How Much Is Too Much? Teaching About Alcoholism

Posted by mentalhealthtv on October 10th, 2019

Most people drink more than they should at points, especially in the UK. This may cause people to ask the question, 'How much is too much?'. That is a good question, and although there are guides to how many units somebody should limit themselves to a week, the answer can be a bit more nuanced.

There are different kinds of alcoholics, which can make it hard to identify whether somebody is an alcoholic or not. Most people are willing to excuse alcoholics that don't fit in with the dysfunctional stereotypical alcoholic. For example, a functional alcoholic may be able to go to work, and lead a fairly normal life with the exception that they need to drink alcohol to get through the day. A lot of functional alcoholics drink in secret, so it doesn't appear to be as much of a problem. However, the health risks remain the same, and even a functional alcoholic would benefit from treatment for their alcoholism.

Some alcoholics keep their drinking to the weekends or evenings. This is where the lines become blurred. It's become socially acceptable (though not recommended by health experts) to binge drink at social gatherings on the weekend. For some, these gatherings don't happen very often and it's not so bad to over-indulge. However, others may be regularly missing work due to hangovers and feel that they need to drink during their time off. Even if somebody 'only drinks on weekends', it's important to consider the amount that they  might drink at the weekend. This could have a severe impact on their overall health.

Ask these questions:

How frequently do you experience hangovers?

How often do you drink alcohol, and when you do, how many units might you consume on average?

Has anybody ever expressed concern about the amount you might drink?

Although there are plenty of questions that could be asked, these questions alone can make it more obvious to somebody that they might have a problem, and that is the first step to recovery and sobriety. Teaching about alcoholism is important, as society's expectations may be different to what is healthy. At one point in time people were encouraged by their own parents to smoke cigarettes, and people were lead to believe smoking could be beneficial to them. More evidence and research from the years after this disproved anything beneficial about smoking cigarettes. Similar could be said about alcohol.

Abusing alcohol can lead to fatty liver disease, cirrhosis, heart problems, blood pressure issues and more. When somebody is heavily dependent on alcohol, it can also be dangerous to stop drinking without medical assistance. Alcohol withdrawal is a possibility and the symptoms can sometimes be life-endangering. 

There is a huge stigma attached to alcoholism, but a lot of people who drink have underlying mental health issues that may have 'driven' them to drink in the first place. It could be as simple as being under a lot of stress or as complex as having experienced a trauma. It is a choice to pick up a drink, but nobody 'decides' to become an alcoholic.

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