Alcohol misuse occurs when you drink in a way that’s harmful or when you’re dependent on its consumption. If someone has lost control over their drinking and has a strong desire to drink, it’s known as alcohol dependency (alcoholism).
Risks associated with alcohol misuse can be short or long term.
Short term risks include:
- Injuries requiring medical treatment, such as head injury or broken bones. ● Violent, or other criminal behaviour as well as being the victim of violence. ● Losing personal possessions such as mobile phones, money or keys.
Long term alcohol misuse can significantly increase the risk of serious health conditions such as:
- Heart disease
- Liver disease
In addition to serious health issues, alcohol misuse can create social problems such as unemployment, divorce and domestic abuse.
People have alcohol dependency for a number of reasons, including:
- Mental health
- Drinking from a young age
- Social and cultural factors
- Being in a stressful environment
There has also been research to suggest that alcohol dependency has increased during the covid-19 pandemic.
Dependent drinkers commonly experience physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms if they suddenly reduce or stop drinking. Symptoms of withdrawal include:
- Hand tremors – “the shakes”
- Insomnia (difficulty sleeping)
You might be misusing alcohol if:
- You feel you should reduce your alcohol consumption.
- Other people are critical of your drinking.
- You feel guilty about your drinking.
If you’re concerned about your drinking or someone else’s, there are a many charities and support groups in addition to Sikh Helpline, which can provide help and advice. These include:
- Alcohol Change UK
- Alcoholics Anonymous helpline on 0800 9177 650
- Al-Anon Family Groups helpline on 020 7403 0888
- Alcohol Free Sikhs
The Sikh Recovery Network