Reasons why people get to Alcohol Addiction and consequences.

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Dr Jane Nyutu Phd.

The fight against use and abuse of alcohol has lately painted the media in Kenya. The church has also complained about the alarming rate of deaths associated with alcohol use and abuse through road carnage and homicide. Women from Naivasha has come out to demonstrate about their spouses and children lost in alcohol dens. Early days when I was growing up, alcohol was a preserve for elderly men and women who had reared and nurtured children till they got grown and married. It was unusual to find alcoholics and bars opened always unlike today. Women had permission to indulge in moderation and in very special occasions.

tasting bottles and glasses of whisky spirit brandy cognac. tasting at home

Alcohol abuse is defined by the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence as “impaired control over drinking, preoccupation with alcohol use, continued drinking in spite of adverse consequences and denial Mondimore (2002).

Alcohol means any beverage that contains ethanol. Ethanol is a Sedative hypnotic drug obtained by fermentation of Carbohydrates using yeast Ministry of Labour (2014). Sugars interact with yeast to produce ethanol amongst other chemicals. Examples of alcoholic substances Whisky, Beer wine, Chang’aa, Mnazi , Busaa, Muratina, club drugs-might be contaminated/toxic with short or long-term consequences.

Alcoholism to a chronic and often progressive disease known as ‘Alcohol Dependence Syndrome’ in which a person craves alcohol and drinks despite repeated alcohol related problems Uba & Huang (2003). Craving is more than a desire. It is to desire something that you are aware is bad for you and going to great length to consistently get it and nothing else in life seem to satisfy the crave Hicks (2005).

Why people get hooked to drinking alcohol: Studies show that alcohol is the most widely abused drug by people across age, status, and education. Studies in Kenya shows that one in five persons in the age between 15-65 have at least used alcohol in their lifetime. Persons between the age of 25-35 has the highest prevalence of alcohol use in their lifetime NACADA (2022). Current trends are worrying as Kenya has been described as a drinking Nation. Many people desperately depend on alcohol even after watching how negatively others have suffered from its misuse even their own friends and family. Some people belief that alcohol has positive consequences than fewer negative results. Studies show that alcohol makes some people become more active, excited, have their moods lifted thereby enhancing their sociability, physical pleasure and enhanced sexual performance. They belief that alcohol increases a feeling of power, responsiveness, reduced tension and social assertiveness Grilly (2006).

Alcohol is a high calorie liquid that is almost always ingested orally as a beverage providing the body with ready calories. This is why it’s known to cause river disease because the organ spends a lot of time and energy trying to metabolize alcohol Grilly (2006).

Every year young adults spend more money on alcohol than soft drinks, tea, milk, juice, coffee and books combined. An estimated 10-15% of college students abuse alcohol. Availability of alcohol and illicit liquor stores in market places. Alcohol dens are opened throughout the day and night in some instances and online shopping has heightened availability. Women drink less than males whatever their ethnic group Uba & Huang (2003). Majority of alcoholics might suffer brain damage, partially because of consuming large amounts of calories and felling like the body does not require food thereby neglecting nutrition from other foods like vitamins, proteins, and needed minerals key for maintaining neural functioning Grilly (2006).

Accessibility of stores and shops selling alcohol

Peer influence and wanting to fit in.

To deal with daily stress

To forget problems of other nature

People drink to relieve boredom

Childhood experiences that impact on values and behavior of children and young adults. Family of origin issues: Studies indicate that alcohol use and abuse tend to run in families especially where one parent or relative is an alcoholic. The children are four times exposed to become addicts Hick (2005). Studies show that in families where parents don’t view alcohol as harmful, children may start taking alcohol at an early age and may as adults be less susceptible to the effects of alcohol leading them to tolerate alcohol consumption in large quantities.

