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When does Alcohol Abuse Become alcoholism

December 16, 2015

The word alcoholic seems to have become greatly misused in modern society. If you tend to drink a little more than you should, then you have automatically become an alcoholic. But there are many different levels of alcohol problems that do not necessarily reflect alcoholism and mean you need alcohol treatment. Drinking behaviour is recognised as four different levels by counsellors and medical practitioners. The levels are social drinking, Hazardous drinking, problem drinking, and alcohol dependence.When does Alcohol Abuse Become alcoholism

The centre of a night out

The social drink is fundamental to how we all socialise in western society. It is often the lubricant that makes socialising easier. But it comes with its own dangers. For a start, alcohol effects how we function. Therefore it can be dangerous if we are driving, operating machinery or taking medication. It may also be used as a “social crutch” too often. While this is a benefit in the early stages, it may lead to long term problems if the individual only deals with some situations with the aid of a bottle of beer or a gin and tonic.

Watch out for the warning signs

Hazardous drinking – this is the stage where there maybe the first signs of alcohol abuse. Medical practitioners have found that if an individual is drinking too many units of alcohol per week on a regular basis, it is likely to affect their physical health. Men are advised to drink no more than 21 units per week, and women no more than 14 units per week. It has been found that it increases the risk of developing diseases such as cirrhosis (liver damage), damage to the pancreas, certain cancers, heart problems, and sexual problems. The more you drink the greater the risk. For example, if a man drinks five units each day (not greatly over the recommended limit) then, on average, he doubles his risk of developing liver disease, raised blood pressure, some cancers, and in some cases fatal consquences. The earlier the patient seeks out help with their problem the better.

A Question of Control

This is recognised when you are causing harm to yourself or to your friends, family and indeed society around you. As well as doing harm to yourself physically, your behaviour through having too much to drink is causing stress, because you are not able to function normally in life due to its on-going effects. This may put your job at risk and family relationships in jeopardy. You may find yourself taking risks that you would not normally take. You maybe spending money on alcohol at the expense of the necessities in your family life. Sufferers may not necessarily be dependant on alcohol at this stage and with the right kind of treatment can in a lot of cases be helped through this with effective counseling and understanding from those near to them. But it is a pre-cursor to alcohol dependence.

When dependence calls for Alcohol Rehab

This final stage, alcohol dependence can be truly called alcoholism. This is more than just binge drinking, using alcohol as a social support or, out of control drinking. The problem has gone one stage further. Not only is the individuals mind held captive but his/her body has become physically dependant upon alcohol intake.

Now not only does the patient drink to compliment situations or as a support in the here and now, he will take drink to prevent unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. Just as we feel the pangs of hunger when we need food, or the sting of dehydration when we are deprived of water, the alcoholic’s body suffers when deprived of alcohol and he is caught in a vicious cycle. The only way to relieve himself of the severe pains he feels when he is withdrawing from alcohol is to continue to take it. Unfortunately, the body will become tolerant to the effects of the alcohol over a period of time and so the addict will need to take more alcohol to get the same highs, and even more alcohol to prevent the terrifying withdrawal symptoms. In the UK, about 2 in 100 women and about 6 in 100 men are alcohol-dependent.

It is at this stage that addicts seek out the help of alcohol treatment through alcohol rehab centres . Treatment can be given at home through the proper medication and medical supervision but a rehab centre offers the extra positives of moving the alcoholic away from their normal environment, giving constant professional support, addiction counsellors, peer support and the introduction of an environment which is focused on abstinance.

The other important element which most rehab centres offer is an alcohol detox. It is highly likely that due to the acute illness, the patient will need to be admitted while still very much under the influence of drink. Before any therapy or treatment can take place there needs to be a period of detoxification to get all alcohol out of the system.


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