What You Need to Know About Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse

There is no harm in drinking alcohol every now and then. We do enjoy them especially on special occasions and celebrations. It may seem harmless but it can still be deadly.

It’s true that a small dose of alcohol is actually even good for you but drinking too much can be very harmful. If not controlled, it can lead to alcoholism. Alcoholism is dependency on alcohol. In any case, it is both dangerous physically and mentally for the alcoholic and people around them.

It is a long-term disorder that can eventually ruin the life of those suffering from it. Before that happens you must take note of the stages of alcoholism. It may not be too late to stop now.

First stage: Heavy drinking and binge drinking

Heavy drinking refers to drinking excess alcohol, more than the recommended intake for consecutive days. On the other hand, binge drinking refers to drinking large amounts of alcohol on one occasion. People who are heavy and binge drinkers have a higher tendency to become dependent on alcohol later on.

Second stage: Drinking more than the usual

When people continuously drink more alcohol than they should they can develop a high tolerance to alcohol. High tolerance to alcohol then leads to drinking more alcohol. The greater the need for alcohol the more dependent on alcohol one becomes.

Third stage: Drinking problems

The third stage of alcoholism is when people start to suffer drinking problems Drinking alcohol becomes more frequent and in much worse cases, uncontrollable. During this time consequences of drinking alcohol become clearer such as changes in behavior, relationship problems and social difficulties.

Final stage: Dependence

The last stage is complete dependence on alcohol. This is when one cannot turn back from the addiction. The need for alcohol is no longer for satisfaction but for physical and mental need as well. The only solution is rehabilitation and treatment.

These are the stages of alcoholism. If you are still in the early stages you might want to rethink your options.

The good thing is during the earlier stages it is easier and less painful to stop drinking. During the last stages rehabilitation and treatment may not be as easy and can be very painful as well. In any case addiction can be treated.

 

Is Alcohol Addictive?

Alcohol intake may be occasional meaning they only drink during parties or celebrations. But for some, drinking is much more frequent and difficult to control to urge to drink. In this way they fall into alcohol addiction and become trapped. And that is not good, at all.

Alcohol addiction (also called alcoholism) is a disease affecting all kinds of people. Unfortunately, no single cause has been identified. It can be due to genetic, psychological or behavioral factors.

Take note that alcoholism is not simply a disease. It is real and serious. Changes in the brain and neurochemistry can occur causing an alcoholic to be unable to control their actions. Alcohol can be very addictive.

According to research the brain is said to release endorphins and dopamine when a person drinks alcohol producing satisfaction and happiness and eliminating pain.

Thus, the body is enticed by these sensations leading the person to drink more and more to keep them satisfied. You will know if someone is addicted to alcohol if they exhibit the following symptoms:

  • Increased frequency of intake or quantity of alcohol
  • High alcohol tolerance or lack of symptoms of hangover
  • Inappropriate drinking times (e.g. during work, inside church, first thing in the morning)
  • Being around places where there is alcohol (and avoiding places/situations where there is none)
  • Change in the circle of friends or choosing new friends who are also heavy drinkers
  • Lack of contact with family and loved ones
  • Drinking in secret or hiding from others while drinking
  • Relying on alcohol to get through every single day
  • Increased depression, lethargy or other emotional issues
  • Experiencing professional or legal problems such as losing one’s job or getting arrested

Watch carefully for these signs and symptoms of addiction and maybe you can save your loved ones, or yourself, from further harm. It is best to watch out for these before the addiction becomes irreversible.

Important thing is to always support people inflicted by such addiction. Help them overcome alcoholism by giving them your utmost support and attention.

 

