Many people drink socially, or occasionally, and are able to stop after a few drinks. It does not interfere with any other aspect of their life. But for some others who drink, things go awry. An alcoholic is one, whose drinking causes continuing problems in any area of his life (such as family relationships, job, financial status or health) and who continues to drink in spite of these problems because he has developed a physical and psychological dependence on alcohol.

Physical damage caused by alcohol :

Repeated excessive drinking over a period of time affects the following organs and tissues.

Organ Affected Damage
Heart Unstable blood pressure, irregular pulse rate
Pancreas Painful inflammation
Liver Severe swelling, Hepatitis, Cirrhosis
Muscles Weakness, loss of muscle tissue
Stomach Gastritis, peptic ulcers, cancer
Nervous System Tingling and loss of sensation in hands and feet
Brain Cell damage resulting in loss of memory, confusion, and hallucination
Lungs Greater chance of infections including TB
Genitals Temporary impotence
Skin Flushing, sweating
Blood Anaemia

Signs :

  • Thoughts About Associated Pleasures :

    You start thinking constantly about pleasures associated with drinking. Though you are aware that you have had problems with alcohol, still you imagine that drinking was a pleasant experience. Fear About Well Being: You feel a lack of confidence and extreme anxiety in life without alcohol. If there is any stress, you seem to want a quick peg.

  • Loneliness Leading to Depression :

    You experience intense loneliness. All these days, you were drinking with your cronies, or you were drinking alone. All your highs had been in relation with liquor. You had cut yourself off from many social relationships to be with the bottle. Now you are alone. There are people around you but there is no communication.

  • Irritation and Anger :

    You consider staying away from drink a major sacrifice. So you think everyone and everything else should conform to your expectations. This, naturally, does not happen and this leads to stress, anger and frustration.

  • Impatience :

    Things cannot happen soon enough for you. You can’t wait to get your suspension order revoked, or the promotion that was delayed.

  • Compulsive Behaviour

    You try many mood altering activities. You talk continuously in the presence of others or keep absolutely quiet. You might make impulsive and impractical purchases to impress friends or family. You might take to gambling or some other route of escape from reality.

  • Self Pity :

    This is the biggest and most negative rut you can get into. You seem to think you have been singled out for injustice.

  • Tunnel Vision :

    You try to drown yourself in work and escape from social or family obligations. Or you shy away from responsibilities at work and try to integrate yourself with another aspect of life. You do not look at the facets of your life with balance.

  • Denials and Over Confidence

    You deny that you have to make lifestyle changes. You deny that you have to change your attitude to life. You do not want to discuss your problem. You boast that you have kicked the habit. Quite recklessly, you even say that you can drink without getting addicted again.

What Exactly is a Relapse?

It is a process. Relapse is not an event, but a process. An ‘event’ is something that has already happened and therefore cannot be changed. On the other hand, ‘process’ refers to any ongoing situation that takes place stage by stage, and therefore can be interrupted and stopped at any stage. You can interrupt and stop a relapse, only if you are aware of the negative thinking patterns, which indicate the onset of a ‘slip’.

What the AA does :

The group meets regularly. Members sit in a circle. Meetings begin with the serenity prayer: God grant us the serenity To accept things we cannot change Courage to change the things we can And wisdom to know the difference The twelve steps and twelve traditions of AA are read out.

One member, who is conducting the meeting, requests a couple of members to speak. The members introduce themselves by first name only. They talk about their experience with alcohol. Or they may talk about some other problem that is worrying them. While someone is speaking no one interrupts. Whatever is said is absolutely confidential. No one gives advice. But if a fellow member has had a similar problem, he speaks of his experience and how he coped with it. This automatically serves as a guideline.

At the end of the meeting a bag is passed around and everyone puts in a few rupees that goes towards refreshments and the rent of the space. Contributions are voluntary. The meeting closes with the serenity prayer.


  • Changes in attitude
  • Not caring about society
  • Becoming too negative about life
  • Changes in thought
  • Thinking that you ‘deserve’ a drink because you have been sober for quite some time.
  • Thinking that you can use substitute drugs
  • Thinking that your problem is ‘cured’ since you have been abstaining for sometime.
  • Changes in feeling
  • Increases moodiness or depression
  • Strong feelings of anger and resentment
  • Increased feelings of boredom and loneliness
  • Changes in behaviour
  • Increased episodes of arguing with others
  • ‘Forgetting’ to take Disulfiram
  • Skipping Alcoholic Anonymous (AA) meetings
  • Stopping in a bar just to socialise and drink soda or other soft drinks
  • Increased stress symptoms such as smoking more cigarettes
  • Threatening to drink to have our way
  • Talking repeatedly about the pleasures associated with drinking