Alcohol is one of the most widely consumed substances in the world since thousands of years. It is also a potentially addictive substance. 30-40% of the Indian population consumes alcohol. Atleast 10% of these people get addicted to alcohol. 11-15% indulge in heavy and binge drinking

Alcohol is a brain depressant, hence it reduces our inhibitions. In small amounts, it might relieve stress and anxiety, but excessive consumption causes sedation, loss of balance etc. Alcohol addiction is a brain disease and it is a chronic relapsing condition. Prolonged alcohol use causes permanent changes in the brain structure and function, that can persist for years even after stopping.

How do you know if you are addicted to alcohol?

  1. You have excessive desire to drink alcohol.
  2. You are unable to control the use, inspite of having medical or psychological complications.
  3. Nothing in your life other than alcohol gives pleasure to you.
  4. You are gradually consuming more quantity in order to get the same effect.
  5. Appearance of withdrawal symptoms due to reduction or stopping.
  6. Disturbed personal life and work functioning

Withdrawal symptoms:

  • Shaking of hands
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Anxiety/Weakness
  • Increased pulse rate/sweating
  • Headache/Disturbed sleep

Severe withdrawal can cause fits, hallucination, altered sensorium.

Effects of alcohol on your health:

  1. Liver damage - hepatitis and cirrhosis
  2. Atherosclerosis - thickening of blood vessels
  3. Acute gastritis/pancreatitis - severe abdominal pain
  4. Depression and other mental illness
  5. Death due to risk taking and reckless behavior

How to quit drinking alcohol?

  1. Assess whether you are having problematic drinking - (physical damage to body, psychological problems, bad hangovers, blackouts etc.) Identifying and accepting you have a problem is always the first step.
  2. Understand that it is a brain disease and you might have lost control over it.
  3. Think about the pros and cons of drinking every time you feel the need to.
  4. Try to gradually reduce the quantity or number of drinking days.
  5. Avoid situations which will remind you about drinking.
  6. Keep yourself motivated. You will feel good about the change and improvement in your health.
  7. Take steps to prevent relapse once you have stopped drinking.
  8. Do not get upset if you relapse, relapse is expected.
  9. If addiction is severe and you are unable to quit alcohol, please seek consultation with professionals.