Alcohol Abuse and Dependence

The prices of alcohol vary depending on the location as well as the type of alcohol. It ranges for less than five dollars for cheap Chinese wine, to a few hundred dollars for vintage wines and hard liquor. As such, alcohol is affordable to almost all income groups. Consumption of alcohol activates the brain’s “pleasure area” and the user typically feels a sense of warmth and well-being. However, heavy drinking is associated with a wide spectrum of detrimental effects that have an impact on an individual, his or her loved ones, and society. Long-term effects of heavy drinking include liver cirrhosis, cardiovascular diseases (stroke and hypertension), pancreatitis, malnutrition, and chronic fatigue. Alcohol dependence can also lead to brain damage, for example dementia and Korsakoff’s syndrome, which is characterised by confusion, loss of muscle coordination and unintelligible speech. Excessive use of alcohol can also lead to impaired reasoning and general personality deterioration.


Those who have alcohol dependence may display these warning signs:

  • Craving for alcohol.
  • Increased tolerance of alcohol consumption (i.e. more and more alcohol is needed to achieve the same effect).
  • Withdrawal symptoms such as tremors and sweating when stopping alcohol consumption.
  • Inability to reduce or stop alcohol consumption.
  • Planning their day to accommodate their drinking habits.
  • Poor professional or school performance due to alcohol use.
  • Drinking alcohol to the point of memory loss or blackouts.

Alcohol dependence is a chronic disease that has the potential to be fatal. Children of alcoholics are also four times more likely than those of non-alcoholics to become alcohol dependent when they grow up. A selection of treatment options is available locally. The National Addiction Management Services (NAMS) (telephone no. 6389 2387) provide advice on all forms of addiction problems. There are also Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meetings that take place in central locations. The We Care Centre (telephone no. 6471 5346) offers support for anyone who is affected by addiction in Singapore. Relapse is a common occurrence, so family support is integral in helping a sufferer overcome the problem of alcohol use.


Khoo Teck Puat Hospital Department of Psychological provides assessment for substance and behavioural addictions. We have a dedicated multidisciplinary team of psychiatrists and psychologists that can provide assessment and treatment for your psychological and emotional distress.

It is never too late to seek help. If you would like to obtain an assessment, please obtain a referral from your doctor or call 65558828 for an appointment.