Alcoholism is not rare in Germany. But what is alcohol dependence, at what point is someone an alcoholic and what are the symptoms??
Definition of alcoholism: At what point is a person an alcoholic??
Alcoholism is a disease that affects the body, psyche, and mind. Alcohol dependence also affects other people, such as the partner, children, relatives and friends with.
Alcoholism does not mean drinking one or two glasses, sometimes maybe one too many. Alcohol is a legal drug that is available everywhere, easily accessible, and socially accepted. For most people, an after-work beer, a glass of wine or a cocktail are part of everyday life or a party. The problem, however, is that the transition from normal alcohol consumption to alcoholism happens smoothly. Many realize late or not at all that they have a problem with alcohol.
The following recommendations apply to men and women regarding alcohol consumption:
– Women should not consume more than 12 grams of alcohol per day – this is approximately equivalent to a small glass of beer of 0.3 liters. – For men, 24 grams of alcohol per day is considered moderate – that's about two glasses of beer per day. – In addition, regular alcohol breaks are advisable – at least two days per week.
Alcohol consumption statistics show: many people consume significantly higher amounts of alcohol.
Alcoholism – from when?
Alcoholism is by definition an addictive disease that has nothing to do with weakness of character or willpower. The situation becomes critical when excessive amounts of alcohol are consumed frequently, when this is no longer done for pure enjoyment, and when alcohol fulfills certain functions: Calming down, rewarding after a stressful day, "drinking away" problems.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has established criteria for when a person is an alcoholic (a kind of "alcoholic definition"). They are listed in the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-10) under the abbreviation F10.2 are detained (see Diagnosis of Alcoholism).
Alcohol addiction: the alcoholism types
Doctors distinguish Five types of alcoholism– they go back to the psychologist Elvin Molton Jellinek, who defined them in 1960:
Alpha drinkers are problem drinkers: they use alcohol as a means of coping with mental stress and strain more easily. They are not physically but mentally dependent. They drink undisciplined, but do not lose control. You can still stop, but are at risk of becoming an alcoholic. Beta drinkers are occasional drinkers. You consume alcohol at social occasions. They are neither mentally nor physically dependent on alcohol, but are easily tempted to do so. They are definitely at risk of addiction. Gamma drinkers are addicted drinkers. They are more dependent mentally than physically. Inconspicuous phases. Drinking excesses alternate. After the first sip of alcohol, they are gripped by an almost insatiable desire to drink more and more and more. Delta drinkers are mirror drinkers: the physical dependency is stronger than the psychological one. This type of alcoholism needs a certain amount of alcohol (a mirror or level) to feel good about themselves. If they do not drink enough, withdrawal symptoms set in, such as trembling, insomnia or diarrhea. Quarterly drinkers. Psychologically dependent. They often do not touch alcohol for months and then drink all the more excessively. They lose control, drink for days and often their memory temporarily disappears (the typical "film tear"). Afterwards, they are often abstinent again – until the next drinking marathon.
Alcoholism – Statistics for Germany
In Germany, men and women alike have been drinking too much alcohol for years. This is shown by the following figures for adults between the ages of 18 and 64:
– Alcohol abuse is present in 3.1 percent of the population – more frequently in men (4.7 percent) than in women (1.5 percent). In absolute figures, this corresponds to 1.6 million people in Germany. – 3.4 percent of German citizens suffer from alcohol dependence. Again, men are ahead of women in this regard: 4.8 percent versus 2.0 percent. All told, about 1.9 million people in this country are addicted to alcohol. – Every day, around 200 people die as a result of their alcohol abuse – annually, this figure is approximately 74.000.
Even though alcohol consumption among children, adolescents and young adults is declining slightly – many still look into the glass too often and too frequently. Some figures on this:
– 8.7 percent of adolescents aged 12 to 17 consume alcohol regularly, i.e. at least once a week. Among 18- to 25-year-olds, 33.4 percent are alpha drinkers. – 13.6 percent of 12- to 17-year-old adolescents drink themselves into a stupor about once a month. Among 18- to 25-year-olds, 32.8 percent. – The number of children, adolescents and young adults between the ages of ten and 20 who were hospitalized for acute alcohol abuse in 2017, totaling 21.721 patients continue to drink at a high level.
Alcoholism: interpreting symptoms correctly
The transition from "normal" alcohol consumption to dependence is often gradual and gradual. Alcoholism is not easy to recognize, and many people do not even realize that they are slipping into dependence. Often notice family. Friends are the first to notice the problem. Possible alcoholism is indicated by these signs:
– Strong craving for alcohol – loss of control over how much and when to drink. Many drink secretly, quickly, and cannot stop drinking themselves – Development of tolerance: larger and larger amounts of alcohol are needed to feel the desired effect – Withdrawal symptoms, z.B. Restlessness, nervousness, tremors, irritability, sweating when reducing the amount of alcohol or abstaining from alcohol – Lack of appetite, malnutrition, weight loss and poor physical condition , heavy sweating, Depressive moods up to suicidal thoughts – Neglect of other interests and needs – Drinking behavior is maintained even though there are already indications of physical (loss of performance, declining fitness, liver damage), emotional (depressive moods) or social consequences (separation from partner, loss of job). – In the long term, alcoholism is also visually noticeable: on the face, on the skin, on the (glassy, reddened) eyes or nose (reddened "alcoholic nose"). – Delirium tremens (withdrawal delirium): disorientation, impaired consciousness up to coma, sweating, trembling as well as optical and acoustic hallucinations. Fever develops. Blood prere rises. Disturbances of the cardiovascular regulation. Breathing can quickly become life-threatening. The withdrawal delirium requires immediate medical treatment.
Recognizing one's own alcoholism and facing up to one's illness is not easy. Many believe they have their alcohol consumption under control and can stop drinking at any time. When a partner or friend brings it up, downplaying or defensiveness is a common reaction. Ultimately, only a doctor can recognize an alcoholic and make the diagnosis.
Alcoholism: phases of dependence
The course of alcoholism varies from person to person. Alcoholism can progress in phases, which psychologist Elvin Molton Jellinek describes thus:
Pre-alcoholic phase: A person drinks occasionally or permanently to reduce stress, problems, and strains and to relieve tension. Increasingly uses alcohol as a problem solver. Memory lapses repeatedly as a result of alcohol consumption. Affected people experience blackouts or blackouts. In addition, their behavior changes: Because they feel ashamed and don't want others to notice their high alcohol consumption, they drink in secret. Critical phaseThose affected can no longer control their drinking. You subordinate everything to alcohol. Your thoughts constantly revolve around drinking. They neglect hobbies, friends and leisure activities. Without alcohol, they experience withdrawal symptoms, such as trembling, nervousness or sweating. They blame themselves and try to fight the alcohol problem, but continue to drink anyway. Conflicts in the family, with friends and at work are inevitable. Affected persons withdraw. Isolate themselves socially. Chronic phaseAlcohol is number one. People are often intoxicated for days or at least have a permanently high alcohol level. They tolerate alcohol less and less well or not at all. Even small amounts are enough to be drunk. In this final phase of alcoholism, damage sets in at all levels: body, psyche, personality, and social life.
This is only an explanatory model. In reality, the individual phases of alcoholism cannot always be sharply distinguished from one another; the symptoms can also occur simultaneously. It is clear, however, that the consequential damage increases in the course of time.