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What is Alcohol Addiction?

Most people use the terms ‘Alcohol use Disorder’ or ‘Alcoholism.’ These are terms that are used to describe traits, such as:

• Enhanced cravings for alcohol
• Out of control drinking habits
• Alcohol withdrawal symptoms
• High alcohol tolerance in pursuit of the same feeling.

Alcoholism is considered a real disease. Why? There have been notable changes to one’s neurochemistry and the brain to the point where they lose control over their actions.

 

You may come across various manifestations of Alcohol use disorder across people. Any one of us is prone to alcohol addiction. Alcoholism is influenced by psychological, behavioral, and genetic factors. Note that there is no specific cause of alcoholism but rather a range of them.

The disease varies across people and the consumption frequency. Some are daily heavy drinkers and binge drinkers.

Oops! If you thought to stay sober for a given period and drinking heavily routinely is not a form of alcohol addiction, you are utterly wrong. If your sobriety does not extend for an extended period, we suggest an audit of your drinking habits.

What Are the Symptoms of Alcohol Addiction?

In our societies, it may be hard to identify a case of alcohol use disorder. You come across it in many social circumstances for enjoyment and celebrations. How do you know when the line between enjoyment and addiction has been crossed?

Alcohol addiction symptoms:

• Increased frequency and quantity of drinking
• High alcohol tolerance
• Strong drinking urges
• Inappropriate drinking, for example, at work, first thing in the morning, or even in church
• Choosing events with alcohol over situations without it
• A change of friends. You tend to prefer those who are drinkers over those who are not
• Avoiding your loved ones
• An increase in emotional issues such as depression, lethargy, etc.
• Legal or professional problems that may eventually be linked to alcohol abuse.
• Withdrawal symptoms such as restlessness, nausea, sweating, anxiety, shakiness, or insomnia.
• Violence
• Frequent blackouts. These are cases where you forget events that occur while drunk.
• Drinking despite the feelings of depression, anxiety, or rifts with friends and family
• Frequent lone drinking
• Giving little or no attention to your appearance

What are the Underlying Consequences of Alcohol Addiction?

The specific consequences of alcohol use disorder are numerous and fall into the categories of diseases, Accidents or death, unborn baby problems, brain damage, Alcohol poisoning, and addiction.

1. Alcohol-Related Diseases

Alcohol abuse makes you prone to diseases such as liver cirrhosis, cancers, and stroke. Some conditions could be a result of drunkenness, such as HIV/AIDS. This may happen when you and your partner are drunk and have unsafe sex. In addition, you may forgo safe sex due to forgetfulness or carelessness related to alcoholism.
Some of the cancers that are related to alcoholism include mouth, breast, bowel, liver, and stomach.

2. Alcohol-related Unborn Baby Problems

Pregnant women indulging in alcohol use disorder make their children prone to brain damage. Furthermore, you may expose your baby to further complications, especially if you lose caution while drunk.

3. Alcohol-Related Accidents and Death

We have all come across the global outcry of alcohol-related accidents and fatalities. Alcohol has been associated with:
• sexual assaults and severe injuries
• murders, deadly burns, and drownings
• fatal driving accidents, suicides, and fatal falls

4. Brain Damage

Over time, alcoholism will affect your brain functions such as memory, learning, and even walking. Your brain cells risk being damaged after being exposed to alcohol over a substantial amount of time.

5. Alcohol Poisoning

If you drink a lot of alcohol for a short period, it becomes toxic, and you are prone to alcohol poisoning, which is a cause of death. Alcohol poisoning is an instance where your level of blood alcohol shoots up to a toxic level.

In most cases, alcohol poisoning starts to manifest through extreme confusion. You get unresponsive and disoriented, your breaths get shallower, and you eventually pass out. You may end up in a coma or even pass on in severe cases.

What Are the Signs of Alcohol Poisoning?

