How to Identify Alcohol Abuse

All too often we hear of friends or relatives who are abusing alcohol. What exactly is alcoholism or alcohol addiction and is it really that dangerous?

Most simply put alcoholism is a compulsive need to consume an intoxicating liquid that is obtained from fermented grain or fruit. These intoxicated liquids include beer, wine, and other hard liquors.

Alcohols are people who constantly crave alcohol and cannot control or limit the amount they drink or how often they drink. These people may even experience unnatural withdrawal experiences such as nausea, sweating, shakiness, or anxiety when alcohol consumption has ceased, or if there is a need to drink greater amounts of alcohol in order to feel a high, that person is most likely alcoholic.

For those of us who have never had an alcohol problem, it seem as simply as just willing yourself to stop, but if it were that easy we wouldn’t have so many alcoholics around. In fact alcoholics find their cravings so bad that it over runs all other cravings and needs, such as hunger. That is why alcoholics need help in order to stop. Treatment will most probably be necessary, as well as support from family and friends in order for alcoholics to rebuild their normal lives.  Unfortunately some people cannot stop despite this support and assistance.

So what causes some people to become addicted to alcohol while others can resist the addiction?

Well research has emerged that says that people with a history of alcoholism in the family are more likely to themselves become addicts. In addition to that a person’s environment or life experiences may lead them to a life of addiction, such as those who are exposed to trauma or abuse. Factors that may include contribute include culture, family, friends, peer pressures and where the person lives.

Alcoholism is both physically and mentally destructive and takes it’s toll on a person’s relationships as well. Statistics show that alcohol abuse has become such a problematic feature in society that almost half of all crimes, murders, accidental deaths, and suicides can be attributed to alcohol abuse.  There are also many health problems associated with alcohol use such as brain damage, cancer, heart disease and liver diseases. In fact researchers have concluded that alcoholics who do not stop drinking reduce their life expectancy by 10 to 15 years.

The physical damage done by alcohol is great and too much alcohol can destroy brain cells and possibly leading to brain damage. Alcohol also negatively affects the structure and function of the central nervous system and particularly the brain hindering the ability to retrieve, consolidate, and process information.

Consuming a moderate amount of alcohol can affect cognitive abilities, so one can imagine the effect of large amounts. Alcohol over consumption can interfere with the oxygen supply of the brain causing a blackout when totally drunk.  Sometimes it can also lead to inflammation of the mouth, oesophagus and stomach and sometimes progresses into cancer in these areas, especially when combined with smoking.  

Binge drinking may result in an irregular heartbeat and a higher risk of high-blood pressure, heart attacks and other heart problems.

In addition to these serious problems alcoholism can also harm a person’s sight and damage their sexual function. Overindulgence can also slow circulation and be the grounds for malnutrition or even water retention. Many skin and pancreatic disorders can also result, as well as weakened bones and muscles leading to a decreasing immunity. A decreased immunity of course leaves one susceptible to viruses, illnesses and diseases.

Of course the greatest documented damage is done to the liver because a large portion of alcohol consumed is broken down in the liver. The liver works at a fixed rate and so overuse of the lover results in numerous problems, disorders and malfunctions. So basically the liver bears the brunt of alcohol abuse.

 Liver damage occurs in three stages.

  1. Liver enlargement – liver cells are penetrated with abnormal fatty tissue.
  2. Alcoholic hepatitis – liver cells swell, inflame, and eventually die.
  3. Cirrhosis – fibrous scar tissues are formed, hindering the flow of blood through the liver.


How to Handle Alcohol Addiction?

An alcoholic must have a desire to stop and identify why they became an alcoholic in the first place. Was it deep emotional pain, a past experience, insecurities etc.? Knowing the cause of the problem is an important step in finding a solution. Seek counselling to aid in the process or seek a good rehabilitation facility.  Most importantly make the decision to get help.

Posted by Peter Cutforth