Alcohol abuse takes many forms. What may have started as a way to relax, deal with emotional issues, or party with friends, could easily transform into an addiction. If you think you or a loved one is struggling with alcoholism, you are not alone, there are 17.6 million Americans who are in a similar situation to you. According to statistics from the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD). You may have to come to the realization that you or a loved one has an alcohol abuse problem.
There are a number of symptoms to look for when recognizing alcoholism. A person may have a few or all of the symptoms of substance abuse, but if these symptoms sound familiar to you, then you or a loved one are likely abusing alcohol. Some questions to ask:
- Have you tried cutting down or stopping your alcohol intake and failed?
- Do you often consume more than planned?
- Does your drinking cause trouble with friends and family?
- Is a lot of your day devoted to drinking or recovering from drinking?
- Do you find yourself in dangerous situations while drinking?
- Do you continue to drink despite feeling depressed or anxious?
- Does it take large amounts of alcohol to become drunk?
Alcohol abuse affects the body and the brain by clouding your decision making and depressing your body emotionally and physically. Alcohol makes you care less about what the outcome of your actions. It makes you more likely to engage in irresponsible sexual activity, slurred speech, and even violent behavior. If you look forward to finding how you or a loved one can defeat alcohol addiction, continue to read on. We will help guide you to recognize the symptoms and signs of alcoholism, and how to take back your life.
Levels of Alcoholism: Tolerance, Dependency, and Addiction
Many times, alcohol abuse is not an exact diagnosis. It’s not some kind of virus that gets into your body and identified through a medical test. That’s why it is important to know the difference between tolerance, dependence, and addiction.
Due to the nature of alcohol as a depressant, it affects bodily functions, such as speech, eyesight, and motor skills. The human body does a good job of adapting itself to altering circumstances. Unfortunately, that means the body can change to develop a tolerance to alcohol.
In other words, the more frequently a person drinks alcohol, the more that person’s body will adapt and feel fewer of alcohol’s effects Over time, the same amount of alcohol in the bloodstream has a lesser impact on that person’s bodily functions. As a result, that person has to drink more and more to get the same feeling of intoxication when he/she first started drinking.
Dependence and addiction are two different things. You can be dependent on alcohol and not have an addiction. However, if you are addicted, you are also likely dependent. Alcohol dependence relates to the increase in tolerance and withdrawal effects after you quit drinking. Alcohol dependence affects your ability to function with or without alcohol. Constantly drinking changes the equilibrium in the brain, and can permanently tilt the equilibrium so it doesn’t function without alcohol. The body gets used to functioning with a depressant slowing itself down, so you feel out of wack because your body is firing as if it’s inhibited. You may feel withdrawal symptoms if you don’t get a drink every day.
But how can you tell if you have a dependency to alcohol? Some symptoms of
- Tolerance to alcohol
- Withdrawal symptoms
- Drinking more or for longer periods than intended
- Failed attempts at cutting alcohol out of your life
- Lots of time spent drunk or recovering from drinking
- Loss of interest in former hobbies because of drinking
- Continual drinking despite knowing the effects
Alcohol abuse relates to any instance where a person misuses alcohol. People who abuse alcohol are not necessarily addicted, however. People who are addicted to alcohol often neglect their responsibilities so they can drink or recover from drinking. Alcoholics take dangerous risks like driving while under the influence of alcohol.
The Effects of Alcohol Use
Alcohol can be a sinister substance when abused. Despite its legality, the potentially harmful effects of alcohol cannot be understated. The depressant qualities of alcohol affect so many parts of your brain and body. It interferes with your coordination, reaction time, and decision-making.
- Poor concentration
- Slow reaction time
- Slower brain activity
- Poor vision
- Slurred speech
- Breathing difficulties
- Black Out (Passing out)
- Alcohol poisoning
- Coma and death
- Disrupts brain development in children and young adults
- Liver damage and cirrhosis
- Decreased brain mass
- Ulcers in stomach and intestine
- Increased blood pressure
- Decrease in male sperm production
- Fetal alcohol syndrome in unborn children
Know the Signs: Are You or Someone You Know Addicted to Alcohol?
