Community, Diaspora and Immigration

Alcohol Abuse: What Is It and How to Recognize It

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Alcohol has been consumed for thousands of years by almost all civilizations. Africans have been drinking alcohol brewed from all sorts of beverages, it can be a relaxing beverage. Many people come home from a hard day of work and unbind with a drink. How do you know, though, when that relaxing drink has taken over your life? How do you know when you become depend on it? Alcohol abuse all over the world is becoming a serious problem. Many people used to believe that alcohol abuse was a characteristic of a weak person, but now it is known that it is really a serious disease that has a chance of affecting us all.

What are the Signs of Alcohol Abuse?
Occasional drinks at home or with friends does not mean that you have a problem with drinking.  In women, a key indication that there is alcohol abuse is if you consume more than seven drinks a week and more than three in a social situation. In men, the rate of consumption would have to equal more than 14 drinks per week or access of four drinks while with friends.

Recognizing the signs in the elderly and in teenagers is often more difficult.  Other signs include alcohol cravings, a loss of control when drinking, which leads to the person unable to stop drinking. Tolerances built up to alcohol can be another sign of alcohol abuse, as well as physical dependence on it, such as nausea, sweating and headaches if no alcohol is consumed.  Scientists are discovering that many factors are involved with drinking, such as family history of drinking, family genetics toward drinking, stress levels, and social and environmental factors.

Alcohol abuse is a treatable disease, but not curable and it can affect anyone. Many factors make people more vulnerable to it than others. Many people drink and enjoy themselves, but in moderation. Please listen to Budweiser and “drink responsibly” and alcohol abuse can be avoided.
The Health Effects of Teen Alcohol Use
There has been many studies conducted on the health effects of both short-term and long-term use of alcohol among adults.  Long-term risks include liver damage, pancreatitis, certain cancers, and literal shrinkage of the brain.  Alcohol use is the second leading cause of dementia; one simple ages quicker on alcohol. (3)  But professionals today are worried about a steady increase in teen alcohol abuse and the possible negative health effects. 

Adolescence is a transition time when the body is undergoing many significant changes, such as hormonal alterations and brain development.  It is also a time when young people start to associate more with friends and associates beyond their childhood contacts.  They feel an increased pressure to ‘fit in’ or ‘go along with the crowd’ in order to be accepted socially. These new circumstances can be confusing and difficult for the youth to understand and deal with.  Often their ability to make correct or safe decisions is also at a stage of immaturity. Exposing the brain to alcohol during this period may interrupt key processes of brain development, possibly leading to mild cognitive impairment as well as to a further escalation of drinking.

Alcohol is absorbed very rapidly into the blood stream from the stomach lining, in as short a time as 5 to 10 minutes and its effects last for several hours depending on the amount ingested and how quickly it was consumed.  Females absorb alcohol faster than males because their bodies contain less water.  The water dilutes the alcohol and so the same amount of alcohol will produce a higher concentration in the blood.  After consuming only 2 to 3 normal strength beers, or 4 or 5 standard glasses of wine, most people will feel less inhibited and more relaxed.  Anything consumed after this amount most people slur their speech and become less coordinated and clumsy.  Some people have increased emotional reactions.  More alcohol could result in staggering, double vision, and loss of balance, nausea, vomiting and an impression of the room spinning.

Teen alcohol abuse showed many negative side effects. “Subtle alcohol-induced adolescent learning impairments could affectResearch has associated adolescent alcohol use with high-risk sex, for instance, multiple partners or unprotected sex.  The consequences of high-risk sex also are common in this age group, particularly unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV/AIDS.  According to a recent study, the link between high-risk sex and drinking is affected by the quantity of alcohol consumed.  The probability of sexual intercourse is increased by drinking amounts of alcohol sufficient to impair judgment, but decreased by drinking heavier amounts that result in feelings of nausea, passing out, or mental confusion.        
Alcohol Addiction
Let’s take a look at some of these signs and symptoms, and the steps necessary to stop the abuse of alcohol.

Alcohol is a part of many people’s lives. Most restaurants serve alcoholic beverages and it is present at most sporting events and office parties. Many people can have a drink or two and stop there with no problem at all. For many people however, this is not the case. One drink can quickly lead to many more and some people simply do not have the ability to control their alcohol consumption. Studies have shown that people that come from an alcoholic family, have an increased risk of becoming problem drinkers. This leads us to believe that genetics plays some role in this addictive process.

Stress is also a leading factor in one’s ability to control their consumption of alcohol. Many people turn to the bottle as a way to manage the stress that is present in their lives. Unfortunately, alcohol cannot make these problems disappear, they are still present and often drinking creates new problems. Many family members simply cannot take the up and down roller coaster ride of living with someone who is a problem drinker or an alcoholic. These families may have financial difficulties due to the alcoholic missing work or being fired from their job due to drinking. Abuse is prevalent in many homes where alcoholism exists, because the person drinking is unable to control their behavior while drinking. Many affable people have completely different personalities once they begin to drink. Just because someone has a problem with alcohol, it does not mean that they cannot recover and lead a full, normal life. It is important to recognize the symptoms of alcohol abuse, so that help for the addiction can be obtained before it is too late.

The following are a list of common signes that may indicate you or someone you care about has a problem with alcohol.

  • Withdrawing from friends and family.
  • A preoccupation with obtaining alcohol.
  • Numerous failed attempts to quit drinking.
  • Unexplained swings in moods or strange behavior.
  • Blaming others for problems or the ability to be unable to quit drinking.
  • Anger or depression.

Alcohol addiction can also have many different physical symptoms as well.

The following things are a list of some of them.

  • Redness and puffiness of the face or eyes.
  • Abdominal pain.
  • 3. Sick or shaking feeling, especially when not drinking.
  • Driving while intoxicated, this may result in legal troubles.
  •  An increased tolerance to alcohol, and the need to drink more to feel the “buzz”.
  • Periods of not being able to remember things or conversations, “blackout” periods.
  • Flushing of the skin from an excessive intake of alcohol.
  • Missing school or work due to hangovers or periods of being intoxicated.

If you or someone you know, has any of these symptoms it is important to get help right away. There are many people who have conquered their alcohol addiction and have went on to lead happy, healthy lives

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