alcohol abuse and addiction
alcohol use disorder (often referred to as alcoholism) is a pattern of alcohol use that involves problems controlling your drinking, even when it has persistent negative consequences.
signs of alcohol addiction include being preoccupied with alcohol, continuing to use alcohol even when it causes physical and social problems, having to drink more to get the same effect, or having withdrawal symptoms when you rapidly decrease or stop drinking. It also manifests in frequent or continual binge drinking—a pattern of drinking where a person consumes five or more drinks within two hours. Binge drinking causes significant health and safety risks.
Although many people are able to moderate their alcohol use, an “alcoholic” is not capable of doing so. If your pattern of drinking has begun causing problems in your life, it may be time to seek professional help. Here at the Northern Arizona Center for Addiction we understand alcohol use disorder, and we know how to help.
symptoms of alcohol addiction
Alcohol use disorder can be mild, moderate, or severe based on the number of symptoms you experience. However, it is a progressive disease. Just because a person is currently able to drink heavily and function normally does not mean they will be able to maintain this pattern forever.
Often, what starts as “functional alcoholism” can eventually spiral into uncontrollable drinking and very serious health risks.
Signs and symptoms of alcohol use disorder may include:
- Being unable to limit the amount of alcohol you drink
- Wanting to cut down on how much you drink or making unsuccessful attempts to do so
- Spending a lot of time drinking, getting alcohol, or recovering from alcohol use
- Feeling a strong craving or urge to drink alcohol
- Failing to fulfill major obligations at work, school, or home due to repeated alcohol use
- Continuing to drink alcohol even though you know it’s causing physical, social, or interpersonal problems
- Giving up or reducing social and work activities because of your drinking habits
- Using alcohol in situations where it’s not safe, such as when driving or swimming
- Developing a tolerance to alcohol so you need more to feel its effects, or you feel a reduced effect from the same amount
Causes of alcohol use disorder
Genetic, psychological, social and environmental factors can all impact how drinking alcohol affects the body and behavior. For certain people, drinking has a different and stronger impact that can lead to alcohol use disorder.
Alcohol addiction can begin with excessive social drinking or consuming alcohol to “self-treat” anxiety, fear, or depression. Very often, alcohol abuse is linked to one or more mental health conditions.
No matter the cause, drinking too much alcohol over time may change the normal function of the areas of your brain associated with the experience of pleasure, judgment, and the ability to exercise control over your behavior. This may result in craving alcohol to try to restore good feelings or reduce negative ones.
effects of alcohol abuse
Withdrawal from long-term dependence may bring the uncontrollable shaking, spasms, panic, and hallucinations of DTs. If not treated professionally, people with DTs have a mortality rate of more than 10%, so detoxification from late-stage alcoholism should be attempted under the care of an experienced doctor and may require a brief inpatient stay at a hospital or treatment center.
causes of alcohol use disorder
Genetic, psychological, social and environmental factors can impact how drinking alcohol affects your body and behavior. Theories suggest that for certain people drinking has a different and stronger impact that can lead to alcohol use disorder.
Over time, drinking too much alcohol may change the normal function of the areas of your brain associated with the experience of pleasure, judgment, and the ability to exercise control over your behavior. This may result in craving alcohol to try to restore good feelings or reduce negative ones.
kinds of treatment for alcohol use disorder
For someone with a severe or long-term addiction, this may be needed immediately after discontinuing alcohol use. Alcohol is one of the most dangerous drugs to detox from. Unsupervised detox can be a medical emergency, resulting in withdrawal seizures, hallucinations, delirium tremens (DTs), and in some cases may result in death. For this reason, medically-supervised detox is always recommended as the first step in treatment.
Alcohol rehab programs typically involve individual counseling, group therapy, and medications to give a recovering alcoholic the skills needed to maintain sobriety. This step in treatment can be done inpatient, outpatient, or both. Most people with a severe alcohol disorder benefit from spending time in structured inpatient treatment before re-entering life.
Success in long-term sobriety requires an alcoholic to be highly. This step’s success requires an alcoholic to be self-driven. The key to maintenance is support, which often includes regular Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meetings and getting a sponsor. A “sponsor” is generally a person who has been sober for a long time who provides everyday support, accountability, and practical advice.
Because detoxification does not stop the craving for alcohol, recovery is often difficult to maintain. For a person in an early stage of recovery, cravings may be accompanied by longer-term withdrawal symptoms, including anxiety and poor sleep.
This is why it is vitally important to establish a supportive and healthy community of other recovering addicts, and to have access to mental health treatment.
long-term recovery from alcohol addiction
Long-term recovery from severe alcoholism is not a quick and easy process. It takes time, patience, willingness, and a desire for more from life.
Many people have gotten sober and stayed sober thanks to a caring treatment staff and supportive peers. Here at the Northern Arizona Center for Addiction we are experienced in helping men and women get their lives back on track through a well-structured, holistic, and research-based treatment model.
Recovering from alcohol addiction is much easier when you have people you can lean on for encouragement, comfort, and guidance. Without knowledge and support, it’s easy to fall back into old patterns when things get tough.
If you or someone you love is struggling with drinking and needs help, contact us. We are here to guide you through the admissions process and help answer any questions you might have about our treatment center or our treatment modalities.
Our treatment philosphy.
At Northern Arizona Center for Addiction, we believe that healing of the body, mind and spirit are all necessary to overcome substance abuse. We offer a wide range of rehab options in order to facilitate your personal recovery. Our clients can go through drug and alcohol rehabilitation in a safe, comfortable environment, with holistic plans customized to their needs.
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