Most people do not realize when their alcohol consumption has gone from normal use or socializing, to drinking for the purpose of avoiding and running away from their problems. This is alcoholism or alcohol abuse.
The development of alcoholism is based on many factors such as your environment while growing up, current social environment and present emotional health and stability. If you are close or related to an alcoholic, you are more likely to develop drinking problems. You may also go through this if you are a heavy and regular drinker, or if you have mental health issues such as bipolar disorder, anxiety, depression, etc., because in such situations, you are more likely to self-medicate and become susceptible to alcoholism.
The most common and easily identifiable symptoms of alcoholism are:
- Neglecting your responsibilities at home or work due to heavy drinking
- Drinking up to a point where it is physically dangerous to you or loved ones, such as drinking and driving
- Drinking alcohol to de-stress regularly or as an alternative to dealing with your problems
- Continued drinking despite the harm it is causing your relationships
- Feeling ashamed of your regular drinking habits yet continuing to consume alcohol regularly
What is the difference between alcoholism and alcohol abuse?
Alcohol abusers do not always become fully-blown alcoholics, though it is a major risk factor.
Alcoholism or alcohol dependence has pretty much the same symptoms as alcohol abuse, except for the fact that severe physical and functional dependence on alcohol become pronounced. It is one of the most common forms of problem drinking.
How do I know if I am an alcoholic?
One way to recognize your crossover into alcohol dependence is to check whether you drink to enjoy and socialize or you are drinking out of any physical or mental compulsions.
If you find your daily functionality and stability dependent on the consumption of alcohol, you know you are an alcoholic. It is best to seek professional help immediately, before the situation aggravates.
What is the treatment for alcoholism?
Alcoholism is a real addiction, like drug abuse. It is harmful and can lead to self-destruction. However, it is curable.
The first step to overcoming alcoholism is to accept that you have a drinking problem and seeking help. Denial is one of the major reasons why alcoholics often do not receive the treatment they need.
With the right kind of treatment, alcoholism is curable. Two of the most common treatments for alcohol dependence are detoxification and rehabilitation:
- Detoxification is the help given immediately after the discontinuance of your consumption of alcohol, and can result in withdrawal seizures and hallucinations, which are managed professionally
- Rehabilitation involves counseling, guidance and medication given to a recovering alcoholic to help her/him continue being sober
A recovering alcoholic must be self-driven and put in an effort to recover. If you are going through this stage, you will require regular support and motivation so you can stop your cravings for alcohol. You can get support by joining support groups for recovering alcoholics such as Alcoholics Anonymous or speaking to a professional therapist/counsellor.
Alcoholism and stigma
Stigma surrounding alcohol abuse and alcohol dependency is forced upon us by society, friends and family. Most assumptions made when you think about an alcoholic are negative, such as being depraved, unemployed, having had a bad upbringing, dropping out of school and not completing your education and involved in shady pursuits such as prostitution, betting etc. Alcoholics are assumed to consume drugs as well.
It is very important for a recovering individual overcome this stigma and reach out for professional help to treat alcohol dependence.
Remember, alcoholism is a real problem. But it can be overcome, if it is diagnosed and treated properly. And help is just a call away.