Am I an alcoholic? Do I have a drinking problem?

If you consume alcohol regularly and if you answer ‘Yes’ to one or more of the questions below, chances are you have a problem with alcohol that needs to be addressed.

  • Have you ever felt you require to cut down on your drinking?
  • Have you got annoyed by people 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?
Some say there is a ‘moderate’ or ‘safe’ drinking level. What do you say?

There are different ways of defining moderate drinking, that means the final word is yet to be said. Generally, 40 to 50ml of spirits a day could be considered moderate.

There is no such thing as “safe” drinking. Any amount of alcohol could prove harmful to our body.

Does alcohol use affect our body or mind?

The answer is an emphatic ‘YES’ to both. The effects can be either short term or even permanent.

Alcohol can cause memory loss, convulsions, unsteadiness, eye damage, high BP, severe heart problems, pancreatic disease, Diabetes, Liver disease, bleeding from food pipe, piles, sexual dysfunction, shaking of limbs, weakness of muscles, cancer of different organs including liver to name a few.

It affects the mind and the ability to think rationally. Suspicions, delusions, seeing and hearing things which are not there, anxiety, depression, psychosis are the effects on mental health.

These effects can become permanent, and even in people who consume moderate to small amounts of alcohol.

Does alcohol use affect us in the COVID-19 situation?

There is no research on this yet. But alcohol consumption reduces body immunity thereby increasing vulnerability to COVID-19 infection.

Alcohol use can cause throat infection, diarrhoea, body pain, chest discomfort, etc.

Alcohol withdrawal can increase BP, increase temperature, headache, body pain, and fatigue, etc.

These are similar to COVID-19 symptoms and so having to differentiate between the two adds to the already heavy burden on the healthcare system.

I drink regularly. What will happen if I stop suddenly?

Alcohol withdrawal side effects and symptoms can be broken down into three stages. It also depends on the duration and amount of your drinking.

  • Stage 1: Anxiety, insomnia, nausea, and abdominal pain characterize this stage, which begins 8 hours after the last drink.
  • Stage 2: High blood pressure, increased body temperature, unusual heart rate, and confusion come with z begins 24-72 hours after the last drink.
  • Stage 3: Hallucinations, fever, seizures, and agitation come with this stage, which tends to begin 2-4 days after the last drink.
So, how do I stop drinking now?

There are many ways to treat alcoholism. Let’s look at the options available despite current special circumstances:

  • Stop drinking; see how you feel after the next 12 hours. If you do not notice any of the symptoms mentioned before, continue monitoring. If you continue to feel fine through the next seven days, you can consider yourself in the clear.
  •  If your level of consumption was low, you could try gradually decreasing it further, say by about 10% every day, and eventually, stop completely.
  • If your level of consumption was high, or if you feel any of the withdrawal symptoms listed above, you need to consult a doctor.
Are there medicines to stop drinking?

There are no medicines which cure alcohol dependence. But definitely there are medications which help with detoxification and withdrawal symptoms, reduce craving and alcohol dependence. Please consult with your doctor to learn more.

Whom do I contact for help in this regard?

If you are not in quarantine, contact the nearest clinic.

If you are in quarantine, inform the authorities there. There are mechanisms in place to help you get the required help, Insha Allah.

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