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Do you worry about your friend or relative’s drinking habits? You are not alone. There are people who struggle for years with the same question - How can I tell if the person I love is an alcoholic or not?
Well, the good news is that you don’t need to be a medical professional to figure out the right answer to this vital question. Read on to find simple ways to know whether your loved one suffers from alcohol addiction.

First up is a short quiz about drinking habits, developed by Dr. John Ewing to identify alcohol addiction. Treat this as a pointer and take your loved one to an expert, if it points towards alcohol addiction. You can ask these questions directly to your loved one, or you can answer these questions on their behalf.

According to the developers, one "yes" to the four quiz questions signals a problem, and more than one “yes” means that it's time for you or your loved one to get professional help.

Have you ever felt you should cut down on your drinking?

Have people annoyed you by criticizing your drinking?

Have you ever felt bad or guilty about your drinking?

Have you ever had a drink first thing in the morning to steady your nerves or to get rid of a hangover?”
There are many signs of a serious drinking problem. These include certain behaviours such as:

Drinking just for getting drunk

Drinking alone

Keeping alcohol consumption a secret

Drinking to escape problems

Hiding alcohol bottles

Experiencing withdrawal symptoms like getting irritated or experiencing nervousness, nausea, getting shakes, breaking out into a cold sweat, and getting hallucinations when unable to source alcohol

Having problems at work, school, or home, as a result of alcohol consumption

Losing interest in activities you or your friend used to enjoy

Having blackouts due to heavy drinking

Anger and extreme irritation

Other extreme behaviors to watch out for are:

Being able to drink an awful lot of alcohol

Trouble stopping once your loved one starts drinking
A powerful urge to drink

There is another scientific way to determine, if your loved one is an alcoholic. In the US, medical professionals commonly use a criteria, listed in the fourth edition of the ‘Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders’. According to it, the signs and symptoms of alcoholism are clearly laid down and it states that alcohol dependent people:

Will drink more to get their desired effect from alcohol

Experience withdrawal symptoms when the effect of alcohol wears off

Drink larger amounts of alcohol over a longer period of time

Will be unable to consistently control their drinking

Will leave important work for drinking

Will spend a lot of time during the day getting alcohol, drinking it, and recovering from hangovers.

Continue to use alcohol, despite knowing that their chronic physical or psychological problem is caused due to alcohol.

To be declared alcohol-dependent, your loved one must experience at least three of these criteria during a year.

However, there is still no one definite test to diagnose alcohol-use disorders. Therefore, professionals diagnose them by making use of the patient’s comprehensive medical, family, and mental-health information.

A team of Korean experts have found that Sacropenia speed up in old, post-menopausal women who consume excessive alcohol. Sarcopenia is the loss of skeletal muscle mass associated with age-induced degeneration. In a first, the study aimed to look at the associations between alcohol consumption and age-related drop in strength in post-menopausal women. Close to 2000 post-menopausal women participated in the study out of which nearly 8% reported to have been suffering from Sacropenia.
These women were divided into groups and those clubbed under the high-risk alcohol drinking group were 4 times more prone to developing sarcopenia. The study was published in the journal of The North American Menopause Society and urged women to monitor their alcohol intake closely in order to keep health ailments at bay.

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism notes, "Alcohol use may impact the health and well-being of postmenopausal women through the direct interaction of alcohol with organ systems and hormones". Excessive alcohol consumption may meddle with hormones while these "circulating hormones" may affect risk of developing breast cancer, coronary heart disease and osteoporosis. As per the research paper published by a team of experts at the Wake Forest University School of Medicine in North Carolina, US, alcohol consumption has a direct impact on organs like liver, the brain as well as the gastrointestinal system.

A recently published study linked moderate alcohol consumption with risks of cognitive decline and called for reformulation of alcohol consumption guidelines across the globe.

Pregnancy is a very sensitive period of time that plays an important role in not just your newborn's physical but also mental health. The nourishment that a mother gets is transmitted to the baby and so are negative effects of certain habits like smoking, drinking alcohol and taking too much stress. While some believe that you must completely avoid alcohol and also smoking cigarettes during pregnancy, some say that an occasional drink may be alright. But a new study, conducted by researchers from King’s College London and the University of Bristol, clearly indicates that consumption of alcohol, smoking cigarettes and exposure to stress can cause certain epigenetic changes at birth that can make the child more prone to aggressive behaviour.

Epigenetic changes refer to external modifications to the DNA that turn the genes ‘on’ or ‘off’. According to researchers, these can leas to conduct problems in children later in life such as fighting, lying and stealing. The team believes that children who show early-onset of conduct problems are much more likely to turn aggressive and indulge in antisocial behaviour as adults.

The researchers explain that kids who develop conduct problems before the age of 10 are at a much higher risk of severe and chronic antisocial behaviour and it is believed that genetic factors that can play an important role in influencing the degree of risk. The team used data from Bristol’s Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC) to examine the link between DNA methylation at birth and conduct problems from the ages of four to 13. DNA methylation is an epigenetic process that regulates how genes are ‘switched on and off’.

In addition to this, they also measured the role of environmental factors that have been previously linked to early onset of conduct problems such as maternal diet, smoking, alcohol use and exposure to stressful life events. The results showed that epigenetic changes at birth in seven sites of the DNA were different for those who developed early-onset of conduct problems in comparison to those who did not. Further, it was found that some of these epigenetic differences were also linked to smoking and alcohol use during pregnancy.