Things you Might not Know About Alcohol Abuse

  1. It is estimated that 16.3 million adults, 18 years of age and above, have confirmed that they suffer from Alcohol Abuse. That is 10.6 million men and 5.7 million women who have a drinking problem.
  2. Every year 88,000 people die from alcohol-related incidents, 62,000 men and 26,000 women according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This makes alcohol abuse the fourth leading preventable cause of death in US.Globally, as per the World Health Organization (WHO), 3.3 million deaths reported in 2012 are attributed to alcohol abuse. It is the fifth leading risk factor that leads to premature death and disability.
  3. In 2014, 9,967 people died because of drunk driving, that is 31% of total driving fatalities. Aside from this, alcohol misuse is also a big contributing factor to violence and sexual assault.
  4. Alcohol can increases risk of cancer, specifically in the mouth, liver and breasts. Alcohol Abuse causes a wide array of health problems.In 2013, 33,232 people died of liver cancer involving alcohol, which is 45.8% of all cases of liver cancer. In 2011, 48% of cirrhosis death involved alcohol.
  5. Also in 2014, 679,000 young adults, ages 12 to 17, also had some kind of alcohol abuse disorder, 376,000 of which were females and 311,000 males.According to researchers, teenagers who use alcohol can have problems with brain development and can acquire alcohol abuse disorder later on.
  6. Alcohol Abuse is also common among college students, aged 18-22. In 2014, more than half (59.8%) of college students reportedly drank alcohol in the previous month.37.9% of these students had been binge drinking and 12.2% of them were heavy drinkers. By comparison, 18-22 year-old college students use alcohol more often than those who are not students.
  7. Alcohol abuse can affect a student’s grades and performance. One in every four college students admitted that they have poor grades, more absents and difficulty in classes due to alcohol misuse.

 

What to Expect during Alcohol Withdrawal and Detoxification

If you decided to make a change for the better you might wonder what happens during rehabilitation. Whether you’re suffering from alcohol abuse or a friend who is concerned about people with such problems, you’ll definitely benefit in knowing the alcohol detox timeline or the phases of rehabilitation that will occur.

Stages of Alcohol Withdrawal

12 hours after stopping alcohol intake

During this time, physical and mental systems may arise. Some of the mental symptoms are agitation, anxiety and insomnia. Physical symptoms including headache, nausea, shaking and vomiting may also be experienced during the first stage.

12 – 24 hours after halting alcohol use

Within this time period, one may experience some of the conditions of stage one but much more severely. This means more frequent headaches, more uncontrollable seizures and shaking. In addition, during this time frame one may experience hallucinations and disorientation.

36 – 72 hours after withdrawal

By this time even more severe symptoms arise. A condition called Delirium Tremens may occur. It causes severe tremors and dangerous seizures. Agitation, headache, fever and other symptoms becomes severe.

This occurs 2-5 days after alcohol withdrawal. During this time close and careful supervision from medical professionals is needed. The amount of time needed to detoxify the body of alcohol differs from person to person. The detoxification process can typically take from 5-14 days.

The symptoms, however, can last up to a few months or maybe a year. This is commonly called Post-acute Withdrawal Syndrome. Good thing is that it is not as severe as the symptoms of the early stages of withdrawal.

The truth is that it really is possible to quit drinking. It can cause a few symptoms, some may be severe, but with proper planning and determination one can overcome this dangerous addiction.

 

Alcohol: Friend or Foe?

Whether or not alcohol is a disease depends on who drinks it. With moderate use, it can be a good friend but overuse it and you’ll suffer the consequences of this deadly foe. Here are some advantages, when taken moderately, and disadvantages of alcohol when taken irresponsibly.

Benefits of Alcohol

  1. Stronger Heart – Alcoholic drinks contain antioxidants called phenols. In moderate amounts, it can raise the levels of good cholesterol in the body.
  2. Healthier Brain – Alcoholic drinks like beer and wine contain ethanol.Ethanol toughens up the brain cells. With moderate alcohol intake one can reduce the risk of developing mental problems later on such as Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
  3. Lower chance of Diabetes – According to research, people who drank a glass or two of alcohol everyday had a lower risk of developing type-2 diabetes than those who don’t drink at all.
  4. Lower chance of Common Colds and Sickness – According to some studies, moderate and daily in-take of alcohol can reduce the risk of getting colds.However, there are no studies that show that it could actually cure colds. Well, prevention is better that cure anyways.
  5. “Live long and prosper” – According to a study by the Catholic University of Campobasso drinking alcohol regularly and in moderation can actually lengthen your life. It can reduce the risk of death by as much as 18%.

Disadvantages of Alcohol when taken in Large Amounts

  1. It can cause a lot of health related problems such as cancer, cardiovascular diseases, liver problems, nerve damage and obesity among others.
  2. A huge percentage of road accidents are due to alcohol intake. Alcoholism is also directly linked to a large percentage of violence and assault cases.
  3. Depression and other psychological problems –Studies show that drinking can also cause depression, insomnia and other psychological problems.Aside from depression excessive drinking also gives way to a higher risk of developing dementia later in life.

