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Alcohol problems

What is Alcohol problems

How do I know that I have drinking problems?

Some warning signs that one has drinking problems are:

 

  • One drinks alcohol to cope with anger, frustration, anxiety or depression.
  • One regularly uses alcohol to feel confident.
  • One needs a drink to start the day
  • Drinking affects one’s relationships with other people.
  • Drinking makes one feel disgusted, angry, or suicidal.
  • One hides the amount one drinks from friends and family.
  • One gets angry if confronted about one’s drinking
  • One is unable to say ‘no’ when offered a drink
  • One drinks to get drunk
  • One gets very shaky, sweaty, and tense a few hours after the last drink
  • One can drink a lot without becoming drunk
  • One needs to drink more and more to feel good
  • One tries to stop, but can't
  • One carries on drinking even though it is interfering with work, family and relationships
  • One gets "memory blanks" where one can't remember what happened for a period of hours or days after drinking
  • One is not able to socialise without a drink
  • One struggles at work because of hangovers
  • One takes a lot of sick leave to recover from effects of alcohol

 

How does alcohol affect us ?

Alcohol can damage nearly every part of the body.

It can affect one’s physical health. One can get disturbed sleep, stomach pains, hyperacidity, stomach ulcers, vomiting of blood, liver disease, heart disease, malnutrition, fits, stroke and even death.

It can affect one’s mental health too. Heavy drinking can bring on depression and make people attempt suicide. Alcohol can cause brain damage and affect memory. It can make one hear noises and voices even when one is alone and this is a distressing experience. 

Alcohol affects one’s judgment, so one does things one wouldn't normally think of. One is more likely to have fights, arguments, money troubles, family upsets, miss work, have accidents at home, on the roads and at work.

 

What can one do to stop drinking?

Some people can stop suddenly without any problems. Others do so gradually. A few things that one could do to reduce and stop drinking are:

  • Set oneself a target to gradually reduce the amount of alcohol you drink.
  • Not all brands of alcohol are the same strength Consider drinking low-alcohol content drinks.
  • Pace one’s drinking. Sip, don’t gulp
  • Avoid high-risk drinking situations like going to the bar or socialising with others who drink
  • Know how to refuse a drink. Decide for oneself when and how much one wants to drink.
  • Eat before and while drinking. Food makes the body absorb alcohol more slowly and so limits how quickly it gets into the bloodstream.
  • Work out other things one can do instead of drinking.
  • Involve one’s family or a friend. They can help to agree a goal with regards to drinking and keep track of progress.
  • Talk through problems and worries. Stress and worries can influence how much one drinks. Talking about them can be a good first step to resolving problems with alcohol.

Some people cannot stop drinking by themselves as they develop craving, shakiness and restlessness. If this happens, a doctor’s help should be sought. The doctor can often help with some medication for a short time to prevent these. This can be done at home or in hospital.

 

There are self-help groups like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), or those run by professionals at an alcohol treatment unit. Many people find that self-help groups like Alcoholics Anonymous are the most helpful way to overcome a serious drink problem. Some people may benefit from counselling or psychotherapy.  This is usually provided by a psychologist or a psychiatrist.

 

Once you have stopped drinking one will also need to find ways to occupy oneself with activities, so one can get out of the daily routine that revolves around alcohol. Friends and family may be able to help with this. There are also some medications that the  doctor can prescribe to reduce craving for alcohol. There are other medications that the doctor can prescribe to help with sleep and low mood which can be the cause or outcome of heavy alcohol drinking. Finally, there are residential treatment facilities where one can stay for a period of time. During the stay one is helped to come off alcohol and to develop strategies to stay off alcohol.

 

 

Tackling  an alcohol problem can be hard work, but it pays off in the end by making a difference across all aspects of one's life.

 

 

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