MONTREAL, April 18 /CNW Telbec/ - The temptation to drink excessively or
in an uncontrolled manner can be strong under certain circumstances,
such as during a stressful situation, an unfortunate event, a death or
a separation. A new Éduc'alcool publication reminds us why it is
particularly important to be careful during those times and, above all,
to avoid self-medication.
"Éduc'alcool strongly advises people not to drink to drown their sorrows
or make themselves feel better, as alcohol is not a medication and the
stores that sell it are not pharmacies," said Executive Director Hubert
Sacy, repeating the main message conveyed by the latest addition to
Éduc'alcool's "Alcohol and Health" series.
The new publication, "Alcohol and Mental Health," examines the strong
connection between mental health problems and problem drinking. It
explains why people who suffer from mental health disorders must be
particularly careful about drinking, it discusses how drinking can
sometimes even lead to mental disorders, and it provides information on
services available to those who need them.
"For the vast majority of people, there is no direct relationship
between drinking and psychological health, and alcohol causes no
particular problems. But for people with mental disorders, drinking can
be very problematic. In fact, it's an issue for a large number of
Quebecers," adds Hubert Sacy.
The statistics are dramatic: over the course of a lifetime, about 60% of
the population will experience a period of great stress or a traumatic
event. For some, this trauma will cause long-term stress. In fact,
nearly one Quebec adult in ten suffers from chronic stress.
What's more, almost one quarter of Quebecers will suffer from a mood or
anxiety disorder at some point in their lives. That's a total of more
than 1.3 million people.
The use of psychotropic medications is widespread in Quebec. About 16%
of adults have taken them at least once—prescribed or not—in the last
12 months. The most commonly used medications are for sleep disorders,
anxiety and depression, in that order. The use of anti-depressants is
on a sharp rise.
In 2005, Quebec physicians wrote 7.5 million prescriptions for
anti-depressants. From 2000 to 2004, almost one fifth of Quebecers took
anti-depressants for at least a year.
A strong correlation
Numerous studies confirm the frequent association between mental health
problems and alcohol abuse or dependence.
Fifteen to twenty percent of people with mental disorders have substance
abuse problems, while more than 50% of people diagnosed with
generalized anxiety also have substance abuse problems.
Quebecers who acknowledge having had a mood or anxiety disorder at some
point in their lives are three times more likely to have a problem with
alcohol dependence than others. Those who report having been anxious or
depressed in the last 12 months are four times more likely than others
to have an alcohol dependence problem. Among anxiety disorders, panic
disorder is the one most closely linked to alcohol dependence.
Alcohol abuse is particularly common among people who have impulse
control disorders or are thrill seekers. And people who suffer from
schizophrenia are three times more likely than others to have a
Beware of self-medication
People with mental disorders often drink alcohol for its soothing
properties, in an attempt to make themselves feel better. This practise
is known as self-medication. People in distress will drink to escape
their pathological condition, or at the very least to attenuate their
symptoms. In other words, they do not self-medicate in order to remedy
a particular disorder, but to combat the suffering, sadness, anger or
agitation it causes.
"A small amount of alcohol may bring short-term stress relief, but
alcohol does not treat any of the causes of the stress. Over the long
term, people who self-medicate need increasingly larger amounts of
alcohol to feel the psychological benefits. This creates a habit, which
leads to increased drinking that could turn into dependence. A person
with mental health problems who becomes dependent on alcohol is then
caught in a vicious cycle in which each problem sustains and even
aggravates the other," notes Executive Director Hubert Sacy.
No one should ever try to treat a problem or unpleasant feelings with
alcohol. While alcohol does reduce inhibitions and procure a certain
sense of relaxation, it can have a very harmful effect under difficult
circumstances. In times like those, people must ask for help, contact
community services or seek the advice of a health professional.
"Éduc'alcool hopes that this publication will be useful not only to
those who suffer from mental illness, but also to the people who care
about them. It serves to remind us that we are all vulnerable, that any
kind of problem can affect any one of us, and that for all of us,
moderation is always in good taste," concludes Hubert Sacy.
Where to get the publication
"Alcohol and mental health" can be downloaded from the Éduc'alcool
website (www.educalcool.qc.ca). Free copies may also be obtained by calling 1-888-ALCOOL1. In
addition, the publication is available in hospitals, CLSCs and SAQ
For further information:
| Source: |
| Éduc'alcool |
Hubert Sacy, Executive Director
| Information: |
| Pascale Gagnon |
HKDP Communications et Affaires publiques
514 395-0375, ext. 2235
Cell: 514 208-2261