ALCOHOLISM, ALCOHOL DEPENDENCE AND THE EFFECTS ON YOUR HEALTH.

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1 ALCOHOLISM, ALCOHOL DEPENDENCE AND THE EFFECTS ON YOUR HEALTH. Alcoholism also known as alcohol dependence is a disabling ADDICTIVE DISORDER. It is characterized by compulsive and uncontrolled consumption of alcohol despite its negative effects on the drinker's health, relationships, and social standing. Like other drug addictions alcoholism is medically defined as a treatable DISEASE The various health problems associated with long-term alcohol consumption are generally perceived as detrimental to society. For example, money due to lost laborhours, medical costs, and secondary treatment costs. Alcohol use is a major contributing factor to head injuries, motor vehicle accidents, violence, assaults and significant social costs to both the alcoholic and their family and

2 friends. For instance, alcohol consumption in pregnancy can lead to fetal alcohol syndrome, an incurable and damaging condition. PREVALENCE WHO estimates that about 140 Million people in the world suffer from Alcohol Dependence in Kenya. There are no ready studies on alcoholism per se but according to a study by NACADA in 2003, approximately 74.2% Kenyans use alcohol. The lowest rates are in N. Eastern (15.6%) and the highest in Western (90.1%) Causes Societal/economic Genetic predisposition-gene expression Age at which one begins to drink-predisposes to dependence Psychosocial-lack of family support at adolescence ALCOHOLISM Alcohol problems vary in severity from mild to life threatening and affect the individual, the person's family, and society in numerous adverse ways. Despite all of the focus on drugs such as cocaine, alcohol remains the number one drug problem in the world. Withdrawal, for those physically dependent on alcohol, is much more dangerous than withdrawal from heroin or other narcotic drugs. Alcohol withdrawal can kill you! What is alcohol? Alcohol is a chemical compound produced by fermentation of sugars often from grains using yeast.

3 Examples include:- Beers: 5% -2.5 units of alcohol Wines: 12%- small glass 1 unit, large glass 2-3 units Spirits: 40%- 1 tot= units Chang aa and other local brews: Various levels even up to 90%. ALCOHOLISM IS A DISEASE THAT NEEDS MEDICAL ATTENTION LIKE ANY OTHER. Alcoholism, also known as alcohol dependence, is a disease that includes these 4 symptoms: Craving: A strong need, or urge, to drink. Loss of control: Not being able to stop drinking once drinking has begun. Physical dependence: Withdrawal symptoms, such as nausea, sweating, shakiness, and anxiety after stopping drinking Tolerance: The need to drink greater amounts of alcohol to get "high." The craving that an alcoholic feels for alcohol can be as strong as the need for food or water. An alcoholic will continue to drink despite serious family, health, or legal problems.

4 Alcoholism is chronic i.e. it lasts a person's lifetime; it usually follows a predictable course; and it has symptoms. The risk for developing alcoholism is influenced both by a person's genes and by his or her lifestyle. RISK You are at risk if:- 1. Men: You take More than 14 drinks per week OR 5 or more drinks per occasion 2. Women: You take More than 7 drinks per week OR 4 or more drinks per occasion Alcohol is rapidly absorbed from the duodenum. Rate of absorption is variable between people, depends on: 1. Amount and concentration of alcohol in the drink 2. Rate of drinking 3. Food consumption 90-98% of the alcohol is broken down in the liver. SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF ALCOHOLISM. Long term alcohol abuse can cause a number of physical symptoms: Liver cirrhosis: Hardening of liver and Pancreatitis. This may be fatal Epilepsy Dementia: Loss of short term memory Neuropathy: Nerve damage and can lead to B12 deficiency Sexual dysfunction Heart disease. NB: Women succumb to alcoholism faster than men ALCOHOLISM AND YOUR HEALTH. Long term misuse of alcohol can cause a wide range of mental health problems: Cognitive issues Second leading cause of dementia

5 Excessive alcohol use causes damage to brain function Psychiatric disease e.g. anxiety and depression disorders, panic disorders, psychosis. Drug and alcohol abuse makes you lose your self-control or inhibition and the ability to make sound decisions, such that you do not feel shy to engage in embarrassing behavior. Intoxication diminishes your perception of risk. In this carefree state of mind, you can engage in reckless sexual activity with a high risk of HIV infection. Since Kenya s HIV prevalence now stands at 7.8%, any risky sexual behavior as a result of intoxication may predispose you to HIV infection. Alcohol and drug abuse puts you at risk of HIV infection Intoxication gives you a false belief of enhanced sexual arousal and performance. This excitement or high and accompanying false courage often leads to risky sexual behavior. You are likely to engage in high-risk sexual activity that involves sleeping around with multiple sex partners, engaging in unprotected sexual activity and exchanging sex for money or drugs ARE YOU AN ALCOHOLIC? DIAGNOSIS. THE CAGE QUESTIONNAIRE: Two "yes" responses indicate that the respondent should be investigated further. Have you ever felt you needed to Cut down on your drinking? Have people Annoyed you by criticizing your drinking? Have you ever felt Guilty about drinking? Have you ever felt you needed a drink first thing in the morning (Eye-opener) to steady your nerves or to get rid of a hangover? ALCOHOL POISONING-MEDICAL EMERGENCY: The following represent other alcohol poisoning symptoms and signs and alcohol poisoning effects: Absent reflexes

6 Slurred speech No withdrawal from painful stimuli (for instance from pinching) Confusion Difficulty awakening the person Erratic behaviour Seizures Feeling very ill including long, drawn-out vomiting Slow, shallow, or irregular breathing Blue-tinged skin or pale skin Inability to make eye contact or sustain a conversation Unconsciousness (passing out) MANAGEMENT OF ALCOHOLISM: Identification: Medical examination and diagnosis. Treatment plan: Medical/psychological Detoxification: Rapid, use of medicine in hospital (Benzodiazepines).This does not actually treat alcoholism but reduces poisoning and needs to be followed up with. Group Therapy and Psychotherapy (AA): Rehabilitation Moderation programmes Medications Treatment of other drug addictions The first steps: Strategies for cutting down: 1. Keeping track of how much you drink. On your 7 th drink? Too much, time to stop 2. Setting goals on which days to drink and how much. Have some days that you don t drink. 3. Pacing and spacing; sip slowly, alternate with non alcoholic drinks-water/juice 4. Include food as alcohol is absorbed more slowly in the system 5. Avoiding Triggers: What triggers you to drink? Certain people? Certain activities? Do you drink at home? Remove the drink from the house.

7 6. Say NO! Have a polite but firm NO THANKS, and stick to it. 7. Plan to handle the urges. Talk to a friend. Get involved with a healthy distracting activity. ASKING FOR HELP. 1. NACADA-National Campaign against Drug Abuse Authority. 2. Alcoholics Anonymous Kenya- ( ) 3. Narcotics Anonymous (NA) / Al Anon help line / Article by DR GLORIA SANE RESOLUTION HEALTH MEDICAL ADVISORY My Health, My Life, My Resolution For healthy living tips and articles log on to

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