Previous studies have shown that exposure to maternal smoking and alcohol is associated with developmental problems in children, but this study established that it can also increase the risk if conduct problems. Therefore, it is best to avoid alcohol and smoking during pregnancy for the safety of the child and the mother.

If you are a heavy drinker and you are having problems with your sex life, they are likely to be caused because of your alcohol consumption. Sex and alcohol are not considered to be a good mixture. Although a small amount of alcohol is harmless, moderate to heavy drinking can hamper your sex life in several ways. Moreover, alcohol is very dangerous for pregnant women.

Alcohol can lead to sexual problems and issues in both men and women. It can also make them behave in a different and unusual manner, which may lead them into having sex with people who are unsuitable. It makes people take unnecessary risks and many get infected with sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Unwanted pregnancy after having sex is a common aspect in today’s world. Alcohol also makes people likely to be victims of sexual attacks.

The bad effects of alcohol on your sex life
There are several bad effects of alcohol which take a toll on your sexual life. They are as follows:

Alcohol may make people more likely to engross in sexual activity with the wrong person. Getting pregnant, catching infections and embarking in affairs which lead to the breakup of many marriages are common effects of alcohol. Alcohol is a primary reason for the demand of the emergency contraceptive or morning after pill, all over the world.

Alcohol fuddles up people's brain and many of them forget to take proper contraceptive precautions before having sex.

Alcohol is very harmful for unborn babies in pregnant women. It may cause brain damage to the baby. You should consume alcohol as less as possible during pregnancy and totally avoid it during the first three months of pregnancy.

Alcohol accounts for being a major cause of erectile dysfunction or impotence in men. Alcohol may increase your sexual desire, but it reduces your performance.

Men who are heavy drinkers may develop a permanent case of brewer’s droop. Loss of sexual interest is also likely.

Excessive alcohol may lead to diminished or reduced libido in women as well. It is yet to be proven whether alcohol causes any other sexual complications in women.

If you are facing problems with excessive alcohol consumption and it is affecting your sex life, you need to take some steps.

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Can beer be a healthy drink? Despite the common myths surrounding alcohol consumption and the adverse effects that it has on a person in the long run, a controlled and well-balanced intake of beer is not as bad as it would seem.

Here are a few reasons proving that beer can be healthy for you if taken in the right amount and quantity.

In comparison to other alcoholic beverages, beer is relatively healthier for your kidneys. As a matter of fact, studies show that a bottle of beer can actually reduce the risk of acquiring kidney stones by up to 40%.

Fiber, as we all know, plays a vital role in digestion. The presence of up to one gram of soluble fiber in just a 30 ml glass of beer (dark beer, in particular) makes the beverage very beneficial for digestion.
Fiber present in beer can also help reduce the level of LDL cholesterol (a harmful proponent of cholesterol).

It has been proved that beer is a rich source of various B vitamins like vitamin B1, vitamin B2, vitamin B6 and vitamin B12.

The presence of both nicotinic acid and Lactoflavin in beer makes it an effective cure for insomnia.
Beer is also helpful in the prevention of blood clots.

The presence of high levels of silicon in beer is responsible for bestowing a stronger bone density.
Studies have concluded that beer can also reduce the risk of suffering a heart attack.

Unlike their non-drinking counterparts, beer drinkers are less vulnerable of experiencing dementia or Alzheimer's disease.
Because of the presence of certain vitamins, beer has a ton healthy nourishing benefits for the skin.

Beer is also useful in fighting against stress.
What are the recommended safe limits of Beer?

Men should drink no more than 14 units of Beer per week, these units should be spread out through the week and they should have at least two alcohol-free days a week.
Women should drink no more than 14 units of Beer per week, these units should be spread out through the week and they should have at least two alcohol-free days a week.
Pregnant women or women trying to conceive should not drink alcohol at all. If they do choose to drink, to minimise the risk to the baby, they should not drink more than 1-2 units of beer once or twice a week and should not get drunk.

Despite the above people with increased Triglyceride, Uric Acid should be restricted for consumption of alcohol. People with fatty liver patient with other medication for hypertension, etc. also should refrain from drinking.

People with diabetes who drink should follow these alcohol consumption guidelines:

Do not drink more than two drinks of alcohol in a one-day period if you are a man, or one drink if you are a woman.

Drink beer only with food.

Drink slowly.

Avoid "sugary" mixed drinks, sweet wines, or cordials. If you wish to discuss about any specific problem, you can consult a General Physician.

Dr. Brinda Dave
Dr. Brinda Dave
MPTh, Neuro Physiotherapist Physiotherapist, 4 yrs, Pune
Dr. Mayur Ingale
Dr. Mayur Ingale
MBBS, ENT Specialist, 4 yrs, Pune
Dr. Darshankaur Chahal
Dr. Darshankaur Chahal
BAMS, Ayurveda Family Physician, 23 yrs, Pune
Dr. Devyani S. Ahire
Dr. Devyani S. Ahire
BDS, Dentist, 4 yrs, Pune
Dr. Mangal Thube - Buchade
Dr. Mangal Thube - Buchade
BAMS, Ayurveda Yoga and Ayurveda, 9 yrs, Pune
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