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Alcoholism – The Cold Hard Facts


There are over 140 million people worldwide suffering from alcoholism. Not social drinkers or those who have a glass of wine at Christmas and birthdays, but those who are addicted to alcohol and are dependent on it. As alcohol can damage the brain and almost every other organ in the body, that’s a lot of potentially damaged people out there.

Even a minimal intake of alcohol can be enough to produce changes in the structure and chemistry of the brain, whilst long-term drinking results in alcohol withdrawal syndrome.  The growing toxic effects created by alcohol abuse can create medical and psychiatric problems as well as organ damage, and can potentially kill an alcoholic.

Short-term effects

Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant. Once in the bloodstream it spreads into most of the body tissues. It can disrupt sleep and increase fatigue. Just one drink can improve mood and self -confidence and lower anxiety levels. Unfortunately it can also impair judgement and impair coordination depending on hydration levels in the individual and whether they have eaten a meal.

Two or three drinks can impair senses, slur speech and create dizziness. Walking becomes unbalanced and vision may be blurred. Add a few more drinks and vomiting and unconsciousness may occur. Other side effects include risk of injury or an inclination to be violent. Feeling dreadful and hung over the next day is a sign of overdoing things. Many of us will stop at this point and allow the body to rest and regenerate.

Alcohol Dependence

Unfortunately for some, the easiest way to cut down on that horrible hung over feeling is to start drinking again. And as tolerance increases, so does consumption in order to feel the effects. From just having a few social drinks, all of a sudden the body becomes dependent and addiction starts to take a hold. Alcohol begins to control life and trying to stop creates withdrawal symptoms like tremors and nausea, which can only be eliminated by, yet again, having a drink. Work and relationships begin to suffer and insomnia, memory loss and other problems can occur.

This is the point where help should be sought before irreparable damage takes place. But the problem now isn’t the alcohol, it’s the habit, the compulsion and the addiction, which need to be resolved and removed. An alcoholic has to want to be helped and all the advice and treatment programmes will be useless until that person is ready. It is heartbreaking for friends and family to watch the destruction that alcohol can create but no amount of begging, pleading or nagging will have any effect whilst alcohol maintains its lethal grip.

This is merely a scratch on the surface of alcohol dependency and the havoc it can wreak on people’s lives. Those who have first-hand experience will know these facts and more. But perhaps just one person will read these facts and make a decision to stop drinking before it becomes a habit.

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