The alcoholism is characterized by excessive alcohol consumption, to the extent that the person has the same dependence; usually the situation is over a long period of time. It is considered a serious health disorder, which can lead to life-threatening diseases, such as cancer or cirrhosis, among others.
One of the main problems that alcoholism poses is that the vast majority of alcoholics are unable to recognize their dependence on alcohol and therefore do not seek any help.
In many cases, it is family and friends who warn alcoholics of their problem, who still do not perceive the problem. Once these types of addicts request professional help, the treatment requires urgent intervention that encompasses various medical fields to treat both the physical and psychological aspects of dependence.
There are a number of risk factors that considerably increase the chances that a person will develop a diction to alcohol consumption.
Some research has shown that those people who have been with an alcoholic person, especially during childhood, are more likely to develop this same addiction.
Until not many years ago, studies suggested that this was due to a learning / education theory. However, the most recent research points to a purely genetic hypothesis; It seems that the presence of certain genes increases the degree of predisposition of an individual to develop certain behaviors such as alcoholism.
Also certain psychological problems such as low self-esteem or excessive irritability are one of the risk factors for alcohol abuse. In these cases, individuals use alcohol as a mere instrument to escape these types of sensations.
In many cases, alcoholism also occurs as a result of positive emotions. Currently, alcohol consumption is fully accepted in society, and is very common in any type of event: celebrations, dinners with friends, parties … Thus, occasional drinkers also present a significant risk of becoming alcoholics in the middle and long term.
Another risk factor in relation to excessive alcohol consumption has to do with negative social relationships, especially with family and friends: financial problems, lack of social skills that lead an individual to drink to feel more self-confident same…
Symptoms of alcoholism
Alcoholism is defined as a physical dependence or addiction to alcohol . A disorder that encompasses a series of specific symptoms. Below we indicate which ones occur most frequently.
Of course, the one that occurs in practically 100% of alcoholics is the intense desire to drink alcohol, the degree of which is gradually increasing . As the disorder progresses, individuals have an increasing lack of control over alcohol use, both in terms of the need to start drinking and to stop drinking.
In the vast majority of cases, alcoholics drink when they are alone, so they try to hide their behavior from both friends and family.
When they do not consume alcohol, they suffer withdrawal syndrome, which gives rise to a series of physical and psychological symptoms that lead individuals to drink to relieve them.
There is also what is known as tolerance. Alcoholics increasingly have to consume greater amounts of alcohol to achieve the same effects.
And finally, it should be noted that alcoholism in many cases interferes with daily life: individuals progressively abandon activities they previously enjoyed, their ability to pay attention and concentration decreases, their work performance is affected …
As we have pointed out, it is not often that an alcoholic person recognizes from the outset that they have a problem. A fact that notably makes medical diagnosis difficult. Thus, in a high percentage of cases, addiction is detected in very advanced stages, when the individual’s tolerance to alcohol has taken on considerable dimensions.
In general, it is the close people who perceive the existence of addiction. They do it for the signs of withdrawal, such as sweating, nausea, anxiety, irritable mood and increased heart rate.
When an alcoholic goes to the doctor, first a medical history is taken based on the symptoms that he presents. Next, a blood test is requested , which makes it possible to detect whether or not there is both excessive and frequent consumption of alcohol. In general, the volume of red blood cells increases to present values that are even above 100.
A psychological evaluation is also carried out to determine the state in which the patient is. The doctor asks a series of questions to both the patient and their relatives in relation to their alcohol consumption, as well as about different situations that may have led to the development of this addiction.
Treatment of alcoholism
Treatment of alcohol addiction is made up of a series of phases.
The first stage of treatment consists of the recognition of the addiction by the individual; Many professionals agree that this is the most complicated phase of all.
Then, when the alcoholic person stops drinking, what is known as withdrawal syndrome occurs , which must be treated by professionals. In some cases, the patient’s own admission to hospital is required. This is what is known as detoxification . During the last phase of it, work is done with the objective that the patient remains abstinent forever.
And finally, once detoxified, the patient must continue a relapse prevention program. In addition, depending on how your addiction has affected your social relationships, family or couples therapy may be necessary.
Consequences of alcoholism
The immediate effects of alcohol consumption are very pleasant. Individuals feel relaxed and communicative, maintaining an outgoing attitude with the people around them. The next phase goes through memory loss and mental confusion ; individuals present increasing difficulties to speak, as well as to understand what is said to them. And finally, they are unable to stand up; vomiting is also frequent in this last stage.
In relation to the long-term consequences of alcohol abuse, these can be divided into three broad categories: physical, psychological and social.
In the following points we point out some of the diseases that occur most frequently due to the abuse of alcohol over a long period of time.
- Cirrhosis : cirrhosis is a serious liver disorder that in a high percentage of cases is caused by chronic alcoholism. The formation of scars in this organ prevents it from functioning normally and, therefore, it cannot correctly eliminate harmful substances from the body, nor clean the blood. Generally, cirrhosis does not give rise to symptoms until advanced stages of the disease; tiredness, easy bleeding, itchy skin sensation and jaundice are some of them.
