BENGALURU: I am not sure if I am an alcoholic. I drink everyday but I can abstain for four weeks. After 4 weeks I desperately need one. Does that mean I am an addict?
Addiction is classified when you have craving for substance, continue to use a substance while neglecting other aspects of your life, you suffer from withdrawal symptoms, loss of control, and the use of substance is harming all aspects of your life. If you are having any of these problems, you need to see your doctor and seek advise. If you are able to stop drinking up to 4 weeks without any help probably means you are not dependent on it. After 4 weeks needing alcohol desperately is psychological.
When I feel low I feel like having a drink. Will that make me an addict at some point?
Many people use this strategy to treat low mood and depression as alcohol has euphoriant effect in small quantities. However, regular use of alcohol and gradual loss of control will lead to addiction. Using a substance as a substitute for treatment in never a good idea. If you are repeatedly struggling with your mood please seek professional help.
I am 23 and I like drinking cough syrup and I have finished bottles of it. Is this addiction?
From what you are describing, it appears you are definitely abusing cough syrup, as you are drinking it even when you do not have clinical need. Many cough syrups have opioid compounds and it is a well known fact that it can lead to addiction. Opiates activate brain reward systems instantly and have high potential for addiction. Addictve behaviour is defined in which there is substance seeking behaviour over and above every other aspect of your life, gradually developing tolerance to pre-existing dose you were taking and having very little control on how much you take. You will also experience withdrwal symptoms if you try to stop. If all these features in your consumption then you are likely to be addicted.
I love the smell of Iodex and eating bits of it makes me feel good, I am 16 years-old. Is this harmful?
Iodex has petroleum compounds. Inhaling Iodex and other volatile substances kill brain cells especially in young people. This type of misuse of substance is dangerous and can lead to permanent brain damage and affect your overall development and thinking ability. Please refrain from this practice and seek professional help.
I am in my first trimester of pregnancy. I am an active smoker but I am planning to quit for the sake of my child. However, I am scared of the withdrawal syndrome especially anxiety. How do I deal with it. I am 32 years-old.
It is a good decision to give up smoking as you are pregnant. Cigarette use during pregnancy has many complications like problems with development of baby in abdomen. Nicotine replacement therapy will help with management of withdrawal symptoms. Some discomfort will be there despite replacement therapy but small pain for long-term gain is what you will have to consider. Please discuss options with a psychiatrist.
I hear weed is medicinal and smoking tobacco is more harmful. Is smoking weed a better option?
Smoking Tobacco and Cannabis are both harmful and will affect different systems in different ways. Weed/ Cannabis unfortunately has this reputation of being a milder drug with less addictive potential. They also think it’s a herbal product or from mother earth so cannot be so bad. This myth is causing a lot of people to use it especially young people. Also, world over there are many mixed messages regarding its safety.
Cannabis is by and large considered an illegal substance with abuse potential which means using it regularly you can become dependent, tolerant, have little control on how much you consume and have withdrawal features when you stop taking it. It will affect your over all functioning in various domains of your life. Young people are more susceptible and there is a lot of research evidence linking cannabis use in young people and mental health disorders like psychosis, depression and apathetic personality change
The expert is an MS,MRC (Psychology) CCT, Consultant - Psychiatry of Aster CMI Hospital.
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