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Find answers to commonly asked questions on...

 

Question 1 What is alcoholism?

Alcoholism, also known as alcohol dependence, is a  disease that 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 to drink.

          Tolerance: The need to drink greater amounts of alcohol to get “high”.

 

Question 2 Is alcoholism a disease?

 

Yes, alcoholism is a disease. The craving that an alcoholic feels for alcohol can be as strong as the need for food or water. An alcoholic will continue to drink despite serious family, health, or legal problems. Like many other diseases, alcoholism is chronic, meaning that it lasts a person’s lifetime; it usually follows a predictable course; and it has symptoms. The risk for developing alcoholism is influenced both by a person’s genes and by his or her lifestyle.

 

Question 3 Can alcoholism be cured?

 

No, alcoholism cannot be cured at this time. Even if an alcoholic hasn’t been drinking for a long time, he or she can still suffer a relapse. To guard against a relapse, an alcoholic must continue to avoid all alcoholic beverages.

 

Question 4 Can alcoholism be treated?

 

Yes, alcoholism can be treated. Alcoholism treatment programs use both counseling and medications to help a person stop drinking. Most alcoholics need help to recover from their disease. With support and treatment, many people are able to stop drinking and rebuild their lives.

 

Question 5 Does alcoholism treatment work?

 

Alcoholism treatment works for many people. But just like any chronic disease, there are varying levels of success when it comes to treatment. Some people stop drinking and remain sober. Others have long periods of sobriety with bouts of relapse. And still others cannot stop drinking for any length of time. With treatment, one thing is clear, however: the longer a person abstains from alcohol, the more likely he or she will be able to stay sober.

 

Question 6 Do you have to be an alcoholic to experience problems?

 

No. Alcoholism is only one type of an alcohol problem. Alcohol abuse can just be as harmful. A person can abuse alcohol without actually being an alcoholic- that is, he or she may drink too much and too often but still not be dependent on alcohol. Some of the problems linked to alcohol abuse include not being able to meet work, school, or family responsibilities; drunk driving arrests and car crashes, and drinking related medical conditions. Under some circumstances, even social or moderate drinking is dangerous- for example, when driving, during pregnancy, or when taking certain medications.

 

Question 7 How can you tell if someone has drinking problem?

 

Answering the following four questions can help you find out if you or a loved one has a drinking problem:

 

          Have you ever felt you should cut down on your drinking?

          Have people annoyed you by criticizing your drinking?

          Have you ever felt bad or guilty about your drinking?

          Have you ever had a drink first thing in the morning to steady your nerves or to get over your hangover?

 

One “ yes” answer suggests a possible alcohol problem. More than one “ yes” answer means it is highly likely that a problem exists. If you think that you or someone you know might have an alcohol problem, it is important to see a doctor or other health care provider right away. This can help you determine if a drinking problem exists and plan the best course of action.

 

Question 8 What is a safe level of drinking?

 

For most adults, moderate alcohol use – up to two drinks per day for emn and one drink per day fro women and older people – causes few if any problems. (One drink equals one 12 ounce bottle of beer or wine cooler, one 5 ounce glass of wine, or 1.5 ounces of 80 proof distilled spirits)

Certain people should not drink at all, however:

          Women who are pregnant or trying to become pregnant

          People who plan to drive or engage in other activities that require alertness and skill (such as using high skill machinery)

          People taking certain over-the-counter or prescription medications

          People with medical conditions that can be made worse by drinking

 

Question 9 Does alcohol affects women differently?

 

Yes, alcohol affects women differently than men. Women become more impaired than men do after drinking the same amount of alcohol, even when differences in body weight are taken into account. This is because women’s bodies have less water than men’s bodies. Because alcohol mixes with body water, a given amount of alcohol becomes more highly concentrated in a woman’s body than in a man’s. In other words, it would be like dropping the same amount of alcohol into a much smaller pail of water. That is why the recommended drinking limit for women is lower than for men. In addition, chronic alcohol abuse takes a heavier physical toll on women than on men. Alcohol dependence and related medical problems, such as brain, heart, and liver damage, progress more rapidly in women than in men. 

 

 

Question 10 Does alcohol affects women differently?

