What is alcoholism?
Alcoholism, also known as alcohol dependence,
It includes the following four symptoms:
- Craving – A strong need, or urge, to drink.
- Loss of control – Not being able to stop drinking once drinking has begun.
- Physical dependence – Withdrawal symptoms, such as nausea, sweating, shakiness, and anxiety after stopping drinking.
- Tolerance – The need to drink greater amounts of alcohol to get “high”.
Other names: Booze
- Alcohol is a CNS depressant
- Alcohol is the most widely used psychoactive drug and is legal in most countries
- Grain alcohol or ethanol is the intoxicating ingredient. It is a clear colourless liquid
- Alcohol is the result of fermenting or distilling a variety of fruits, vegetables or grains
- The percentage ranges from approx. 5% in beer to 40% in distilled liqours
- Once ingested, alcohol is absorbed into the blood stream through the stomach, small intestine and colon
- It takes about 5 minutes for the alcohol level to get into the bloodstream reaching its highest levels 30 to 90 minutes after ingestion
- Vitamin deficiencies
- Stomach ailments: Alcohol stimulates acid production in the stomach. This can lead to diarrhoea, ulcers and stomach haemorrhaging
- Sexual Complications
- Women: Can cause changes in the menstrual cycle, onset of early menopause. Heavy drinking is linked to spontaneous abortion, infertility and decreased sexual desire
- Men: Heavy drinking decreases testosterone production and promotes the production of estrogens. This may result in low sperm count, lowered sexual desire and function, and enlarged breasts
- Liver damage: Prolonged alcohol abuse can lead to alcoholic hepatitis (inflammation of the liver) which is treatable, and cirrhosis (scaring and break down of liver tissue) which in non-treatable
- Heart Disease: These include hypertension, high blood pressure, cardiac arrhythmias, or irregular heart rhythms
- Increased chance of cancer of liver, oesophagus, pancreas and colon
- Euphoria, drowsiness, and dizziness are associated with low doses of alcohol
- Distortions of vision, hearing, perception, emotions, co-ordination, slurred speech, staggering, and nausea are associated with higher doses of alcohol
- Disinhibition: Alcohol suppresses the part of the brain that controls reasoning and judgement and in the centre of the brain affecting mood and emotion
- This effects people differently. For some it may trigger sociability and talkativeness and for others it can aggravate violent tendencies
- Alcohol can cause an electrochemical disruption of the brain that can result in “amnesia”. This alcohol-induced amnesia is known as a “Blackout”. Blackouts can be an early indicator of alcoholism.
- Heavy drinking over a short period of time can result in “hangovers” – headache, nausea, and vomiting.