According to the WHO (World Health Organization), Europe leads the world in alcohol consumption, with an average of 9.8 liters of pure alcohol per person registered in 2018.
Surpassing this average, Portugal occupies the 13th place worldwide in terms of consumption of pure alcohol per capita, with an average of 12.3 liters. The percentage of abstainers (that is, people who do not consume alcohol excessively) is around 18.6% of men and 32% of women in Portugal; percentage considerably higher than the European average (5.6% and 13.5%, respectively).
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Although alcohol consumption is legal and socially accepted, being the cheapest and most advertised drug in Portugal, it is also considered the “heaviest”. In addition to being extremely addictive, the consequences inherent in its abuse for self, family and society are alarming and destructive.
Consider the number of families where there is violence or families that have been destroyed due to alcohol consumption, gastroenterological diseases (cirrhosis, ulcers, some types of cancer) and the deaths associated with them, neurological pathologies (polyneuritis, dementias) and, above all, , road accidents with serious consequences and sequelae for those involved, in which more than 50% occur under the influence of alcohol.
Also, according to statistics, women who drink three or more doses of alcoholic beverage (each equivalent to 1 glass of red wine, 1 can of beer or 30 ml of distilled beverage) per day run the same risk of developing breast cancer than those who smoke a pack of tobacco in the same period of time.
Among young people, and despite all the prevention efforts that have been made, there has been a significant increase in alcohol consumption. Studies carried out indicate that more than half of the universe of 7th, 8th and 9th grade students have already drank alcohol, even if on an experimental basis. More than 30 percent (30%) of respondents had already been drunk. Most alarming is that most are unaware of the danger that alcohol poses. Only 30.46% of subjects understand that consuming alcoholic beverages (almost) daily entails many risks.
Psychological dependence on alcohol can occur within a period of between two and five years of regular consumption and its physical dependence may occur after 15 years of consumption.
As it is the only socially accepted and allowed drug, the seriousness of its excessive consumption ends up being disguised. Even so, it is possible to identify different phases, in a sequence of increasing deterioration, namely:
Alcoholism often begins as a way for a person to have fun and remain socially uninhibited. This is the experimentation phase.
In a subsequent phase, the constant use of alcoholic beverages is often justified as a way of relaxing or coping with everyday concerns. As it becomes more regular, it is common to notice a greater irritability and even some changes in the person’s mood, interactions and way of being.
Later, it may start to be noticed that the person who drinks tries to deny, hide and deny their alcohol-related conduct. He starts drinking earlier in the day and drinks because he feels the need for the state of well-being and euphoria obtained by drinking alcohol.
Finally, in the phase of total dependence on alcohol, the alcoholic lives only to drink. Your vital organs are affected and some of your personality traits change. You feel sad, isolated, guilty, irritable and tense. There are also social problems such as accidents and/or decrease or cancellation of productivity.
It is important to emphasize that the difficulties inherent to alcohol dependence are not just individual, since where an alcoholic lives there is also a family in distress.