 

Alcohol Detox at Home: How, Why and Why not?

Rehabilitation and detoxification is often done at treatment centers but many may think to detox at home. Is this really possible? Is it really safe?

How to Detox at Home?

Before beginning with the detoxification, one must have courage and determination. To start detoxification one must first choose how to do so.

There are two common ways. The first one is stopping it immediately which people refer to as going ‘cold turkey’. The second way is slowly limiting your alcohol intake until you stop completely.

Cold Turkey – Stopping your addiction suddenly is not without its drawbacks. It may be the most logical way but it’s not the easiest. The truth is it can be very painful. After stopping alcohol intake one will experience many different symptoms and side effects.

The severity of the symptoms depend on the severity and dependency of the alcoholism. In addition, through the use of prescription medications one can lessen the severity of the symptoms surrounding detox.

Tapering Off

Another method is slowly reducing alcohol intake until you can completely stop drinking. This may take a lot longer than going cold turkey but it will significantly lessen the severity of detoxification once you begin.

You can imagine this just like when you are driving fast. Slowly reducing your speed is not only more comfortable but safer as well rather than stopping immediately.

Why and Why Not?

Alcohol detox at home has its advantages and disadvantages. Some people may be more comfortable just detoxing at home.

But for people who are planning to detox at home they must be patient and truly commit.

It may take a little while for the body to actually recover from alcoholism. You must also have enough support from the people you love since it will be a big factor in rehabilitation.

For people who suffer from more severe cases, those who are less confident about home detox, they are better off going to rehabilitation centers and professional detoxification treatments.

 

Living with an Alcoholic

Alcoholics do put not only themselves in harm’s way but people around them as well. Living with an alcoholic is truly dangerous. Since alcohol is linked to violence, we can expect that living with one can be a violent experience.

According to some studies, 70% of cases of violence are due to alcohol and happen at home. It means that living with an alcoholic can expose you to risks of violence and assault. But there are things you can do to help them change.

What You Can Do to Help?

  • Do talk honestly with them – Honesty, or rather sincerity, can become the key to change. You also need to listen to their feelings and emotions. By having open communication with others you can easily encourage them to stop.
  • Don’t be harsh on them – Avoid saying harsh words to alcoholics. Aside from the fact that it can start violent fights it can also make an alcoholic much worse. Understand their feelings and don’t preach or threaten them.
  • Do encourage them to join support groups – Support groups can be a big help when an alcoholic wants to change. They can find people who suffer the same problems and such people can give good advices, if not the best, for them.
  • Don’t drink with the alcoholic – If you do drink with the alcoholic it will weaken their resolve to stop drinking.
  • Do Support them all the way – Rehabilitation is not easy. It fact, it can be very painful. You can help them by providing emotional support when the pain comes.

Treatment for Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse

Alcoholism can be treated. But like any other addiction it’s not easy to overcome. It requires a lot of courage and patience to treat the addiction. People and friends of the alcoholic also play a major role on treating them properly. What’s important is to have the determination to overcome such a dangerous addiction.

There are certain stages of addiction treatment. Services by centers or at home, there are three stages that an alcoholic will have to undergo. The stages are:

Detoxification

This is the first step in treating addiction which is stopping alcohol intake and clearing out your system. This can be very painful depending on the severity of the addiction. The pain can be alleviated by certain drugs and medications to a certain degree, but such side effects won’t easily go away.

Rehabilitation

Once detoxification is over some may feel the urge to continue drinking. With the help of addiction treatment services and doctors alcoholics are given counseling and medication to lessen the chance of them giving in to their alcoholic urges.

Sobriety

After some time the urge to drink may come and go. During this time one must be committed and driven to stay away from alcohol. During this time, support from families and friends, as well as support groups can be a big help to maintain sobriety.

Easy things you can do for Better Treatment

Avoid alcohol

Avoiding alcohol is not limited to staying away from the actual drink. One must also stay away from people, places and occasions that may push you to drink. If you’re a friend or a family member do not give them any reason to drink.

Support

Alcoholics should not keep their problems to themselves. Instead, seek out friends and families’ support. As a friend, do your best to give them courage and support.

Make a Lifestyle Change

Discovering new hobbies are good ways to divert alcoholics’ attention from drinking. Join volunteer groups, support groups and religious groups. The most important is to make your life a healthy one.