- Pancreatitis: This disorder is characterized by a generalized inflammation in the pancreas; an organ whose main function is to produce glucose. One of the most common signs is pain, located in the upper abdominal area, spreading to the back and worse after meals.
- Brain hemorrhage: Alcoholics have a higher risk of having a brain hemorrhage. It is known as an accumulation of blood in the brain after the rupture of a blood vessel. A life-threatening illness that requires urgent medical assistance.
- Erectile dysfunction: Alcoholism can also lead to erectile dysfunction in the case of men. It is known as such the permanent inability to achieve and maintain an erection sufficient to be able to have sexual intercourse.
Beyond the physical consequences, alcoholics also suffer from psychological disorders, some of which can be permanent.
In a high percentage of cases, alcoholics suffer from depression . It is a mental illness that goes far beyond sadness. While the latter consists of a temporary state of mind, depression involves a situation of chronic discomfort and unease. Some of the most common symptoms of depression are: irritability, low mood of almost all types, tiredness, lack of energy, feelings of self-hatred and guilt, and changes in appetite.
In those cases in which alcoholics have a partner, celotype is another common psychological consequence. A disorder that occurs in extremely possessive people, who feel obsessive jealousy towards the person they love. In general, it is a progressive disease, which over time becomes stronger. Thus, as it progresses, new delusions arise in the mind of the individual as a result of the compulsive jealousy that he feels.
Of course, the consequences of alcohol are also related to the social sphere. Virtually all alcoholics progressively isolate themselves from their environment and stop engaging in activities that they previously enjoyed.
Thus, a large number of problems arise such as job disruption or labor and economic problems. Due to alcohol abuse, people who suffer from this type of addiction in many cases lose their family, as well as their jobs, which is why there are many financial problems.
Signs to identify an alcoholic person
There are a series of signs that allow to identify an alcoholic person, due to changes in his personality. Below we indicate which are the most relevant.
- Tolerance level: An alcoholic needs to consume an increasing amount of alcohol to really feel its effects. From the social point of view, this type of people consume more alcoholic beverages than the rest and, nevertheless, they remain sober. A situation that, if maintained over time, can cause serious damage to the liver.
- Withdrawal: when alcoholics are abstinent, it is common for them to experience a set of symptoms such as tremors, excessive sweating, increased heart rate, difficulty concentrating … In the most severe withdrawal cases, the symptoms include hallucinations, seizures and confusion.
- Behavior: one of the main signs to identify an alcoholic person has to do with changes in their behavior. You progressively avoid activities you used to enjoy as you only want to drink. In this way, it is usual that little by little, social and family relationships are increasingly neglected. A very common habit in people with this type of addiction is to blame others or other people’s situations for their problems.
- Deterioration of relationships: Alcoholics increasingly tend to avoid any type of relationship with both their family and friends. That is why their degree of isolation is increasing, which leads to consequences such as loss of employment, divorce, economic poverty …
Alcohol in adolescence
Currently, the age at which young people begin to drink alcohol is 12 years. One of the main reasons why alcohol consumption occurs at such an early age has to do with the need for integration into social groups.
Adolescence is a stage of transition between childhood and adult life, in which young people are in a phase of development both physically and mentally. Thus, the consequences of alcohol abuse can be more harmful than those that occur in adults, such as deficiencies in mature thinking .
Do not forget that alcohol also negatively affects certain areas of the brain, especially those responsible for memory and learning. Skills that are very important in the development of young people.
In addition to the risks related to the development of young people, alcohol consumption can significantly affect their behavior. They can present aggressive behavior that greatly hinders social relationships.
The influence of the family environment plays a key role for young people to follow healthy habits and thus avoid abusive and continued alcohol consumption.
Tips to avoid alcoholism
Here are some tips that are worth taking into account on how to avoid alcoholism.
- Close people: an alcoholic person should seek the support of the closest family and friends; otherwise, relapse is vastly more likely.
- Sport: sport is in many cases the best medicine for any type of addiction. In addition to clearing the mind and improving the cardiovascular system, it keeps people busy.
- Food: alcohol abuse in many cases causes the loss of certain essential nutrients for the body. That is why it is so important to eat a balanced diet.
- Zero tolerance: of course, an alcoholic person, once the recovery process begins, must keep alcohol away at all times. In no case does the phrase “it’s a special occasion” or “it’s just a drink” applies. And it is that a simple drop can end the work of months, even years.
- Free time: An alcoholic person must keep busy with activities that are really fulfilling and special. There are many options available: travel, read, walk …
Hello Readers, I am Nikki Bella a Psychology student. I have always been concerned about human behavior and the mental processes that lead us to act and think the way we do. My collaboration as an editor in the psychology area of Well Being Pole has allowed me to investigate further and expand my knowledge in the field of mental health; I have also acquired great knowledge about physical health and well-being, two fundamental bases that are directly related and are part of all mental health.