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Frequently asked questions about alcohol

Port of Call answers some of your most frequently asked questions about alcohol addiction and how to find an alcohol rehab facility. From how to tell if alcohol is affecting your moods, to what is ‘alcohol depression,’ and what are the common treatments for alcoholism – we’ve got the answers.

Frequently asked questions about alcohol

Alcohol Addiction

What are the symptoms of alcoholism?

The following are common symptoms of alcoholism:

  • You feel guilty or ashamed about your drinking.
  • You lie to others or hide your drinking habits.
  • You have friends or family members who are worried about your drinking.
  • You need to drink in order to relax or feel better.
  • You ‘black out’ or forget what you did while you were drinking.
  • You regularly drink more than you intended to.
  • You have to drink to relieve unpleasant withdrawal symptoms.
  • You’ve lost control of your drinking.

Alcohol Depression

What is ‘alcohol depression’?

Alcohol is a depressant. That means it can disrupt our thoughts, feelings, actions and sometimes our long-term mental health. This can be partly attributed to ‘neurotransmitters’, the chemicals that help to transmit signals from one nerve (or neuron) in the brain to another. High levels of alcohol can bypass the pleasurable effects of alcohol and instead cause a negative emotional response like anger, aggression, anxiety or depression. Alcohol misuse can cause problems in your relationships and effect your performance at work.

How can I tell if alcohol is affecting my moods?

There are a few tell-tale signals to look out for if you think alcohol might be altering your moods.

These include:

  • Disturbed sleep.
  • Feeling constantly lethargic and tired.
  • Low moods.
  • Experiencing anxiety in otherwise normally comfortable situations.

Is alcoholism ever confused with depression?

Alcoholism can share similar hallmarks of depression. According to Drinkaware, Brits who experience anxiety or depression are twice as likely to be heavy or problem drinkers. Whilst for some their anxiety or depression came first and alcohol was their solution. For others, drinking happened first and could have caused their anxieties.

Alcohol Poisoning

What are the common signs of alcohol poisoning?

The signs you should look out for are:

  • Confusion.
  • Loss of coordination.
  • Vomiting.
  • Seizures.
  • Irregular or slow breathing (less than eight breaths a minute).
  • Blue-tinged or pale skin.
  • Low body temperature (hypothermia).
  • Stupor – when someone’s conscious but unresponsive.
  • Unconsciousness – passing out.

What should I do if I think someone has alcohol poisoning?

The rule of thumb for alcohol poisoning is to be better safe than sorry. So if you think that someone might be experiencing it, even if you’re not absolutely certain, call 999 for an ambulance. Hospital staff will closely monitor them until all the alcohol has left their system.

Binge Drinking

What is binge drinking?

The NHS and National Office of Statistics definition of ‘binge drinking’ is drinking more than double the lower risk guidelines for alcohol in one session. That’s more than eight units of alcohol – or about three pints of strong beer – for men. For women, it’s more than six units of alcohol or two large glasses of wine.

What are the dangers of binge drinking?

Binge drinking is a major factor in accidents, violence and anti-social behaviour. It’s also associated with risky behaviours, including a higher chance of contracting a sexually transmitted disease. Not to mention health risks such as liver problems, reduced fertility, high blood pressure, increased risk of various cancers and heart attack.

Is it just young people who binge drink?

No. Nearly one in five people aged over 65 admit to drinking alcohol at home every day and 42 percent will happily do so several times a week. Compare that to just over one in ten people aged 18 to 24 indulging in a daily drink at home and less than a third doing so twice a week or more. Over-65s are among the least likely to cut back on how they’re drinking at home too (22 percent).

Support and Treatments

What are the treatments for alcoholism?

Treatment options for alcohol misuse depend on whether a drinker’s habits are hazardous, harmful or dependent, and whether they’re trying to drink less or give up altogether. Some of the most common treatments include detox at a hospital or clinic, Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) support groups, Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), and a motivational interviewing technique known as Extended brief intervention (EBI) to explore why they drink the way they do and identify positive reasons for changing.

Is there any support out there for family members of an alcoholic?

Family therapy provides family members with the opportunity to learn more about the nature of alcohol dependence and how to support a family member trying to abstain from alcohol. Also, Al-Anon is an organisation affiliated to AA that provides relatives and friends with help and support.

Units of Alcohol

How much alcohol is in a unit?

A single unit of alcohol – the amount our livers can process per hour – is the equivalent of just one 25ml single measure of whisky (ABV 40%), a third of a pint of beer (ABV 5-6%) or half a standard (175ml) glass of wine (ABV 12%).

What are the recommended drinking guidelines for men and women?

Men should drink no more than 21 units of alcohol per week, no more than four units in any one day, and have at least two alcohol-free days a week. Women should drink no more than 14 units of alcohol per week, no more than three units in any one day, and have at least two alcohol-free days a week. One unit of alcohol is about equal to half a pint of ordinary strength beer, lager or cider (3-4% ABV); a small pub measure (25 ml) of spirits (40% ABV); or a standard pub measure (50 ml) of fortified wine, like sherry or port (20% alcohol by volume). There are one and a half units of alcohol in a small glass (125 ml) of ordinary strength wine (12% ABV); or a standard pub measure (35 ml) of spirits (40% ABV).

A medical professional should always be consulted before stopping drinking. Alcohol withdrawal can be life threatening.

Port of Call is here to help with our extensive Addiction Services, including finding a local rehab, and a network of highly qualified addiction experts just a confidential free phone call away. 08000029010.

About the author: Alex Molyneux

Alex is our admissions team leader. Over the last 5 years he has spoken with more than 10,000 people via our helpline and has organised over 1,000 detox and rehabilitation placements.

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