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Say No to alcohol

The alcohol problem in Mauritius is a serious one and is considered as a burden for the Ministry of Health. A survey carried out recently reveals that 50% of male adults and 28% of women adults consume alcohol while there were 15% young adults who take it more than once a week.

Moreover, around 45% of admissions to Brown Sequard Hospital are linked to alcohol. A similar pattern has also been noted in other hospitals over the island. More than 50% patients visiting dispensaries and hospitals have problems directly or indirectly linked to alcohol.

According to Dr Ismael Peerbocus, more and more Mauritians are becoming dependent on alcohol and this is having serious repercussions on the society in general.

Describing the condition of a person dependent on alcohol, the doctor explains that the person will have a tendency to drink regularly and excessively and alcohol becomes a priority on all other activities of the person.

“Therefore the family and work of the person take backstage and the most important thing for him would be to find his drink. This dependency on alcohol is not stagnant and it grows stronger over time,” he says.

As a matter of fact, the person will have to consume a larger amount of alcohol to feel the desired effect. Gradually, the person becomes dependent and he finds it difficult to stop drinking. If he tries to stop drinking, he will witness withdrawal symptoms that can translate into shivering. The doctor explains that the person finds the urge to drink the first thing in the morning and in order to begin his daily activities he has to down one or two pegs.

There are quite a few behaviours that might mean that a particular person is having problems with alcohol. According to Dr Peerbocus, being drunk often for long periods of time, or drinking alone is an important symptom that should not be ignored.

Excuses for drinking
“Changing what you drink, such as switching from beer to wine because you think it will help you drink less or keep you from getting drunk is also serious. Feeling guilty after drinking, making excuses for your drinking or doing things to hide your drinking, such as buying alcohol at different stores and not remembering what you did while you were drinking (blackouts) are also important symptoms.

However, he says that alcohol problems may be diagnosed at a routine doctor visit or when you see your doctor for another problem. “If a partner or friend thinks you have an alcohol problem, he or she may urge you to see your doctor. Your doctor will ask questions about your symptoms and past health, and he or she will do a physical exam and sometimes a mental health assessment. The mental health assessment checks to see whether you may have a mental health problem, such as depression. Your doctor may also ask questions or do tests to look for health problems linked to alcohol, such as cirrhosis.

Treatment
Meanwhile, the doctor says that treatment for alcohol dependency depends on how bad your alcohol problem is. “Some people are able to cut back to a moderate level of drinking with help from a counsellor or experts from the Brown Sequard Hospital. People who are addicted to alcohol may need medical treatment and may need to stay in a hospital.Your doctor may decide you need detoxification, or detox, before you start treatment and might refer you to the specialized unit at the Brown Sequard Hospital,” he says. Detox, he adds, flushes out the alcohol in your body. You need detox when you are physically addicted to alcohol. When you go through detox, you may need medicine to help with withdrawal symptoms.

On the other hand, alcohol abuse or dependence can develop very quickly or happen gradually over years. Psychologist Romesh Appadoo explains that in the beginning, the drinking pattern of the person might not seem to be any different from the way other people drink. “You may drink only with friends or at parties. It may stay like this, or you may begin to drink more. Your drinking might become a way for you to feel normal or to cope with life’s problems. You might think that you can quit drinking at any time,” he says.

Many people who have alcohol problems quit for days, weeks, or even months before they start drinking again. But unless you can consistently keep your drinking under control and not fall back into unhealthy patterns, you need help. Meanwhile, the consequences linked to alcohol are many and it covers the physical and mental aspects of the person as well as his social surroundings. As a matter of fact, Dr Peerboccus says that when the person consumes alcohol, it affects his organs. “If a person is hooked onto alcohol for a long period of time, he will be suffering from stomach pains, nausea, loss of appetite, jaundice and if the person does not stop drinking, his liver cells will get damaged and will lead to an irreversible condition known as cirrhosis of the liver,” he explains. Alcohol might also increase your blood pressure and lead to heart problems. It also affects the pancreas and if it happens that the person is diabetic, it might prove to be fatal. Another important fact about alcohol consumption is that it affects the reproduction system. Men can suffer from erectile dysfunction and women can suffer from irregular periods and premature menopause.

Suicidal tendencies
According to Appadoo, alcohol has a direct effect on the mood of the person. “It is true that with a minimum consumption of alcohol, the person might have a tendency to perform better and he can also feel euphoric. However, when he drinks regularly, alcohol might have a depressant effect on the person. This means that the person will have a tendency to feel more depressed the more alcohol he takes,” he says.

The psychologist also explains that people who drink a lot are more prone to develop suicidal tendencies. Alcoholics have 73% more chances to commit suicide than a normal person. With alcohol abuse over the years, there is a deterioration of personality in the alcoholic. Gradually there might be cognitive troubles faced by the brain of the person. He might suffer from memory lapses and become forgetful. For example, he might forget what he did the previous night. He also develops hallucinations and hears voices or people talking bad of him. He might respond to these voices and tend to become aggressive as he thinks that people are attacking him. That’s how sometimes we find alcoholics hiding under the bed or roaming around with knives to defend themselves.

source:  Le Défi Media Group

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