 

Yes, alcohol affects women differently than men. Women become more impaired than men do after drinking the same amount of alcohol, even when differences in body weight are taken into account. This is because women’s bodies have less water than men’s bodies. Because alcohol mixes with body water, a given amount of alcohol becomes more highly concentrated in a woman’s body than in a man’s. In other words, it would be like dropping the same amount of alcohol into a much smaller pail of water. That is why the recommended drinking limit for women is lower than for men. In addition, chronic alcohol abuse takes a heavier physical toll on women than on men. Alcohol dependence and related medical problems, such as brain, heart, and liver damage, progress more rapidly in women than in men. 

 

 

Question 11 Is alcohol good for your heart?

 

Studies have shown that moderate drinkers – men who have two or less drinks per day and women who have one or less drinks per day – are less likely to die from one form of heart disease than are people who do not drink any alcohol or who drink more. It is believed that these smaller amounts of alcohol help protect against heart disease by changing the blood’s chemistry, thus reducing the risk of blood clots in the heart’s arteries.

If you are a non drinker, however, you should not start drinking solely to benefit your heart. You can guard against heart disease by exercising and eating foods that are low in fat. And if you are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, have been diagnosed as alcoholic, or have another medical condition that could make alcohol use harmful, you should not drink.

 

Question 12 When taking medications, must you stop drinking?

 

Possibly. More than 150 medications interact harmfully with alcohol. These interactions may result in increased risk of illness, injury and even death. Alcohol’s effects are heightened by medicines that depress the central nervous system, such as sleeping pills, antihistamines, antidepressants, anti anxiety drugs and some pain killers. In addition, medicines for certain disorders, including diabetes, high blood pressures, and heart disease, can have harmful interactions with alcohol.

 

Question 13 What is a drug?

A drug is a chemical substance that changes the way our body works. When a pharmaceutical preparation or a naturally occurring substance is used primarily to bring about a change in some existing process for state ( physiological, psychological or biochemical) it can be called a drug. In short, any chemical that alters the physical or mental functioning of an individual, is a drug.
Drug may or may not have medical use. Their use may or may not be legal. When drugs are used to cure an illness, prevent a disease or improve the health condition, it is termed "drug use". Doctors prescribe various kinds of drugs to cure the patient. All such drugs have medical use.

 

Question 14 What is " Drug abuse"?

When drugs are taken for reasons other than medical, in an amount, strength, frequency or manner that damages the physical or mental functioning of an individual, it becomes "drug abuse". Any type of drugs can be abused. Drugs with medical uses can also be abused. In short, "drug abuse" is taking a drug without medical reasons. The method, quality and frequency in which drug abuse takes place, lead to physical, emotional and sociological problems. 

 

Question 15 Why do people become addicted to Drug abuse?

There is no single reason. Most of the addicts start using drugs out of curiosity or to have some pleasure, often under the influence of their friends and peer groups. Some take to drugs to overcome boredom, depression and fatigue. Lack of love and understanding on the part of those the person is attached to, also becomes a cause of addiction in many cases. Most of the addicts are found to suffer from frustration in life.
Of course, easy availability of dependence producing drugs is a major factor in the proliferation of drug abuse.
Teenagers take to drugs commonly due to the following factors:
 Persuasion by school - mates and friends (peer pressure)
 Temptation of the teenager 'to look and behave' like an adult (symbol of adulthood)
 Refusal to accept any kind of authority
 Mere curiosity to experience how it feels to take drugs (misconceived adventure); and
 Imitating the drug taking behaviour of others (demonstration impact)

A teenager due to peer pressure takes often drugs for the first time. A peer is usually a person of more or less the same age, who may be a close friend, a schoolmate or a neighbour.

 

Question 16 What are the effects of drug abuse?

Drug abuse leads to a number of short term and long term effects that are detrimental to health:
a. Short term effects: These are the effects that instantly appear a few minutes after the intake of drugs. The effects include a sense of well - being and pleasant drowsiness.
b. Long term effects: These are the damages that occur due to constant excessive use of drugs. The damages include both physical and mental illness.

 

Question 17 What are the symptoms of drug addiction?

Following are the symptoms of Drug addiction?
 Loss of interest in sports and daily routine
 Loss of appetite and weight
 Unsteady gait/ clumsy movement/ tremors
 Reddening and puffiness of eyes, unclear vision
 Slurring of speech
 Fresh/numerous injection sites on body and blood stains on clothes
 Presence of needles, syringes and strange packets at home
 Nausea, vomiting and body pain
 Drowsiness or sleepiness, lethargy and passivity
 Acute anxiety, depression, profuse sweating
 Changing mood, temper, tantrums
 Depersonalisation and emotional detachment and
 Impaired memory and concentration.

