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Alcohol Addiction
If a person suspects that he or she or his loved one has alcohol addiction, it is important to remember that the condition is treatable and call the professional as soon as possible.


What is Alcohol Addiction?

Alcohol abuse is a major problem in South Africa. Apart from the health hazards, the risks are much higher than one might realize. An extremely high percentage of fatal road accidents is due to alcohol. People also commit suicide more easily under the influence of alcohol.

HIV / AIDS incidence is in many cases also directly related to alcohol abuse: People under the influence of alcohol are much more likely to practice unsafe sexual practices. In addition, in South Africa there is an abnormally high incidence of babies born with fetal alcohol syndrome, especially in the Western Cape. These children are born with specific backlogs that can cause problems for the rest of their lives.

Criminal behavior is directly related to alcohol abuse. Further shocking facts are that 46% of South Africans who die from unnatural causes have an increased blood alcohol content. The same applies to the 39% of all patients admitted to high-care units (ICU).

Alcohol alcohol is a drug. It is socially acceptable to take alcohol, but it remains a drug, just like cocaine, nicotine, “tick”, and so on. This does not mean that alcohol should be completely inadmissible, but one must always remember that it is a drug that is physically addictive.

If a person meets these signs, rehabilitation is the answer. This can sometimes happen at the person's home, where he or she completely ceases to use alcohol completely, but rehabilitation works best in a clinic, which can be private or state-supported (e.g., Claro Clinic ). Normally, it is better for people over the age of 40 not to use alcohol again for the rest of their lives, since the neurological patterns are already so established that after 10 years one drink can reactivate the person to become addicted.

Most importantly, remember that alcohol is essentially a drug, and the cause of thousands of unhappy marriages, relationships, and individuals. Responsibility remains the greatest defense against the dangers of this.



The following symptoms are indicative, based on the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM – 5), which is widely accepted as the most authoritative source worldwide. Please note Please note that an official diagnosis may only be made by a qualified person:

To be diagnosable, the following symptoms must occur:

  1. Dependency: Three or more of the following symptoms within a 12 month period:
    1. Tolerance - increase in use of the drug, with a gradual reduction of the effect.
    2. Physical withdrawal symptoms, and short-term disappearance of the symptoms once the drug is used.
    3. The drug is used to a greater extent and for longer periods than initially planned.
    4. Constant need or unsuccessful attempts to stop alcohol use.
    5. A great deal of time and energy is spent on obtaining, using and recovering the drug from withdrawal symptoms.
    6. Important social and work commitments and leisure activities are reduced or abandoned.
    7. Regular use, despite the awareness of its dangers.
  2. Abuse: One or more of the following symptoms within a 12 month period:
    1. Persistent use, leading to the inability to perform important tasks at work, school or home.
    2. Persistent use in potentially dangerous situations (eg car driving).
    3. Repeated clashes with the law due to drug use.
    4. Continuous use despite social or interpersonal problems caused by the use.



  1. Why is treatment needed for alcohol addiction?
    Alcohol addiction can pose serious physical and health risks and in many cases even lead to the death of individuals. In some cases, treatment can happen at the person's home, where he or she completely stops using alcohol altogether. However, rehabilitation usually works best in a clinic, which can be private or supported by the state.
  2. Who can diagnose me or a loved one?
    Because alcohol addiction is so complex, we would advise you to be tested and diagnosed only by a general practitioner, clinical psychologist or psychiatrist. They are trained to distinguish between different disorders.
  3. What role does a psychologist play in my treatment?
    A psychologist can diagnose drug addiction and treat psychotherapeutic in collaboration with other medical professionals. Many psychologists specialize specifically in addiction. This means he or she can help you understand what your diagnosis is, how to live with it, and how to apply a strategy that can lead to behavioral change. A psychologist in South Africa may not prescribe medication and usually works with a psychiatrist in a team.



If a loved one is diagnosed with addiction, your support and motivation can play a very important role in accepting and managing their diagnosis. Here are guidelines on how to assist an individual:

  1. Be patient. People who are under the onslaught of an addiction do not always have the ability to say how they feel or what they are experiencing. Give them a chance to get used to the diagnosis first, and gradually work out an actual plan to manage their lives in the future.
  2. Be informed about addiction. The more you and your loved one, family member or colleague know about the disease, the more you can work together on a plan to support the person and manage the disease.
  3. Ask what your loved one expects of you. One can easily think you know what is best for another person, but the easiest is to ask how he or she wants you to act
  4. Listen to him or her and do not constantly give advice or try to reason with logic. It is important that the person takes responsibility for the addiction and the effect it will have on his or her life. When someone makes choices on behalf of someone else, it may cause the person to become dependent on you and then not want to fight the addiction yourself. It is not your addiction, but your loved one's. Listening is a wonderful way to support your loved one.
  5. Get to know the signs and symptoms so you can act early. Everyone's symptoms of addiction do not manifest in the same way, so it is very important to understand how the person manifests in your life's symptoms. For example, when your loved one's mood suddenly changes, you can start taking measures as long as possible.
  6. Participate in physical activities with the individual. It is not a cliché that regular exercise helps people with psychological diagnoses. Exercise relieves tension and anxiety, and aids in the production of low-mood transmitters. So regular exercise is actually a successful antidepressant.
  7. Encourage a healthy eating and sleeping pattern. An established routine not only helps the person manage their addiction, but also helps to see signs / symptoms early.
  8. Take a good look at yourself! Remember, a person with an addiction can also negatively impact you by involving you in their addiction. Living with a person treated for addiction can feel frustrating, exhausting and sometimes chaotic. Make time for yourself too.


If you or a loved one is struggling with mental health problems, we suggest the following options:
  1. call your GP (if available);
  2. go to your nearest hospital emergency room;
  3. call one of the following emergency numbers: SADAG (the South African Depression and Anxiety Group) 24-hour helpline: 0800 12 13 14 or suicide crisis line: 0800 567 567; or
  4. contact Wie is ek?