Healthtalk with Dr B Chireka

Beware alcohol LONDON - According to the Institute Of Alcohol Studies around one in five road deaths are alcohol related. The road traffic fatalities figures for 2004 were the highest in the UK since 1992. I am concerned to see that some people in our community are ignorant of the adverse effects of

excessive alcohol on their health and also on driving. Most of the people do not realise that they are suffering from alcoholism. They are in denial and claim to be able to control their drinking when the opposite is true. Alcoholism involves a preoccupation with alcohol and lack of control on drinking. Alcoholics fail to limit their drinking at any given occasion. They suffer from withdrawal symptoms such as nausea, sweating and shakiness when alcohol use is stopped. This usually happens after a period of heavy drinking. Most of them need increasing amounts of alcohol in order to feel its effects. They do not realise that after drinking, the brain works inefficiently. Alcohol tolerance (when one needs more drinks to get drunk) can be compared to a lack of the ability to feel pain. If you do not feel pain then you would not immediately remove your hand from a hot stove. You will only do so when it is too late. This same applies to alcoholics, they continue to abuse alcohol despite serious adverse health, personal, work related and financial consequences. Abuse of Alcohol can affect one’s health as well as creating problems with the police. One day I was in a Pub with fellow Zimbabweans and was concerned when I found out that eight out of 10 of them were drunk driving offenders. To make matters worse, most of my fellow countryman who drink alcohol admitted to drinking and driving on at least one occasion. Alcohol has been with us for thousands of years and if drunk in moderation can be good for our health, especially the heart and blood circulation. But too much alcohol is a recipe for disaster as we become addicted to it. Non-drinkers are advised to remain sober and should rather use other better methods to improve their hearts such as eating healthy foods and having regular exercises as well as not smoking instead of drinking alcohol. People out there who drink need to be honest with themselves. You need to ask yourselves the following questions: Do you need a drink as soon as you get up? Do you feel guilty about your drinking? Do you think you need to cut back on your alcohol consumption? Are you annoyed when people comment on or criticise your drinking habits? If you answer yes to two or more questions, it’s likely that you have a problem with alcohol. Even one yes may indicate a problem. I will provide you with more information in the next article on where you can get help if you have an alcohol problem but in the meantime please consult your General Practitioner (GP). I am sure many of you out there know someone who is abusing alcohol. You can do them a favour by encouraging them to cut down or seek medical help. – Send your queries to [email protected] Please note that information given in this article is general and should not be used as a substitute for your GP.

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