Alcohol use and misuse

    • Brief

    • The drinking of beer, wine, or spirits is one of the most common uses of substances in the world. This is because of its social status in several communities or cultures. For example, in Nigeria, some communities use alcohol in religious observances. It is often a part of cultural ceremonies such as weddings and other social gatherings.

      You can consume so much alcohol that you begin to need it to function physically and mentally (alcohol misuse). Alcohol’s main ingredient, ethanol, can make you want more of it. You become addicted to alcohol when you find it hard to control the number of alcoholic drinks you take. This addiction has several harmful effects on your body (e.g. heart disease) and society (e.g. crime).

      Alcoholic drinks have different amounts of alcohol in them. Beer has about 5% alcohol, although some beers have more. Wine usually contains 12% to 15% alcohol. Hard liquor (spirits) has about 45% alcohol. Alcohol gets into your bloodstream quickly. The amount and type of food in your stomach can change how quickly this occurs. For example, high-carbohydrate and high-fat foods can make your body absorb alcohol more slowly.

    • What are the effects of alcohol use?

      • Reduced inhibitions or shyness.
      • Slurred speech.
      • Excitement and loss of control of your body
      • Confusion.
      • Feelings of not wanting to anything.
      • Blackouts.
      • Difficulty breathing
      • Death.

      Alcohol use becomes unhealthy when you become physically and mentally dependent on it to function. Alcohol addiction is the major complication of alcohol use. The effect of alcohol you experience depends on how much alcohol is in your blood and how much your liver has been affected by the alcohol.

      Alcohol misuse or addiction has various bad effects, and they do not affect just the drinkers but also affect those around them. The effects include the following:

      • The heart and blood system gets affected by too much alcohol in your body. Alcohol addiction puts you at risk of getting high blood pressure, stroke or a heart attack.
      • Alcohol addiction puts you at risk of getting cancer in various organs in your body, such as your breasts, liver or mouth.
      • Alcohol use during pregnancy may put the health of the baby at risk. It is a common cause of birth defects.
      • Driving when you have drunk alcohol puts your life at risk and that of others.
      • Your sexual performance and fertility may be affected. It also puts you at risk of having unprotected sex or experiencing sexual abuse.
    • How to maintain moderate use of alcohol

    • You need to make sure you take alcohol in small quantities not to affect your health and behaviour. When you become addicted, it is very difficult to quit. Following the tips below can help you maintain moderate use of alcohol or fight an addiction:

      • Limit the amount of alcohol you take in a day. Men should not take more than two drinks, and women should not take more than a drink daily. A drink of alcohol is equivalent to two-thirds of a can of beer (20cl) or about a quarter bottle of beer. A glass of wine (15cl) counts as two drinks!
      • A healthy diet may prevent the effects alcohol would have on your body.
      • Inform close friends and relatives of your plan to get rid of this addiction. They can help by monitoring and encouraging you.
      • Join support groups because they help by watching over you and giving constant advice on the dangers of alcohol addiction. Your healthcare provider can point you in the right direction for helpful resources.
      • Reach out to your healthcare provider about your plan to fight this addiction, they can prescribe medicines that will help with your withdrawal symptoms.
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    • Do not take more than two drink of alcohol a day as a man or one drink as a woman. If you are addicted, try to get enough support from friends and family and stay away from people who may worsen your addiction (e.g. drinking buddies).