Nearly every person, approximately 80 percent of all populations, has tried alcohol at some point in his or her life. For some, a single drink does not satisfy their needs. As time passes, one or two drinks progresses into an alcohol use disorder. Alcohol use disorder includes alcohol dependency and alcohol abuse and ranges from mild to severe in acuity. Getting the necessary, correct treatment for an alcohol use disorder requires an understanding of the differences between alcohol abuse and alcohol dependency and how the body responds during the detoxification process.
What is alcoholism?
Depending upon you current state of health, alcohol has many different adverse effects on the body. Alcoholism, or alcohol dependency, occurs when a person’s body requires the presence of alcohol in order to function. The brain, heart, lungs, kidneys, liver and pancreas become reliant on alcohol.
Unfortunately, 17 million people in the U.S. suffer from an alcohol use disorder, but less than 10 percent of those with the disorder sought alcohol rehab treatment or obtained any sort of help at an alcohol rehab clinic. Although most tend to think of alcoholism as the sole disorder involving alcohol, it actually includes heavy drinking and binge drinking.
- Heavy drinking – 24.6 percent of people above the age of 18 engaged in heavy drinking within the last month. Heavy drinking is defined as drinking 15 or more drinks for men and seven or more drinks for women within a single week.
- Binge drinking – 7.1 percent of people above the age of 18 engaged in binge drinking within the last month. Binge drinking is defined as drinking five or more drinks during a single occasion for men and drinking four or more drinks during a single event for women.
Signs of alcohol use disorders
Someone suffering from an alcohol use disorder will begin to exhibit several different symptoms that affect his or her ability to function in an appropriate manner. Some of the common signs and symptoms of alcohol use disorders include the following:
- Inability to limit the amount of alcohol consumed
- Craving for alcohol
- Development of a tolerance
- Drinking alone
- Experience withdrawal symptoms when not drinking
- Drinking in a pattern
- Memory problems
- Stashing of alcohol
- Legal problems
- Problems with personal relationships
- Loss of interest in once enjoyed activities
Detox is a withdrawal period when someone stops drinking. Unfortunately, detox from severe alcohol withdrawal can be fatal and requires medical supervision in an alcoholic rehab facility or other mental health treatment facility. Some common symptoms of withdrawal from alcohol include tremors, seizures, nausea, vomiting, suicidal thoughts or actions or delirium tremens (DTs). DTs are the most severe symptoms during which the person may experience extreme increases in heart rate, stroke or even hallucinations.
Suicidal thoughts or actions are a medical emergency and require immediate medical attention.
However, severe alcohol withdrawal can be effectively treated with natural assisted detox, medications, anti-nausea medication and anti-anxiety medications.
Once a person has gone through the detox process, he will need to continue treatment for an alcohol use disorder. It is also common that dual diagnosis treatment may be recommended to treat any and all underlying mental health conditions.
Part of effective recovery programs requires adherence to medications, attendance to psychotherapy sessions, brain wellness training and cognitive retraining. Furthermore, continuing care is also a vital step in the recovery process. Reaching out to treatment center alumni programs, support groups and sober living homes is highly recommended.
Although it may feel like you cannot escape the constraints of alcoholism, you can live an alcohol-free lifestyle through proper treatment.