TODAY -

Psychological/Mental effects of alcohol addiction

Dr Senjam Gojendra Singh *



International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking 2021 observation by IPS, Manipur branch
Alcohol is used in every part of the country including in those States which have enforced prohibition.


According to National Family Health Survey of 2019-20, Manipur ranks third in the country in alcohol consumption. Alcohol use disorder (AUD), previously called alcohol addiction is a medical condition characterized by an impaired ability to stop or control alcohol use despite adverse social, occupational, or health consequences.

Risk factors for Alcohol Use Disorder

1) A young adult experiencing peer pressure
2) Have low self-esteem
3) Experience a high level of stress
4) Living in a family or culture where alcohol use is common and accepted
5) Have a close relative with alcohol use disorder

Signs of an Alcohol Problem

Alcohol use disorder is diagnosed when a patient answers “yes” to two or more of the following questions.
In the past year, have you:
1) Had times when you ended up drinking more, or longer than you intended ?
2 More than once wanted to cut down or stop drinking, or tried to, but couldn’t ?
3) Spent a lot of time drinking ? Or being sick or getting over the after effects ?
4) Experienced cravin — a strong need, or urge, to drink ?
5) Found that drinking—or being sick from drinking— often interfered with taking care of your home or family? Or caused job troubles ? Or school problems ?
6) Continued to drink even though it was causing trouble with your family or friends ?
7) Given up or cut back on activities that were important or interesting to you, or gave you pleasure, in order to drink ?
8) More than once gotten into situations while or after drinking that increased your chances of getting hurt (such as driving, swimming, using machinery, walking in a dangerous area, or having unsafe sex) ?
9) Continued to drink even though it was making you feel depressed or anxious or adding to another health problem ? Or after having had a memory blackout ?
10) Had to drink much more than you once did to get the effect you want ? Or found that your usual number of drinks had much less effect than before ?
11) Found that when the effects of alcohol were wearing off, you had withdrawal symptoms, such as trouble sleeping, shakiness, irritability, anxiety, depression, restlessness, nausea, or sweating ? Or sensed things that were not there ?
12) If you have any of these symptoms, your drinking may already be a cause for concern. The more symptoms you have, the more urgent the need for change.

Psychological/mental effects of alcohol use disorder

While the effects of alcohol can sometimes have a short term positive impact on our mood, in the long term it can cause problems for mental health. Drinking alcohol is linked to a range of mental health issues from depression and memory loss, to suicide.

Short-term psychological effects:

1) Difficulty focusing
2) Relaxation and diminished stress
3) Reduced inhibitions
4) Problems with memory
5) Affected vision, coordination and reflexes

Long-term psychological effects:

1) Increased depression and anxiety
2) Tolerance development and increased substance use
3) Dependency, otherwise known as alcoholism
4) Impaired learning and memory capacity
5) Interrupted brain development

TREATMENT

The first step toward recovery is to acknowledge that there is an alcohol dependency problem.
The next step is to get help.
The following are recognized treatment options for alcoholism:

1) Do-it-yourself: Some people with an alcohol problem manage to reduce their drinking or abstain without seeking professional help.

2) Counselling: A qualified counsellor can help the person share their problems and then devise a plan to tackle the drinking. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is commonly used to treat alcohol dependency.

3) Treating underlying problems: There may be problems with self-esteem, stress, anxiety, depression, or other aspects of mental health. It is important to treat these problems, too, as they can increase the risks posed by alcohol. Common alcohol-related issues, such as hypertension, liver diseases, and possibly heart diseases, will need to be treated too.

4) Residential programs: These can offer expert professional help, individual or group therapy, support groups, training, family involvement, activity therapy, and a host of strategies for treating alcohol abuse. Being physically away from access to temptation is helpful for some people.

5) Drug that provokes a severe reaction to alcohol: Antabuse (disulfiram) causes a severe reaction when somebody drinks alcohol, including nausea, flushing, vomiting, and headaches. It is a deterrent, but it will not treat the compulsion to drink or solve the problem in the long term.

6) Drugs for cravings : Naltrexone may help reduce the urge to have a drink. Acamprosate may help with cravings.

7) Detoxification: Medications can help prevent withdrawal symptoms (delirium tremens, or DTs) that can occur after quitting. Treatment usually lasts 4 to 7 days.

8) Abstinence: Some people complete detox successfully, but they start drinking again either soon after or some time later. Access to counselling, medical help, support groups, and family support can all help the individual avoid alcohol as time goes on.

9) Alcoholics Anonymous: Alcoholics Anonymous is an international fellowship of men and women who have faced problems with alcohol. It is non-professional, self-supporting, multiracial, apolitical, and available almost everywhere. There are no age or education requirements. Membership is open to anyone who wants to stop drinking.


* Dr Senjam Gojendra Singh (MD FIPS) wrote this article for The Sangai Express
The writer is Hony State Secretary, Manipur State Branch and can be contacted at drgojendra(AT)gmail(DOT)com
This article was webcasted on July 05 , 2021 .



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