A Comprehensive Overview of Alcohol Addiction
Alcoholism is among the most rampant types of dependency.
Despite the advancements in areas such as medicine and technology, alcohol addiction remains a difficult problem to solve. Even the latest medications and cutting-edge treatments often fall short. The world of substance-abuse recovery struggles with alcoholism in many of the ways it did decades ago.
“A high-quality rehab facility will help you stop drinking, provide the medical care to safely work through withdrawal, and show you how to adopt the habits most conducive to lifelong sobriety.”
Alcohol is classified as a depressant. It slows the areas of the brain that control thinking and behavior. It influences heart rate and breathing as well. The degree of its impact depends on numerous factors, such as body weight, age, and sex. Level of intoxication also depends on the amount and type of food in the stomach when drinking, how frequently and how much alcohol is consumed, how long a person has been drinking, expectations surrounding its effects, the environment, and the ingestion of other drugs (whether herbal, over-the-counter, prescription, or illegal).
Although some people feel depressed when they drink, many enjoy it because it makes them feel upbeat. They feel less inhibited and more outgoing in social situations. While this issue isn’t serious in and of itself, there is always a chance of developing a dependency on the substance.
Millions of individuals are addicted to alcohol. When someone develops a dependency, his or her self-control slips away. Cravings grow and there is a persistent urge to drink excessively. The addiction influences every aspect of life. Furthermore, the impact extends beyond the dependent person and reaches his or her family members, friends, and colleagues. Regardless of massive disruptions in daily life, individuals dealing with alcoholism are usually unable to recognize their addictions. Their singular focus is on the next drink.
Alcohol dependency is a serious and pervasive disease, so quality treatment is essential to recovery. When people who are addicted stop drinking, they experience a range of withdrawal symptoms – some of which are life-threatening and require medical care. For these reasons, seeking inpatient rehab is far safer than attempting to overcome the addiction alone.
Contact RehabFinder.Org at 877-251-4813 for help finding the detox and treatment options that suit your needs. We’ll help you stop drinking and regain your well-being.
Alcohol Addiction and Its Impact on Health
Excessive drinking leads to a wide array of health problems. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that alcoholism causes nearly 80,000 deaths in the United States every year. It’s third on the list of lifestyle-related deaths in the country. The effects of this type of addiction are similar to those of other substances. When consumed moderately, for instance, alcohol increases the risk of pancreatitis, liver disease, and oropharyngeal and esophageal cancers. It enhances the likelihood of cardiovascular issues as well. These risks are exacerbated by withdrawal symptoms, making professional supervision even more important.
When consumed excessively, alcohol ups the chances of other cancers, arthritis, hypo- and hyperglycemia, heart disease, obesity, kidney disease, nervous disorders, malnutrition, and psychological issues. Here are some other negative effects of alcohol dependency:
- Internal Organs: Extensive research reveals that long-term addiction significantly damages internal organs, including liver damage and failure, shrunken arteries, and high blood pressure.
- Olfactory Functioning: Alcohol dependency wreaks havoc on all aspects of physical functioning – even the sense of smell. It progressively weakens in many addicted people.
- Bones: Teenagers struggling with alcohol addiction may suffer stunted bone growth throughout their development. Older individuals put themselves at heightened risk of issues such as osteoporosis.
- The Brain: The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Addiction reports that the brain shrinks due to alcohol dependency. The frontal cortex, which controls high functioning such as long-term planning and reasoning, suffers substantially. Addiction harms the hippocampus as well, which hinders memory and learning and influences mood.
- The Reproductive System: Young adult women who indulge in frequent binge drinking face increased likelihood of menstrual disruption, infertility, and early menopause. There are also higher chances of birth defects should these women become pregnant. Continued drinking throughout pregnancy can lead to fetal alcohol syndrome in children (causing behavioral and physical abnormalities). Alcoholism also hinders the male reproductive system. Men who drink heavily may face lowered sperm counts, which can result in infertility later in the aging process.
Many of the effects of alcoholism are irreversible, but damage can be mitigated and sometimes even prevented by getting help right away. A high-quality rehab facility will help you stop drinking, provide the medical care to safely work through withdrawal, and show you how to adopt the habits most conducive to lifelong sobriety. Many treatment centers also provide services like fitness training and nutritional counseling, which work wonders throughout the recovery process.
The Social Repercussions of Alcohol Addiction
In addition to the long list of health problems associated with alcohol dependency, people dealing with the addiction encounter negative social consequences. These individuals often distance themselves from the healthy and positive support from friends and family members, and replace it with toxic relationships. They surround themselves with people who have similar substance abuse issues.
Alcoholism also creates trouble in the workplace. Even if the dependent person is able to function, his or her productivity will likely diminish. Most substance abusers lose their jobs not long into the development of their addictions.
Not surprisingly, romantic relationships suffer from dependency as well. Quality time with children drops low on the priority list. Marriages crumble to the point that therapeutic help is needed to keep them intact. Healthy spouses tend to give their partners ultimatums – get sober or leave their homes and follow through with divorce proceedings. Limited (if any) visitation with children is permitted. As a result, dependent people are further isolated from loving and supportive people and driven closer to their connections in the world of addiction.
