Alcohol related mental illness on the rise in Vietnam

A man in the Mekong Delta province of Tien Giang drinks by himself. He has been an alcoholic since the age of 20 years old. (Tuoi Tre)

An increasing number of people in Vietnam have developed mental illnesses caused by chronic alcohol addiction, impacting their own lives as well as those of their families.

Alcoholics are increasingly being admitted to major hospitals across Vietnam to receive treatment for mental disorders brought about by their long term abuse of alcohol.

According to Huynh Thanh Hien, a doctor from the Ho Chi Minh City Mental Health Hospital, about 25 percent of patients at the infirmary are being treated for alcohol-related mental illnesses.

One of the patients, L.N.L., a 49-year-old resident of District 3, has been receiving treatment at the hospital after attacking his own father while under the influence of alcohol.

L. has been drinking for 25 years, consuming up to a liter of alcohol on a daily basis.

After ten years of excessive drinking, the man started to develop eating and sleeping disorders, accompanied with paranoia, a short temper, and violence.

The alcoholic has been admitted to the mental infirmary several times before but eventually gave in to his addiction, resulting in his wife leaving him.

In another case, N.M.T., 38, from Tan Binh District has also suffered specific mental problems due to his obsession with alcohol.

M. often yells at and forces his family members to leave their own homes as well as causes social disorder in the neighborhood whenever he is drunk.

His relatives have been forced to seek the assistance of local police to bring him to the hospital.

According to Dr. Hien, T. started drinking at the age of 17 and his hands often shiver when he start getting withdrawals from the drug.

T. has been taken to the infirmary several times in recent years, Hien added.

Dangerous disorders

Dr. Hien related alcohol addiction to an increasing risk of depression, anxiety, antisocial personalities and mood disorders among others.

Other complications include what’s known as the Korsakoff syndrome, Wernicke’s disease, exhaustion, memory disorders, and more.

Alcoholics tend to neglect moral standards and social order, and compromise other people’s interests without regrets, the physician continued.

Alcohol poisoning causes victims to experience a change in behavior and psychology, which could lead to potential traffic accidents, physical confrontations, and domestic violence.

According to the doctor, people living in the countryside are more likely to be addicted to alcohol.

There has also been a rise in the number of female drinkers affected by mental problems in the last ten years, he added.

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