What is Alcohol Abuse?

Alcohol abuse i.e. misuse of alcohol is referred to as excessive consumption of alcohol or any other way that can harm them.Alcohol abuse is one of the most common form of substance abused.Some people are more severely affected with it while others are less affected. When a person’s drinking causes distress or harm, that’s called an alcohol use disorder or (AUD). An estimated 10% of adult men and 5% of adult women have an alcohol use disorder. The use of alcohol leads to various health issues at work place and at home. Heavy drinking can seriously damage the liver, stomach, heart, brain, and nervous system. It also increases the risk of cancer of the mouth, throat, larynx (voice box), and oesophagus. Women who drink heavily are at higher risk of developing breast cancer and osteoporosis. 

The National Dietary Guidelines recommends a cautious approach to alcohol consumption, with women limiting themselves to 1 drink daily (7 per week) and 2 drinks daily for men (14 per week) is generally considered alcohol misuse. 

Alcohol Dependency

Being dependent on alcohol is a very serious condition. In the simplest terms, it means that the body and brain are unable to function properly without alcohol. 

Alcohol dependence can range in terms of severity, alcohol abuse can carry permanent consequences to your well being and health. Excessive alcohol consumption can lead to the development of dependence on alcohol.When alcohol consumption is ceased or substantially reduced this syndrome comprises physical signs as well as psychological symptoms that contribute to distress and psychological discomfort. For some people the fear of withdrawal symptoms may help perpetuate alcohol abuse. 

Recently a new government poll conducted on 9,000 adults revealed that as many as 1 in 5 adults are drinking above the Chief Medical Officers’ safe drinking guidelines. This is alarming considering the damage that alcohol can cause both physical and mental health when consumed at harmful levels.

Signs of Alcohol dependence: 

• A strong desire or sense of compulsion to drink- intense Cravings for alcohol, alcohol withdrawal sweating 

• Difficulties in moderating intake of alcohol in terms of its onset, termination, or levels of use 

• A physical state of withdrawal if/when use is reduced or stopped completely. This is evidenced by alcohol withdrawal syndrome. Use of alcohol with the intention of avoiding the onset of alcohol withdrawal symptoms 

Alcohol Withdrawal

After alcohol abuse when people try to overcome with their problem and try to avoid drinking it becomes next to impossible for them to do that but they try, this is called alcohol withdrawal . Symptoms can range from mild to severe. Alcohol causes depressive effect on the body It slows down brain function and changes the way nerves send messages back and forth.Over time, central nervous system adjusts to having alcohol around all the time. Body works hard to keep brain in a more awake state and to keep nerves talking to one another. 

When the alcohol level suddenly drops, brain stays in this keyed up state. That’s what causes withdrawal. 

Causes of alcohol withdrawal syndrome:

Excessive drinking excites and irritates the nervous system. If you drink daily, your body becomes dependent on alcohol over time. When this happens, your central nervous system can no longer adapt easily to the lack of alcohol. If you suddenly stop drinking or significantly reduce the amount of alcohol you drink, it can cause AWS. Alcohol withdrawal syndrome diagnosis: 

• hand tremors 

• an irregular heart rate 

• dehydration 

• a fever 

The Clinical Institute Withdrawal Assessment  of Alcohol (CIWA-Ar) is a series of questions used to measure AWS. The doctor may use this test to diagnose AWS. It can also be used to determine the severity of your symptoms. The scale measures the following 10 symptoms: 

  • agitation 
  • anxiety 
  • auditory disturbances 
  • clouding of sensorium, or the inability to think clearly 
  • headache 
  • nausea and vomiting 
  • paroxysmal sweats, or sudden, 
  • uncontrollable sweating 
  • tactile disturbances 
  • tremor 
  • visual disturbances 

Treatment for alcohol withdrawal :

Unless you have a serious health condition or you’ve had severe withdrawals in the past, you probably won’t need more than a supportive environment to help you through. That includes: 

• A quiet place 

• Soft lighting 

• Limited contact with people 

• A positive, supportive atmosphere 

• Healthy food and lots of fluids 

If you decide to get treatment, your doctor can recommend the type of care that you need. 

If your blood pressure, pulse, or body temperature rises, or if you have more serious symptoms like seizures and hallucinations, seek medical care immediately (dial 911). Your doctor could suggest inpatient care and drug treatment. 

Common medications include benzodiazepines to help treat symptoms like anxiety, insomnia, and seizures. You might also take anti-seizure meds and antipsychotics, along with other drugs. 

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