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Stop Drinking Advice...Drinking and the Problems Involved

Jul 2, 2008
The effect of alcoholism varies from one person to the next. But the most common effects are changes in emotional state or stability, behavior, and personality. Alcoholics may become angry and argumentative, or quiet and withdrawn or depressed. They may also feel more anxious, sad, tense, and confused. They then seek relief by drinking more, not help with their drinking problem, though treatment is readily available.

Generally speaking, the signs of alcoholism are unclear to many people. It is not unusual to have questions as to what alcohol dependency is exactly, how is different from alcohol abuse, and when an individual should look for treatment due to their drinking problem. The following information will provide you with the answer to these questions and many others you many have. Alcoholism addiction (also known as alcohol dependence) is characterized by several signs: Cravings - A strong need, or compulsion, to drink. Loss of control - The inability to limit one's drinking on any given occasion. Physical dependence - Withdrawal symptoms, such as nausea, sweating, shakiness, and anxiety, occur when alcohol use is stopped after a period of heavy drinking. Tolerance - The need to drink greater amounts of alcohol in order to "get high.

Detoxification or 'detox' involves taking a short course of a medicine which helps to prevent withdrawal symptoms when you stop drinking alcohol. Benzodiazepine medicines such as chlordiazepoxide are used for detox. Many GPs are happy to prescribe for detox from alcohol. A common plan is to prescribe a high dose of medication for the first day that you stop drinking alcohol. You then gradually reduce the dose over the next 5-7 days. This usually prevents, or greatly reduces, the unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. You must agree not to drink any alcohol when you are taking the detox medication. Your GP or practice nurse will usually see you quite often during the time of detox. Also during this time, support from family or friends can be of great help.

One unit of alcohol is in about half a pint of beer, or two thirds of a small glass of wine, or one small pub measure of spirits. See leaflet called 'Alcohol and Sensible Drinking' for details. Drinking above the recommended safe limit is hazardous. That is, it increases your risk of developing diseases such as cirrhosis (liver damage), damage to the pancreas, certain cancers, heart problems, sexual problems, and other conditions. About 1 in 3 men, and about 1 in 7 women, drink more than the safe limit. In general, the more you drink, the greater the risk. For example, if a man drinks five units each day (not greatly over the recommended limit) then, on average, he doubles his risk of developing liver disease, raised blood pressure, some cancers, and of having a violent death.

About a third of U.S. women drink alcohol. Of these women who drink, only one out of ten averages two or more drinks a day. For women, two drinks a day is above what the Dietary Guidelines for Americans call "moderate:" no more than one drink a day for women and no more than two drinks a day for men (see below for more on the Guidelines, and the recommendations for moderate drinking). Why the difference between women and men? Alcohol passes through the digestive tract and is dispersed in the water in the body. The more water available, the more diluted the alcohol. As a rule, men weigh more than women. In addition, pound for pound, women have less water in their bodies than men, so a woman's brain and other organs are exposed to more alcohol before it is broken down. These differences play a role in both the short- and long-term effects of alcohol on women.

Stress is a common theme in women's lives. Research confirms that one of the reasons people drink is to help them cope with stress. In laboratory studies, animals consume alcohol in response to stress. However, the role of stress in causing problem drinking in people is not clear. Heavy drinking itself causes stress in a job and family. Many factors, including family history, shape how much a woman will use alcohol to cope with stress. A woman's past and usual drinking habits are important. Different people have different expectations about the effect of alcohol on stress. How a woman handles stress, and the support she has to manage it, also may affect whether she uses alcohol in response to stress.

As women get older, fewer women drink. At the same time, research suggests that people born in recent decades are more likely to drink-throughout life-than people born in the early 1900s. Elderly patients are admitted to hospitals about as often for alcohol-related causes as for heart attacks. Older women may be especially sensitive to the stigma of being alcoholic, and therefore hesitate to report their drinking, even if they have a problem.
About the Author
Discover how to quit Alcohol by the Illustrious Ed Philips and Quit Alcohol Today.
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