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Alcohol Dependence, Are You at Risk?

Updated on August 22, 2014
Beware, if you are at risk for alcohol dependence, and get help today
Beware, if you are at risk for alcohol dependence, and get help today

Monitor Risk Factors for Alcohol Dependency

Take this simple test to determine if you are at risk for alcohol addiction. If you can claim two or more of these warning signs of alcohol you may be at risk and need to speak to your primary doctor who can help to assess and provide treatment options for problem drinking.

  • Do you organize your day around your drinking?
  • Do you hide liquor at home or work?
  • Do you spend a great deal of time and energy hiding your secret drinking?
  • Do you notice that you have trouble getting along with other people, family, friends, and co-workers?
  • Are your behaviors hostile
  • Do you go into rages or have grandiose behaviors?
  • Have you lost interest in other people and activities?
  • Do you become annoyed when others criticize your drinking?
  • Do you harbor guilt from drinking?
  • Have you tried to stop drinking, but it only lasts a couple of days?
  • Do you find you are shaking in the morning and have a drink to stop?
  • Does your drinking interfere with family and friend relationships?

Alcohol dependence is a craving for alcohol and is an illness brought on by a chemical imbalance in the brain. This person has a dependence on alcohol and cannot drink in moderation as millions of American's who drink socially one or two drinks. Researchers found that alcohol dependence is a genetic nature and environmental issue.

In the beginning of alcohol dependence, the person may find comfort from the sedative and the numbing effects of the alcohol against deep uncomfortable feelings. When this drinking becomes a daily occurrence the person becomes addicted. Everyone stands to lose, spouses, children, family, friends and co-workers.

When the person tries to stop drinking, a number of symptoms occur.

  • Rapid pulse
  • Excessive sweating
  • Insomnia
  • Sweating
  • Anxiety
  • Nausea and vomiting

Severe symptoms of alcohol withdrawal include

  • Delirium with tremens and delusions and hallucinations
  • Extreme agitation
  • Can be life threatening

Complications of alcohol abuse

  • Possible neglect, physical and emotional abuse with family and friends
  • At high risk for homicide and suicide
  • Work related problems

Diagnosis is a Challenge

Diagnosis is sometimes difficult because of the patient's denial that they are an alcoholic. They are not willing to admit they have a problem for reasons such as embarrassment, guilt and shame. When a family has an alcoholic member, other family members tend to enable that person and this only tends to support the dependence on alcohol.

Recognize Enabling

The family often times provide protection to the person versus getting them true help. Enabling can be in the form of making excuses for the person from work or social gatherings, lending money or paying their bills. Some will even drink with the person.

Treatment Plans are Wide and Varied

The alcohol dependent person needs to recognize they need help in order to enter into any number of inpatient and outpatient treatment plans. When the person decides to seek help for their alcohol addiction, the family should also seek help, support, and learn how to help their loved one. Whatever the program is that the person and family enter into should also include an after care program for the rest of the person's life or at least for as long as the person needs after care.

Alcoholics Hurt Themselves and Everyone around Them

(1) Alcohol consumption on a chronic basis affects and destroys just about every vital organ in the body. When an alcoholic refuses to get help there are related disorders that are likely to occur, such as

  • Alcohol poisoning if the person drinks extremely high levels of alcohol
  • Chronic drinking can over the years turn the liver to stone and it becomes nonfunctional
  • Alcohol impairs sexual functioning and causes birth defects
  • This illness is associated with emotional disorders such as depression
  • The person's immune system is damaged to the point that the person can no longer fight disease
  • Because alcohol is high in calories and low in any kind of nutritional value the person is likely to be obese and malnourished., often having a seriously low B1 level, adding more complications
  • Alcohol affects the nervous system throughout the whole body
  • Damage to the heart muscle
  • And much more

Out of Sight, Out of Mind

I remember that when I was a nursing student, I had to view an autopsy. If you have never seen an autopsy, it is something you will never forget. I will not go into too much detail, only to say that the doctor removes each vital organ and after weighing, the organ dissects it to see what disease processes the organ may have had. When the doctor removed the liver of this patient, it showed a nasty gray color and the organ was as hard as a rock. Livers are supposed to be pink and smooth with pliable tissue.

When the doctor tried to dissect this liver, he had to use a saw because the liver had turned to what looked like a gray rock from someone's driveway. This patient had been an alcoholic for a number of years and had cirrhosis of the liver.

Many people do not realize what they are doing to the inside of their body when they abuse alcohol. This is also true of drugs, smoking, food, medicine and anything taken into the body in excess. People live on the theory of, "Out sight, out of mind." They feel that what they cannot see will not hurt them.

From all that I have read about Robin Williams, he was an alcoholic and had conquered his demons for several years and then started to drink again. Coupled with the depression, he apparently suffered was too much to bear and too hard to fight.

Seek Help Now

If you suffer from alcohol abuse, the first step is to recognize the fact that you just may have a problem and there is nothing to be ashamed of, if you seek help from reputable professionals, family and friends. You can become healthy and well again.


(1) The Cornell Illustrated Encyclopedia of Health

Personal Nursing Experience


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