Alcoholism can cause physical problems such as hypoglycaemia, kidney disease, brain and heart damage, enlarged blood vessels in the skin, chronic gastritis, and pancreatitis (see Pancreatic Problems).
Alcoholics rarely eat nutritionally adequate meals, they are likely to have nutritional deficiencies. Heavy drinkers typically have impaired liver function, and at least 1 in 5 develops cirrhosis.
The causes of alcoholism are a combination of genetic, physical, psychological, environmental, and social factors that vary among individuals. Genetic factors are considered crucial A given person's risk of becoming an alcoholic is four to five times greater if a parent is alcoholic as children grow up copying one parent. Some children of alcohol abusers, however, overcome the hereditary pattern by becoming teetotallers.
Drinking is socially acceptable and approved cultural activity therefore some people, due to upbringing and conditioning are more inclined to become alcoholics than others.
Certain professions are more conducive alcoholism, extensive socialising and the open availability of drink are causes in these cases.
Alcoholics main aim in treatment is to abstain from any form of alcohol and this is often difficult and complicated by denial.
Once the alcoholic accepts he or she has a problem and is willing to stop drinking, treatment can begin. He or she must understand that alcoholism is curable and must be motivated to change.
Treatment has two stages
1. Withdrawal sometimes called detoxification - and
Because withdrawal does not stop the craving for alcohol, recovery is often difficult to maintain. For a person in an early stage of alcoholism, withdrawal may bring anxiety and poor sleep.
Withdrawal from long-term dependence may bring the uncontrollable shaking, spasms, panic, and hallucinations of delirium tremens (DT). If not treated professionally, people with DT have a mortality rate of more than 10 percent, so withdrawal from late-stage alcoholism should be attempted only at an in-patient centre.
Treatment may involve one or more medications. They must be used with care and supervision, since they may be addictive and can have serious side effects.
Because an alcoholic remains susceptible to becoming dependent again, the key to recovery is total abstinence. Recovery also involves education programs, group therapy, family involvement, and participation in self-help groups.
Once an alcoholic accepts his or her condition and stops using alcohol, a number of alternative therapies can assist the recovery process.
Other ways to help with Alcoholism
To help in learning to live without the need for alcohol the alcoholic must
Develop a healthy diet of fresh fruit and vegetables (watching for certain fruits and vegetables which may be high in sugar) and consume foods high in B and C group vitamins such as wholemeal bread, brown rice, oats, bananas, citrus fruit, broccoli and parsley.
Drink plenty of filtered water and be sure to visit a qualified dietician or medical practitioner to obtain a diet suitable for you
When to seek further professional advice