The Mental and Emotional Impact of Alcoholism
Alcoholism doesn’t just invade the world around an addicted person. It also commandeers his or her inner world. The emotional and mental impact is unavoidable. There are abrupt mood swings, angry outbursts, and sometimes violence, severe depression, anxiety, and suicidality. These are all outcomes of the changes alcoholism creates in the brain, and they frequently lead to the following:
- Damaged Reputation: It’s common for people living with addiction to believe their struggles are well hidden. Nonetheless, others quickly take note of the dysfunction and distance themselves from the dependent parties.
- Financial Strain: From the risk of job loss to the probable increase in medical (and other) bills, alcoholism is a nightmare for finances. Many who struggle with it also face foreclosure, bankruptcy, homelessness, and more.
- Legal Problems: Poor impulse control and decision-making abilities lead to run-ins with the law. Violence, being drunk in public, and driving under the influence are some of the many charges addicted individuals incur.
- Lost Opportunity: There’s no limit to the opportunities people miss due to addiction. Raises and promotions, vacations, new relationships, and new possibilities for learning are overshadowed by alcohol.
Problem Drinking Versus Addiction
Problem drinking is not the same as addiction. An occasional alcoholic beverage with a meal is harmless. If that infrequent drink becomes a nightly occurrence, or if it multiplies to five or more drinks at a time, substance abuse has set in. Even in such a circumstance, life may not be adversely affected by the consumption.
"Problem drinkers see the most trouble when they have alcohol while alcoholics experience the most distress when they stop using the substance.”
Addiction is much more serious. Cravings for the substance are intense, and people experiencing them are likely to arrange their lives to make drinking as easy – and sometimes as secretive – as possible. Problem drinking becomes addiction when physical, emotional, and social well-being are disrupted. Though the individual drinking may deny the problem or blame troublesome behavior on others, the issue is most obvious when he or she cannot stop consuming alcohol on his or her own.
People dealing with either problem drinking or addiction can benefit from treatment, though the best practices and focus differ. Individuals who are problem drinkers function reasonably well when they are sober but slip dramatically when they start drinking. Outpatient treatment is usually sufficient, providing educational classes, therapy, and peer support.
Alcoholics, however, are nearly always intoxicated. Their home and work problems become so pervasive that they cannot effectively participate in daily life. The best course of treatment is intensive inpatient rehab that begins with detox.
In other words, problem drinkers see the most trouble when they have alcohol while alcoholics experience the most distress when they stop using the substance. The illnesses and withdrawal symptoms experienced during the detox period classify alcoholism as a disease, yet the craving to drink results from psychological issues that were at play well before the addictions developed.
Rising Above Addiction
Due to the prevalence of alcoholism, plenty of resources and support exist to help people who are ready to recover. Treatment opportunities include inpatient rehab to outpatient support, along with aftercare options like sober-living facilities and 12-step meetings.
The conventional treatment for alcohol dependency has been and continues to be the Alcoholics Anonymous 12-step model. A great majority of treatment programs employ this program and use it as the foundation of their services. There are pros and cons to this approach, and several alternative philosophies are available to ensure well-rounded solutions that meet unique personal needs.
These are a few other treatment methods that extend beyond the 12-step approach:
- Holistic Care: Holistic techniques include acupuncture, acupressure, meditation, and yoga. These options are among multiple Eastern medicines shown to assist in recovery from addiction. Patients are often introduced to these possibilities while in rehab, and continue them as components of their long-term recovery.
- Experiential Therapy: Interactive therapies include journaling, cinema, outdoor adventure, and art. They inspire creativity and often lead to breakthroughs like new perspectives and better understanding of personal experiences. Fresh insights like these help people progress through their recovery.
- Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy: CBT is a form of therapy with the goal of behavior modification and long-term management. Through this approach, patients learn different ways of coping with stress and any mental health issues they may have attempted to placate through drinking. This therapy is usually conducted in a one-to-one setting, but can take place in a group meeting as well. Each environment offers its own benefits throughout the journey to sobriety and healthy living.
- Aftercare: Upon completion of the initial phase of rehab, people in recovery are encouraged to stay heavily connected to their support communities. There are alumni and 12-step meetings, support groups, and the aforementioned holistic options. If 24-hour assistance is needed, sober-living homes are worth consideration.
Get Help Finding Treatment
With so many treatment options available, it can be difficult to find the best one for you. Rehab-Finder.Org is here to help you explore the possibilities and find the facility that will best meet your specifications. Call 877-251-4813 for help locating and enrolling in the rehab center that will help you get sober and adopt a healthier lifestyle.
Dealing With a Loved One’s Addiction
Watching someone you care about battle alcoholism is exhausting and overwhelming. The individual’s denial of the disease is quite frustrating as well. With the assistance of a professional, an intervention may be organized to help you address your loved one’s addiction in a nonjudgmental yet assertive way. A trained counselor will help you present the dependent person with the option of rehab, while minimizing the chances of a counterproductive argument.
If you intend to hold an intervention, it’s vital to plan thoroughly. Determine whom you’d like to attend the meeting, and select a time during which everyone will be available. Be careful when selecting a location for the intervention. Select a place that is private, and where the addicted person will be comfortable. His or her home, or the home of a loved one, is your best bet.
Prior to the actual intervention, get together with the others who will be present. Identify who will speak, the order in which they will do so, and what they will say. By enrolling the person in a program before the intervention takes place, the individual will – hopefully – be able to leave the meeting and go directly to treatment.
Call Rehab-Finder.Org at 877-251-4813 for more information on helping your loved one get the services necessary for a bright, healthy, and sober future.