Common ailments


I’m concerned that my 19 year old son may have a drinking problem. He has gone from having a few alcoholic drinks two or three evening per week after work to consuming alcohol almost every night. At weekends he drinks quite heavily and I’m getting worried that he might have an addiction to alcohol. What should I do?

Excessive drinking or alcohol misuse means consuming more than the recommended units of alcohol. If you think your son may be drinking excessively then it would be a good idea to intervene and speak to your son about it.

In men, regularly drinking 22-50 units of alcohol a week is known as increased-risk drinking. Anything above 50 units a week amounts to higher-risk drinking or harmful drinking. The latter can lead to a number of serious health problems, including heart disease, high blood pressure, inflammation of the pancreas and even some types of cancer, such as mouth cancer and bowel cancer. This is in addition to the many social problems it can cause such as depression, alcohol-related accidents and breakdown in relationships.

You say that you are worried your son may have an addiction to alcohol. This is also known as alcohol dependence and there are usually a number of indicators in a person’s behaviour that together point to alcohol dependence; Drinking becomes a compulsion and begins to take priority over other activities and withdrawal symptoms, such as anxiety or tremors, may start to occur after a short period without a drink.

Particularly if you’ve noticed any of the above symptoms, I would advise you start by voicing your concerns to your son, but in as positive a way as possible. I know this may be difficult but it is unlikely things will get better without confrontation and acceptance by your son that he may need help. Voluntary organisations such Alcoholics Anyonymous and Alcohol Concern are a valuable source of help and support and will be able to advise you on how to broach the subject with your son.

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