Drug and Alcohol Misuse

Alcohol and drug addictions can cause harm.
Harm reduction is possible.

Alcohol misuse includes both alcohol abuse and alcohol dependence. In both conditions an individual drinks above the recommended limit and drinks in a way that is harmful to one's health. A dependent person believes they cannot function without alcohol.

Causes

Individuals can drink excessively due to peer pressure, family or work environments or cultural expectations. Sometimes individuals drink excessively because they are suffering from a psychiatric illness and they use alcohol to self-medicate. However sometimes individuals who drink excessively develop a psychiatric illness due to the alcohol misuse itself. In most cases alcohol, which is a depressant in its own right, when consumed excessively can lead to some level of functional decline and psychological distress.

Symptoms

Alcohol dependence can lead to an individual neglecting other important family, work and social obligations in order to drink. Sometimes excessively drinking is accompanied by physical symptoms that include nausea, abdominal cramps, shaking and sweating. Individuals who begin drinking early in the day, often drink alone or cannot cope without a drink, should seek medical help.

Treatment

Treatment options include insight orientated therapy that helps an individual understand why they drink so that they can reduce their intake or abstain completely. Some patients may require treatment with medication in order to help them achieve sobriety or treat their underlying psychiatric illness such as depression or anxiety.