From Drinking to Disorder – The front and back of Alcohol Use Disorder
Sonam was concerned about how she could better her game in basketball. She would face her opponents in matches and come back home to be defeated by her real opponents – her family. They wanted her to choose books over basketball. This constant lack of support from her family led her to a slippery slope and she started using alcohol as a way of coping. Soon, it began to drown her. Soon, she became so dependent that she could not go a single day without it.
Don’t we have similar initiation stories? While we can not take away from the fact that alcohol could have helped us cope at times, it can often lead to addiction. The word alcohol comes from the Arabic word “Al Kohl,” which means “the essence.” Like its meaning, alcohol has always been of essence for rites of passages such as weddings and graduations, social occasions, sporting events and parties. We often associate alcohol to having a ‘good time’.
Although none of us ever start using alcohol to become addicted to it; alcohol addiction, often known as alcoholism, could turn into Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD).
AUD is the medical diagnosis for problem drinking that becomes severe. According to NIH, “AUD is a chronic relapsing brain disease characterized by compulsive alcohol use, loss of control over alcohol intake, and a negative emotional state when not using.” Anyone with AUD can therefore feel as though they cannot function normally without alcohol. This can impact a person’s professional and personal matters, relationships and overall health.
Some of the damaging consequences of alcoholism are slow reaction time, poor reflexes, reduced brain activity, lowered inhibitions, blurry vision, difficulty breathing and restlessness.
There can also be some long-term consequences like:
- Brain defects
- Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome
- Liver disease
- Diabetes complications
- Heart problems
- Increased risk of cancer
Symptoms of Alcohol Use Disorder
Some of the common symptoms of Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) are:
- Being unable to control alcohol consumption
- Craving alcohol when you’re not drinking
- Putting alcohol above personal responsibilities
- Feeling the need to keep drinking more
- Spending a substantial amount of money on alcohol
- Behaving differently after drinking
- Avoiding contact with loved ones
- Hiding alcohol, or hiding while drinking
- Increased lethargy, depression, or other emotional issues
- Legal or professional problems such as an arrest or loss of a job
These symptoms can be easily identified in a person if we observe closely. Depending on the number of symptoms, alcohol use disorder can be categorized into mild, moderate and severe. If identified early, we can also help ourselves and the ones we love to for appropriate medical attention. When a person meets the criteria for Alcohol Use Disorder, we must understand it has taken the form of a disease. And just the way we treat any disease, so we must treat AUD – with patience, care, and medication.
In conclusion, alcohol use disorder or alcoholism is a life-threatening disorder. We can always help ourselves and our closed ones to overcome this disorder by keeping a close eye on the symptoms.