Very common form of menace for the society…..ALCOHOL. Broadly speaking, we are using the term ‘alcohol’ to include all the beverages that contain ethyl alcohol as their constituent. These beverages differ in the amount of ethyl alcohol that they contain. Alcohol is very frequently consumed by people coming from all walks of life. But when they start physical, psychological, social and functional abnormalities due to the intake of alcohol, we say they are having ‘Alcohol Use Disorders (AUDs)’. Alcohol can cause dysfunction in almost all parts of the body, especially liver, kidney, heart, brain and muscles. We are also quite aware of the fact that problematic alcohol intake can prove to be life threatening.

Alcohol also causes stress, anxiety, depression, sleep disturbances and other different kinds of psychological problems. Due to all these things, the afflicted person is not able to maintain the social obligations which are normally expected of him. As the person is not able to maintain his own self, he starts finding doing his job also difficult. All these issues make the person incapable in all the different domains of life, and convert him to be a kind of burden on the family and society as a whole.

If we try to understand the origin of the problem, we find that the person starts the intake out of curiosity or peer pressure or any other cause. But gradually he becomes addicted to the substance. He is not able to stop the intake despite knowing the harmful effects. What we don’t see is that this is also a kind of disease. Society considers it to be a form of defiant behavior and says that the person is enjoying taking alcohol or is deliberately bothering everyone by their behavior. It may be true to a certain extent in many cases. But scientists have found out that there are changes in the brain due to alcohol which make the person dependent on it. And many a times, the person is not able to stop the intake despite persistent efforts.

Considering the currently available information and modalities of treatment, it can be said that AUDs are treatable. What is needed is a proper evaluation to delineate the causes and the level of motivation of the person to quit the intake. I want to convey that this problem is pretty common in the general population. The main concern is that it is very frequently not treated adequately and thus progress uncontrollably. The afflicted person is not brought to the proper treatment facilities and is fooled by many unscientific people who claim to treat the condition who don’t even have a basic understanding of the medical field. So, if we want to help our society, our friends and relatives, we must understand that AUDs are a REAL DISORDER and POTENTIALLY CURABLE. What is needed is just proper recognition and treatment by professionals trained to manage this illness.

Dr. Ankit Chaudhary

MBBS, MD (Psychiatry)