Is extreme nationalism a mental disorder
Around one in seven adults drinks alcohol in amounts that are hazardous to health. This means that after nicotine, alcohol is the most common addictive substance in Germany: 1.8 million people are alcohol-dependent, another 1.6 million people drink alcohol in harmful quantities.
Alcohol addiction occurs in all social classes. Men drink significantly more alcohol than women and are therefore more than twice as likely to develop addiction as women.
Young people also drink alcohol in significant and often harmful amounts. By the age of 17, two out of three boys and two out of five girls are already drinking alcohol regularly. In addition, around 2.5 million children have parents who are dependent on alcohol. Children from families with addiction problems are three to four times more likely to become addicted than other children. If children and adolescents drink alcohol, this is particularly problematic because their physical and mental development is not yet complete. For example, regular alcohol consumption can disrupt brain development.
Causes and Risk Factors
Alcohol in small amounts usually has a stimulating effect, can help to reduce inhibitions and fears, and promote the willingness to contact and communicate. Larger amounts cause poisoning, which disrupts perception and impairs coordination and speech. In addition, the self-control and irritability threshold decreases, which is why aggressive crimes are often committed under the influence of alcohol. If the alcohol content in the blood is very high, it can lead to a fatal coma. With regular high consumption, cell damage occurs in practically all tissues, but especially in the liver.
Alcohol addiction develops slowly. Anyone can gradually become addicted through frequent alcohol consumption. The following factors can turn risky drinking habits into alcohol addiction over time:
- Physical habituation: Regular consumption of large amounts causes the body to get used to alcohol. As a result, larger and larger quantities have to be drunk in order to experience a pleasant effect.
- Withdrawal Symptoms: If people do not drink enough, withdrawal symptoms such as tremors, sweating or restlessness occur and the desire to drink again increases.
- Amplifier Effects: Alcohol activates the reward system in the brain. This increases the motivation to drink alcohol again or to get into alcohol-drinking situations.
- Social acceptance: If you drink a lot in your social environment and if you are inebriated it is considered harmless, this can promote alcoholism.
A certain personality structure, heredity or a difficult fate alone do not lead to alcohol addiction.
Not everyone who * drinks alcohol occasionally or regularly has an alcohol disorder. The decisive factor is whether alcohol consumption is already endangering health or whether there is already damage. Warning signs are, for example, when people:
- feel that you are drinking too often or too much,
- Feel guilty about your own alcohol consumption
- feel like you can't stop drinking,
- can no longer meet the daily requirements,
- injured someone under the influence of alcohol
- were asked about one's own drinking behavior by third parties or
- Have doubts as to whether you have an alcohol problem.
Advice and early help
Anyone who is unsure whether drinking alcohol is already endangering their health can get advice in a psychotherapeutic consultation. In a conversation, which is subject to the psychotherapist's duty of confidentiality, alcohol consumption and the associated risks can be discussed.
If someone drinks too much but is not yet dependent, the psychotherapist offers several discussions about alcohol consumption. The aim is to discuss when and why alcohol is consumed and how it can help relieve tension. It is also made clear how alcohol makes it more and more difficult to meet daily requirements, what physical risks it brings with it and why it could be better to do something about it. The main thing is first of all to better assess your own alcohol consumption.
Such conversations are offered not only by psychotherapists, but also by addiction counseling centers and self-help groups. For some, the family doctor is the right contact. A doctor can also have the liver values determined in the blood and check whether there has already been any physical damage.
If you are addicted to alcohol, more intensive help is necessary. As a rule, it is then about treatment in a special addiction clinic. Sometimes outpatient treatment in a psychotherapeutic practice or counseling center is also possible.
Withdrawal Treatment: Treatment begins with physical withdrawal, which is usually carried out in a hospital. The alcohol is stopped abruptly. This can lead to violent physical reactions. Therefore, such withdrawal should always take place under medical supervision.
However, if no severe physical reactions are expected, outpatient withdrawal treatment is also possible. In return, however, the patient should be extremely sure that they can endure the physically strenuous withdrawal. It is also helpful if family or friends can support the sick person.
Inpatient withdrawal lasts 8 to 14 days. It makes sense to be accompanied by psychotherapeutic support (“qualified withdrawal treatment”).
Weaning treatment: After withdrawal, a patient learns not to drink alcohol permanently (abstinence). Such a withdrawal treatment usually lasts between eight weeks and several months and takes place in the rehabilitation clinics of the pension insurance.
Follow-up care: Even after weaning, an alcoholic person is still at risk. Experience has shown that it takes another year before he or she is stable. It is therefore advisable to visit a self-help group during this time and to seek further treatment from a psychotherapist. What a patient has learned in the clinic must first learn to apply it in everyday life. Psychotherapists in private practice or addiction counseling centers offer such aftercare.
Chances of recovery
Alcohol addiction does not follow a uniform pattern: Sometimes the disease worsens constantly, sometimes heavy drinking phases alternate with controlled alcohol consumption, and it is rarely possible to permanently abstain from alcohol without treatment.
Only 10 to 20 percent of alcohol addicts can even be treated professionally. Typically, an alcohol-dependent patient has had this condition for 14 years before starting treatment.
If a patient is left untreated after physical withdrawal, the likelihood of relapse within the next year is 90 percent. If a withdrawal treatment takes place afterwards, the chances of succeeding in a life without alcohol again increase significantly. Between 41 and 77 percent of the patients who were treated in a rehabilitation clinic did not relapse a year later.
- Lampert T, Thamm M (2007). Tobacco, Alcohol and Drug Consumption by Adolescents in Germany - Results of the Child and Adolescent Health Survey (KiGGS). Federal Health Gazette 50: 600 - 608.
- Lindenmeyer, J (2004): Advice on alcohol dependence, Hogrefe Verlag.
- Lindenmeyer, J (2010): Better to be smart than blue - the development and treatment of alcohol and drug addiction, Beltz-Verlag.
- Schneider, R (2009): The addiction primer: How addiction arises and how to free oneself from it. Information for those affected, relatives and interested parties, Schneider Verlag Hohengehren.
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