“Is wine really healthy and beer not really alcohol?” Experts share signs of alcohol abuse

Reports suggest that too many people increased their alcohol consumption during the pandemic, especially because most of us were uprooted from a structured lifestyle. We didn’t have to rush anywhere, no one could tell you were suffering from a hangover and alcohol became something that many people looked forward to. But sometimes the line between drinking for a reason and becoming addicted to alcohol blurs. We spoke to doctors to know the difference

According to Dr. Dinika Anand, Clinical Psychologist, BLK-Max Super Specialty Hospital, “When it comes to substance use disorders, addiction and dependence, substance use disorders are terms that are associated with a lot of confusion. Simply put, addiction is associated with aspects of tolerance and withdrawal, and dependence is when continuous consumption alters biochemical changes in the brain. In terms of intake and consumption, occasional 1-2 glasses are acceptable, meaning mindful, moderate consumption.”

Excessive alcohol consumption will affect a person’s life in every way – from the number of days/weeks they drink to the amount of alcohol consumed. Poor sleep, frequent headaches, weight gain, blackout drinking episodes, inability to socialize without alcohol can all be signs of a developing problem.”

Is beer or wine better than other drinks?

People who classify beer or wine as “good alcohol” or “non-alcoholic” are definitely walking on a slippery slope. Wine may be the secret to longevity, but so is a healthy diet, exercise and good sleep. Consuming either wine or beer in excess is a recipe for depression, after all both contain alcohol and therefore rules of moderation apply there as well, adds Dr Anand.

Red wine is designated as a “heart healthy drink”, due to people feeling that it is a safer drink to drink. “Red wine consumption was once considered one of the possible causes of the ‘French Paradox’ nearly 3 decades ago, where the French were seen to have a relatively low incidence of coronary heart disease, while having a diet relatively high in saturated fat.
A natural polyphenol (reveratrol) in red wine has been considered to have some possible health benefits. This is obtained from the skin of grapes and is also found in other natural foods such as blueberries and cranberries. Similar benefits may be available by consuming these in their natural form. A study conducted across 195 countries published in The Lancet in 2016 observed that even very small amounts of alcohol increase a drinker’s risk of cancer and early death, adds Dr Gopalakrishna.

Dr Dwivedi further adds, “Wine itself is another alcoholic beverage, while drinking wine it is also necessary to understand that it is part of a culturally acceptable Mediterranean diet. How much of that diet contributes to one’s health is anyone’s guess. Also, flavonoids, antioxidants, and cardioprotective compounds in red wine have been talked about without any actual proven support. So the message of responsible drinking needs to get across.”

How much is safe to drink?

Talking about the signs of alcoholism, Dr. Rajesh Gopalakrishna, Clinical Professor, Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Amrita Hospital, Kochi, says, “If the person feels that he consumes too much alcohol and needs to cut down or feels irritated when others criticize his drinking, or he may feel guilty about his drinking. Urge to drink immediately upon awakening is also a sign. Frequent binge drinkers are usually addicted. Sleep disturbances, irritability, palpitations, excessive sweating, behavioral changes sometimes can also be the indicators.”

The doctor elaborates further: “There is no threshold for acceptable use of alcohol. If you don’t drink alcohol, there is no need to start drinking it. Moderation in alcohol use means that drinking does not make you drunk (or drunk), and you drink no more than 1 drink per day if you are a woman and no more than 2 if you are a man.
One drink is defined as 12 ounces (350 milliliters) of beer, 5 ounces (150 milliliters) of wine, or 1.5 ounces (45 milliliters) of spirits.”

Dr. Puneet Dwevedi, Chief Mental Health and Behavioral Science, Artemis Hospital Gurugram further adds, “
Although various dietary recommendations may be there from one to two drinks per day, the problem is that over a period of time the same one to two drinks will not be sufficient, so the person has to increase the amount of alcohol to get the same. the amount of joy. That is where this standard dose of recommended drinking will not be the right way to understand whether it is permissible or not.”

We all know the bad effects alcohol has on the liver. Dr Gopalakrishna shares, “Early effects on the liver can be fatty liver which can progress to cirrhosis of the liver. It can also affect other organs in the body. Drinkers can also experience a number of social harms, including family disruption, problems at the workplace and financial problems.”

Signs of alcoholism

Dr. Dwevedi shares clear diagnostic criteria for alcohol abuse

1) Alcohol is taken in larger quantities or over a longer period than intended,

2) Persistent desire or unsuccessful attempt to cut down or control alcohol use

3) A lot of time is spent on activities that are necessary to obtain alcohol or use alcohol or recover from its effects

4) Excision or strong urge, desire to use alcohol

5) Repeated alcohol use which results in failure to fulfill major roles/work duties

6) Continued alcohol use can occur regardless of social and interpersonal problems that the person may be going through

7) Social, occupational, recreational activities are stated because the person takes alcohol

8) Especially taking alcohol in situations that are physically dangerous, such as driving while drunk

9) Alcohol use continues despite the knowledge that recurring physical and/or psychological problems arise, which directly increase with alcohol intake. Alcohol can cause anxiety, depression and other neurological problems

10) Tolerance. If the same amount of alcohol does not produce the same amount of pleasure, the person continues to increase the amount of alcohol required to produce the same pleasure, meaning that tolerance has developed in the body

11) Withdrawal. All the physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms that occur to a person when the person does not drink alcohol are also one of the criteria for diagnosing a person suffering from alcohol abuse

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