A mix of genes and environmental factors influences overdrinking. Alcoholic drinks contain ethanol that reduces the activity of various inhibitory and excitatory neurotransmitter pathways. Ethanol is a GABA agonist and GABA –gamma-aminobutyric acid which acts as an OFF switch which inhibits the brain activity. So when ethanol binds to the GABA receptor, it makes the response even stronger due to its high affinity for it. Ethanol also activates opioid receptors. Ethanol produces euphoria or pleasant feeling when it acts on the amygdala part of the brain and it also acts on the cerebral cortex and slows down its thought process part of the brain leading to problems in thinking and speaking during over-consumption of alcohol. It also slows down the behavioral inhibition centers and creates a feeling of a relaxing state of mind with no or less self-consciousness.
- Young age
- Peer pressure
- Low self-esteem
- Relative or parents with alcohol use disorder
- More than 15 drinks/week for men
- More than 12 drinks/week for the female
- Binge drinking
- Drinking more than what is normal for a long period of time
- Difficulty in cutting down.
- Eating poorly
- Making excuses to drink.
- Violent behavior when not able to get drinks.
- Giving up important social and daily activities.
- Neglecting family because of drinking.
- Speech, memory, coordination impairment.
- Loss of consciousness
- Alcohol tolerance, therefore, urges to drink more because the normal amount of alcohol now doesn’t produce a feeling of euphoria like it used to.
It is done by keeping the following diagnostic criteria in mind by asking and noticing the following symptoms and signs by the doctor:
- Consuming more alcohol than intended
- Being unable to cut down alcohol.
- Alcohol use takes up a lot of time
- Cravings to use alcohol
- Alcohol use affects responsibilities or daily activities.
- Giving up important work for alcohol
- Using alcohol in dangerous situations
- Drinking even if it worsens a problem
- Becoming tolerant to alcohol
- Feeling withdrawal symptoms from drinking.
- COGNITIVE BEHAVIORAL THERAPY: it can help an individual learn about withdrawal symptoms and how to deal with it. It will also help to discuss the thought process behind alcohol use to help the patient to create a plan to deal with the triggers.
- MOTIVATIONAL AND SUPPORT PROGRAM: it can include group discussions to counsel and psychologically help in quitting alcohol.
- MEDICATIONS that include naltrexone, acamprosate, and disulfiram.
- NALTREXONE: used after detox from alcohol in the body. When combined with counseling, will help in reducing the craving for alcohol.
- ACAMPROSATE: is a medication that helps re-establish the brain’s original chemical state before alcohol dependence.
- DISULFIRAM: is a drug that causes physical discomfort of nausea, vomiting, headaches whenever alcohol is consumed.
- Mental illness
- Irregular heartbeat
- Cirrhosis of the liver
- Wernicke-korsakoff syndrome
- A fetal alcohol spectrum disorder