of alcohol abuse. However, this problem it seems today, definitely can’t be eradicated wholly.
Like any other disorder, people suffering from alcohol abuse too face withdrawal symptoms when they don’t get alcohol for a while. Once they stop drinking, a part of their lifestyle seems to be missing, the routine seems to have been broken. Withdrawal symptoms include:
Sometimes when one acutely suffering from the disorder tries to abstain from alcohol, the withdrawal symptoms can be dangerous and may lead to a medical emergency. Such symptoms include:
If one has a long-term addiction to alcohol and alcohol abuse, a therapist or doctor must be consulted. In such cases, to quit alcohol, treatment should be carried out under proper guidance, and in a slow and step-wise manner.