Alcohol - Effects of Alcohol and Alcoholism Treatment

Alcohol is the drug used in the whole world, between 60-70% of people consume alcoholic beverages to some degree. In the U.S. the costs of health care and loss of productivity due to alcohol-related diseases exceed $180 billion per year.

Alcohol
Alcohol
 


Benefits of alcohol

This text is basically about the harmful effects of alcohol and alcoholism, but we must speak briefly on the benefits of responsible use of alcohol. Unlike marijuana and cigarettes (the other two drugs most used socially), there is some evidence that light to moderate consumption of alcohol can be beneficial to health. But before everyone goes around drinking, some explanations are necessary.

There are large scientific papers on the beneficial effects of alcohol, most of them are small and short-term studies with small number of patients. Despite these shortcomings, the studies that do exist suggest that moderate drinking can bring benefits such as reducing the possibility of heart disease. You should see these benefits as something possibly real, but not as an absolute truth already accepted throughout the medical community.

The studies show that the benefits appear to come from alcohol and not a specific type of beverage such as wine, for example. The story of wine to have cardioprotective flavonoids was never proven. It seems that any alcoholic drink has the same effect. None is superior to another.

The big problem is that there is an optimal dose of alcohol for everyone. In general, women are more susceptible to damage from alcohol than men. It is accepted that the considered beneficial dose is 10 to 15 grams of alcohol equivalent to a glass of wine or a small bottle of beer (355 mL) per day for women. Men can drink a little more like two bottles of beer or two glasses of wine per day. Some people think that consumption must not be daily, requiring 1 or 2 days apart.

Funny alcoholics
Funny alcoholics
 
It is noteworthy that in some people the cardiovascular benefits of moderate alcohol intake do not end up being advantageous, since they cause an increased risk of other diseases such as breast cancer, liver disease and automobile accidents.

Alcohol intake, even if moderately, is contraindicated in some cases:
  • Pregnancy
  • People with a history of alcoholism
  • People with a family history of alcoholism
  • History of hemorrhagic stroke
  • People with liver disease
  • People with diseases of the pancreas


People with diseases of the stomach and esophagus and those with a strong family history of breast cancer should also avoid regular consumption of alcohol. People who will operate heavy machinery or drive cars in the coming hours should also not drink any amount of alcohol.


Harmful effects of heavy alcohol consumption

We define heavy drinking as consuming more than seven drinks per week or more frequent intake of 3 drinks per day in women (1 drink is equal to a 355 ml glass of wine or beer or 45 ml of whiskey) and twice that in men. Therefore, women who drink two glasses of wine daily are already framed in the group of alcohol abuse.

The high consumption of alcohol eliminates all possible benefits of consuming light and yet can cause numerous health complications, such as:

In addition to the above problems, all the cardiovascular benefits of moderate consumption become hazards in case of heavy alcohol consumption. And it raises the risk of heart attacks, heart failure and arrhythmias.

Besides health problems, those who have had contact with an alcoholic, knows the destructive power of this drug. Even without any physical illness, these people become unproductive. The alcoholic does not work and take care of the family, often becomes violent and loses their social contacts as well as puts the lives of others at risk when they are behind the wheel of a car.

Alcoholism is a disease and has a high rate of morbidity and mortality. It is estimated that up to half of all fatal traffic accidents are somehow related to alcohol consumption. In the U.S., where data are more accurate, about 80,000 people died between 2001 and 2005 due to diseases related to alcohol abuse and 70% of suicide cases in college students occur in people with a drinking problem.


Hangover and drunkenness

What we call drunkenness is popularly acute intoxication by alcohol. Symptoms of poisoning vary with the concentration of alcohol in the blood. Initially dizziness, incoordination, disinhibition and changes in speech are felt. Very high concentrations of alcohol can lead to reduced level of consciousness and coma.

A hangover is the name given to a group of signs and symptoms that arise after alcohol intoxication, including weakness, malaise, headache, intense thirst.


Use of alcohol with other drugs, medicines and energetics

The association of alcohol with medications could lead to severe side effects, including life threatening. The alcohol can both increase the effects of a drug or neutralize it. It can also activate enzymes that metabolize the drug in the body to toxic substances.

Today it has been very common among young people to mix alcohol with energy drinks, and even with other drugs for example for impotence like Viagra.


Abuse and alcohol dependence

Funny alcoholics
Funny alcoholics
 
We believe that there is alcohol abuse when the patient begins to exhibit at least one of the problems listed below:
  • Difficulties in adequately perform their professional tasks
  • Legal problems related to alcohol use and relapse (e.g. assaults and car accidents)
  • Continued use of alcohol despite social and professional problems that it is causing
  • Frequent use of alcohol in situations that threaten their physical safety (driving, operating heavy machinery, working in construction etc.) or frequent use of alcohol leading even to loss of consciousness

Patients with alcohol dependence, popularly called alcoholism, is set when there are at least three problems listed below:
  • Tolerance to the toxic effects of alcohol (need to drink more and more to get drunk)
  • Need to drink alcohol after some time without consuming it
  • Consumption of large amounts of alcohol, always larger than originally planned
  • Perception that they need to cut down or control alcohol consumption or having guilt about drinking
  • Professional and/or social difficulties due to alcohol abuse
  • Loss of much of the day, trying to get alcohol or recovering from a hangover
  • Use of alcohol despite the persistent notion that it is doing harm

The abuse and alcohol dependence are closely related with a family. First-degree relatives of people with alcohol problems have up to 4 times more likely to also have it.


Treatment of alcoholism

The alcoholism treatment aimed at abstinence from alcohol, or at least a large reduction in their consumption, currently involves psychotherapy and drug use. Drug treatment is usually used for up to 6 months.

Naltrexone is currently the most suitable drug. The disulfiram, topiramate, baclofen and acamprosate are other options.

General keywords

User discussion


Site indexMedicines onlineInteresting to readCommentariesAuthor
TabletsManual.com © 2012