Myths and lies involved in giving excuses and acting inconsistently for continuing the alcohol problem,

people hide in myths such as

“I can stop drinking any time I want to”

“I don’t have a drinking issue and am not a problem drinker after all”

“I don’t drink any more than my peers”

“I need a drink daily to prevent feeling nervous/anxious”

“Drinking alcohol is a class and prestigious thing”

Stages of alcohol addiction

Experimental: voluntary use of drugs without experiencing any negative social or legal consequences.

Regular use (Social use); its use becomes normalized and grows from periodic to regular use.

High risk use (Dependency); The effects of the drugs now become noticeable.

Denial: You begin to hear comments from people who care, family, friends, boss, work mates, about being careful in your drinking habit but instead of taking responsibility, you react negatively and become charged to protect yourself from their comments. You become angry and defensive.

Ambivalent stage:

When it comes to your mind that something about your drinking habit is not adding up. You are spending a lot of time, money and energy hunting for alcohol. You become aware you are on the road to lose your employment; your friendships are suffering and family members are giving up somehow. Your status and marriage are in limbo Hicks (2005).

Acceptance/acknowledgement stage: You decide to take the truth that you are not in control but alcohol is controlling you instead. You decide to seek help or if not, you slip to addiction.

Addiction; A person now feel like they can’t do without the drinking and now alcohol is not conscious use. but It’s controlling the user instead.

Consequences of alcohol abuse

Alcohol has serious undesirable results. Studies indicate that alcohol leads to aggression and hostility even under low moderate doses (Pihl & Zacchy 1986). Statistically, alcohol is reported to lead to criminal activities such as homicide, robbery, rape and arson. Most cases of family violence including spousal and child abuse happen under the influence of alcohol.

It causes feelings of dizziness, and inability to think clearly. Most unintentional injuries and deaths happen under alcohol influence in parts of USA. Over 20% of accidents at work place are likely to involve alcohol use and misuse. Deaths from falls, and drowning (47%) and those involving fires and burns (86%) occur under influence (Hingson & Howland, 1993). About 40% of fatal accidents in North America and Europe are alcohol related and that 12-16% involve alcohol related collisions and body injuries Grilly(2006).

  1. Feeling out of control with yourself. Making decisions becomes a problem. Alcohol changes the states of consciousness and the victim becomes less alert, lack inhibitions, balance, proper thinking and problem solving.
  2. Troubled relationships with parents, family and friends and colleagues.
  3. Unable to take positive criticism and personal responsibility thereby blaming others for their failures.
  4. Quarrels and fights at slight provocation
  5. Sexual performance problem for married couples and illicit sexual escaped for both adults and youth.
  6. Alcohol problem may result to being laid off work and staying unemployed making one to struggle financially.
  7. Lack of concentration on tasks and loss of memory.
  8. Difficulties controlling your anger
  9. Impulsive behavior and inability to delay gratification.
  10. May develop hepatitis, ulcers, liver sclerosis, pancreatic issues and change in physical features such as swollen nose, and broken capillaries on your skin.

X . Experiencing blackouts.

xii. Misuse of money and precious time.

Xii. Staggering while walking and sometimes falling off the track. Loss of integrity and being laughed at by on-lookers. The issue of staggering due to physical impairment is real. Alcohol does not respect age, status or level of education. Anyone can be hooked to addiction levels.

Drinking too much might cause neurons that control breathing and heart beat to stop firing properly thereby leading to unconsciousness, coma or even death Uba & Huang (2003).

  1. Alcohol makes a person less alert, less perceptive, and interferes with cognitive ability.
  2. Quarrels and fights at home, work and social places.
  3. Wasted time that is completely lost in chasing after alcohol. The dreams and purpose are compromised and the person might come to realize when his peers have moved on with their careers and become frustrated and depressed.
  4. Bad breath. This affects your teeth and might keep people away from you.
  5. Use and abuse of alcohol may lead to have psychiatric problems like having an episode of psychosis or mania Hicks (2005). The feelings of frustrations associated might lead to low self-esteem and exposure to more drinking to help escape these feelings and eventually to depression.

