Alcohol in various forms is consumed by many and generally people do not understand when to call it a problem and there is harm due to generalisation. Hence it is very important that people understand what alcoholism is. Even before we understand what is alcoholism let’s get to know the different stages or categories of alcohol use. There are many around us who drink alcohol only during some occasions otherwise they do not even think about alcohol but there are around us who do nothing but drink alcohol and would be facing problems in various areas of life due to alcohol. The above mentioned examples are two ends of the spectrum we need to understand. Let’s see the same.
Alcohol users are those who drink alcohol on occasions or for recreational purpose. The person has no other issues due to intake of alcohol.
Unfortunately even this so called normal alcohol use can be dangerous like leading to road accidents, inappropriate behaviours or even violence.
Alcohol Harmful Drinking:
Drinking and Driving, Pregnant women Drinking, Binge Drinking (Drinking too much too fast leading to intoxication), Pay Day Drinking – Drinking heavily on the day of salary. These are some of the examples of harmful drinking. This is not necessarily related to quantity of alcohol consumed but more related to circumstances of drinking alcohol.
This pattern is generally seen in people who have been alcohol users for long period of time leading gradually to Harmful drinking.
This is the problematic drinking of alcohol. Alcohol abuse is a stage in which the person takes alcohol to an extent that he develops physical health problems and also ends up with adverse social consequences to himself/herself and also to the family. People abusing alcohol will have following things.
- People use alcohol to feel different about themselves or the situations in life
- Lose interest in activities and hobbies which earlier used to give them pleasure
- Drink alcohol alone or in secret
- Gulp drinks and often get intoxicated
- Develop irritability as the usual time to take alcohol approaches if alcohol is not available or do not drink
- Develop problems due to alcohol use
Alcohol Dependence Syndrome:
This is the last stage of Alcohol Problem which is serious and chronic in nature. This stage needs serious medical and psychological interventions. Dependence syndrome is a group of symptoms mainly
- CRAVING: A very strong desire to drink alcohol
- IMPAIRED CONTROL: The person is not able to control the habit of alcohol and not able to limit the intake of alcohol on any occasions.
- PHYSICAL DEPENDENCE: The person develops withdrawal symptoms like tremors, sweating, nausea etc when alcohol is not taken at the usual time.
- TOLERANCE: The person needs higher amounts of alcohol to get the same high making him gulp more quantity of alcohol.
This is a stage which is no more a habit leading to pleasure, its a disease which needs serious medical and psycho social interventions. In this stage even though the person might want to leave the habit but he/she will not be able to do due to various complex interdependent issues.