Alcohol, alcoholism, disorder, emotional health

Alcohol Use Disorder or Alcoholism

Alcohol use disorder (which includes a level that’s sometimes called alcoholism) is a pattern of alcohol use that involves problems controlling your drinking. They include being preoccupied with alcohol, continuing to use alcohol even when it causes problems, having to drink more to get the same effect, or having withdrawal symptoms when you rapidly decrease or stop drinking.
Acute Physical Effects

  • Increased heart rate and skin temperature.
  • Impaired muscle control causing poor coordination, slurred speech and impaired motor skills.
  • Dizziness, vomiting and vision problems.
  • Loss of consciousness, respiratory arrest and death.

Acute Effects on Mental Abilities

  • Judgment is frequently the first mental capacity affected by alcohol. Poor decision making, rapid
  • decision making and not being realistic in decisions is common.
  • Poor attention and concentration.
  • Loss of inhibitions – we say things or do things that we normally would not.
  • Exaggerated emotion (anger, fear, anxiety, sadness).
  • Blackouts with loss of memory for events.

Long Terms Effects of Alcohol Use

  • Nutritional deficiencies effecting mental abilities.
  • Damage to physical organs including the brain, liver, heart and stomach.
  • Breakdown of bone and muscle tissue.
  • Memory loss or impairment.
  • Impaired attention and concentration.
  • Inability to get along with others.
  • Difficulty coping with school or employment demands.
  • Alcohol withdrawal effects-tremors, excessive perspiration and hallucinations.

When to see a doctor

If you feel that you sometimes drink too much alcohol, or it’s causing problems, or your family is concerned about your drinking, talk to your doctor. Other ways to get help include talking with a mental health provider or seeking help from a support group such as Alcoholics Anonymous or a similar type of self-help group.

Because denial is common, you may not feel like you have a problem with drinking. You might not recognise how much you drink or how many problems in your life are related to alcohol use. Listen to relatives, friends or co-workers when they ask you to examine your drinking habits or to seek help. Consider talking with someone who has had a problem drinking, but has stopped.

If your loved one needs help

Many people with alcohol use disorder hesitate to get treatment because they don’t recognise they have a problem. An intervention from loved ones can help some people recognise and accept that they need professional help. If you are concerned about someone who drinks too much, ask a professional experienced in alcohol treatment for advice on how to approach that person.