Dr. Mazhar Jakhro: Dealing with alcohol

by Symptom Advice on May 24, 2012

By DR. MAZHAR JAKHRO May 24, 2012 12:00 AM

Alcoholism is physical addiction to alcohol, when an individual continues to drink despite having problems with physical health and/or mental health, as well as social, family, or job responsibilities. it is one of the most common psychiatric disorders and is frequently accompanied by other substance abuse disorders such as smoking, anxiety, mood disorders, and antisocial personality disorder. it can also be associated with considerable morbidity and mortality.

Alcoholism is hereditary, but environmental and interpersonal risk factors do play a role.

Facts about Alcohol Abuse:

  • it affects about 10 percent of women and 20 percent of men in the United States.
  • there are approximately 79,000 deaths due to excessive alcohol use each year in the United States.
  • Alcohol abuse is the third leading lifestyle-related cause of death in the nation.
  • One-fifth to one-half of all car accident deaths are due to alcohol.

Individuals who should not drink any alcohol include:

  • Pregnant women or anyone who is trying to become pregnant.
  • Anyone taking a prescription or over-the-counter medication that may cause harmful reactions when mixed with alcohol.
  • Any person under the age of 21.
  • Anyone recovering from alcoholism or anyone who is unable to control the amount they drink.
  • Any person suffering from a medical condition that may be worsened by alcohol, such as a seizure disorder.
  • Anyone who is driving, planning to drive, or participating in other activities requiring skill, coordination and alertness.

Symptoms include recurrent intoxication, nausea, mood swings, depression, anxiety, insomnia, chronic fatigue, seizures, tremors, hematemesis, unsteady gait, paraesthesia, memory loss, and erectile dysfunction.

Signs include heavy regular alcohol consumption, heavy cigarette smoking, other substance abuse (e.g. marijuana, cocaine, heroin, amphetamines, sedatives, hypnotics and anxiolytics), accidents, burns, violence, suicide, and recurrent absenteeism from work.

The immediate effects of alcohol may include:

  • Impaired judgment and inability to measure risks
  • Lowered inhibitions
  • Slower reaction time and reflexes
  • Loss of coordination and balance
  • Distorted vision
  • Lapses in memory

Long-term effects of alcohol may include:

  • Chronic liver disease
  • Cancer
  • Heart disease and stroke
  • Mental health issues such as depression and anxiety
  • Alcohol addiction leading to domestic, financial and relationship problems

A health care provider will perform a physical exam and ask questions about your medical and family history, and may perform a screening test such as a CAGE questionnaire or Brief Michigan Alcoholism Screening Test during the office visit.

The severity of the alcohol problem, comorbid medical and psychosocial conditions, and the patient’s motivation to change are key elements that will influence the family physician’s choice of intervention. Treatment may include detoxification-treatment and/or behavioral-treatment approaches, which are usually conducted with help of Substance Abuse Specialist.

Keep it simple. Just saying “no thanks” might be enough. you could even say you stopped drinking at your doctor’s advice. Or you could choose an alternative to alcohol such as water, club soda, juice or a non-alcoholic beer.

According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, if you drink alcoholic beverages, do so in moderation. Moderation is defined as no more than one drink per day for women and no more than two drinks per day for men.

Dr. Mazhar Jakhro specializes in family medicine, providing high-quality health care for families and individuals of all ages. Board certified in family medicine, Dr. Jakhro is part of Southcoast Physicians Group, practicing at Southcoast Health System, a full-service medical practice in Wareham that brings together 18 primary care and specialty physicians, radiology and lab services. Dr. Jakhro is accepting new patients and can be reached at (508) 273-4950.

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