What is Alcoholism?
Alcoholism is a term used interchangeably with severe alcohol use disorder. Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism is described as a chronic brain disease characterized by compulsive drinking, loss of control over the use of alcohol, and the experience of negative emotions when not using alcohol.
Some of the signs, symptoms, and behavioral changes used to make a diagnosis of Alcoholism include:
- Cravings or strong urges to drink.
- A persistent desire but an inability to stop drinking.
- Recurrent drinking in dangerous situations, such as driving a car.
- Giving up on once-important social, occupational, or recreational activities because of alcohol use.
- Alcohol tolerance or the need for increasing amounts to achieve a desired level of intoxication.
- Experiencing physical withdrawal symptoms, such as nausea, tremors, or seizures after stopping drinking.
What are the Causes of Alcohol Addiction?
Many may wonder what causes alcoholism to develop, but there is no simple answer to this question. The development of Alcoholism is thought to be influenced by a mixture of multiple factors, including genetics and environment.
Past studies have supported a potential link between a genetic vulnerability to depression and Alcoholism development. Others have suggested a heritable component to drinking at a young age and a subsequent higher risk of developing Alcoholism. In addition, experiencing early childhood trauma could increase the risk of developing alcoholism. Other factors involved in the development of Alcoholism are still being explored. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration notes that a person’s home environment could affect their risk of becoming an alcoholic. For example, if someone is raised in a household with inadequate parental supervision, they may have easier access to alcohol. At the same time, someone with a parent who abuses alcohol, such as an alcoholic father or mother, may be more prone to developing Alcoholism later on. The community environment can also affect a person’s risk for Alcoholism. If a community doesn’t strongly enforce laws prohibiting the sale of alcohol to minors, then minors can easily obtain and use alcohol. The home environment can also serve as a protective factor. For instance, should a person be raised with strong parental involvement, including their support and proper supervision, then the likelihood of that person developing a drinking problem during adolescence may be much lower.
Signs and Symptoms of Alcohol Use Disorder
A diagnosis of Alcoholism may be given to people with problematic patterns of drinking behavior that have a significant negative impact on their day-to-day lives. For example, many people tend to binge drink if they have an alcohol use disorder. There are many signs and symptoms of Alcoholism, several of which we mentioned earlier.
Not every problem drinker suffers from alcoholism, or severe alcohol use disorders. Instead, the breadth of someone’s alcohol use disorder is actually determined by a set of eleven diagnostic criteria that are used to diagnose Alcoholism.
Healthcare professionals, including physicians, psychologists, and other qualified behavioral health practitioners may make an Alcoholism diagnosis based on the presence of these signs and symptoms. Should a person meet at least 2 of the following diagnostic criteria within a 12-month period, they may have Alcoholism
- Drinking more alcohol than you originally intended to or drinking more frequently than you had planned.
- Experiencing cravings to use alcohol.
- Experiencing signs of physical withdrawal when alcohol is withheld.
- Giving up things that you previously enjoyed, such as sports and hobbies, to consume alcohol.
- Spending a great deal of time and money acquiring, using, and recovering from using alcohol.
- The inability to fulfill roles at work, school, or home because of alcohol use.
- Tolerance to alcohol, which means that a person has to keep drinking more and more to feel the effects of alcohol.
- Unsuccessful attempts to cut back or stop using alcohol.
- Using alcohol even if it makes a mental or physical problem worse.
- Using alcohol even though it causes family or other interpersonal conflicts.
- Using alcohol when it is dangerous to do so, such as drinking and driving.
Although there is no definitive, one-size-fits-all cure for alcoholism, there are still many options to treat alcoholism. For most people, detox is the first step in treating alcoholism. For people with significant levels of physiological alcohol dependence, attempts to abruptly stop drinking alone could prove dangerous, as serious complications, including withdrawal seizures, may occur. A supervised medical detox period may be needed to keep a person safe and comfortable throughout withdrawal.
If you or someone you know is currently attempting to quit using alcohol, help is only a phone call away. 1-705-300-9303
For people at high risk of severe withdrawal, several days of inpatient treatment—either in a hospital based setting or longer-term rehabilitation facility able to medically manage acute alcohol withdrawal—may be needed to stabilize a person in early recovery. After successful withdrawal management through medical detox, a period of more comprehensive rehabilitation may begin. The various treatment settings for different alcohol recovery programs include:
Residential treatment, which can be a short-term program lasting a months or two. A long-term program lasting up to a year or more. Residential treatment typically follows Detox treatment
Outpatient treatment, where a person comes to treatment for a few hours at a time, 2 to 3 times per week, but can continue living at home. This type of treatment may be the first stage of treatment for someone with a less severe Alcoholism. However, it might be the second stage of treatment for someone who has completed treatment in an inpatient facility.
Whether treatment is provided on an inpatient or outpatient basis, many substance use treatment programs will employ a combination of several treatment approaches. Some of the different types of treatment may include:
Behavioral therapy, including cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and motivational enhancement. Both of these approaches focus on helping a person with Alcoholism think differently about the disorder. Motivational enhancement is focused on getting a person to engage with their treatment and overcoming barriers to changing behaviors. CBT focuses on identifying maladaptive behaviors and developing new coping skills to better maintain sobriety and avoid relapse.
Family therapy, including helping a family set boundaries and behaviors, which can enhance recovery for the family member with Alcoholism.
Treatment for dual diagnosis or co-occurring disorders, which involves an integrated treatment strategy for both Alcoholism and a mental health issue, such as depression or anxiety. The treatment of both conditions helps to sustain recovery from both disorders.
12-step or other mutual support group meetings, such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) which emphasizes recognition of Alcoholism and ongoing support and recovery.
Some people with Alcoholism benefit from the use of medication-assisted treatment, which may help to support a person in recovery by minimizing cravings and decreasing the risk of relapse to problematic drinking. In combination with behavioral therapies, there are several drugs used for this purpose,
After a person with Alcoholism completes rehab, they need ongoing support. Many treatment programs offer groups to their clients that continue to meet and provide mutual support. This way, as time goes on, past patients can maintain a strong support network and ideally lessen their chances for relapse. Aftercare and long term care planning can help people avoid their potential for relapse on alcohol.
As an important component of many aftercare plans, regular meeting attendance with groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) further promotes an environment of support for recovery. AA has a long-standing network of group meetings in almost every community.
Although alcoholism is a chronic disease, millions of people have achieved long-lasting sobriety. No matter how severe your situation is, or how many times you have undergone treatment, recovery is possible, and help is available starting today.
We know about the alcohol addiction symptoms, their effects on your body and your mental health.
But we also know how to cure it with holistic approaches.
We are a team of addiction professionals consisting of addiction counsellors and Master’s level therapists. So we know how to deal with alcohol use disorder.
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