Alcohol abuse in Jordan

Alcohol abuse in Jordan
(Photo: Envato Elements)
Despite Jordan consisting of around 93 percent Muslims, alcohol can be found in liquor stores, hotels, and restaurants. The reason for this is essentially to appeal to tourists, but local Jordanians also partake in drinking. اضافة اعلان

According to the 2020 Jordan National Stepwise Survey for Noncommunicable Diseases Risks Factors, conducted by the Ministry of Health, 3.1 percent of Jordanian men between 18 and 44 drink. 

Of this demographic, 14.5 percent are daily drinkers, and 1.3 percent of them report “heavy episodic drinking,” which was defined as six or more drinks on a single occasion. Although alcohol consumption may seem like a minor issue in this report, the percentage of people who drink may be higher due to the fear and stigma surrounding alcohol, especially young adults.

This can be seen in a study conducted in Jordan that found that 51.4 percent of Jordanians believe others do not truthfully report alcohol consumption when participating in research, and 50 percent believed that the data would not be kept private. 

What is alcohol abuse

Alcohol abuse is excessive drinking in large quantities and high frequency to the point where it affects daily living. 

The exact definition of alcohol abuse varies, but some argue that in men, it is more than 14 drinks per week or more than four drinks per occasion, and in women and men older than 65, it is more than seven drinks per week or more than three drinks per occasion.

When it comes to diagnosing someone with alcohol abuse, the quantity and frequency serve as a guideline, but behavioral aspects are important to consider. The most important sign is alcohol interfering with responsibilities, including work, home, school, or parenting. 

Additionally, any behavior that endangers yourself or others while under the influence of alcohol can largely be attributed to alcohol abuse. This may include operating a vehicle while intoxicated, mixing alcohol with medicines, or drinking while pregnant. 

Alcohol abuse is a serious issue that can impact nearly every aspect of an individual’s life and affect relationships and cause legal problems.

Symptoms of alcohol abuse

Alcohol impacts everyone differently, and there is no unified set of symptoms. If it is difficult for someone to stop drinking for more than a few days or if they cannot stop drinking once they have started, this may indicate alcohol abuse.
Additionally, people suffering from alcohol abuse may have wild mood swings and become annoyed or even enraged when their drinking habits are mentioned. Similarly, they go through bouts of depression and guilt or may have significant lapses in memory. 

Physically, people who abuse alcohol are at high risk of developing a serious liver disease called cirrhosis and ulcers in the stomach that could result in bleeding, weight gain, constant dizziness, and nausea.

Prevalence of alcohol abuse in Jordan

A study published in 2009 by the Ministry of Health’s National Institute of Forensic Medicine found that 3.19 percent of deaths were due to toxicology causes, and of those deaths, 23.91 percent were due to or associated with substance abuse, making it the second most common toxicology cause of death after carbon monoxide poisoning. 

The abused substances reported included alcohol, morphine, heroin, benzodiazepines, and cocaine. 

Alcohol was the most commonly abused of the abused substances, as it was found in 56.8 percent of substance abuse deaths. In 38.6 percent of autopsies, it was the only substance found, but in 18.1 percent of them, it was combined with another substance such as morphine, heroin, benzodiazepines, or various together. 

The findings were based on data collected for five years and from 5,789 autopsies conducted to determine the cause of death. 

Why turn to alcohol

A study involving neurobiology evaluated and formed four hypotheses as to why controlled substances are abused. 

The first hypothesis is that chemicals that activate the incentive-salience system are likely to trigger compulsive use. The incentive-salience system is a cognitive process that motivates actions for reward and is influenced by changes in physiological state and learned associations. 

The second is that controlled substances can cause pleasure and enjoyment, resulting in compulsive use. Those who had an enjoyable feeling while drinking will continue to chase that feeling, regardless of the consequences.   
The third hypothesis is that the escape from a natural dysphoric state results in compulsive drug use. This concept describes the person’s use of substances to avoid problems or chaos in their life.

The fourth hypothesis is that controlled substances are used to avoid an aversive state of conditioned withdrawal. Alcohol and other substances do not necessarily cause a chemical addiction like nicotine does. Instead, it is considered a physical dependency, and chronic users who stop can undergo conditioned withdrawal. 

Conditioned withdrawal is a physiological state associated with withdrawal-like symptoms and does not result from withholding the substance itself. The condition is extremely unpleasant but brief; nevertheless, avoiding it could be another reason people continue to abuse controlled substances.

Getting help in Jordan

Those who suffer from alcohol abuse often do so because they have an underlying psychological issue. Whether it be an inherent compulsive tendency or a mental disorder such as depression, treating alcohol abuse and the underlying cause go hand in hand.
While alcohol consumption is greatly stigmatized in Jordan, making it difficult for people to seek help, there are many hospitals throughout Jordan that specialize in recovering from addiction and can help those wanting to work through the underlying causes. 

They can also help alleviate the symptoms of conditioned withdrawal and put those suffering on the best path for recovery.

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