Alcohol – An Overview of Problem Drinking

By: Joe Swails

What is problem drinking?
Most of us enjoy a social drink from time to time. Alcohol makes us feel relaxed and helps us to lose our inhibitions. The pressure of work or simply keeping on top of things at home can seem easier if we know we can enjoy a couple of pints of beer or a glass of wine at the end of the day.

However, if you drink to excess this can become a problem which can impact upon all areas of your life, and also that of your partner, family, friends, work colleagues, and even people you do not know (through injuring them after losing control of your car, or when operating machinery, due to the alcohol in your bloodstream affecting your concentration, for example).

Symptoms of problem drinking
Symptoms of problem drinking can include:

A strong desire for alcohol that becomes harder to satisfy the more you drink – leaving you seemingly trapped in a vicious circle

Being unable to get through each day without having an alcoholic drink (this can be a small amount, and does not necessarily mean that you would become drunk or out of control)

The neglect of your family, friends, work and also social activities (that do not involve drinking) that you would normally enjoy

Withdrawal symptoms (trembling, breaking into a sweat, nausea and convulsions), that only taking an alcohol drink can prevent or control

Causes of problem drinking
Each individual’s capacity for alcohol is different. But when enough alcohol has been imbibed that your physical coordination is affected, and the judgment part of your brain has been slowed down – this is where drinking becomes, well, a problem.

Of course, there could be a whole multitude of reasons and factors behind why you drink to excess. For example:

Enjoyment of the actual taste of alcoholic drinks (this can lead to addiction)

Peer pressure

To reduce inner tension and lessen stress and anxiety

To boost confidence in social situations

To stave off loneliness

To find the courage to face difficult situations

To forget problems at home or at work for while (drinking to escape)

Also, you may have a genetic predisposition to developing a problem with alcohol – a history of problem drinking is already in the family and has been passed down.

Effect of problem drinking on your life
Problem drinking can have a negative affect on your:

Physical Health – you can develop certain medical conditions, such as liver cirrhosis, heart problems and even cancer. Also many people who problem drink develop bleeding stomach ulcers as well as irritation and irreversible erosion of the stomach lining.

Mental Health – depression, loss of self-esteem, lack of regard for self-care or self-grooming.

Family – breakdown of relationships with your partner, children and other family members.

Sexual performance – for men, an inability to achieve and maintain an erection satisfactorily.

Job – poor punctuality and attendance, poor performance with symptoms such as nausea and trembling hands meaning you are perceived as ‘letting the team down’ through colleagues having to assume your work responsibilities on top of their own.

Interpersonal relationships with friends, etc. – no longer participating in weekly activities such as sessions at the gym, a game of squash, or even just visiting a friend for an afternoon cup of tea and a chat, because you would rather go to the pub instead or drink alone at home.

Treatment for problem drinking
Although many problem drinkers express the desire to stop drinking altogether, this can prove to be a difficult process. The decision and the will to stop drinking has to come from inside you. However, there is help available and a number of treatments which can support you through the process. These treatments include:

Talking treatments – counselling with a specially trained therapist experienced in talking through the problem, and offering support and advice

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) – a form of therapy which focuses upon changing your ways of thinking and behaviour

Detoxification – a course of medication that gradually nullifies withdrawal symptoms during the readjustment process

There are also self-help measures you can take, such as: gaining a better understanding about your illness so that you cope with it better (and in some cases, even overcome it) through books, audio tapes, pamphlets with explanatory information about problem drinking, and also through joining a self-help group for problem drinkers in your local area.

Advice & Support
Alcoholics Anonymous
PO Box 1
10 Toft Green
Tel: 0845 769 7555
E-mail: [email protected]

National Association for Children of Alcoholics
PO Box 64
BS16 2UH
Tel: 0800 358 3456
E-mail: [email protected]

Drinkline – National Alcohol Helpline
Tel: 0800 917 8282

This information and advice is not intended to replace the advice of your GP or chemist. Chemist Online is also not responsible or liable for any diagnosis made by a user based upon the content of the Chemist Online website. Chemist Online is also not liable for the contents of any external internet sites listed, nor does it endorse any commercial product or service mentioned or advised on any of the sites.

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