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Alcohol Abuse, Dependence & Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

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The majority of us may have come across people who consume alcohol on a daily basis. They may be dependent on alcohol, physically or psychologically and this is known as ‘alcohol dependence’. It’s also known as ‘alcoholism’ or ‘alcohol dependence syndrome’. When such unhealthy alcohol consumption has pertained for a longer time it can significantly disrupt the life of a person and their family. In this guide, we look at alcohol dependence, abuse and the risks associated with it such as Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.

Difference Between Abuse and Dependence

Here is the difference between alcohol abuse and dependence:

Alcohol Abuse– It is slightly different from alcohol dependence; the individual consumes alcohol too much, and often, but they are not dependent on it. Alcohol abuse is an intense desire to have a large amount of alcohol to the exclusion of other activities in daily life like work, studies, and personal responsibilities. The individual exhibits a pattern of repeated drinking in almost all circumstances, which is physically and mentally risky.

Alcohol Dependence– When an individual becomes alcohol dependent, they automatically gain an increase in tolerance, suffer from withdrawal syndrome, can encounter unsuccessful attempts on halting the drinking habit, and tend to lose their control on alcohol which results in drinking more than before, irrespective of the consequences.

Alcohol Consumption: Myths and Facts

Drinking alcohol is fine when done in moderation:
The truth is that even though alcohol is considered safe in moderation, it has grave health risks for some. The risks can outweigh the benefits of moderate drinking for people who are:
Trying to get pregnant
Have a weak heart
Have Diabetes and other chronic diseases
Genetically vulnerable to alcohol dependence

You can sober up with a cup of coffee:
Even though coffee includes the caffeine stimulant, which makes you feel alert, it doesn’t mean that it will process the alcohol out of your body faster. If you have been drinking then it’s best to give your body time to recover and break down the alcohol.
Alcohol is a depressant, which means it slows down brain activity.
Alcoholic drinks trigger dopamine release in the brain. It’s a neurotransmitter that is associated with satisfaction and pleasure. However, eventually, you need more alcohol than usual to trigger the same amount of dopamine.
Teens who start drinking at an age as early as 15 are likely to develop alcohol dependence later in life.

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Signs of Alcohol Dependence:

Here are some of the signs that are noticeable in alcohol dependence syndrome:

Severe hangover, hard to recover with prolonged time from the after-effects of alcohol usage.
The dependent feels a decrease in the alcohol effect due to the increase in tolerance, which consequently leads to consuming more than before.
Reduced attention to personal and professional life.
Constantly failing in efforts on minimizing alcohol consumption.
Whenever one aims to quit alcohol, withdrawal symptoms take over, such as tremors, alcohol hallucinosis, delirium tremens, and withdrawal seizures.

Effects of alcohol addiction

Alcohol does severe damage to critical organs of the human body.
Liver, heart, brain, nervous system, stomach (intestines). Additionally, alcohol produces a few other medical side effects too, that include cancer, sexual problems, stomach problems, osteoporosis.

Alcohol Consumption and Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

Women who indulge in alcohol during their pregnancy can face life-threatening effects on their infants called Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD). FASD has a hoard of disorders; they could range from mild or severe, causing mental and physical birth defects.

During pregnancy, women who consume alcohol have significant and lasting effects on their fetus and later their infants; causing them to develop alcohol dependence or addiction. During the later years of development, the child could develop behavioural issues, such as conduct disorder, depression, attention deficit disorders, and psychotic symptoms.

Under the spectrum, Fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) is a severe condition. The effects would have lasting repercussions on the infant’s hearing, memory, visual, attention span, and communication. These repercussions could be lasting or permanent. The defects would vary from person to person.

Post-birth the infant would be dependent on alcohol, causing its central nervous system to be overstimulated, which then would cause withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms could develop within a few hours after their birth and may last for 18 months. These effects can result in physical abnormalities like the head, face, heart, and intellectual disability

Check out the below symptoms of fetal alcohol syndrome

  • Hyperactivity
  • Inability to focus
  • Reduced motor coordination
  • Issues with speech, movement, and thinking
  • Developmental delays
  • Learning disabilities and Poor judgment
  • Distorted limbs or fingers
  • Mood swings and difficulties with seeing or hearing
  • Having a small head and eyes that are wide-set
  • Thin upper lip or abnormal features
  • Intellectual disability and cardiovascular problems
  • Kidney defects and abnormalities
  • Maladjustment issues in school, being disobedient and often getting expelled
  • Having disregard for the law
  • Having issues controlling their anger and frustration
  • These children could get involved in drug and alcohol abuse
  • They would have difficulty keeping a job or living on their own

Treatment for Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

FAS is incurable but there are treatments to curb the symptoms. The earlier the diagnosis is made, the better the prognosis. Taking the child for regular checkups can help monitor the symptoms.

Precautions to employ at home:
With a stable, supportive, and friendly home atmosphere, you can keep the child from further developing behavioural and conduct problems like violence and substance abuse. Motivating them with positive reinforcement can allow them to develop a better behaviour or attitude.

There are no medications that could particularly treat FAS, however, many medications can target and address the symptoms. A psychiatrist would be the right professional to prescribe any medication.

Behaviour modification therapies can assist in training them with social and communicative skills. Executive function training can also assist in reasoning, self-control and understanding cause and effect. Academic guidance is essential for FAS children. Support groups and teachers can also help.

How to prevent Fetal alcohol syndrome?

Avoid consuming any type of alcohol, even in tiny amounts, during pregnancy. If you have drinking issues and still want to get pregnant, please seek assistance or guidance from a trusted therapist or your child may develop Fetal Alcohol Syndrome during pregnancy or postpartum.


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Why Choose Cadabams for alcohol addiction treatment?

Cadabams is known to have an excellent record of treating patients from different backgrounds, and they can handle various challenges that come up with alcoholism treatment. The expert staff have rich experience, skills, and resources to cater to the needs of different individuals; this makes us the top choice for treating alcohol dependence syndrome.

Our team of psychiatrists are experts in psychosocial rehabilitation, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), Interpersonal and Social Rhythm Therapy (IPSRT), and family-focused therapy that has proven to be highly effective in treating Alcohol Dependence. We have over two decades of expertise in handling the most complex and severe cases of Alcoholism.

Cadabams is widely trusted by various healthcare experts to help addiction relief with care and love. It is a comfortable facility where individuals are treated with attention, affection, care and concern. We offer an exclusive range of solutions and treatments that are based on the condition and issues faced by the patient.

Call us on our mental health helpline +91 96111 94949 for further details on getting alcohol treatment in India or alcoholism-related emergencies.

Disclaimer – We strive to treat our patients with dignity and the utmost sensitivity. We understand that addiction is a disease and that it is not a sign of weakness. The term alcoholic or alcoholism is used not in a derogatory fashion but to remain relevant to user search trends and common usage. In case you or a loved are struggling with alcohol abuse and share a unique viewpoint on how we can improve this content for our readers, please reach out to us on

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