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Youth and drinking – a dangerous combination

Youth and drinking – a dangerous combination

Alcohol2Today, most young people are no longer inhibited about drinking and have accepted alcohol as a part of their lifestyle. Globalisation, easy access and availability of alcohol, disposable incomes starting early with youth and a social acceptance value together have made young adults drink more regularly than ever. Studies also show that India has over 70 million alcohol users (excluding social drinkers) of whom more than 12 million are alcohol dependent. A majority of these alcohol dependents are in the age group of 18-28 years.

What exactly is alcoholism or alcohol dependency?

Alcoholism can be described as a chronic disease including uncontrolled drinking and preoccupation with alcohol. People who get under the clutches of alcoholism are unable to control drinking because of a physical and emotional dependence on alcohol.

Impact of Alcoholism on youth

Alcoholism, physiologically, can potentially trigger over 60 diseases including those of the heart, liver (cirrhosis) and the brain. On a social level, it can create problems emotionally, psychologically, sexually, legally and economically for addicts. This further creates difficulty in relationships with families and others connected to those addicted to alcohol.

Alcoholism at best is not helpful to anybody. At work, alcoholism can induce hangovers, regular absenteeism, occupational injuries and accidents leading to reduced productivity, social withdrawal, and eventually job loss. On a personal relationships level, these can make an alcoholic suicidal, perpetuate household and societal violence and even commit crime.

How do you recognise you have an alcohol dependency?

For most people, alcoholism gets triggered by ‘social drinking’ (drinking alcohol only on specific occasions). While for teenagers and young adults drinking alcohol starts off mainly due to peer pressure. As time progresses, an individual may gradually lose control over the amount and frequency of drinking.

And contrary to popular belief, drinking alcohol is not just for boys and men. Girls and women also engage in social drinking and could be end up being alcoholics too. Across India, women who drink irrespective of their socio-economic class are plenty.

How do you recognise if your son or daughter is alcoholic?

As a parent or a guardian, it is normal to be concerned if your son or daughter is behaving strangely in their teenage years or young adulthood.

Some warning signs to look for:

  • Unusual smells on breath, body, or clothing.
  • Physical signs of alcoholism like bloodshot eyes.
  • Changes in appetite or sleep patterns. Sudden weight loss or weight gain.
  • Seizures without a history of epilepsy.
  • Ignoring personal grooming or physical appearance.
  • Changes in coordination, injuries/accidents/bruises that they won’t or can’t tell you about.
  • Incoherent or slurred speech, impaired or unstable coordination.

Behavioural signs of alcohol abuse

  • Skipping class, low marks, getting in trouble at college/university.
  • Drop in attendance and performance at work.
  • Unable to explain sudden job loss.
  • Loss of interest in fun activities, hobbies, sports or exercise.
  • Complaints from co-workers, supervisors, teachers or classmates.
  • Acting withdrawn, silent, being secretive or acting suspiciously.
  • Clashes with family values and beliefs.
  • Sudden change in relationships, friends, favourite hangouts and hobbies.
  • Using eyedrops to mask bloodshot eyes and dilated pupils.
  • Avoiding eye contact, constantly arguing or getting into fights.
  • Covering up the smell of cigarettes and alcohol by using incense, perfume or air fresheners.

Psychological warning signs of alcohol or drug abuse

  • Unexplained, sudden changes in personality and/or attitude.
  • Swinging mood changes like irritability, angry outbursts or laughing for no reason.
  • Unusually hyperactive or agitated with people around.
  • Lack of motivation with an inability to focus.
  • Fearful, withdrawn, anxious, or suffer paranoia for no reason.

What not to do if your child is an alcohol addict?

If you recognise any of the signs above in your son and daughter, here are some things you should avoid:

  • Do not lecture, threaten, bribe, preach or moralize the person.
  • Do not resort to emotional appeals as that may only increase feelings of guilt and the compulsion to drink more.
  • Do not cover up, lie or make excuses for their behaviour.
  • Do not take over their responsibilities. This will only protect them from the consequences of their behaviour.
  • Do not argue with your son or daughter when they are using alcohol as they can’t have a rational conversation.
  • Do not feel guilty or responsible for their behaviour. It is not your fault.
  • Do not join them. It is of no use to keeping up with them by drinking with them.

Seek professional help

Alcohol addiction can lead a family to breaking point, creating instability at home, the family unit, mental health, physical health and finances. It is better to intervene and help your daughter or son recover from this debilitating disease by engaging with professionals. If you are looking for help, please do not hesitate to contact us using the contact form or calling us on +91 96111 94949.