Red Flags that indicate that alcohol has become a problem to the user:

  1. Drinking during productive hours of the day, say before noon time.
  2. The habit takes away important engagements including work, family and healthy leisure activities Uba & Huang (2003).
  3. driving after drinking, riding or operating of machinery while under the influence subjecting the user to automobile accidents or even death.
  4. Dressing down and being untidy at work, home or social events.
  5. When the cite of alcohol even on billboards drives you into drinking
  6. Going to party because you are sure that alcohol will be served. Alcohol becomes the major reason you attend parties and occasions.
  7. Pre-occupation about alcohol, where and ways to getting it and how to secretly use it without being discovered. This might make the person hide or conceal alcohol so no one will know they have it.
  8. Going on drinking out of awareness of the consequences.
  9. When you can pay any price to get the alcohol and disapproval from spouse, family, colleagues and friends falls on deaf ears.
  10. Loss of relationships, legal issues, failing grades due to lowered intellectual functioning or other forms of punishments deter you from chasing alcohol.
  11. Taking alcohol together with other illicit drugs and substances.
  12. Blaming every-one about your drinking habit instead of taking total responsibility of your actions.
  13. Reluctance to seek help even when aware of the benefits and behaving as if all is well.
  14. Gambling even when you keep losing. People who engage in alcoholism have a history of biological relatives who engage in compulsive gambling Hicks (2005).

what to do when you have alcohol problem.

Accept you have a problem and you are out of control and therefore must stop drinking.

Seek help from professionals-counsellors, psychologists and psychiatrists.

Acknowledge you need help and agree to follow through the sessions

Go for rehabilitation and know it has its own blind spots especially recovery and reintegration to family and community. Rehab programs help individuals address withdrawal symptoms in a safe environment. They offer relapse prevention strategies and other forms of treatment. This will help you to deal with cravings and fantasies associated with alcoholism.

Psycho-education and being open to learning about the impact of alcohol abuse on wellbeing and health. Educating people across age and telling the real truths about the negative impact of alcohol abuse and addiction might help them make better choices along their life journey Mate & Mate (2002).

Seek a social-support group such as Alcoholic Anonymous where you meet other people struggling with similar challenges. Here you can learn to identify your triggers, socialize and join in activities to help you deal with loneliness, idleness, and boredom.

Avoid places, people who might supply you with alcohol and tempt you, and situations that expose you to craving alcohol. Draw short term and long-term goal to help you and write them down in a journal for accountability purposes Hicks (2005).

Have faith in the supernatural being and surrender to the divine power to overcome the problem.to overcome the alcohol problem. Belief in God helps to fight the cravings and struggles that goes along with alcoholism and addiction. “There is nothing impossible with God”.

Engage in self -care activities such as exercise and nutrition and cognitive coping skills to strengthen problem solving and creative thinking. Utilize the resources around you to help build resilience and act in awareness of the benefits they have on you. Personal resolve to gunner the power to overcome the problem by building self-esteem and self- worth. The help of a counsellor cannot be underestimated.

Never give up even when relapse happens when you struggle with abstinence. Learn from the negative experiences and move on step by step. Build positive thoughts and decision-making about how to spend your time, whom to be with, etc. and keep a healthy perspective. Actively diarize your triggers, urges, and behaviors as a point of reference and learning.

References

Hicks W.J. (2005). 50 Signs of Mental Illness: User Friendly Alphabetical Guide to Psychiatric Symptoms and What You Should Know About Them.yale University Press, London: UK

Mate Gabor & Mate Daniel (2022). The Myth of Normal: Trauma, Illness & Healing in a Toxic Culture. Vermilion: London, UK.

Uba Laura & Huang Karen (2003). Psychology. Pearson Custom Pub. Boston: USA

April 2024

Email: [email protected]

https://mindandbeyond.co.ke

This blog article was written by Dr. Jane G. Nyutu, A Counseling Psychologist

Director Mind & Beyond Counselling Centre (MBCC) – (Mount Kenya University. Co author of the book

Integrated Peer Counselling

A psycho-educator and Leadership Coach.


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