- Mental Health»
If alcohol is your only friend your in bad company
Some people are very susceptible to the action of alcohol even in very small quantities; others can absorb large quantities without showing signs of intoxication.
Some degree of tolerance is acquired by consistent and regular drinking but while this tolerance is shown by failure to become inebriated the tissues and organs of the body suffer and the habitual drinker to excess ultimately develops disorders of the liver, stomach, kidneys and brain.
If a large quantity of alcohol is taken, a state of intoxication or drunkenness arises. This varies in individuals from excitement, garrulity and impulsiveness to depression, misery and confusion. It may pass into a condition of coma or unconsciousness. Most often the intoxicated person ultimately falls asleep and wakens with a headache and upset stomach. Copious amounts of water will rehydrate the body and aspirin will generally relieve the headache. If there is coma, medical advice should be sought. It will probably be necessary to pump out the stomach and treat any respiratory or heart failure.
Alcohol and the Mind
The mental symptoms of chronic alcoholism are a result of the long-continued poisoning of the brain cells. There is a general demoralization of the higher mental functions. Thought is superficial and memory for recent events poor. Judgement is lacking and the emotions are childishly unstable, varying from irritable tempers to maudlin sentimentality. The chronic alcoholic is suspicious, apt to distort the petty events of life, and in advanced cases is devoid of any shame or insight into the unhappiness he may cause in his family. There are certain well-defined alcoholic disorders of the mind.
Delirium Tremens is apt to arise when a chronic alcoholic is temporarily deprived of his alcohol. It is a state of extreme confusion, similar to any other delirium but often accompanied by odd hallucinations of sight and touch. There is a danger of heart failure and of pneumonia in such cases which require expert hospital treatment.
Polyneuritis AKA Korsakoff's Disease. In this condition there is neuritis affecting the limbs often leading to wrist and foot drop. It is accompanied by curious memory disorder and confabulation. The victim will recite imaginary events as if they were real.
Pathological Inebriation takes the form of an attack of intense excitement caused by comparatively small quantities of alcohol in persons with innate or acquired neuropathic defect. During the attack, homicide, suicide, incendiarism, or sexual assaults may occur.
Dipsomania, a condition in which there is a periodic craving for alcohol, is of the nature of a morbid irresistible impulse. During the intervals there is no inclination for drink: the dipsomaniac may become a total abstainer until the impulse arises, when, after a struggle involving considerable mental anguish, all resolutions count for nothing and a heavy drinking bout ensues. This state is only found in persons with a distinct neuropathic strain; it has probably a psychological origin in certain " repressed complexes ".
Alcoholic Hallucinosis is a variety of chronic alcoholic mental disorder in which hallucinations, usually of a persecutory or unpleasant nature, predominate. The patient hears abusive, insulting and threatening voices; he is to be tortured or killed. The emotional tone is one of complete anxiety. Although under treatment the hallucinations fade or disappear, the patient tends to pass into a condition of mild dementia.
Alcoholic Paranoia is a form of chronic delusional mental disorder in which disturbance of judgment is the essential feature. The delusions are of a persecutory nature. The sufferer becomes suspicious, morose, sees hidden meanings in commonplace events and most characteristically develops delusions regarding his wife's fidelity. He may become threatening or violent. The delusional systems, however, lack the organization of those in true paranoia. Although the progress of this condition is slow, there is little likelihood of recovery; the tendency is towards dementia.
Dementia is the natural termination of chronic alcoholic mental disorders. It presents little difference from other forms of mental enfeeblement. Loss of memory is extreme ; ideation becomes feeble ; judgment is warped ; alcoholic dements are irritable and trying to live with. Eventually the mental faculties are completely obliterated; this is accompanied by gross physical deterioration, and death soon follows. There is very striking degeneration in the cells of the brain cortex which leads to marked diminution in the bulk of that organ.
The problem of alcoholism is a psychological one. In the mind of the alcoholic, there are powerful conflicts and alcohol is the easy way to their solution. Unfortunately, alcoholics are bad subjects for psychotherapy for they seldom possess any insight. Hence analytical treatment is difficult. Cure is extremely hard to achieve and therefore efforts should be directed to prevention.