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The glittery glow of liquor advertisements, the fizz of the champagne opened by a victorious sportsman, the gushing froth
from the beer bottle in the hands of a macho hero – all add a touch of style and sophistication to alcohol. Freedom. Fun.
Comraderie. Social bonding. These are the enduring symbols of alcohol etched in our minds. We drink when we are happy and
then we also drink to forget sorrow.

Ask a teenager – to him, alcohol is a symbol of liberation, a sign of revolt, a freedom from control, frustration and
anguish.

A couple of years later, what remains as the enduring symbols of alcohol for most people are loss of self esteem and health.
And destruction – of self, and family.

Many people start as occasional party drinkers, sure in their minds they'd stop, the minute they sense they are getting out
of control. Some of them can stop; but for some, things can go awry. That's because some people are more susceptible to
alcohol abuse than others. Researchers differ in their opinions why it is so. Is it genetic, psychological, or pathological?
Or a mix of all the three, with a dash of environment to spice it up?

When Poornima accompanied her friends to have a week-end blast at a local pub, she accepted the Bloody Mary her friends
offered her, because she did not want to be prudish and say "Oh sorry, I am on mineral water!" As fuzzy warmth melted her
inhibitions, she went on to accept more, slowly replacing the Bloody Mary with gin and Peachschnappe. When she sobered up the
next day, she began looking forward to the next weekend, to be free again.

Over the next two years, Poornima developed both physical and psychological dependence on alcohol. Her body started
'tolerating' alcohol and required more alcohol to get the desired effect. Alcohol became so central to her thoughts, emotions, and activities that she could not control the craving for drink – she was psychologically hooked to the bottle.

As Poornima recalls her journey from spirited friends to sanitized hospitals to spiritual counselors, she says that despite the warnings she received at work and home, she could not stop. She was sacked from the office; but she continued to drink, stealing money from home to meet the bills. When she could not steal, she would lie, beg and justify her obsession with emotional tales of frustration. Slowly she started turning violent and was herself aghast when she dashed her mother's head on the wall. That incident broke her 'spirited' denial of the problem and she finally agreed to go with her parents to visit the de-addiction center at the Bangalore's NIMHANS hospital.

After a month-long detoxification treatment of the "withdrawal symptoms", such as sleeplessness, nausea, anxiety, nervousness
and tremors and several months of counseling she finally traced her painful steps back to sobriety.

Dr. Pratima Murthy, Associate Professor at the deaddiction center of NIMHANS, says that teenagers and women are at a higher risk than men. Since women's bodies contain less water than men, and retain higher concentration of alcohol in the blood, it takes shorter time for complications to develop among women. Dr. Pratima cautions women that alcohol can affect the growth of the fetus during pregnancy.

What Happens when you Drink Alcohol?
Alcohol produces certain toxins in the body and the body attempts to protect itself by producing enzymes to metabolize and remove them. Your kidneys and liver require water to dilute and process the toxins. As you are drinking alcoholic beverages, your body is actually losing fluids. Alcohol acts as a diuretic, which means that it increases the release of urine from the body. If water and fluids are not readily available to aid in this detoxification process, the body will redistribute whatever water is available. All parts of the body are impacted by this redistribution of fluid, even the brain. That's why your head hurts !!

By losing more fluids than usual, you are also losing important vitamins and nutrients. Lack of quality sleep contributes to
the general grumpiness and fatigue you feel as part of a hangover. When you fall asleep – or pass-out – after …