Alcohol abuse is a pattern of drinking that could result in health or social problems. However, alcohol dependence, or alcoholism, refers to a condition that is characterized by abnormal alcohol-seeking behaviour that leads to impaired control over drinking.
Short-term effects of alcohol use include:
- distorted vision, hearing, and coordination
- altered perceptions and emotions
- impaired judgment
- bad breath
Long-term effects of heavy alcohol use include:
- loss of appetite
- vitamin deficiencies
- stomach ailments
- skin problems
- sexual impotence
- liver damage
- heart and central nervous system damage
- memory loss
How do I know if I or someone close to me has a drinking problem?
Here are some quick clues:
- Inability to control drinking - it seems that regardless of what you decide beforehand, you frequently wind up drunk
- Using alcohol to escape problems
- A change in personality
- A high tolerance level to alcohol
- Blackouts - sometimes not remembering what happened while drinking
- Problems at work or in school as a result of drinking
- Concern shown by family and friends about drinking
If you have a drinking problem, or if you suspect you have a drinking problem, there are many others out there like you, and there is help available.
How can I tell if a friend or a loved one has a problem with alcohol?
Sometimes it is difficult to tell. Most people won't approach someone they're close to and ask for help. In fact, they will probably do everything possible to deny or hide the problem. But, there are certain warning signs that may indicate that a family member or friend is drinking too much alcohol. If your friend or loved one has one or more of the following signs, he or she may have a problem with alcohol:
- getting drunk on a regular basis
- lying about things, or the amount of alcohol they are using
- avoiding you and others in order to get drunk
- giving up activities they used to do such as sports, homework, or hanging out with friends who don't drink
- constantly talking about drinking alcohol
- believing that in order to have fun they need to drink
- pressuring others to use drink
- getting into trouble with the police
- taking risks, including sexual risks and driving under the influence of alcohol
- feeling run-down, hopeless, depressed, or even suicidal
- suspension from school because they are found with alcohol
- missing work or poor work performance because of alcohol hangovers
Many of the signs, such as sudden changes in mood, difficulty in getting along with others, poor job or school performance, irritability, and depression, might be explained by other causes. Unless you observe alcohol use, it can be hard to determine the cause of these problems. Your first step is to contact a qualified person who can give you appropriate advice.
How can I get help?
You can get help for yourself or for a friend or loved one from various agencies on Grand Cayman and Cayman Brac such as:
- The Cayman Counselling Centre on Grand Cayman 9498789
- The Cayman Counselling Centre on Cayman Brac 948-2354
- The RCIPS Family Support Unit 946-9185
These agencies can provide advice and treatment programs for you. Research shows that when appropriate treatment is given, and when clients follow their prescribed program, treatment works.
By reducing alcohol abuse, you can live a more productive and healthy life, that can help keep you and your loved ones together.
Remember, some people may go through treatment a number of times before they are in full recovery. Do not give up hope.
Messages for teenagers from the RCIPS:
- Do not give in to peer pressure or other types of pressure, which could lead you to drink alcohol
- Learn to say NO
- Keep your edge. Alcohol use can ruin your looks, make you depressed, and contribute to slipping grades
- Play it safe. One incident of alcohol abuse can make you do something that you will regret for a lifetime
- Stay away from liquor license premises if you are under the legal age of 18
- If you have an alcohol problem - tell someone, seek help, don’t be afraid, you will be supported in your effort
- Remember you are the future of the Cayman Islands. The community is depending on you to continue to make the Cayman Islands a safe place to live and work.
For more information on the fight against alcohol and drug abuse please contact the RCIPS Family Support Unit at 946-9185.
Last Updated: 2011-02-01