Alcoholism is also called ‘alcohol use disorder’ and ‘alcohol dependence’. It is a condition in which the person finds difficulty in controlling the drinking habit although alcohol consumption causes complications. In certain cases, a person might continue the intake of alcohol up to the point when its starts affecting health and life in general.
Drinking a lot of alcohol can pose a risk for a person becoming an alcoholic.
A man who has 15 or more drinks a week, or has have 5 or more drinks at a time, a woman who has 12 or more drinks a week, or has 4 or more drinks at a time, can be defined as someone who drinks a lot of alcohol.
One drink is defined as a 12-ounce bottle of beer, a 5-ounce glass of wine, or a 1 1/2-ounce shot of liquor.
The cause of alcoholism is not known, yet there are several factors that impact the drinking habit of a person. They are genetics, psychological and environmental factors. Consuming too much of alcohol over a period of time can change the normal functioning of the brain. It also leads to a sense of pleasure associated with alcohol. Gradually, this results into craving more alcohol and eventually addiction.
The symptoms of alcoholism are based on the person’s behavior which can be mild, moderate or severe. These symptoms include:
- Not being able to keep a tab on the amount of alcohol a person drinks
- Failing to cut down on number of drinks after repeated attempts
- Spending too much of time drinking alcohol
- Showing no interest in social, occupational and recreational activities
- Always finding a reason to drink
- Not performing well at school or work due to alcoholism
- Continuing to drink even if it causes health or financial issues
The symptoms of alcoholism also include alcohol intoxication and alcohol withdrawal.
- Alcohol intoxication leads to several behavioral problems such as mood swings, lack of coordination, slurred speech and impaired memory.
- Alcohol withdrawal symptoms include nausea, anxiety, vomiting, sweating, sleeping problems and so on.
A doctor or healthcare professional will diagnose alcoholism by asking the person about the drinking habits and by doing a physical exam.
The history and examination include:
- Asking questions about the drinking habits of the person
- Performing a physical exam
- Performing a lab tests and imaging tests
- Performing a psychological evaluation
The treatment of alcoholism differs depending on the person’s requirement. It may involve counselling of the person as well as working towards quitting alcohol intake in order to ensure a healthy treatment and a better way of life.
The treatment of alcoholism can include:
- Detoxification and withdrawal management
- Psychological counselling of individual
- Practising yoga and meditation
- Treatment for health complications
- Oral medication
- Injected medication
- Treatment for psychological conditions
Residential treatment is yet another way to treat alcoholism. It includes family involvement, group therapy, activity therapy, educational lectures, counselling from alcohol and drug counsellors, social workers and other experts.