Alcohol Abuse: Q & A

Part of our mission as an invaluable referral service is to educate our clients about what is alcohol abuse and dependence. There are plenty of questions that require intelligent answers if people struggling with alcohol are going to make informed decisions. To that end, we have put together a list of some of the most common questions we answer. We hope this information proves useful for you.

Should you decide you might have an alcohol problem after reading this article, we urge you to contact us on our 24-hour helpline. Trained and caring counsellors are standing by to answer your questions. We can provide a comprehensive assessment of your situation along with a list of treatment options in your local area. Ultimately, our goal is to make sure that you have access to any help you need before our contact concludes.

What is alcohol abuse?

Defining alcohol abuse is not as easy as it sounds for one simple reason: people are different. Still, the government has established some guidelines that we can use to determine how serious a person’s drinking problem is. Those guidelines designate three levels of drinking known as low-risk, increased-risk and higher-risk. A person whose drinking habits are considered increased-risk is, more often than not, an alcohol abuser.

Increased-risk drinking is characterised by consuming between 21 and 35 units of alcohol per week. Those on the lower end of the scale would likely be diagnosed as alcohol abusers while those at the upper end could be well on their way to alcohol dependence if they are not there already.

Is binge drinking alcohol abuse?

Binge drinking is loosely defined as drinking too much alcohol in too short a time. As such, binge drinking does constitute alcohol abuse to some degree. It is never a good thing to do. The more often a person binges, the more likely it is he or she is a chronic alcohol abuser on the way to alcoholism.

If you regularly binge drink, that is a warning sign of alcohol abuse. Binge drinking is a dangerous behaviour because it can lead to other careless behaviours that can result in serious injury and death. Binge drinking also tends to be a precursor to alcoholism for many people.

Are there long-term health risks associated with alcohol abuse?

Yes, long-term alcohol abuse does carry with it certain long-term health risks. The most common among them is liver disease. Long-term alcohol abusers are prone to cirrhosis and liver cancer, two conditions that can lead to premature death in the absence of the transplant procedure. Alcohol abuse also increases the risks of heart disease, stroke, pancreatitis, and several forms of cancer.

Does long-term alcohol abuse impact the mind?

The risks associated with alcohol abuse often focus primarily on the body. But you need to know that alcohol abuse also affects the mind. So much so that someone who is clinically diagnosed as an alcoholic is psychologically dependent on alcohol for normal functioning.

The problem with alcohol is that it affects how the brain works. By altering certain brain chemicals and receptors, alcohol can actually change the way a person thinks. It can cloud the drinker’s perception of reality and cause his or her thoughts to be completely irrational by normal standards. Worse yet, the effects of alcohol on the brain can convince the drinker that he or she cannot survive without alcohol.

How can I tell if I am an alcohol abuser?

The first step in determining your own status as a drinker is to take a look at the NHS guidelines for lower-risk, increased-risk and higher-risk drinking. Again, if you are in the upper end of increased-risk drinking, there is cause for concern. You may want to call us or make an appointment to see your GP.

Above and beyond the guidelines, you can look for certain symptoms that indicate you are going through withdrawal between drinking episodes. Let’s say you drink substantially every night after work. If you begin to experience things like the shakes, excessive sweating, anxiety or depression or insomnia, as the effects of alcohol wear off, you are experiencing withdrawal. This would indicate you are definitely an alcohol abuser. The most serious withdrawal symptoms would indicate that you are an alcoholic.

Would I need detox as an alcohol abuser?

The idea of undergoing detox prevents many people with alcohol problems from seeking help. Here’s what you need to know: the necessity of detox depends entirely on the level of dependence that exists. You may not need detox if you are on the lower end of the alcohol abuse scale. If you are on the upper end, to the point that you are clinically diagnosed as dependent, detox will be necessary.

If you don’t need detox, your treatment would consist of things such as prescription medications, counselling, and support group participation. Over time, you can gradually decrease the amount of alcohol you consume until you stop drinking altogether.

Where can I find treatment as an alcohol abuser?

All across the UK, there are both in- and outpatient clinics helping alcohol abusers get a handle on their drinking. You could do your own research online and then contact clinics that interest you, or you could contact your GP and set up an office visit. However, getting in touch with us is probably your best option.

As an invaluable referral service, part of our job is to maintain a database of treatment clinics and programmes throughout the UK. With just one phone call, you could have a full list of treatment options in your local area to choose from. We save you the trouble of having to do the research by doing it for you, making it possible for you to select a treatment programme and enrol right away.

Alcohol abuse is a serious problem that does not go away by itself. If you are at all concerned that you might have a problem, now is the time to take action. Delaying only increases the chances you will become an alcoholic.

 
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