My 80-year-old grandfather simply can’t quit booze despite our pleas. He has no medical conditions but we are worried as a family. What are the likely effects of alocohol use on his health at that age? Can this habit be fixed in any way?
It seems your grandfather is now addicted to alcohol. Alcohol addiction is the state, where one finds it difficult to give up drinking, even when he/she wants to quit. If one misses drinking even for about a day or two, the body craves for it and the person starts feeling sick without alcohol. Restlessness, sweating, tremors of hands, difficulty in sleeping, difficulty in focusing and concentration, are some of the manifestations of the withdrawal syndrome, which develop when an alcohol addict stays without alcohol for 24-48 hours. These symptoms are relieved by drinking alcohol. Thus it compels the alcoholic to drink again, making it difficult for him to stop.
Continuous drinking of alcohol is unhealthy and damages many parts of the body. It is harmful for the brain, eyes balancing system of the body, heart, liver, reproductive hormones, nerves as well as blood vessels of the body. It is an independent risk factor for hypertension, diabetes and even certain cancers. More the duration of drinking, more the quantity consumed, greater is the risk of damage. It also depends on the type of alcohol consumed and overall health status of the individual.. Usually branded beers have less quantity of alcohol as compared to whiskey, rum, locally brewed beers .
It is good that your grandfather does not have any health related problem currently. But it is better for him to give up alcohol. Counseling by well meaning family/friends, is helpful in cases which are receptive and responsive to it. Professional counselors are also helpful. Severe cases are kept in deaddiction and rehabilitation centres, where measures are adopted to de addict a person. Certain drugs are useful in helping a person to leave the desire to drink. But they are better taken under proper surveillance and guidance. Alcoholics anonymous(A.A), is an international organization, which helps alcoholics to quit their addiction and even operates in Rwanda. Those desiring to give up alcohol are made to meet together, where they discuss and share their problems and solutions regarding alcoholism.
Dr Rachna Pande is a specialist in internal medicine at Ruhengeri Hospital