Alcoholism is the dependent relationship of a person to alcohol in expectation of a rewarding experience. Psychological, cultural, religious and social factors influence how people use alcohol and the likelihood that alcohol problems can develop in that person’s life. Alcohol dependence and misuse is different for each person in terms of the duration and pattern of alcohol use, the order of the appearance of symptoms, the extent of physical addiction and complications.
Drinking may be a part of student social life and in some situations it cannot be avoided. What is important is that each person recognises how alcohol affects them and takes responsibility for this.
There are many reasons why people drink, these include:
There are also reasons why people stop drinking alcohol or drink less. Things like:
The development of alcohol dependence can be triggered by excessive use of alcohol in the face of stress and personal adversity. On the extreme end of alcohol abuse, a person uses alcohol to survive and feel normal rather than to feel exhilarated. There are also Social Drinkers and Habitual Drinkers. Social Drinkers consider drinking a pleasurable experience with others. The key aspects of this pattern of alcohol use are choice and balance. Their desired end state is relaxation, and feeling more at ease. These drinkers usually avoid alcohol when faced with stress or situations where they are required to be at their best. Habitual Drinkers are alcohol abusers. They use it to get instant relaxation and relief but do not use it to see a massive change in their emotions or personality change. While they are heavy drinkers they would not always be described as alcohol dependent.
The person will have a constant need for an increased amount of alcohol to achieve the desired effect.
Temporary memory loss coincides with alcohol use where the person has been able to function but cannot remember details of behaviour and this happens on a regular basis.
This is a feeling triggered by initial feelings of relaxation when drinking alcohol. This promotes denial in a dependent drinker as drinking is associated with relaxation and fun despite negative consequences.
The person develops anticipation for and preoccupation with alcohol and their lifestyle changes to revolve around alcohol.
Elevated tolerance combined with mental obsession can lead to complete loss of choice. The person experiences loss of control over their drinking and cannot determine their behaviour under the influence. These symptoms lead to growing delusions, or the person becoming out of touch with reality. They account for the person's distorted perception, impaired judgement and inability to recognise the addiction. Additional signs of alcohol misuse are absences from work, lying, mood swings, poor coordination, not taking care of their physical appearance, being aggressive, getting into trouble with the law (e.g. fighting, disorderly conduct), and problems with attention or short term memory.
The way you drink alcohol is a habit, and it is important to identify and break this habit. You could try using a diary to note your drinking.
Make small changes:
If you feel you need help with a problem with alcohol come see UL Éist Student Counselling and Wellbeing during Drop-in hours. Drop-in runs from 10a.m.-11a.m and 2p.m-3p.m. each day during term time. In addition, you can log onto drugs.ie for more information. The HSE Drugs and Alcohol Helpline is a Freephone service (1800 459 459) which provides support, information, guidance and referral to anyone with a question or concern related to drug and alcohol use.