Causes of Addiction
Signs and Symptoms
Principles of Treatment
Alcoholism is defined by the extreme, uncontrollable compulsion to drink that leads to excessive alcohol consumption and substance abuse. When this over-the-top drinking continues despite the negative effects of deadly health problems, destroyed finances and devastated relationship, alcohol abuse and addiction treatment is necessary to help the patient get back on track. Alcohol abuse, binge drinking, problem drinking and alcohol dependence are all treatable issues at alcohol rehabilitation centers that offer medical care and psychotherapeutic treatment.
Continued abuse of alcohol leads to both physical and psychological dependence as well as a host of other behavior problems. Treatment is the only way to successfully combat the disease of alcoholism and learn how to live without drinking. According to the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism Alcohol Alert No.49, more than 100,000 people in America receive alcoholism treatment every day. Unfortunately, thousands more would benefit from treatment for alcohol abuse and addiction yet don’t receive the care they need. If you or someone you care about is living with chronic alcohol abuse or alcohol addiction, don’t wait to enroll in a treatment program that can provide you with what you need to heal. Contact us today, and allow us to connect you with a center that is equipped to help you heal on physical, psychological, emotional, mental and spiritual levels.
In every single case, alcoholism begins with one drink… followed by another and then another. Over time, if not controlled, alcohol abuse can develop into alcohol addiction. The alcoholic’s tolerance for drinking increases, requiring him or her to drink more and more in order to get drunk and feel the effects. In many cases, this tolerance increases to the point that the alcoholic requires a steady supply of alcohol in order to avoid withdrawal symptoms. Psychological addiction soon follows; in some cases, psychological dependence upon alcohol, especially in social situations or to deal with extreme emotions, develops before physical addiction. However, the two together signify that alcoholism has set in and, when this occurs, the effects of tolerance become erratic, causing varying results when the patient drinks, effects that are often unexpected and dangerous.
Difference Between Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism
Alcohol abuse and alcoholism, though both treatable, have different effects on the body and, therefore, will require different styles of treatment. Alcohol abuse is defined by drinking to excess in such a way that the patient creates problems for him or herself that are directly related to that alcohol intake. Alcoholism, on the other hand, occurs when a psychological and physical dependence upon alcohol forms after a period of alcohol abuse and the patient continues to drink despite the increasingly significant and life-changing negative problems that occur as a result.
The amount of alcohol ingested within a period of time and the number of times per week that these choices are repeated help determine whether or not alcohol abuse or addiction is an issue. According to PubMed Health, those at the highest risk for developing an alcohol addiction include men who have more than 15 alcoholic beverages per week, women who ingest more than a dozen alcoholic beverages each week, and those who have five or more drinks in a two-hour period at least once a week.
What constitutes “a drink” according to these guidelines? Different types of alcohol have different effects and alcohol content. A Long Island Iced Tea, for example, is not considered “a drink” because it has multiple shots of liquor. In general, 12 ounces of beer, 8 ounces of malt liquor, 5 ounces of wine, and 1.5 ounces of liquor constitute a single drink.
What Are The Causes?
No one knows what exactly causes alcoholism, though there are a number of different contributory factors. In some, alcoholism is the result of a genetic predisposition – that is, a mental health illness that is far more likely to develop when patients have an immediate family member diagnosed with the disease. In other cases, social factors play a larger part in the development of alcoholism. Everything from problems at home and stress levels to trauma and grief can impact a person’s vulnerability in terms of developing alcoholism. Some environmental factors that may contribute to the development of alcohol addiction include:
- The existence of co-occurring disorders like bipolar disorder, anxiety, depression or schizophrenia
- Issues of low self-esteem
- A young adult experiencing peer pressure
- Relationship problems, including divorce
- Living in an environment where excessive drinking is considered normal
One thing is known for sure: the earlier one begins drinking alcohol, the more likely it is that they will end up with a problem with alcohol abuse and addiction. Ultimately, the issue of alcoholism causes even more severe problems including health problems like arthritis, cardiac problems, organ disease, anxiety and depression. Once alcoholism is identified as an issue, the only way to recover is to enter an alcohol rehab and get the alcoholism treatment necessary to leave alcohol behind forever.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are a number of immediate and long-term health effects that are associated with chronic alcohol abuse and addiction. Some of the short-term or immediate risks that come with alcohol abuse include:
- Accidental injury like falls, drowning, burns, firearm injuries and car accidents.
- 35 percent of assault victims and 66 percent of domestic violence victims report that their attacker was drunk at the time of the incident.
- Child negligence and abuse often occurs in relation to alcoholic use by caregivers.
- Miscarriage and stillbirth among women who are pregnant as well as a number of birth defects.
- Poor sexual choices including unprotected sex that can lead to the transmission of sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancy.
- Acute health issues including alcohol poisoning, respiratory depression, coma and death.
