The NHS estimates that around 9% of men in the UK and 4% of UK women show signs of alcohol addiction. There are varying degrees of alcohol dependence and they don’t always involve excessive levels of drinking.

Symptoms of Alcohol Addiction

You may have an alcohol addiction if you...

  • Be unable to limit the amount of alcohol you drink
  • Develop tolerance to alcohol so that you need more to feel its effects
  • Drink alone or hide your drinking
  • Experience physical withdrawal symptoms — such as nausea, sweating and shaking — when you don't drink
  • Not remember conversations or commitments, sometimes referred to as a "black out"
  • Make a ritual of having drinks at certain times and become annoyed when this ritual is disturbed or questioned
  • Be irritable when your usual drinking time nears, especially if alcohol isn't available
  • Keep alcohol in unlikely places at home, at work or in your car
  • Gulp drinks, order doubles or become drunk intentionally to feel good, or drink to feel "normal"
  • Have legal problems or problems with relationships, employment or finances due to drinking
  • Lose interest in activities and hobbies that used to bring you pleasure
Types of Alcohol Addiction

Binge drinking - Researchers often define binge drinking as the consumption of five or more drinks at one sitting for males and three or more drinks at one sitting for females.

Alcohol abuse - This type of addiction often results in absence from, and impaired performance at, school and on the job, neglect of child care or household responsibilities, legal difficulties and alcohol consumption in physically dangerous circumstances such as while driving.

Alcohol dependence - This a chronic and often progressive disease that includes a strong need to drink despite repeated social or interpersonal problems such as losing a job or deteriorating relationships with friends and family members.

Who is at risk?

As with many other conditions and diseases, vulnerability to addiction differs from person to person. Your genes, mental health, family and social environment can all play a role in addiction. Risk factors that increase your vulnerability include:

  • Family history of addiction
  • Abuse, neglect, or other traumatic experiences in childhood
  • Mental health disorders such as depression and anxiety
Risk factors for alcoholism include:
  • Steady drinking over time. Drinking too much on a regular basis for an extended period or binge drinking on a regular basis can produce a physical dependence on alcohol.
  • Age. People who begin drinking at an early age are at a higher risk of problem drinking or physical dependence on alcohol.
  • Family history. The risk of alcoholism is higher for people who have a parent or other close relatives who have problems with alcohol.
  • Depression and other mental health problems. It's common for people with a mental health disorder such as anxiety, depression or bipolar disorder to have problems with alcohol or other substances.
  • Social and cultural factors. Having friends or a close partner who drinks regularly could increase your risk of alcoholism. The glamorous way that drinking is sometimes portrayed in the media also may send the message that it's OK to drink too much.
  • Mixing medication and alcohol. Some medications interact with alcohol, increasing its toxic effects. Drinking while taking these medications can either increase or decrease their effectiveness, or even make them dangerous.
Treatment

Many patients require individual sessions with an addiction specialist. Dr de Silva would conduct a comprehensive assessment and explain her conclusions to you .She would discuss the treatment options taking into consideration your views and what she considers the optimum treatment for you. Treatment would generally include medication, or individual therapy or both. Dr de Silva can also make a referral to a psychologist or psychotherapist to look the psychological aspects of the addiction as well as trying to address the underlying causes. You would be reviewed regularly by Dr de Silva to monitor your progress.

If you require more intense treatment and to be away from the familiar environment, which may be contributing to the addiction, Dr de Silva can arrange for admission to treatment centre where you would stay for the duration of their treatment. Treatment at one of the centres would usually include medication management, individual psychological sessions as well as group psychological work. There is often specific focus on understanding the nature of addiction and relapse prevention. If an admission to a treatment centre is recommended Dr de Silva would be able to help identify the most appropriate treatment centre for you.

Types of addictions catered for:

Many people think of addictions as purely alcohol or illegal drug addiction, however there are many other forms including:

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