How to use lockdown as an oppportunity to overcome alcohol addiction

  • When the lockdown was announced, many people not only rushed to the grocery store to stock up on essentials but some also ran to the liquor shop to bulk buy their favourite choice of liquor. These were not only the ones who enjoyed their daily glass of whiskey or wine but also those who thought it was better to have it, than not have it. But, soon enough, they also turned to alcohol for comfort and it started to turn into a sort of addiction. Self-isolation, unemployment, increased spare time, economic crises and family dynamics all contributed to this dependence. Loneliness, in particular, was shown to be responsible for an increased risk of alcoholism. Soon enough, with supplies running out, we witnessed a larger number of people facing withdrawal symptoms. Now with some liquor shops opening today, we have already seen the magnitude of madness for the 'drink'- courtesy news channels.


    Let's understand alcohol addiction first. According to Dr Sandeep Vohra, Senior Consultant Psychiatrist, Apollo Hospital, "Degree of alcohol dependence varies from person to person. There are two types of alcohol addiction - alcohol abuse and alcohol dependent. Alcohol abuse is when the person consumes alcohol 'on and off', while alcohol dependence is when a person cannot live without alcohol even for a single day, which is also called clinically alcohol dependence."

    Being weaned off alcohol and drugs can take weeks or months for those with a severe addiction, even with the support of friends and family. Alcohol withdrawal syndrome typically starts six to 24 hours after your last drink. The severity of alcohol withdrawal symptoms depends on the length of the time person has been having it and whether there have been any previous withdrawal episodes. The higher the number of each, the worse can be the withdrawal symptoms.

    As per Dr Vohra, those who have alcohol ocassionally, will not have much problems. But talking about alcohol dependence cases, the symptoms may include insomnia, sadness, irritability, constant craving for alcohol.
    Suggesting some easy tips to handle the addiction, Dr Vohra shared,

    • Person should structure his day in such a way that they have a fixed time table. People who are working from home have a semi-structured day, while those who are not, it's important for them to plan their day in such a way that they don't have much idle time.

    • You can have some other form of liquid at the time when you reach out for your glass of alcohol. You can have anything from lassi, green tea, tea or water.

    • You must involve yourself in physical activity like walking, yoga, pranayama, meditation or any other physical activity.

    • Having a positive mindset is equally important. Interact with people who give you good advise. Do not watch any videos that fuel your addiction or meet or talk to fellow mates with whom you used to drink with.

    • If you have a spiritual streak, it becomes even easier for you to come out of it. You can pray to the almighty, to the higher power above or whatever you believe in, it will surely make things easier for you.

    • Engage yourself in board games, play with your kids, family.
      Summing up, Dr Vohra says, "If it's still difficult for you to get out of the situation, you must consult mental health experts online as allowed by the government".

    Dr Soumiya Mudgal, Consultant, Psychiatry, Max Hospital Gurugram says, "If someone is into heavy drinking, they might need medical support. Though keeping yourself busy and distracted is the best way to keep away from drinking." She further adds, "Sleeping properly also helps you to withdraw successfully. Sleep and get up at the same time. Problem is for people who drink round the clock and not casual drinkers".

    Dr Rommel Tickoo , Associate Director – Internal Medicine, Max Super Speciality Hospital, Saket, says, "Casual drinkers will have only mild symptoms that will go away within a week. In severe cases, the symptoms can include confusion, seizures and delirium, these people need medical help". The best way to stop is by stopping gradually, exactly the way one started. Eating well, sleeping well, yoga, lots of water, meditation, deep breathing are some of the things that can help relieve stress and make it easy to manage the withdrawal symptoms,adds Dr Romil.

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