The person involved may not even realize it, but alcohol abuse takes a toll on his personal and professional life; courtesy its numerous side effects.
According to the statistical data collected by the World Health Organization (WHO), somewhere around 76 million people across the world suffer from some or the other disorder which can be traced to alcohol abuse. With an estimated 100,000 deaths attributed to alcohol consumption every year, the scenario is not quite pleasant in the United States either. More importantly, this figure doesn’t just include deaths as a result of alcohol-related disorders, but also includes indirect causes related to alcohol, such as driving accidents, homicides, etc.
Alcohol abuse tends to differ from moderate drinking; it is the practice of drinking alcohol to an extent wherein it causes numerous social problems and health issues. Even though it is often referred to as ‘alcoholism’, this is technically incorrect, as there exist several definitions of this term; some of which are not even related to the definition of alcohol abuse.
Basically, alcohol abuse is defined as the practice of drinking some alcoholic beverage without any restraint, such that it eventually results in problems in the person’s overall health, interpersonal relationships, and professional life. In DSM-IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders), it is defined as a psychiatric diagnosis describing the recurring use of alcoholic beverages despite negative consequences.
Alcohol Abuse Side Effects
Health professionals have come up with a list of negative effects which are likely to start surfacing when you go beyond moderate drinking. In a broad sense, these effects can be categorized into two groups …
- Short-term effects which start surfacing when the person is under the influence of alcohol and continue for the next 48 – 72 hours.
- Long-term effects which are associated with alcohol abuse for a prolonged period.
It is very unlikely that the person himself may recognize these symptoms even after they get obvious with time. Given below are the details of these side effects with reference to the mental/physical health and personal/professional life.
Side Effects on Mental/Physical Health
The effects of alcohol on the person’s physical and mental health exist in plenty. Alcohol is known to have adverse effects on the cells of our brain, which are associated with our cognitive abilities, as a result of which the person can face difficulty in coordination, inability to concentrate, and impaired judgment. In the long term, this damage can result in impairment of brain growth and function, and eventually trigger neuropsychiatric and cognitive disorders. Other than hallucinations and delusions, the person can also suffer from severe insomnia. Similarly, the chances of the person suffering from depressive disorders cannot be ruled out.
The fact that the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer considers alcohol a carcinogen makes it evident that it is harmful for your health. When alcohol gets mixed in the blood stream, it can trigger a drastic fall in the blood pressure and pulse rate. In the long run, alcohol abuse comes hard on the digestive system and triggers health problems like liver cirrhosis and pancreatitis, which can result in fatality in the absence of proper medical treatment at the right time. Other than increasing the chances of a person suffering from stroke, it can also make him vulnerable to conditions such as anemia, thrombocytopenia, and hypersplenism. It can also result in loss of sexual drive and trigger problems like testicular failure and gynecomastia in males and breast cancer in females.
Side Effects on Personal/Professional Life
The ill effects of alcohol abuse on your personal and professional life are undoubtedly the most disastrous, and the aforementioned mental and physical effects of the same have a crucial role to play in this. As a result of the intense craving for alcohol that the person develops in course of time, he often resorts to lying to hide the habit or to get involved in this activity. He may also end up drinking more than he intends to, without even realizing the same. In such circumstances, the person often resorts to drinking in dangerous circumstances (such as drinking while driving) or casual situations, just because he has nothing ‘worthwhile’ to do.
In course of time, drinking tends to become a priority, while all the other commitments, including family responsibilities and productivity at the workplace, take a back seat. As drinking becomes the center of his life, he unknowingly gets isolated from friends and family. In course of time, it becomes impossible for him to give up drinking, which is where he resorts to alcohol just to feel relaxed or happy. As the person is in a denial mode, it is difficult for him to come out of the entire mess. These side effects can result in issues like job loss, poverty etc., and leave the person utterly devastated; at times, to an extent wherein he may develop suicidal tendencies.
How to Deal With it?
It is very difficult for the person to come to terms with reality and admit that he needs help to get rid of this addiction, very few people are actually able to do it on their own. However, taking a serious note of all these side effects, alcohol abuse intervention, i.e., the practice of making a person realize how drinking is taking a toll on his life and helping him quit it, becomes a necessity. If you intend to help someone to get rid of alcohol addiction, referring him to a doctor or some support group would be a good idea, as both help him cope up with drinking cessation and withdrawal effects of the same. Similarly, and perhaps more importantly, you also need to hang around and make sure that he doesn’t give in to cravings at the end of the day.
If you are willing to quit alcohol on your own, the first step will be to pledge a date for complete cessation. You will require medical help as well as support of people around you, especially when the withdrawal effects of the same are at their peak. One mistake which many people do at this point, is to shy away from asking for help. While people around you will help you concentrate on your pledge, doctors will help you tackle the withdrawal symptoms with medication which will reduce their severity. With a little bit of help from the doctor and your well-wishers, you will be able to come out of this mess with ease.