Alcohol Use Disorder

Dr Asangba Tzudir

Even as the debate on the NLTP Act continues it is also imperative to look at the aspect of Alcohol Use Disorder and see how serious this medical condition is. Though easily available for ‘seekers’, the fact that liquor is not only ‘condemned’ but also ‘cursed’ makes it all the more difficult to acknowledge Alcohol Use Disorder as a form of medical condition, besides the callous attitude of the non-drinkers towards the drinkers in general, and rightly so considering the various forms of problems it presents at various levels.  

The Alcohol use disorder is a medical condition characterized by an impaired ability to stop or control alcohol use knowing the adverse social, occupational, or health consequences encompassing the conditions which are referred to as alcohol abuse, alcohol dependence, alcohol addiction, and alcoholism. The seriousness of the condition is that it is considered a brain disorder which can be mild, moderate, or severe. Though a brain disorder, and irrespective of the severity of the problem, treatment with behavioral therapies, mutual-support groups, along with medications is said to have helped people with this disorder achieve recovery. 

We all know how people start drinking alcohol, and the ‘quickness’ in which they drink alcohol adds to the growth of the risk. And with time through increased consumption including binge drinking and heavy consumption only makes the risk severe. Besides indulgence from an early age, genetics, family history so also the environment play a big role in the development of this condition. And with time the brain disorder manifests in a wide range of psychiatric conditions which includes depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

There will come a time as the drinking progresses where - one would end up drinking more or longer than intended; times when one would try to cut down or stop but couldn’t; time spent on drinking increases; getting sick from drinking; wanting to drink only and cannot think of anything else except drinking; drinking starts to interfere with taking care of one’s home or family; having trouble at work due to drinking; can’t resist but drink when one has very important matters to attend to; getting into undesirable situations after drinking; continuing to drink even though it was making one feel depressed or anxious or adding to another health problem; having to drink more to get to the level of effect one wants. All these symptoms and more are causes of serious concern and should seek help immediately without any further delay. However, and most importantly, the ‘patient’ should first have the heart and the longing to give up drinking. Otherwise, any form of therapy, medication is not going to help. 

An all out treatment is required which includes medication; behavioral treatments like alcohol counseling, talk therapy; or mutual-support groups in order to provide peer support. It should be noted that people, and in consideration of the symptoms showing severe Alcohol Use Disorder, should be given medical help provided they also sincerely decide to stop drinking because Alcohol withdrawal is a potentially life-threatening process that can occur when someone who has been drinking heavily for a prolonged period of time suddenly stops drinking. Instance being shivering, which is a general Symptom among severely disordered drinkers and which stops only upon drinking. Such is the severity of the condition.

However, it is not the case that people with Alcohol Use Disorder do not recover. They can be recovered provided they want to quit and seek medical help along with intensive counseling. Spiritual or religious help is the most popularly sought to stop drinking alcohol, and as much as it is important, this alone is not going to help. Proper medical intervention is the surest path to recovery.

(Dr Asangba Tzudir writes a weekly guest editorial for The Morung Express. Comments can be mailed to [email protected])