2.1.1 Alcohol and Alcoholism
Alcohol can be found in drinks, preservatives, antiseptics or in some medications. Alcohol is an organic substance that is formed when a hydroxyl group is substituted for a hydrogen atom in a hydrocarbon (MedicineNet.com, 2018). Alcoholic drinks have been classified as a depressant, slowing down a person’s functions which otherwise that person could have been more vivacious and energetic, and eliciting slow responses as well as uneasy reactions. Generally, alcohol affects a person’s mental faculties and the ability to think reasonably. Rarely do we find positive effects of drinking alcohol especially when alcohol consumption exceeds the body’s capacity to handle. Aside from being classified as a depressant, its effects are largely dependent on the amount being consumed by the individual. When consumed excessively, alcohol is no respecter to its victims; men, women, teenagers, including the elderly. Alcohol puts them at risk to serious health problems like cirrhosis (Rehm, Taylor, ; Mohapatra, et al., 2010), hypertension, heart ailments (Rehm, Sempos, ; Trevisan, 2003) and nerve damage. Alcohol is the world’s third largest risk factor for chronic disease (Rehm, et al., 2009).
The term “alcoholism” is commonly used to refer to habitual and unrestrained intake of alcohol usually placing the health, social status and personal relationships of the drinker at risk. Those who suffer from alcoholism are called ‘alcoholics’. The World Health Organization frowned on the use of the term “alcoholism” and instead, preferred to have it called as” alcohol dependence syndrome”. Since 1979, agencies worldwide have used the terms, “alcoholic” and “alcoholism” to refer to a condition where a person indulges himself in uncontrolled drinking, Other terms included “alcohol abuse” and “alcohol addiction”. Regardless of the term used to describe the condition, it seemed to be difficult to remove the social stigma of alcoholism making these alcohol dependents avoid neither diagnosis nor treatment for fear of social rejection (Schomerus, et al., 2011).