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Table of Contents

Intro on Alcoholism

Alcohol is a dangerous drug because it’s incredibly accessible, socially acceptable, and its prevalence in the young adult, and even the teenage community. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, over 15 million adults suffer from Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD), and “less than 10% of them receive any treatment.” (www.niaaa.nih.gov)

Because alcohol does not carry the same stigma as heroin, amphetamines, or other hard street drugs, people who abuse alcohol are less inclined to seek treatment. A diagnosis for AUD is somewhat discretionary, and often addicts can live and function with the disease until the damage is irreversible.

The prevalence of alcoholism in our society has led alcohol to be the “most commonly used addictive substance in the United States.” Expecting to cease the consumption of alcohol
in the United States is unrealistic.

Instead, we’d like to educate the public on the long-term effects of alcoholism and do our best to prevent both regular heavy drinking and binge drinking.

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Alcohol Treatment Options

Like many substance abuse and mental disorders, AUD (Alcohol Use Disorder) has a multitude of different treatment options depending on the intensity of the addiction, and the preferences of the patient. Treatment should begin with an initial detox where the patient completely purges their body of alcohol.

After the detox, the patient will need to engage in a variety of different types of treatment techniques in either an inpatient or outpatient setting. It is especially important to continue with counseling post-treatment because of alcohol’s widespread availability, and the frequency with which a patient will find themselves in situations involving alcohol.

Alcoholics Anonymous is an excellent resource for continued long-term support after receiving treatment. Continued sobriety is a primary key to successful rehabilitation, because when an alcoholic drinks, they often lose track of their alcohol intake and thus can’t be trusted to engage in moderate drinking habits.

If you or a loved one wants to quit drinking, but can’t, you should reach out for help and speak to a professional today. An inability to quit drinking or moderate drinking is some of the earliest evidence that you may have increased risks for alcohol addiction and dependence.

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Alcohol Effects

Alcohol has a plethora of direct and indirect effects that can be extremely dangerous. Drinking alcohol leads to overall impaired judgement, and many bad decisions can follow such as drunk driving, violent outbursts, mixing of drugs and alcohol, and even sexual assault.

People often experience an elevated mood when they first begin drinking. The boost in short-term confidence and a drop in awareness can lure people into heavy drinking.

As the drinker’s blood alcohol content (BAC) continues to rise, they will start to experience a lack of motor functions, loss of memory, and blurred vision.

If the drinking continues, vomiting, complete unconsciousness, slowing down of body functions, and amnesia can all take place. In severe cases, death can occur. According to the CDC, 6
people die every day on average from alcohol poisoning.

Over the long-term, excessive alcohol consumption can negatively impact your heart, liver, your brain, and other organs. Often the damage caused by drinking is slow and steady, going unnoticed over many years.

By the time the damage is detected, it’s often irreversible and can lead to increased risk of developing heart disease, liver disease, pancreatitis, or alcohol dependence. The health and human impact of excessive drinking cannot be overstated.

As it pertains to womens health effects, consumption of alcohol when pregnant presents an increased risk of health complications for the fetus. Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) refers to a “group of disorders caused by prenatal exposure to alcohol”. (https://store.samhsa.gov)

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, “the possibility of an FASD is created any time a woman consumes alcohol while pregnant.” There is no safe amount of alcohol to consume when pregnant.

On top of everything else, there are scientific studies that link alcohol consumption and risk of cancer. The National Cancer Institute definitively lists alcohol consumption as a risk factor increasing the chance of contracting six different types of cancer.

  • Mouth Cancer
  • Liver Cancer
  • Breast Cancer
  • Throat Cancer
  • Larynx Cancer
  • Esophagus Cancer

Beyond the physical effects of alcohol on the body, the numbers correlating crime and consumption of alcohol are alarming. All in all there is a broad range of dangerous long-term effects, short term risks, and a prevalence of alcohol involved in tragic situations.

Signs of Alcohol Addiction

Alcohol addiction is one of the most common substance use disorders. According to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, “17.6 million people, or one in every 12 adults, suffer from alcohol abuse or dependence “ (www.ncadd.org)

These warning signs can indicate that you or a loved one may suffer from alcohol addiction or dependence. If you:

  • Are unable to cut yourself off after a few drinks
  • Have tried to quit drinking in the past but couldn’t
  • Continue to drink even if it hinders your relationships with loved ones
  • Always think about when you will have your next drink
  • Often wake up without memory of what happened the night before
  • Notice withdrawal symptoms such as nausea, shaky hands, or sweating when a buzz starts to wear off
  • Engage in binge drinking

Treating alcohol addiction requires an understanding of the nuanced differences between alcohol dependence, and harmful drinking.

According to the World Health Organization, “Alcohol dependence affects a small but
significant proportion of the adult population in many countries (3%-5% in industrialized nations), but hazardous and harmful drinking generally affect a much larger portion of the population (15%-40%).”

The effectiveness of an intervention and the level of professional and medical treatment needed can vary depending on the patient’s unique habit.

It’s often hard for someone to tell they’ve become addicted when he or she is busy functioning through life and have incorporated his or her addictive habit into a nightly routine. That is why it is vital if these warning signs describe a loved one that you get them help.

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Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms

Alcohol abuse and dependence is commonly a habit that develops over the years or even decades. So when the patient decides to quit drinking, they experience mental and physical withdrawal symptoms.

Some withdrawal symptoms are more moderate and can include:

  • Shaky hands
  • Nausea
  • Sweating
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability

Patients who have more developed addictions regularly engage in heavy drinking can experience more severe symptoms, and in some cases serious complications such as seizures, and cardiovascular disorders.

Some of the more severe symptoms can include:

  • Depression
  • Insomnia
  • Severe confusion
  • Nightmares
  • Hallucinations

Typically, all you need to treat these withdrawal symptoms are a comfortable environment, nourishment, and emotional support. In cases where the addiction was intense and long-term, medical supervision may be necessary.

24/7 Help for Drug & Alcohol Use

If you or someone you love is suffering from the addiction, there is no reason to delay. Start working on a solution today. Our phones are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Our staff are trained to deal with drug and alcohol problems of any kind, and will recommend the right treatment for you based on your situation. Call now!

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