• Confusion
• Slowed breathing
• Throwing up
• Cold or blue skin
• Coma
• seizures

6. Addiction

Consistent consumption of alcohol will affect your brain functions. You can notice this when you realize you feel sick if you don’t drink, and it is hard to stop drinking. At this point, you may be addicted.
Other common signs of addiction present when you try to quit include:

• Shakiness
• Sweating heavily
• Nervousness
• Feeling depressed or sad
• Having trouble sleeping

7. Socioeconomic Consequences

Sadly, alcohol addiction tends to affect relationships and finances. Addiction requires a lot of funding, which could be put to better use in self or family development. You may also lose your job due to incompetence brought about by addiction. Your work CV gets tainted, and you may struggle to make ends meet.

Moreover, addiction will ruin your relationships with family and friends. You may end up distancing yourself, or violence may get in the way of your relationships.

The Good News

Addiction can be cured! However, alcohol addiction can be quite intense, and you may get cravings even years after quitting. You can conquer this by following treatment guidelines from your doctor, maintaining friendships, and indulging in activities that occupy your mind and time.

How Can an Alcoholic Get Help And Lead a Healthy Lifestyle?
Alcohol use disorder is not the end of the line. There are three types of recoveries you can enroll in as an alcoholic who needs help. These include behavioral therapies that put you on track to health, medical treatments to help you recover, or a combination of both.

Medical Treatments

Scientists have developed medicines to conquer alcohol addiction. The medications have been approved, but it is important to note that they do not cure addiction but rather help you manage it and cope with the symptoms.

They include:
• Disulfiram – this is a medicine that is expected to simulate skin flushing, nausea, and other unpleasant symptoms upon consumption of alcohol. You will avoid these uncomfortable experiences by avoiding alcohol entirely.
• Acamprosate – your doctor may prescribe this once you quit drinking. It is supposed to help you reduce cravings.
• Naltrexone – it is also supposed to reduce alcohol cravings and obstructs the brain receptors that bring pleasant sensations after drinking alcohol.

You are strictly advised to avoid self-prescriptions but instead follow your physician’s guidelines.

Behavioral Therapies for treating Alcohol Addiction
Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
This therapy teaches you to recognize situations and feelings that spur you to drink. You learn how to alter your thoughts and manage stress to restrain from drinking. This therapy can be administered in small groups or one-on-one sessions.

Motivational Enhancement Therapy
These are sessions that build and solidify your motivation to quit drinking. Motivational enhancement theory starts with weighing the merits and demerits of alcohol use and treatment. You and your therapist will then formulate a plan highlighting changes to your drinking habits. You develop the skills and confidence with your counselor to uphold the program.

Marital and Family Counselling
Marital and family counseling is prescribed to repair and build stronger family bonds. Family support in alcohol addiction therapies will motivate and help you uphold abstinence.

Brief Interventions
Not many people like the idea of a response, especially a family or a friend’s intervention. However, you may enroll in shorter sessions with your therapists to learn more about your drinking patterns and their risks. You set goals and a plan to attain them with your counselor’s guidance. The therapy could take one to four sessions.

Stages of Recovery from Alcohol Addiction
Recovery from alcohol addiction is an entire process that could take weeks, months, or years. It takes time, the same way alcohol addiction doesn’t occur overnight. Take a look at the recovery stages to identify where you fall:

1. Pre-contemplation
In this stage, you start to experience the negative side of alcohol. However, you do not acknowledge it and lack the intention to change. People tend to make up excuses for the addiction, such as stress or their lifestyle. Moreover, people tend to avoid alcoholism subjects when at this stage. This makes treatment hard and almost ineffective.
In most cases, when people in this stage get treatment, they have been forced by family, friends, the law, or their employer. Treatment starts by raising awareness of the pros and cons of alcohol use disorder.

2. Contemplation
In this stage, you start to acknowledge the effects of alcoholism. However, many people have a split mind about whether they should get help or try to help themselves. They usually tend to set an undefined date to start recovery. It is also an uncomfortable stage as you may be overwhelmed by guilt, depression, desperation, shame, or hopelessness. You overcome these feelings by formulating a plan to move forward with recovery.

3. Preparation
This is the stage where you are beginning to show commitment to change. It is characterized by telling family and friends about it. You need to take your time in this stage to formulate a detailed plan to conquer addiction. For example, you can review aspects of your lifestyle to change and what treatment facilities to enroll in.

