Alcohol dependence is a serious problem that should be addressed as early as possible. In order to solve this problem it is necessary for friends and family to have an active role and to recognize the warning signs as they appear.
What is alcohol dependence?
Alcohol dependence is a common consequence of alcohol abuse. It is a chronic disease that in most cases gradually becomes worse and can even have a fatal outcome. It affects both the mental and the physical health of a person, often leaving irreversible consequences.
Alcoholism may run in families, but the factors that increase the risk of it also include environment and certain social, emotional and psychological aspects.
The four basic symptoms of alcohol dependence are craving for alcohol, inability to stop drinking or reduce the amounts of alcohol consumed, withdrawal symptoms if the alcohol consumption is stopped and increased tolerance, leading to more drinking.
Warning signs of alcohol dependence
There are certain signs that can help friends and family members to realize that their loved one is having a problem with alcohol dependence. For example, a person who drinks in the morning, drinks alone, has injuries or accidents resulting from being drunk or drinks to the point of intoxication, unconsciousness, memory loss and blackouts, is likely to have a drinking problem. Other signs include drinking to avoid social embarrassment, drinking in order to be able to deal with emotional issues, binge drinking, and guilty conscience after drinking. People who binge drink more than once a week, whose drinking affects their professional, social and family life, who become violent when drunk and intentionally alienate themselves from others are also likely to suffer from alcohol dependence.
What to do?
Alcohol dependence is like any other addiction. It is very hard to quit drinking, just as it is hard to quit smoking or using drugs. A person suffering from alcohol dependence needs to admit that he or she has a problem and has to seek help and support, both from professionals and from the loved ones.
There are many options for breaking out of alcohol dependence. There are AA chapters in almost every town in the US, support groups, church groups, rehabilitation centers, psychotherapists, counselors and so on. Medical treatment is also an option.
The work is not done when a person quits drinking. A person who used to be dependent on alcohol must be very careful to stay sober and not to relapse. Regular meetings in support groups and the support of family, friends, spouses or partners is very important in this part of the process as well.