There are different degrees of alcohol use and abuse, up to alcoholism, a social phenomenon that is still too underestimated.
In fact, excessive consumption and dependence on alcohol can often lead to cardiovascular problems, tumors and serious liver diseases, such as hepatitis and cirrhosis, but they are also directly or indirectly responsible for road accidents, poisoning.
Domestic and work injuries and violent crimes
To learn more about this topic, we turned to Dr. Maurizio Tommasini, head of the Operational Unit of General Medicine and Hepatology at Humanitas.
“It is not easy to define alcohol abuse, as there are many variables to consider,” says the doctor.
For each individual there is a “harmless” dose of alcohol and a threshold beyond which you risk becoming excessive drinkers, since alcohol is disposed of by the body according to mechanisms influenced by different factors, including sex and body mass.
- In fact, generally, women, for the same weight, have a fifty percent lower ability than men to metabolize alcohol and the harmless amount per kilo is different depending on the physical structure.
- “For the same category – continues Tommasini – there are two different genetic types in the population as regards the metabolization of alcohol: there are those who metabolize it very quickly, and therefore have the ability to tolerate a greater amount of alcohol, and those who instead it metabolizes it more slowly.
- It is also true that the alcohol metabolizing system can be trained, so to speak: this explains why a modest amount of alcohol in a person who has never drunk could cause acute alcoholic hepatitis “.
Finally, the doctor specifies, “there are two types of alcohol abuse: acute abuse, that is the intake of a large amount of alcohol at once and chronic abuse, the situation of those who constantly drink an excessive dose of alcohol “.
Are there different types of drinkers?
Taking into consideration a healthy person of average build, one can consider a light drinker (similar to abstainer as regards the effects of alcohol on health) who drinks from 0 to 20-30 grams of pure alcohol per day (which correspond to two glasses of wine, or two 0.33 cl cans of beer, or a glass of spirits). “However, there is a loading problem: the alcohol dose indicated above should be diluted in 24 hours and not taken all together”, explains the doctor.
- The moderate drinker is the man who consumes up to 40 grams of alcohol per day, while the woman can be considered a moderate drinker already when it reaches 30 grams.
- The heavy drinker man is the one who drinks between 40 and 80 grams of alcohol daily (the heavy drinker takes 50). Beyond this threshold, he enters the category of excessive drinker.
- “We are not talking about people who get drunk – underlines Tommasini – but how simple it is to overcome, even on a daily basis, the limits indicated above and therefore re-enter the class of moderate or even heavy drinkers”.
When, on the other hand, do we pass from alcoholic abuse to alcoholism?
“The tip of the iceberg of alcohol abuse is represented by actual alcoholism, that is, alcohol addiction, which must be considered as a low-cost and easy to find drug,” says the expert.
And he adds: “Those who suffer from alcoholism (a problem that can also have a genetic basis) are unable to control their addiction, they are subject to behavioral disturbances not only when they are under the influence of drunkenness, but also in periods when they are not he drinks and, consequently, progressively loses the ability to relate, work and act, with serious personal, family and social consequences “.