The NHS estimates that just under 1 in 10 (8.7%) men in the UK and 1 in 20 (3.3%) UK women show signs of alcohol dependence (sometimes known as “alcoholism”).
Being dependent on alcohol means you feel you’re not able to function without it, that drinking becomes an important, or sometimes the most important factor in your life.
Why do people become Alcohol Dependent?
Genetics plays its part, but it is also influenced by the environment that you have grown up in.
“We know from studies of twins raised apart and those raised together that 60% of your tendency to become alcohol dependent is inherited.” According to Dr Nick Sheron, a liver disease specialist from Southampton University. “The rest is due to free will and environmental effects. If you come from a line of alcoholics, your likelihood of becoming an alcoholic is much increased.”
Signs of Dependence:
- Worrying about where your next drink is coming from and planning social, family and work events around alcohol.
- Finding you have a compulsive need to drink and find it hard to stop once you start.
- Waking up and drinking – or feeling the need to have a drink in the morning.
- Feelings of anxiety, alcohol-related depression and suicidal feelings – these can develop because regular, heavy drinking interferes with neurotransmitters in our brains that are needed for good mental health.
- Suffering from physical withdrawal symptoms, such as sweating, shaking and nausea, which stop once you drink alcohol.
Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms:
It’s advised for anyone dependent on alcohol looking to stop drinking, first consult a doctor. Withdrawal symptoms can be potentially fatal.
Physical alcohol withdrawal symptoms include:
- Hand tremors (‘the shakes’)
- Visual Hallucinations (seeing things that are not actually real)
- Seizures (fits) in the most serious cases
Psychological alcohol withdrawal symptoms include:
- Insomnia (difficulty sleeping)