How Alcoholism Is Diagnosed?
Many people find taking liquor a pleasant way to relax and beat stress. It has become an acceptable and common practice to take booze at social gatherings. There is a very fine line between drinking at parties, occasions and alcohol abuse. Many people cross this line, without even knowing that there drinking habit has turned into an addiction. Excessively drinking can cause physical and mental damage to the drinker as well as adversely affect people around him.
Mild drinks do not harm most of the adults, but when liquor becomes the daily need it causes more damage than any other unhealthy practice. Alcohol abuse or alcoholism is considered as a weakness, thus most of the alcoholics try to hide their drinking habit or try to undermine or understate it. It makes diagnosis of alcoholism rather difficult. But alcoholism could be diagnosed by observing behavioural pattern of the drinker. It may show profoundly if alcoholic has severe physical damage due to drinking or he develops withdrawal when he do not get drinks. Otherwise observation of the behavioural pattern is the best way to diagnose alcoholism.
Alcoholism is excessive drinking resulting in adverse effects on drinker’s health, occupation or social life. Every individual alcoholic exhibits different level and pattern of alcohol dependency. Thus diagnosis of alcoholism is somewhat difficult. But there are methods, which are used for diagnosis of alcoholism.
- Healthcare professionals use several screening tests to identify risk for alcoholism in different drinkers. They use various types of questionnaires. Some of the most common tests are Michigan Alcoholism Screening Test (MAST), the CAGE questionnaire, and the TACE questionnaire. There are various more questionnaires, which are used for assessment of degree of alcoholism or its risk. Some of the most commonly questions asked in these tests are
- Have the drinker ever felt the need of cutting down on drinking?
- Have he ever be annoyed by people criticizing him for his drinking?
- Have the drinker ever felt bad or guilty about his drinking?
- Have the drinker ever consumed alcohol drink first thing in the morning to steady his nerves?
- Has the drinker ever used alcohol in the morning to get rid of a hangover?
- How many drinks constitute a high for him?
- Another method of diagnosis of alcoholism is various blood tests to evaluate different bodily functions. Blood tests are done to evaluate liver functions. If the person concerned is an alcoholic, he may have anaemia or electrolyte imbalance in the blood. Their liver function tests also show an elevated level due to liver damage. One of the most sensitive liver function tests is Gamma glutamyl transferase or GGT. Alcoholic persons also have low potassium, low magnesium, and low calcium in their blood. Excessive consumption of alcohol could also be found out by presence of alcohol in blood or liver or kidney. Excess consumption of alcohol also adversely affect kidney.
- Experienced doctor may sense alcohol problem if a patient visits him for other physical complications, which may result due to excessive use of alcohol. Doctor may perform additional tests for abdominal problems, heart failure, alcohol withdrawal, or cirrhosis, depending on the symptoms of the patient.
- Other factor, which could indicate alcoholism, is sudden changes in behaviour of the drinker. He may start hiding or lying about his drinking. He may try to hide about his whereabouts and his activities. He may start behaving badly at work, home or socially. If any of the symptoms indicate alcoholism, it is better to go for physical tests for alcoholism. Timely diagnosis helps in proper treatment of alcoholism or alcohol addiction.