Alcoholism is the abuse of alcohol at its worst. This occurs when one has lost the ability to control their alcohol consumption and manage their drinking. Sometimes called alcohol use disorder, it can be categorized as severe, moderate or mild and each category is identified by specific symptoms and adverse side effects. What is important to note is that if it is not treated, it can become much worse rapidly.
For example, the problem can become so severe that an individual starts to feel like they can’t get through their day without consuming alcohol. As you can imagine this will negatively impact every area of their life: work, family relationships, social life and of course their health.
As the problem persists and alcohol is abused consistently, the side effects can become worse and the result is often serious health complications. The good news is that nobody has to suffer from this addition to alcohol alone. There are numerous treatment options that are available to help people get on the path to recovery and sobriety.
Alcoholism: The Warning Signs
When it comes to alcohol abuse the warning signs are sometimes very evident and at other times develop slowly before they come to the surface. The chances for recovering from alcohol addiction increase the earlier it is detected. These are some of the common warning signs to look out for:
- Having alcohol cravings when you aren’t consuming alcohol
- Inability to control how much one is drinking
- A change in behaviour after drinking
- Spending large amounts of money on alcohol
- Making alcohol more important than responsibilities of life
If you are starting to feel the negative effects of alcohol consumption, it is imperative that you find treatment options that will assist you in kicking the habit so that you can regain control of your life. Your medical doctor can offer you solutions and professional care and options so you can get yourself back to living a fulfilling, healthy life.
Why People With Alcoholism Started Drinking
There are many different factors that can increase the risks of becoming dependant on alcohol. It may start out a way of coping during times of stress or bereavement and may end up becoming a longstanding problem.
These are some of the common reasons that people start drinking alcohol:
Some people have an anxious disposition and worry constantly. They turn to alcohol to help calm them and lower their inhibitions so that they feel more comfortable in social settings. The problem with this solution to their anxiety is that it can very easily lead to alcohol addiction.
Dealing with losses
The loss of work or a loved one can cause people severe distress mentally, physically and emotionally. While alcohol can often dull the pain and help people get through difficult periods, the dependency on alcohol can easily lead to heavy drinking and become a drinking problem.
If one relies on the use of alcohol to cope with the stresses of everyday life, this can result in the consumption of more and more alcohol since drinking frequently build one’s tolerance. So feeling better after drinking will require that you consume more alcohol and this can lead to alcoholism.
While having a drink to escape problems and feel better may seem like a good way to feel pleasure, and it may offer a temporary sense of relief from one’s problems, turning to alcohol daily or weekly has a very strong potential for becoming a serious drinking problem.
Health Complications From Alcohol Abuse
Whether you drink too much on a regular basis, or on one occasion, the result can be a minor effect on your health or worse, it can be a threat to your life. It is not just the long term effects that can be harmful, even sort term effects of alcoholism can be very dangerous for your health.
For example, drinking can affect your coordination and lower your reaction time and slow down your reflexes. This is why drinking and driving is an extremely dangerous activity, for yourself and others, if you have been consuming alcohol.
Some of the short- term effects that are often experienced with alcohol consumption are: restlessness, poor reflexes, breathing difficulties, reduced reaction time, blurred vision and a reduction in brain activity.
Consuming excessive amounts of alcohol really affects long-term health and while some side effects are not noticed until much later, it is important to get professional medical care to ensure that any problems can be detected and proper treatment can be delivered as soon as possible.
Some long-term health conditions caused by alcohol are: liver disease, brain defects (like Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome), visions impairment, diabetic complications, an increased risk of cancer, bone loss and heart problems
Treatment for Alcoholism
Making the decision to get help for an addiction to alcohol is one of the most important decisions an alcoholic will make. No matter how mild or severe your addiction is, there is help designed to help you depending on your particular situation. Keep in mind that this will be an ongoing process that will take commitment and discipline. Long after your rehab, you will continue to apply what you have learned in rehab, through support groups, counselling and other therapies. Every person has a unique plan designed for their recovery but there is a general structure that is applied in the treatment of alcohol abuse.
There are three phases that are followed: detoxification, rehabilitation and maintenance.
This is the first step which is best done with the assistance and supervision of medical professionals since this can be a very uncomfortable and potentially dangerous time as the body experiences withdrawal symptoms. Often medication is given to make the process less painful and to ease the side effects.
Rehabilitation is the second step and there are two kinds, outpatient and inpatient rehabilitation. In the case of inpatient programmes, patients need to check themselves into a special facility for a period of time (usually 30-90 days). For outpatient rehab programmes an individual is part of a recovery program but can carry on with their daily life. It is best to speak with your doctor about what the best suited for you.
The process of recovery from alcohol abuse continues even after the rehab program has been completed. Remaining sober on the long run can be achieved by undergoing therapy, counselling and by attending support groups. These commitments will help you to create a future that is healthier for a long time to come.