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Alcoholism

How can you tell when drinking is a problem? Not everyone who drinks regularly has a drinking problem. In fact, more and more studies are showing health benefits from a moderate amount of alcohol. However, for reasons that are not entirely understood, some people develop an alcohol-related disorder. If you are concerned about alcohol use, either your own, or that of someone you care about, I can help by;

Completing an assessment to diagnose the full extent of the drinking problem.

Empowering you to fully understand why behavioural change is important and how to develop the confidence to change.

Enabling you to understand and strengthen your motivation to change.

Provide you with a Multi Component Cognitive and Behavioural Systems Approach to Managing your Drinking.

Set goals that are achievable.

Plan a strategy to deal with relapse.

Manage your own drinking or stop drinking.

Why not ring me on 086-8720559 or email willienoonan@newdaynewway.ie to set up an appointment.
 
 
Alcoholism is a disease that is defined by the compulsive use of alcohol to the point that it interferes with work or personal life or impairs health. Contrary to the popular belief that alcoholics drink on a daily basis and are usually unemployed and unsuccessful, most alcoholics are successful, intelligent, educated citizens who are able to function normally but become incapacitated gradually due to excessive use of alcohol. Many alcoholics may not even drink every day.

Over half of all Irish drinkers have a harmful pattern of drinking, that’s 4 in 10 women and 7 in 10 men who drink (Department of Health and Children, 2009).

What is a harmful pattern of drinking? How can you tell when drinking is a problem?

To find out if you have a harmful pattern of drinking, please answer the following questions;

Are you trying to cut back on your drinking?

Do you get annoyed when friends and/or loved ones express concern about your drinking?

Have you ever felt bad or guilty about your drinking?

Have you ever had a drink first thing in the morning to steady your nerves or cure a hangover?

One “yes” answer suggests a possible alcohol problem. More than one “yes” answer means it is highly likely that a problem exists.

Drinking Patterns

There are several major patterns of problematic drinking that range on a continuum from mild to severe.

1. Risky drinking.
 
Drinking is labelled "risky" when a person:

Drinks a lot at one time. Five (5) or more standard drinks in one day (for men) or four (4) or more standard drinks in one day (for women) indicate risky drinking.

Drinks a lot on a regular basis. More than fourteen (14) or more standard drinks per week on average (for men) or seven (7) or more standard drinks per week on average (for women) indicates risky drinking.

Drinks when it can damage their health or place them at risk. For a pregnant woman, or for a person taking medications that don't mix well with alcohol, drinking any amount of alcohol is risky. Similarly, for a person who must drive or operate machinery, any amount of alcohol is risky.

One standard drink equates to 10 grams of pure alcohol. Your liver can only remove roughly one standard drink per hour. In Ireland, one standard drink (one unit of alcohol) equates to one pub glass of beer, stout or lager; one glass of wine; or one half-one of whisky, rum, vodka etc. A pint of beer, stout or lager contains approximately 1.7 units of alcohol, while a glass of whiskey, rum or vodka etc contains 2 units approx of alcohol.

2. Problem drinking.

Problem drinking occurs when other problems in the drinker’s life can be connected to the drinker’s risky drinking pattern. Problems may be school or work related, as in high absentee rates due to late night drinking or hangovers. Problems may develop with family or friends as a direct consequence of drinking. Or the drinker’s relationships may suffer as a consequence of the drinkers drinking habits

3. Alcohol Abuse.

A person who can be said to abuse alcohol can experience all of what a problem drinker experiences, but the person continues to drink in the face of mounting problems that become more and more serious. For example, a person abusing alcohol might be arrested for drunken driving one or more times, get fired from their job for showing up drunk or missing too much work, have their spouse leave them or their parents ask them to leave home, or have other serious problems, and continue to drink as if nothing was wrong.

4. Alcohol Dependence.

A person with alcohol dependence can experience all of the above problems, or, paradoxically, may have few outward problems as a result of their alcohol use. Regardless, the person with alcohol dependence has a serious disorder. To be considered dependent, a person must have three or more of the following distinctive features:

(a) Tolerance.
Tolerance occurs when a person needs larger amounts of alcohol to feel the same effect they used to feel with less. For example, a person used to relax with one or two beers, and now it takes four or five, or six or seven, to feel that state of relaxation they once could get with one or two.
 
(b) Withdrawal.
Withdrawal means that when a person stops drinking, she or he experiences unpleasant side effects. This is why some people take a "hair of the dog" approach in the morning, or seem to always have alcohol near them. Mild withdrawal symptoms include nervousness, sweating, shakiness, and abnormally fast heartbeat. In extreme cases, the unpleasant effects of withdrawal can lead to delirium, seizures, or life threatening complications.
 
(c) Loss of control.
This can include drinking more than intended, or for a longer time (e.g.staying at the bar until closing) than intended, or more frequently than intended. Loss of control is a factor in "blackouts," when a person drinks so much that their brain's functioning is disturbed to the degree that it cannot remember what they are doing. The person later learns from others about their activities while drinking.
 
(d) Inability to stop.
Usually a person with alcohol dependence has tried to quit on several occasions but has been unsuccessful.
 
(e) Alcohol-centred life changes.
A person with dependence spends a lot of time either drinking or recovering from being drunk. Their friends and activities revolve around alcohol and they no longer are interested in non-alcoholic friendships or hobbies that used to bring them pleasure.
 
Health problems.
Alcohol travels to every cell in the body. Over time, using too much alcohol can damage the heart, raise blood pressure, cause cancer, liver disease and brain damage. It can lead to ulcers, weakened muscles and even death. In addition to these problems brought on by alcohol use, alcohol can aggravate problems that are made more serious by drinking (e.g., diabetes).