Alcohol is the most widely used recreational drug in the world and is taken for its relaxant and social facilitation properties. It also has a complex relationship with psychiatric disorders. Many persons with anxiety, low esteem, social phobias, and depression use it as a self-medication in the hope of feeling better. If they feel better, it is only for a short while. The anxiety in fact is much worse the next morning. It is a bad treatment for any illness whether it is anxiety, depression or a bad cold.
When used in an excessive manner even by normal people it can cause anxiety symptoms entirely on its own particularly during withdrawal. When the use of any intoxicant is regular and heavy, it leads to dependence with three distinct phases of anticipation-intoxication -withdrawal. In susceptible persons these three phases after a while can work themselves up into a spiral which takes a life of its own and at some stage becomes an autonomous exclusive activity pushing aside socialisation, shrinking the family time and impacting work performance and even attendance.
Alcohol is physiologically a depressant and not a stimulant as some believe. The apparent exuberance, overactivity, disinhibition, indiscretion, overtalkativeness all is because of suppression of higher centres and loosening of their restraint on lower centres.
As far as sex is concerned, alcohol is disinhibiting and increases libido but that is all about it. Shakespeare wrote about effect of alcohol on sex and sleep five hundred years back (Macbeth, Act-II) :-
Mcduff: “What three things does drink especially provoke?”
Port. “…. nose-painting, sleep, and urine. Lechery, sir, it provokes, and un-provokes; it provokes the desire, but it takes away the performance…….it sets him on, and it takes him off; it persuades him, and disheartens him; makes him stand to, and not stand to; in conclusion, equivocates him in a sleep, and, giving him the lie, leaves him.”
Also as opposed to common belief alcohol is bad for sleep. While it puts the person to sleep, it leads to an early awakening at 2-3 AM. When the alcohol level in the blood ebbs it makes him abruptly and unpleasantly awake like a light coming on.
Men who drink heavily and regularly get into domestic fights. Because of the already existing pervasive family disharmony and increased sexual demands from a partner who stinks and is not even able to perform, he is naturally pushed away causing even more discord and violence. To make matters even worse, alcohol coupled with one’s own sexual difficulty makes the man suspicious which can take the form of a full-fledged delusion of jealousy (since she rebuffs me she must be having sex with someone else) which takes the family pathology to an entirely different level.
Does it mean one should abstain from alcohol and other intoxicants totally ? This is a difficult question which only moralists can answer quickly. A better question is, can it even be done ? Not get intoxicated ever ? Human beings have an inherent need to alter their awake consciousness periodically. Not get shitfaced but just get high. Even some animals have it. Cats lunge at anything with catnip extract on it and then get excited and behave erratically running around in all directions and finally sleeping off. The attraction never goes away. Parrots in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh where opium is legally grown swoop down on fields in hordes and nibble away opium out of the ripe poppies in minutes. They fly away erratically to come next day again. All the drumbeats and crackers by farmers to scare them away do not help.
Using intoxicants off and on and getting away with just the pleasure requires some smart foot work but many people do it. Some people can have all the fun and not the consequences; answer probably is in the genes. And drugs are not the only addictions. One can get addicted to behaviours too because they give even a higher high. One can get addicted to food or bungee jumping or sex or PUBG or fanaticism with equally devastating consequences.
From the pen of Dr. AK Kala