Why Do Problem Drinkers And Alcoholics Do This To Themselves!?
Posted Sep 28 2008 7:09pm
According to various studies from different countries, on average, 1 in 5 people are said to have some degree of a drinking problem. The accuracy of this statistic aside, even half that number would be a surprise. People in the early stages of a drinking problem are more likely to stop or control their drinking if they are made aware of the potential problems looming.
Being well into my 14th year of sobriety and having personally suffered a dependence on alcohol, I sometimes think, “what if I could have found help sooner?”. I often find myself compelled to speak up to those who I know are drinking uncontrollably, but refrain from doing so since the excessive drinker must take authority over their own actions for treatment to be effective.
Understanding this, I thought I would show in black and white what can happen to a problem drinker if their addiction is left unchecked. There are various stages to becoming an alcoholic and rest assured along the way today’s problem drinker will encounter some, if not many of the difficulties outlined below.
Perhaps trepidation can act as a motivator to get some help before their excessive drinking takes it horrible toll and they become tomorrows full blown alcoholic.
Psychological effects of alcohol:
Loss of inhibition
Belligerence and outbursts of anger
Impaired social and work-related performance
Reduced attention span
Loss of coordination
Nystagmus or involuntary eyeball movement
Alcohol induced amnesia (blackouts): occurs after excessive drinking, when events of the night before are forgotten, even though consciousness was maintained.
Characteristics of Alcohol withdrawal
Increased heart rate
Visual, tangible or auditory hallucination
Delirium tremens: or the DT’s - these include symptoms of alcohol withdrawal described above with clouding of consciousness, impairment of ones short term memory, obvious tremble and unsteady gait. Mortality rate can be up to 5% if untreated.
Hallucinations: auditory hallucination occurring in clear consciousness, usually in a person who has been drinking excessively for years.
Pathological jealousy: an atypical belief that the marital partner or significant others are being unfaithful; belief is held on insufficient grounds and is unaltered by any rational argument. This condition is highly dangerous and has been known to lead to both homicide and suicide.
Depression and suicide
Alcohol induced anxiety disorders: anxiety, panic attacks, and phobias
Physical effects of Alcohol:
Wernicke’s encephalopathy: this is caused by Vitamin B1 deficiency. Features include memory deficits, unsteady gait and confusion.
Korsakoffs syndrome: 80% of alcoholic patients recovering from Wernicke’s encephalopathy develop Korsakoff’s amnesic syndrome. It is characterized by marked deficits in memory, with relative preservation of other intellectual abilities.
Cerebella degeneration: in coordination, unsteady gait, slurred speech.
Peripheral neuropathy: numbness, pain and prickly feeling or burning of the skin, especially the feet.
Head injury due to lack of coordination and balance
Liver damage-hepatitis, liver cirrhosis, liver cancer
Cancers of mouth, larynx and esophagus
Malnutrition, vitamin deficiency and anemia
Myopathy – muscle weakness and wasting, pain and tenderness
Risk of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome: small stature, low birth-weight, low intelligence and over-activity
Many of the problems outlined above are only experienced by the worst sufferers of alcoholism. Most problem drinkers will be fortunate enough to get help before they encounter the worst of these ailments but why on earth would you want to take that risk.
Cigarettes, much like alcohol, are a huge health concern and governments put photos of diseased lungs on cigarette packages as well as warning labels. Perhaps a few of the above disorders posted on the label of a popular bottle of bourbon will do the trick but somehow I don’t see that happening any time soon.
To set up an appointment with Michael Pearlman, M.D., Call 1 (866) 285-3400 toll-free or (617) 620-2230,