Understanding physical dependence on alcohol

How do I know if I have a physical dependence on alcohol ?

Generally a medical assessment is required to determine if you have a physical dependence on alcohol
These questions developed by the World Health Organisations are for your guidance only and should not be used as a medical diagnosis.

  • How often during the last year have you found that you were not able to stop drinking once you had started?
  • How often during the last year have you failed to do what was normally expected of you because of drinking?
  • How often during the last year have you needed a first drink in the morning to get yourself going after a heavy drinking session?
  • How often during the last year have you had a feeling of guilt or remorse after drinking?

The more you answer daily, weekly or monthly to the above questions the more likely it is you have a physical dependence that requires medical treatment.

Other questions which may indicate a physical dependence are

  • When did you last have an alcohol free day?
  • How much alcohol do you drink per drinking session?

What is a detox (detoxification)?

A detoxification is a medical treatment required to reduce alcohol withdrawal symptoms because you have a physical or psychological dependence on alcohol. Medical treatment ensures you do not suffer serious health effects such as withdrawal symptoms or even seizures. Generally a medical assessment from a qualified health care professional is required to determine if you have a physical dependence on alcohol. Detox should only be performed by qualified medical specialists who will prescribe medication to reduce the side effects of alcohol withdrawal symptoms. Health care professionals may call a detox “Medically assisted alcohol withdrawal”

What are alcohol withdrawal symptoms?

These may occur when some one who drinking heavily starts to reduce their alcohol intake. There may be a wide range of symptoms from tremors, sweating, anxiety, nausea, vomiting, agitation, pins and needles, hallucinations, headaches, disorientation, and seizures. All of these symptoms can be managed by medication from a qualified health care professional. You can find details of organisations providing these services  here