ALCOHOLISM - How to deal with psychological distress


ALCOHOLISM - Characteristics

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM IV), to diagnose alcohol abuse disorder a person must have had three (or more) of the following conditions, for at least 12 months:

Tolerance, as defined by each of the following:

  1. The need for significantly higher doses of the substance to achieve intoxication or the desired effect.
  2. A significantly decreased effect with the continued use of the same amount of substance.
  3. Withdrawal, as manifested by each of the following:
  4. The characteristic withdrawal syndrome for the substance.
  5. The same substance (or a closely related one) is taken to alleviate or avoid withdrawal symptoms.

The substance is often taken in larger quantities or for longer periods than expected by the subject;Persistent desire or unsuccessful attempts to reduce or control the use of the substance;A great deal of time is spent on activities necessary to obtain the substance, to take it, or to recover from its effects;

Interruption or reduction of important social, work, recreational activities due to the use of the substance;

Continued use of the substance despite the awareness of having a persistent or recurring problem, of a physical or psychological nature, likely caused or exacerbated by the substance (for example, the subject continues to drink despite the recognition of the worsening of an ulcer due to the intake of alcohol).

ALCOHOLISM - Consequences

The causes of alcoholism can be many and can come from the social sphere, genetics or from particular characteristics of one’s personality. In fact, it has been seen that hereditary factors have a significant influence on the increased risk of alcohol addiction: children of alcoholics have a four times greater chance than other children of becoming alcoholics themselves.

ALCOHOLISM - ConsequencesIn addition, other factors are also very important, which interacting with each other and being co-present make an already predisposed person more vulnerable. For example, we indicate poverty, physical or sexual abuse, early starting age and family problems.

  1. In some people, personality characteristics such as impulsiveness, low self-esteem, strong dependence on the people around them, predisposition to anxiety and depression, and the need to be approved, have been seen to lead to inadequate drinking.
  2. Some take alcohol to help each other in social interactions, inadequate due to shyness, to face difficult times, to be able to manage painful emotions or to “cure” psychological ailments that torment the person.

Alcoholism can undoubtedly be cured, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy to do. One of the characteristics of this disease is the constant risk of relapse, so it is not enough to simply stop drinking, but it is very important not to start drinking again.

  • The difficulty lies not so much in stopping alcohol as in being able to maintain sobriety.
  • In order for a person to be cured, it is necessary to have the right drive to do so, that is, that he / she is highly motivated.
  • Being motivated means realizing that alcohol is a problem and that it is not possible to solve it on your own. Once this awareness has been achieved, action can begin.

Often the alcoholic can try to quit alone, but it is very difficult to succeed.

  1. It is in fact necessary to be followed by a multidisciplinary therapeutic chain, which sees the involvement of doctors, psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers and other specialists, who can provide all the support and knowledge to get out of the problem.
  2. The treatment of alcoholism is aimed on the one hand at combating intoxication and acute manifestations of abstinence, and on the other hand at maintaining a state of sobriety and avoiding relapses.
  3. The intervention includes psychotherapies, drug treatments and, when necessary, residency in facilities for the detoxification and rehabilitation of alcoholics, or support from associations dedicated to them.


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