Things to Know About

Is Alcoholism a Mental Illness?

The definition of ‘alcoholism’ has evolved. Recognizing alcoholism as a mental health condition allows for more compassionate and effective treatment, such as therapy and support groups.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) of mental disorders identifies and sorts mental illnesses, and alcoholism is classified as a subset of a mental health disorder in the DSM 3.

Alcoholism, also known as alcohol use disorder or substance use disorder, is classified as a mental disorder by the most recent edition of the DSM 5 that exhibits both physical and mental symptoms.

Alcohol use disorder is now used to group alcohol abuse, addiction, and alcoholism to diagnose it as mild, moderate, or severe disorder.

The incapacity to control alcohol use, despite the adverse effects, is common.

How is Alcoholism related to Mental Illness?

An illness that affects mood, thinking, and behavior is known as a mental illness. A few such examples include depression, eating disorders, and addictive behaviours.

The standard definition of alcohol use disorder is an inability to control alcohol consumption despite knowing its harmful effects.

Alcohol causes people to have a lifestyle that revolves around alcohol, where they require increasing amounts of alcohol to feel the desired effects and, on the other hand, experience withdrawal symptoms when they stop drinking.

The warning signs of alcohol abuse disorder

1. The Effects of Alcohol on the Brain

Recent scientific research has demonstrated that drinking alcohol regularly alters the brain, and these changes may be long-lasting. Alcohol is a depressant that tells the central nervous system to perform essential motor, cognitive, and other processes sluggishly.

The body’s reaction times decrease, and balance, cognition, and other coordination deteriorate. Alcohol has the potential to suppress vital bodily processes like breathing and body temperature fatally. Alcohol and other adjective substances have an impact on the brain’s pleasure and reward center, raising dopamine levels.

Dopamine is also referred to as the happy chemical, which is innately released by the brain in response to an enjoyable experience, reinforcing it as good for the body. Alcohol induces the release of an abnormally high level of dopamine, which produces a robust response and a deeply embedded urge to repeat the experience.

When someone regularly consumes large amounts of alcohol, their neural pathways become accustomed to the drug’s steady inflow, Maintaining a high level of overstimulation.

As a result, tolerance develops, requiring progressively higher alcohol concentrations to produce the desired effects. According to researchers, persistent brain overstimulation causes habitual behavior that is challenging to break.

Alcohol effects on brain and body

  • As the body attempts to restore its natural balance, the state of overstimulation and cutting back on alcohol could also cause withdrawal symptoms.
  • A person frequently experiences both an alcohol use disorder and an additional mental illness at the same time.
  • A co-occurring disorder, Mixed diagnosis, or comorbidity is what this is known as.
  • According to data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 9.2 million Americans in 2018 had a substance use disorder in addition to a mental illness.

According to some other studies, there is a higher risk of developing an alcohol or substance use disorder if a mental disorder is left diagnosed or untreated.

People with mental health disorders may try to self-medicate with alcohol or drugs if they are experiencing depressive symptoms, frustration or other negative emotions.

Similarly, drinking too much alcohol can lead to mental illness. Alcohol causes stress, anxiety and other psychological disorders, which strengthen the chance of having all such simultaneously.

2. India and Alcohol Abuse

In the WHO Southeast Asia region, India continues to grow as quickly and broadly as possible in the case of consumption of alcohol per capita (WHO, 2018).

The enforcement of alcohol control efforts in India is fragmented, lacking in consensus, influenced by political factors, and motivated by the Limited economy and not health concerns, which is why the country’s current policies have not been effective in reducing the harm caused by alcohol.

Around 253 million people between the ages of 14-25, or 21% of the population, make up the most significant number of adolescents worldwide in India. The government, particularly on alcohol abuse disorder, has no regard for the possible benefits of preventive measures.

The lack of knowledge regarding the beginning and progression of alcohol use among Indian adolescent populations is one of the possible explanations for this.

  • In the last three years, alcohol sales have increased at a 12% annual rate.
  • Officially, Indians contribute to consuming the least amount of alcohol in the world.
  • According to Government statistics, only 21% of adult men and roughly 2% of women drink alcohol.
  • But up to 5% of this group are alcoholics, who need help because they are dependent.

According to research findings, people who are dependent on alcohol have a deficient quality of life. This result emphasizes the importance of developing and putting into practice biological, psychological or social preventive inventions for people who abuse alcohol as well as their families. According to the field of psychology, there are different models for prevention.

However, a famous three-level prevention model could be used to categorize preventive interventions: primary prevention, secondary prevention and tertiary prevention. Here, the primary prevention focuses on protecting individuals who are healthy from alcohol abuse and dependency and may be offered on a universal, selective or indicated level.

Secondly, prevention aims to prevent degradation regarding alcoholic dependence and relapse in the cases of people who have already been diagnosed with the condition. Tertiary prevention aims to lessen the decline in functioning in people who have ongoing alcohol dependence.

These initiatives aim to improve general social skills, as well as the development of skills and behaviors related to alcohol refusal, as well as the adoption of behaviour models that discourage alcohol use.

3. Few Intervention Techniques

Various methods, including role-playing, are employed in the broader setting of pertinent interventions. Different measures, running the sale of alcohol to young people, or at least limiting it, may help improve the efficacy of Preventive programs at the social policy level.

The goals of tertiary prevention interventions are to help alcohol-dependent people become more motivated to abstain from alcohol, to prevent relapse, and to learn new behaviors that will help to change the alcohol dependency issue.

These interventions can occur within the framework of psychotherapeutic follow-up offered to alcohol-dependent individuals, and they may include a variety of short-term interventions like motivational interviewing as well as complementary therapies such as acupuncture and meditation.

Alcohol Prevention Recap

The same program for alcohol dependency may incorporate elements of prevention along with aspects of Mental Health Promotion, supporting similar or different activities that could be supplementary to the preventive program.

Finally, it is essential to educate mental health professionals about prevention and give individuals who operate drug addiction programs particular education.

The efficacy of Preventive programs and, more broadly, the treatment of disorders linked to alcohol use may be increased by mental health professionals acting as therapists and intervention coordinators.

1 Comment

  1. Avatar Pooja Rana says:

    Addiction of any drugs or alcohol one of the many causes of mental illness and health issues. You have given a quiet a interesting view about the mental illness caused due to alcoholism.

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