[infobox] This is the second part of our article focusing on Children of Alcoholics. Our post is meant to serve as a guide, and not all steps mentioned may be applicable to everyone. If you feel like there is someone at risk at home or in school, please reach out to the clinic or to the relevant departments listed below.[/infobox]
When I moved to Dubai 2 years ago I was pretty surprised. You may have read in my last blog that the World Health Organisation (WHO) published figures in 2014 stating that people in the UAE consume 32.8 litres of alcohol yearly, double that of the global average figure of 17 litres.
Alcohol plays a big role in the social lives of people in the UAE. Brunches, restaurants and bars are plentiful. But what does it mean when drinking habits have tipped into a more harmful pattern? The Royal College of Physicians recommends that men should drink no more than 3-4 units of alcohol daily and 2-3 units for women. The maximum weekly consumption for men should be no more than 21 units for men and 14 for women. Both men and women should aim for two consecutive alcohol-free days per week.
But what is a unit? One unit of alcohol is about equal to:
• Half a pint of ordinary strength (3-4%) beer, lager or cider;
• A small measure (25 ml) of spirits (40%);
• A standard measure (50 ml) or fortified wine such as sherry or port (20%).
There are about 1.5 units of alcohol in:
• A standard glass (125 ml) of wine (12%);
• A standard measure (35 ml) of spirits (40%).
The strength of the drink depends on the strength of the volume (percentage) of alcohol so these figures can vary slightly.There are different risk categories for levels of alcohol consumption relating to health: low risk, increased risk (including binge drinking) and high risk. Low risk to health is drinking within the recommended consumption levels. Increased risk is also known as hazardous drinking and includes binge drinking is between 22-50 units a week for men and 15-35 for women. High risk drinking is consuming 50+ units of alcohol for men and 35+ for women.
Alcohol is an addictive substance and it is possible to become physically and psychologically dependent. This signs for dependency can vary from person to person and severity. Withdrawal symptoms may present as:
• Nausea or vomiting
• Heart racing
• Anxiety and/or low mood
• Craving alcohol
More serious alcohol withdrawal indicators are:
• Hallucinations (seeing, hearing or feeling things that are not there)
• Unsteady and uncoordinated gait
It can be difficult to admit to yourself that you may have a problem with alcohol, let alone talking to another person. If you feel able, speak to someone you trust, many loved ones have already noticed that something is wrong so may not be entirely surprised when you open up to them.
Opening up to a trusted person is the first step and a difficult one. But where do you go from here? The legalities and financial implications can often make admitting a problem difficult, people worry about losing their job, being judged by non-drinking friends and family and just how do you go about getting help.
Firstly, talking to your GP is the first to do if you feel comfortable, if you have confided in a friend or family member then having their support at the appointment may be invaluable. A GP can advise you of the next step.
Alcoholics Anonymous in Dubai offer confidential support and advice from those who have experienced alcohol dependency.
You can contact them at www.aauae.net or:
• Dubai/Sharjah – 056 788 1416 (ladies only 056 794 3141)
• Abu Dhabi – 050 414 3042
The statistics at the beginning of this blog show that alcohol is a very real concern in the UAE, and worldwide so you will not be alone.