Patients who are lucky enough to escape significant injury due to the short-term effects of alcohol can end up succumbing to the long-term health effects caused by chronic drinking. Some of these risks include:
- Psychiatric illnesses like depression, anxiety, paranoia, hallucinations and more.
- Throat and mouth cancers, liver cancer, colon cancer and breast cancer, among others are more common among those who drink heavily.
- Liver function issues including hepatitis, cirrhosis of the liver and liver failure.
- Cardiovascular problems like heart disease, hypertension and myocardial infarction.
- Brain disorders like dementia, neuropathy and stroke.
- Gastrointestinal disorders like pancreatitis and gastritis.
- Interpersonal issues including job loss, problems with family members, and issues with friends and neighbors.
Signs That Treatment Is Necessary
It’s not always easy to recognize when alcoholism treatment is necessary, especially when so many people are living with the issue. According to the National Institutes of Health, one in six people is living with an alcohol abuse or addiction issue. Are you or is someone you care about one in that number? Here are some common signs and symptoms of alcoholism that can help you determine whether or not you need alcohol rehab:
List of Signs and Symptoms ::
- Drinking alone
- Becoming angry or violent when under the influence of alcohol
- Secretive or defensive when asked about drinking behaviors
- Unable to stop drinking despite attempts and promises to do so
- Rationalizing excessive or inappropriate drinking
- Continuing to drink despite the negative social and health effects
- Missing out on work, school, family functions and hobbies due to drinking or recovering from drinking
- Needing alcohol to make it through intense emotions, social events or any part of the day
- Developing malnutrition or eating issues
- Experiencing withdrawal symptoms without alcohol
- Blackouts while drinking or memory loss of events that occur with or without alcohol
- High tolerance
Principles of Treatment
Alcoholism treatment differs according to the needs of the individual and the philosophy of the alcoholism treatment center. However, there are several principles of alcoholism treatment that, generally speaking, are followed universally.
The first and perhaps most important principle of alcoholism treatment is abstinence. In most alcohol treatment programs, this is accomplished immediately through alcohol detoxification. Detoxification begins when the patient stops drinking. At a medical alcoholism treatment center, medication may be provided to manage alcohol withdrawal symptoms, the physical changes that take place when an alcoholic tries to stop using alcohol.
The second principle of alcohol addiction treatment is avoiding relapse. Learning the tools to maintain this principle starts with psychological addiction treatment and putting those tools into practice must happen every day. Though relapse prevention is initially learned at alcohol rehab, it is important that patients continue to get the support they need to avoid returning to old behaviors through aftercare treatment.
The overwhelming majority of alcoholism treatment programs make use of a combination of medication and therapy in order to help patients achieve the principles of treatment. Together, the two approaches can be extremely effective. Medication allows the patient’s body to overcome the physical withdrawal symptoms associated with alcohol addiction treatment, and therapy teaches the patient the benefits of adhering to a healthier lifestyle without alcohol and provides them with the skills to do so successfully. Below are some of the common steps that come into play during the course of a typical alcoholism treatment program:
Detoxification. The first step in most alcoholism treatment programs, detoxification, is a period lasting between four days and two weeks wherein a patient completely purges their system of alcohol. During this time, no alcohol is consumed at all. Patients will receive medical treatment if necessary to control symptoms of withdrawal, which can be significant. Detoxification is usually the most feared step in alcoholism treatment, but it is usually short, and only the first of many steps to a successful alcoholism treatment program.
Medication. Medication is available to recovering alcoholics in two forms, oral and injected. During alcohol detox, medication may be used to mitigate cravings. One of the most common medications for alcoholism treatment is disufiram, a drug that produces nausea and headache should the alcoholic relapse and drink. Another common medication is Naltrexone. Naltrexone works by blocking the pleasurable feelings that alcohol causes, which significantly decreases any pleasure the alcoholic may take in drinking.
Counseling and Behavioral Therapy. Therapy and counseling in any one of many forms can be very effective for recovering alcoholics. Patients meet with a professional therapist, whose goal it is to help the alcoholic discover their triggers in terms of drinking as well as explore some of the root causes of their addictive tendencies. Therapy addresses specific social causes of alcoholism, such as abuse, family problems, self-esteem, co-occurring mental health issues and disorders, and more.
Self-Help. Learning about the dangers of alcohol, identifying good behaviors and developing a network of support are important during alcoholism treatment. Many programs provide manuals or guides employing step-by-step goals for alcoholics, the most common of which is the 12-step program, Alcoholics Anonymous. Self-help is a step that never ends for most alcoholics, continuing long after they stop drinking.
Start Your New Life Today: Find the Right Treatment Center for You
According to a study published in the March 2004 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, 85,000 Americans died due to issues related to alcohol consumption in the year 2000 – that’s almost four percent of all deaths in the country. This doesn’t include the number of people who died due to chronic illnesses caused or exacerbated by untreated alcoholism. Don’t allow your life to become another mark on the tally chart. Contact us today and find the alcohol addiction treatment center that can provide you with what you need to heal.