Back on track : How can we help?

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Excessive consumption of alcohol may cause alcohol dependence and result in numerous serious problem. Harmful drinking pattern can damage the liver and result in memory loss . Harmful drinking is also estimated to cause road traffic accidents and violence. Additionally, repeated alcohol use can negatively impact on family and social life of a person. Several evidence-based questionnaires can detect the problematic pattern of substance use. One easy to use screening tool to detect  the alcohol problem is known as an acronym of CAGE . It require two or more positive replies.

  • C stands for cut down (Have you ever tried to cut down your alcohol drinking?).
  • A means annoyed (Have you ever been annoyed by your friend’s and family’s criticism of your drinking? ).
  • G stands for the guilty (Have you ever felt bad or guilty about your drinking).
  • E stands for eye opener (Have you ever felt shaky or hang over in the morning that you had to take a drink or two to get rid of that feeling?)

Once alcohol interferes with the normal routine life, it is apparent that individual may want to quit the habit of drinking. Unfortunately, the period of abstinence often results in relapse, and  individual can again goes back to the old pattern of drinking. Thus, family and friends need a supportive mindset to deal with the problem. It is important to know that giving up alcohol is not easy for a long term user and it need support from the community.

One of a popular theory is Stage of change cycle where behaviour is modified according to the stage of the person. The following is a brief outline of the ‘Stages of Change.

1.Pre-Contemplative stage– Individuals at this stage do not usually consider changing. Individual often express as ‘I enjoy drinking and doesn’t want to change 
2.Contemplative stage- Individual at this juncture is aware of the harm of drinking, however ambivalent to change.
3.Preparation stage -Individual at this stage are prepared to act. The individual will often express I am ready to cut down on alcohol. Goal setting strategies are useful at this stage.
4.Action stage- Individual at this stage, are currently engaged in attempts to reduce or stop drinking
5.Maintenance or relapse stage -Individual at this stage successfully change drinking behaviour, however, need strategies for relapse prevention.

Maintenance is a phase where society can play an important role. At the time when a person want to get away from alcohol and let his friends know about it .What should be the strategy of friend group ?

  • a . Friends can laugh on the idea of giving up alcohol
  • b . Friends can offer extra glass of alcohol
  • c . Friends can support and help the person to get rid of alcohol

In an ideal situation friends can create a supportive environment for a person however the bitter reality is that friends often make fun of the idea of giving up alcohol .

Helping a person at the time of alcohol management is not only the responsibility of health care provider and the individual. The community and friends share  the equal responsibility to fight with the wicked problem : alcohol.

For professionals here is a link to understand how  stages of behaviour change can be a helpful tool to evaluate an individual



To understand theory concept of harm minimisation visit the link below:

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