Alcohol is fast becoming the “favorite drug" in our society. At one time it was perceived to be a pass time of the very rich or the very poor, the very rich were seen as being under the influence of western culture in India, while the very poor needed an intoxicant to cope with the hardships of daily life. While this perception based on images from movies and novels may not have been entirely true, the reality with regard to drinking has definitely changed in our society in the past decades
What is the pattern of alcohol use now? For teenagers, it is quite normal to drink at parties, women are encouraged by pubs with special promotional nights, young girls who are financially independent visit the night clubs regularly, middle aged women share a drink with their husbands at home, professional meetings and seminars always have a talk followed by cocktails and dinner. Drinking is no longer taboo or confined to one group or sex. Consumption of alcohol no longer carries the stigma it once had. People from a wide spectrum including women and youngsters have come to accept alcohol as an integral part of social life. When alcohol is limited to one’s social life it does not cause any major problems. But when it becomes part of one’s daily life, then it can have serious untoward consequences Of those who drink, a great majority would know when to stop and how to limit their usage. They do not let alcohol affect their family, work or social life. But a few who drink cannot exercise any control and they become habitual drinkers. They gradually develop total dependence on alcohol.
People who are addicted / dependent on alcohol is totally preoccupied with thoughts of drinking- How to get it, where to use it, where to get the money from and so on. They continue to use alcohol even when they can see that it is affecting their job, finances, family, health and social relationships.
Tolerance: They need to consume more and more to get the desired effect, from 2 to 3 pegs per day they gradually progress to drinking one full bottle a day. They still do not feel the euphoric effect as the body has developed increased tolerance to alcohol.
Withdrawals : When there is no alcohol in the body certain changes occur 10-12 hours after the last drink. They may have sweating, shaking, restlessness, and irritability. Here the body is craving for alcohol and the resultant changes that occur are called withdrawal symptoms.
Unsuccessful attempts to cut down: Very few addicts can cut down the drinking to socially acceptable levels. Once addicted, they either drink the whole bottle or none at all. Any attempts to cut down are highly unsuccessful.
Drinking more than intended: Every morning an alcoholic will tell themselves that they will only drink 2 pegs or 3 pegs. Rarely do they succeed in doing so.
Giving up other activities: Alcohol does not become a part but it becomes whole of their life. How to get the next drink, who to borrow money from seem far more important issues than their family or job. Evenings are spent drinking alone or with drinking friends. Old friendships and hobbies are forgotten. Their own family is seen in a different light- wife / husband is perceived as someone who is always complaining, children are hardly seen as they are already asleep when they comes home. Taking the family out, playing with the children, getting involved in their studies or school activities will all become things of the past as there is neither the time nor the interest? Every single rupee and spare time is devoted to their great companion- Alcohol.
Continues Drinking despite consequences: There might have been repeated warnings at work or They may have lost their job. There are daily fight’s at home and the spouse threatens to leave or has left them. They have debts to be paid and all their old friends avoid their company. They are unable to eat and have acidity problems. All these are due to their heavy drinking and they are aware of it. Yet they continue to drink. Why? It is because they are suffering from the disease of alcoholism or addiction. They need treatment. As with any other illness, treatment will help them to recover from their problem.
Usiru Foundation – Centre for De-addiction & Rehabilitation
#956/1/3, 2nd Floor,
Near Ring Road,
Mysore – 570023