What Do We Mean By Alcohol Misuse?
People drink alcohol for a range of reasons and in varying amounts, primarily because they like the taste and the effects of alcohol, and because drinking is seen as a harmless and entertaining social activity. For most adults, drinking alcohol is a well-established and acceptable part of their life. For a large minority, however, alcohol has the potential to ruin lives. In recent years, over 8,000 people annually have died in Britain as a result of alcohol-related problems.
If your drinking causes you or someone else problems, in any area of your life, then that drinking is problematic: you are misusing alcohol. Drinking may cause problems with health (both physical and mental), with finance, work and the law, and with friends and relationships.
The psychological tell-tale signs of alcohol misuse include:
- A preoccupation with alcohol (“When will I have my first drink today? When the next? ...”)
- Guilt, prompted by damage to your car, the concern of a colleague, the desperation of your partner, or your own face in the bathroom mirror
- Negative emotions, such as low mood or anxiety after, or even in some cases during, a drinking session
The medical signs can vary from one individual to another, but could include:
- Dependence and withdrawal symptoms, often as soon as 5 hours after the last drink
- The results of alcohol poisoning, including anaemia, gastric ulcers, pancreatitis, liver failure (and eventually death)
The social signs include:
- Crime, particularly violent crime
- Absenteeism from work
- Increased risk of domestic accidents or accidents on the road