 

Question 18 Is alcoholism inherited?

 

Research shows that the risk for developing alcoholism does indeed run in families. The genes a person inherits partially explain this pattern, but lifestyle is also a factor. Currently, researchers are working to discover the actual genes that put people at risk for alcoholism. Your friends, the amount of stress in your life, and how readily available alcohol is are also factors that may increase your risk for alcoholism.

But remember: Risk is not destiny. Just because alcoholism tends to run in families doesn’t mean that a child of an alcoholic parent will automatically become an alcoholic too. Some people develop alcoholism even though no one in their family has a drinking problem. By the same token, not all children of alcoholic families get into trouble with alcohol. Knowing you are at risk is important, though, because then you can take steps to protect yourself from developing problems with alcohol.

 

Question 19 Do you have to be an alcoholic to experience problems?

 

No. Alcoholism is only one type of an alcohol problem. Alcohol abuse can just be as harmful. A person can abuse alcohol without actually being an alcoholic- that is, he or she may drink too much and too often but still not be dependent on alcohol. Some of the problems linked to alcohol abuse include not being able to meet work, school, or family responsibilities; drunk driving arrests and car crashes, and drinking related medical conditions. Under some circumstances, even social or moderate drinking is dangerous- for example, when driving, during pregnancy, or when taking certain medications.

 

Question 20 Are specific groups of people more likely to have problems?

 

Alcohol abuse and alcoholism cut across gender, race, and nationality. Nearly 14 million people in the United States- 1in every13 adults- abuse alcohol or are alcoholic. In general, though, more men than women are alcohol dependent or have alcohol problems. And alcohol problems are highest among young adults ages18-29 and lowest among adult ages 65 and older. We also know that people who start drinking at an early age- for example, at age 14 or younger- greatly increase the chance that will develop alcohol problems at some point in their lives.

 

Question 21 Can a problem drinker simply cut down?

It depends. If that person has been diagnosed as an alcoholic, the answer is “no”. Alcoholics who try to cut down on drinking rarely succeed. Cutting out alcohol – that is, abstaining – is usually the best course for recovery. People who are not alcohol dependent but who have experienced alcohol related problems may be able to limit the amount they drink. If they can’t stay within those limits, they need to stop drinking altogether. 

 

Question 22 If an alcoholic is unwilling to get help, what can you do about it?

 

This can be a challenge. An alcoholic can’t be forced to get help except under certain circumstances, such as violent incident that results in court ordered treatment or medical emergency. But you don’t have to wait for someone to “hit rock bottom” to act. Many alcoholism treatment specialists suggest the following steps to get an alcoholic get treatment.

Stop all cover-ups: Family members often make excuses to others or try to protect the alcoholic from the results of his or her drinking. It is important to stop covering for the alcoholic so that he or she experiences the full consequences of drinking.

Time your intervention: The best time to talk to the drinker is shortly after an alcohol related problem has occurred – like a serious family argument or an accident. Choose a time when he or she is sober, both of you are fairly calm, and have a chance to talk in private

Be specific: Tell the family member that you are worried about his or her drinking. Use examples of the ways in which drinking has caused problems, including the most recent incident.

Get help: Gather information in advance about treatment options in your community. If the person is willing to get help, call immediately for an appointment with a treatment counselor. Offer to go with the family member on the first visit to a treatment program.

Call on a friend: If the family member still refuses to get help, ask a friend to talk with him or her using the steps described above. A friend who is a recovering alcoholic may be particularly persuasive, but any person who is caring and non judgemental may help. The intervention of more than one at a time is often necessary to coax an alcoholic to seek help.

Find strength in numbers: With the help of a health care professional, some families join with other relatives and friends to confront an alcoholic as a group. This approach should only be tried under the guidance of a health care professional who is experienced in this kind of group intervention.

Get support: It is important to remember that you are not alone. Support groups offered in most communities include Alcohol Anonymous, which holds regular meetings for spouses and other significant adults in an alcoholic’s life and Alateen, which is geared to children of alcoholics. These groups help family members understand that they are not responsible for an alcoholic’s drinking and that they need to take steps to take care of themselves, regardless of whether the alcoholic family member chooses to get help.

 

 

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