Q When should one call a person “addicted to alcohol”?

A The following features indicate the state of alcohol addiction or dependence:

When a person feels that he cannot live without alcohol.

Once one tries to leave alcohol, one gets severe withdrawal symptoms and is compelled to take alcohol.

There is a regular need to increase the alcohol intake in order to have the same pleasurable effect. It is called a state of tolerance.

One continues to take alcohol in spite of getting severe physical, social, family and legal complications.

Q What are common alcohol-induced medical complications?

A Chronic alcoholics are more prone to developing alcoholic liver disease, pancreatitis, neuropathies, convulsions and high blood pressure.

Q What are the common psychiatric problems experienced by chronic alcoholics?

A Chronic alcoholics are more vulnerable to depression, suspiciousness, impotence, hallucinatory experiences, behavioural disturbances and violent tendencies.

Q What are the warning signals in an alcoholic?

A Alcohol black-outs Fits of unconsciousness

Jerky movements

Q What is “disulfiram therapy”?

A Disulfiram is a drug and when a person taking disulfiram consumes alcohol, he gets severe reaction and develops skin rashes, low blood pressure, reddish skin, restlessness, an increased heart rate, breathlessness, nausea and vomiting.

Q Can disulfiram treatment prove fatal?

A Yes. Once the disulfiram alcohol reaction takes place and if it is not immediately attended to, one can die also.

Q Should disulfiram be given mixed in food without the knowledge of the patient?

A Disulfiram should never be given without the knowledge of the person taking alcohol. It can prove quite risky.

Q What is the role of naltrexone in treating alcoholics?

A Naltrexone is a centrally acting drug and it acts on specific receptors in the brain and decreases the craving for alcohol. Once a person is taking naltrexone and he takes alcohol too, no disulfiram-type reaction is produced.

Q How should one go about the business of leaving alcohol?

A One must approach a trained psychiatrist or go to a deaddiction centre for leaving alcohol.