Alcohol abuse and dependence

People in early cultures, including the Egyptian, Greek, and Roman, made extensive and often excessive use of alcohol. Cambyses, King of Persia in the sixth century B.C. was one of the first alcoholics on record. Beer was first made in Egypt around 3000 B.C.
The World Health Organization uses the term alcoholic to refer to any person with life problems related to alcohol. Alcoholics mean individuals with serious drinking problems, whose drinking impairs their life adjustment in terms of health, personal relationships, and/or occupational functioning. Alcohol abuse is the most devastating drug problem. Automobile accidents and other crimes under the influence of alcohol make between forty and fifty percent of all incidents. Financial drain, losses to industry, and costs involved in the treatment of alcoholics account for large part. Alcohol is a third major cause of death in certain countries. Alcoholism cuts across all age, educational, occupational, and socioeconomic boundaries. According to Japanese proverb,”First the man takes a drink, then the drink takes a drink, and then the drink takes the man.” Alcohol is a depressant and affects the higher brain centers. Behavioral restraints are lowered and the individual indulges in the satisfaction of impulses previously held in check. It is a state, in which, one experiences a sense of warmth, expansiveness, and well-being. Unpleasant realities are hidden and feelings of self-esteem and adequacy rise. The individual enters pleasant world of unreality, in which, worries are vanished temporarily. To produce the desired effects, increased amounts may be needed. Exactly, how alcohol works on the brain is not yet fully understood as many persons maintain apparent control over their behaviour even after taking relatively large amounts of alcohol. “Blackouts”- lapses of memory and “hangover” ,in that, headache, nausea, and fatique are the symptoms, occur in problem drinkers.

Misconceptions. Alcohol is stimulant. It is essential to the treatment of certain diseases. Alcohol can help a person sleep more soundly. Impaired judgement does not occur before signs of intoxication. “Strong wills” never make alcoholics. By drinking just beer one cannot become an alcoholic. Alcohol is less dangerous than other substances.

Chronic alcohol use and dependence. Many investigators state that alcohol is a dangerous systematic poison even in very small amounts but newer studies indicate that in moderate amounts alcohol is not harmful and may actually be beneficial to reduce the tension of modern life. The individuals who take immoderately, the situation is highly unfavourable. Alcohol dependence is attained when symptoms of alcohol tolerance or alcohol withdrawal can be identified.

Early warning signs of drinking problems (Coleman et al.). 1. Frequent desire-increase in desire, often evidenced by eager anticipation of drinking after work and careful attention to maintaining supply.

2. Increased consumption-an increase that seems gradual but is marked from month to month. The individual may begin to worry about it at this point and lie about the amount consumed.

3. Extreme behaviour-the commission of various acts that leave the individual feeling guilty and embarrassed the next day.

4. “Pulling blanks”-inability to remember what happened during an alcoholic bout.

5.Morning drinking-either as a means of reducing a hangover or as a “bracer” to help start the day.

Psychoses associated with alcoholism. 1.Pathological intoxication-moderate amounts of alcohol may render such persons disoriented and they may even commit violent crimes. 2. Delirium tremens-the reaction may occur upon the withdrawal of alcohol after prolonged drinking. 3. Acute alcoholic hallucinosis-auditory hallucinations usually extend to the voices of several people. 4. Korsakoff’s psychsis-the outstanding symptom is a memory defect concealed by falsification.

Causes of alcohol abuse and dependence. some researchers have stressed the role of genetic and biochemical factors; others have viewed it as a maladaptive pattern of adjustment to the stress of life; still others have emphasized sociocultural factors, such as, the availability of alcohol and social approval of excessive drinking.                   ***********************************

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