Alcohol Addiction Symptoms and Treatment
Alcohol addiction is a condition in which an individual becomes mentally and physically dependent on alcohol. It is also known as alcoholism. Alcoholism can cause neurochemistry and brain changes, resulting in the loss of the ability to control your behavior. Addiction to alcohol results from multiple causes, including genetic, sex, psychological, environmental, and behavioral factors.
Alcoholism may manifest itself differently among different patients. While some addicts binge drink, others drink the whole day without pausing. Irrespective of how alcoholism shows itself, the fact remains that alcoholics lack the ability to stay without alcohol.
Symptoms of Alcoholism
Since alcohol is a widely accepted drink in many communities, it may be difficult to differentiate casual drinkers from real alcoholics. Many cultures associate alcohol with social functions, including celebrations. However, you can know that you are addicted to alcohol if you experience the following symptoms:
- Lack of hangovers despite frequent and excessive alcohol intake. When you drink frequently, your body develops tolerance to alcohol.
- Increased frequency and quantity of alcohol intake. Over time, your body becomes used to alcohol, leading to increased craving for more of it. Hence, you have to drink more frequently to satisfy your body’s need.
- Changes in social ties. When you become addicted to alcohol, you may not want to associate with sober people for fear of criticism and blame. As a result, you may tend associate with other alcoholics.
- Inappropriate drinking. This involves taking alcohol anywhere and at any time irrespective of who is watching you.
- Escaping your family responsibilities.
- Depression. You may tend to take alcohol to avoid feeling stressed. However, you will realize that alcohol has not solved your problems once you become sober. This worsens your stress, leading to depression.
- Being combative. This usually happens when you face criticism or correction from your family and friends.
- Failure to acknowledge that you have a problem. You may tend to turn down any help from your friends and relatives.
- You may face frequent alcoholism consequences, including frequent arrests and loss of a job.
- Inability to survive without alcohol. Your system needs alcohol throughout.
If addiction to alcohol is not treated early enough, it may lead to life threatening conditions. Possible complications that may result from alcoholism include heart and liver diseases. It can also cause dehydration, which impacts the normal functioning of your body. Other complications include:
- Weakened immune system
- Loss of sexual urge, which may affect your marriage life
- Increased vulnerability to cancer infection
- Loss of proper vision
Seeking medical treatment as soon as the symptoms of alcohol addiction begin to manifest is necessary in preventing complications associated with alcoholism. You can also endanger the lives of others if you are addicted to alcohol. For instance, drunk driving exposes passengers to deaths and serious injuries.
Treatments for Alcoholism
Since alcoholics may not acknowledge their problem and accept help, treating alcoholism can be a challenge. The success of the treatment depends on the desire of the addict to get sober. Forcing an addict to accept treatment may only complicate the treatment process. Some addicts may even turn wild when they hear of treatment. Hence, treatment calls for patience due to the challenges involved. Additionally, alcoholism treatment needs a life-time commitment on the part of the patient. Close monitoring may also be necessary since some patients may develop alcohol withdrawal syndrome, which may cause relapses.
Common treatments for alcoholism include:
This is one of the initial measures to cure alcoholism, and it can either be inpatient or outpatient depending on the seriousness of the condition. The duration of rehabilitation will depend on how quick you respond to the treatment. An outpatient rehabilitation program takes place while you are away from a rehabilitation center, and it involves getting support on a daily basis. An inpatient program, on the other hand, occurs while you are in the rehabilitation center and may last from a few months to years. The inpatient program helps you to effectively deal with the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal syndrome and other challenges during recovery.
This is a type of treatment in which you are counseled by a therapist. It seeks to help you understand your situation and accept help. Also, this therapy gives you an opportunity to learn healthy skills for coping with the challenges of alcoholism. During this treatment, you get to enhance your self-monitoring, reasoning, and behavior. This helps you to change and resume your normal lifestyle. Other benefits that you may derive from psychotherapy include:
- Improved communication skills
- Improved social ties or relationships
- Proper problem solving
To ensure better results, therapists apply various strategies when working with alcoholics. Some of the strategies include:
- Giving rewards to well-behaved patients
- Ensuring improved patient’s social support
- Involving patients in goal setting
Your doctor may prescribe a medication to accompany other alcoholism treatment methods, including therapy. Medicines help in relieving the physical and emotional symptoms of alcoholism. Examples of medicines used in the treatment of alcoholism include naltrexone, disulfiram, and acamprosate.
Naltrexone is an opioid antagonist, and it works by lessening your craving for alcohol. It also counters the good feeling you experience when you are drunk. To enhance the results of this medication, you need to take it according to your doctor’s instructions.
Disulfiram works by causing an unpleasant reaction with alcohol. The effectiveness of this medication also depends on your ability to follow your doctor’s instructions. Though effective, this medication is associated with notable side effects.
Acamprosate works by relieving the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal syndrome. For better results, doctors suggest pairing this medication with therapy or social support.
These are mutual-help groups that give alcoholics the platform to share their problems and give support to one another. You feel the sense of belonging when you join any of these groups. Examples of support groups that help in the treatment of alcoholism include:
- Women for Sobriety
- SMART Recovery
- Alcoholics Anonymous
While some support groups admit any alcoholic, others target specific demographics. Additionally, the groups may differ in terms of approach. While Alcoholics Anonymous apply 12-step modules, SMART Recovery apply behavioral approaches. Typically, these groups are flexible, and they offer free services.
Although many alcoholics give up when they suffer relapses, it is important to understand that alcohol addiction is not an irreversible disease. It can easily be treated if you accept that it is a problem that negatively impacts your life; thus, it needs treatment. Although the treatments discussed in this article work, your commitment to getting sober has a great impact on the effectiveness of these treatments. Plus, proper treatment of alcoholism may involve a combination of two or more treatment methods for better results.
Effects of Alcohol
Signs of Alcoholism
How to Stop Drinking Alcohol
How to Help an Alcoholic
Stop Drinking Alcohol Now
Stages of Alcoholism
Alcohol Withdrawal Treatment