4. Action
It is the point in recovery where you execute your plan. The first action you take is detoxification. You can achieve this in a managed environment with medical care, such as a detox center. Once you detox, you tackle behavioral, psychological, and social problems. You risk relapsing in this stage because it may drain you mentally and physically. This stage takes between 3 and 18 months.

5. Maintenance
This stage focuses on implementing and maintaining your achievements, such as new habits and coping skills. This stage can last from 6 months to years. You also adopt healthy eating habits and exercise to maintain your health.

6. Termination
Many believe that recovery could be a lifelong experience. Yes, you risk relapse in this stage, but you can brag about a long sobriety period, no cravings, and go without relapses.

How Ascendant New York Detox Center Can Help

Ascendant New York is the leading detox center in New York. We are at the frontline in offering programs such as short and long-term residential treatment, outpatient treatment, individual counseling, and group therapy.

Coming to Ascendant New York Detox Center to rehabilitate your alcohol addiction has more benefits that setting out on the alone recovery.

They include:
Ascendant New York Detox Center provides you with a stable environment. You need to be away from alcohol and temptations when you start healing.

Ascendant New York Detox Center has a professional team to deliver your treatment beyond your expectations. Our counselors help you cope with addiction, acknowledge each case is unique, and handle them professionally.

At Ascendant New York Detox Center, we will help you learn. We help you learn more about alcohol addiction, how to avoid relapse and lead a life of abstinence.

We offer peer support. We surround you with peers facing similar situations to support each other and give and receive advice.

At Ascendant New York Detox Center, we provide a daily routine. We offer recovery programs as part of your alcohol detox routine. For example, you may engage in 12-step support groups or one-on-one therapy.

At Ascendant New York Detox Center, we have zero tolerance. We do not tolerate drugs and alcohol around our premises to ensure the safety of our patients.

We have outpatient programs. Privacy in recovery gives you peace of mind. We uphold doctor-patient privacy unless you instruct us otherwise.

At Ascendant New York Detox Center, we offer aftercare. We are concerned with you maintaining your sobriety. We have aftercare programs to help you prevent relapse and to ease the transition back to your life. In case you need help with anything, our counselors are always on standby to help you.

Conclusion

We hope we have shed some light on your path to sobriety. Alcohol addiction is caused by psychological, behavioral, and genetic factors. It has adverse effects starting with your health and your socioeconomic life.

To succeed in recovery, you must take the first important step and contemplate your drinking habits and their effects. If you admit to addiction, you should not despair. You can enroll in various treatments and therapies.

We advise that you get help in overcoming addiction from a detox center. Why choose Ascendant New York Detox Center? We offer holistic treatment programs. At Ascendant New York, you will have access to a safe environment, professional counselors, a daily recovery routine, privacy in recovery, peer support, and aftercare. The recovery process may take time, depending on your case. You need to be tolerant of the six stages for an active recovery. In addition to this, we offer aftercare services to ensure you don’t slip back into your old drinking habits.

Furthermore, you should not take a relapse as a failure in your process. As soon as it happens, we advise that you get back on the recovery track. If your friend or family member is prone to addiction, use subtle methods to show them the effects of alcoholism and support them.

Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you or a loved one lead an alcohol-free lifestyle.

Sources:

  1. Raihan N, Cogburn M. Stages of Change Theory. In: StatPearls. StatPearls Publishing; 2022. Accessed September 2, 2022. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK556005/

Medical Content Writer

Amanda Stevens, B.S.

Amanda is a prolific medical content writer specializing in eating disorders and addiction treatment. She graduated Magnum Cum Laude from Purdue University with a B.S. in Social Work. As a person in recovery from disordered eating, she is passionate about seeing people heal and transform. She writes for popular treatment centers such as Ocean Recovery, Epiphany Wellness, The Heights Treatment, Infinite Recovery, New Waters Recovery and adolescent mental health treatment center BasePoint Academy. In her spare time she loves learning about health, nutrition, meditation, spiritual practices, and enjoys being the a mother of a beautiful daughter.

Last medically reviewed September 1, 2022