© This Week in Kamloops BC Canada

Many factors create alcoholism

Published: August 30, 2008

Despite massive public education and awareness efforts, alcoholism continues to wreak havoc on families, communities and health-care systems.

One of the primary reasons is that developing alcoholism is generally a long process and loved ones often fail to see or confront the issue until it is a serious one.

There is no set image for an alcoholic; they do not share the same problems or begin their drinking patterns in the same way.

Not all alcohol abusers look or behave the same way.

Alcoholics are not necessarily disabled. Many are high achievers who work every day.

It isnít always easy to detect an alcohol abuser by how much or how often the person drinks among company, or by how intoxicated he or she seems to be.

People with drinking problems often show at least one of these danger signs:

Tolerance: The need to drink increasingly greater amounts to get the same effects of pleasure or noticeable disability (ďI can hold my liquor.Ē)

Withdrawal: Symptoms, ranging from mild hangovers with nausea and headache to severe shaking, that develop soon after drinking stops and can continue for several days.

Loss of control: Showing an inability to control drinking behaviour or having obsessive thoughts about drinking.

Concern by others: Problems reported by co-workers or friends.

Health, family and legal problems: Examples include repeated injuries, driving citations and chronic lateness.

According to Health Canada, the likelihood of developing a drinking problem depends on several factors:

Psychiatric disorders: Anxiety or depression may make a person more vulnerable to addiction.

Family history: Alcoholism may have a genetic basis, causing people with parents or siblings who have alcohol addiction to have a risk of alcoholism that is three or four times the usual risk.

People who have a family history of alcoholism but are adopted to other families still have high rates of alcoholism.

Age: If a person gets intoxicated for the first time at a young age, this person will have a higher risk of later developing alcoholism.

If you or someone you know has a problem with alcohol, donít wait.

Seek help right away.

You may want to start with a call to your family doctor who can give you a medical evaluation and treatment information and refer you to community services that can help.

Or you can contact the mental health team of Interior Health who are responsible for overseeing alcohol and drug treatment programs.

Find out where Alcoholics Anonymous meets and get started on the rest of your life.

Thank you for your

questions and comments and for reading Mental Health Matters. You can reach us at [email protected] and be sure to check out our

website at kamloops.cmha.bc.ca because, after all, your mental health does matter!

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