Confronting alcohol abuse toll on mental health

By Gore Ruvimbo

Alcohol abuse can indeed have a significant negative impact on mental health, as emphasized by therapists at Chapters Rehabilitation Center in Uganda. The center was established to address the growing need for rehabilitation services due to alcohol abuse.

It is important to recognize that alcohol abuse can exacerbate existing mental health conditions, including depression, anxiety, and schizophrenia. Additionally, it can contribute to the development of new mental health problems, such as alcohol use disorder (AUD).

Timothy Muyenga, who struggled with alcohol use disorder for over 20 years, experienced the detrimental effects firsthand. His addiction not only caused him to lose his career and family but also led to a loss of control over his own life.

However, his journey towards wellness began a few weeks ago with a six-week stay at Chapters Rehabilitation Center. During his time there, he was introduced to valuable information on his path to self-discovery.

Here are some key insights Timothy learned regarding the relationship between alcohol abuse and mental health:


  1. Depression: Alcohol can intensify existing depression and contribute to the development of new depressive symptoms. Timothy's AUD was further complicated by his experience of depression, which was initially triggered by the loss of his mother during high school.


  1. Anxiety: Alcohol consumption can increase anxiety levels and make it more challenging to manage. Individuals who abuse alcohol are more susceptible to panic attacks and social anxiety. This is a significant reason why individuals with anxiety tend to isolate themselves, which further exacerbates their condition.


  1. Schizophrenia: Alcohol can worsen the symptoms of schizophrenia and even induce psychosis. People who misuse alcohol are more prone to experiencing hallucinations and delusions, intensifying the challenges associated with schizophrenia.


  1. Alcohol use disorder: AUD is a chronic condition that profoundly impacts mental health. Individuals with AUD are more likely to experience depression, anxiety, and other mental health problems. They often rely on alcohol as a coping mechanism, making it difficult to recognize and address their underlying issues effectively.


Apart from the adverse effects on mental health, alcohol abuse can also lead to other problems, including:


  1. Social problems: Alcohol abuse can damage relationships, lead to job loss, and cause financial difficulties.


  1. Health problems: Prolonged alcohol abuse can harm vital organs like the liver, heart, and other systems. It can also increase the risk of developing various types of cancer.


If you are concerned about the impact of alcohol abuse on your mental health, it is crucial to seek help. There are numerous resources available to assist you, including therapy, medication, and support groups. Here are some recommendations for seeking assistance:


  1. Mental health desks at most hospitals in Uganda are equipped to provide support and guidance. Don't hesitate to visit one for assistance.


  1. Engage in reading to expand your knowledge and understanding of alcohol abuse and its effects on mental health.


  1. Mental health and rehabilitation centers like Chapters are dedicated to helping individuals struggling with alcohol abuse. They provide professional support and comprehensive treatment programs.


Remember, you are not alone, and help is readily available. Don't hesitate to reach out for support if you need it.

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