Most adults drink alcohol to be social and get a great amount of pleasure from the pastime. Alcohol makes those that consume it feel more relaxed. However, it is important to realize that alcohol is a sedative hypnotic substance that depresses the normal function of the brain.
The short-term effects of alcohol on the individual can vary from person to person according to mood, situation and the metabolism of the individual concerned. The ultimate effect of alcohol is on the brain and can be physically observed by looking for signs of slurred speech, unsteadiness when walking, a loss of coordination, a lack of concentration and a loss of inhibition.
The long-term effects of alcohol consumption are much more severe and profound and when linked with poor diet can be life threatening. The areas of the body most affected are the liver, the brain and peripheral nervous system. Damage to the liver can lead to a disorder called cirrhosis that can lead to cancer, liver failure and ultimately death.
Alcohol consumption attacks the nervous system in a number of ways. Brain cells can be destroyed leading to a lack of cognitive function. The knock-on effect of this can be an increase in anxiety, confusion, dementia and depression. Alcohol intake also significantly increases the risk of high blood pressure, the risk of heart attack and stroke. It can also lead to the onset of diabetes, impotence and in the peripheral nervous system, a loss of feeling in fingers and toes.
So most of us consume alcohol but what are the symptoms of alcohol addiction?
Someone addicted to alcohol will always have a strong urge to consume alcohol, often to excess, as the body becomes more and more tolerant to it, the consumer has to drink more to achieve the same effects.
Drinking alcohol becomes the individual’s primary function and alcohol may be consumed in the morning to reduce the feelings of withdrawal. The user then loses control of how often and how much they drink until a state of oblivion is reached.
Treatment for alcohol addiction includes confronting and treating the underlying issues of the problem. GPs will often refer an individual to a local addiction centre, so that an assessment can be undertaken, and a treatment plan agreed. There are a number of private clinics that offer detoxification and sober living programs, where the individual stays at the treatment centre whilst the treatment is being undertaken.
There are many other organizations that can also be contacted for help and advice.