Alcohol addiction is a serious, potentially life-threatening disease. It has the potential to destroy lives by tearing a family apart, causing job loss, and emotionally breaking a person down. Alcoholism is a disease that affects both the body and the mind.
If you think you’re addicted to alcohol, you’re not alone. One in 12 people abuses alcoholic beverages, according to the NCADD . The only way to help change that startling statistic is to treat alcoholics one-by-one. This can be your chance to quit alcohol addiction for good.
Road to Recovery: Choosing an Alcohol Rehab Treatment Center
If you think that you or someone you love needs help for alcohol abuse, you may not know where to look for alcohol rehab treatment. The rehab industry can be extremely difficult to navigate. There are countless rehab centers in America and many of them aren’t easily found in search engines or the phone book. The hardest part is finding one that will look out for your interests instead of for their bottom line. You also have to find one that will accept your insurance.
Before you start looking for treatment centers, it is important to know about the various rehab options and features.
When looking for treatment, it is important to identify what kind of treatment options are available:
Inpatient treatment is when a person goes to a rehab center for an extended amount of time. The most common stay lengths are 30 or 60 days. Patients live day and night under the constant care of experienced medical staff.
There are plenty of advantages to an inpatient treatment program and facility. For example, patients are constantly in the rehab center, so they are always working on their rehabilitation. That is valuable time they are not spending at home where they may be tempted to abuse alcohol. Treatment at an inpatient rehab center generally has more treatment options available than outpatient treatment rehab programs.
Outpatient treatment is a type of treatment you attend during the day or at night. You will spend a certain amount of time, generally, between three and eight hours a day going receiving The difference between inpatient and outpatient treatment plans is that patients still live at home during outpatient treatment.
Treatment Options for Alcohol Addiction
Going into alcohol treatment can be extremely stressful. You may not know what to look for in an alcohol treatment center and you might be scared of what you will experience. Rehab can be trying, but the rewards of a life free from alcohol are worth every step.
The medical staff will walk you through every step of recovery. In many alcohol treatment centers, they will use the 12-step program to reach sobriety. In others, they use a non-12-step program to reach recovery. Whichever program you decide to attend; the first step will be detoxification.
Detox is the process of removing alcohol from your system. It can take a week or two, and depends on how much and how long you have been abusing alcoholic beverages. During this time, you will likely experience withdrawal. Alcohol withdrawal is one of the most challenging aspects of recovery.
You are likely to experience anxiety, shakiness, mood swings, headache, and insomnia. Alcohol withdrawal can be fatal, so it is important that you are administered proper care from trained medical professionals.
During the alcohol detox process, many rehab centers have you stay at their facility for a week before you begin alcohol addiction treatment. This is true even if you are signed up for outpatient treatment. The medical staff will be experienced in treating detox patients, so you can take comfort in knowing that you will receive the best care.
The rehab treatment process is a very important aspect of treatment. This is when you will submit yourself to your addiction so you can fully see the scope of your addiction. You will learn strategies to help you stay sober. Among them are how to find new hobbies and how to manage your time so there is less time to engage in activities that might trigger a relapse. You will also learn about your triggers and what makes you want to drink. It’s important to find what your triggers are, because if a situation comes up that makes you want to drink, you will need a trick or plan to deal with them.
After alcohol rehab, you will undergo rehab aftercare. Rehab aftercare is extremely important for former and recovering alcoholics. You’re more likely to relapse without proper aftercare. Some common types of after care are:
- 12-Step Groups
- Support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA)
- One-on-one counseling with a psychologist or psychiatrist
- Dual diagnosis support if you have other mental health problems with your alcohol addiction
These types of aftercare can teach you the coping strategies you will need to stay sober when testing circumstances arise. It’s also important to connect and/or rebuild relationships with your loved ones. This way you can have a support system to help you stay on the path of sobriety.
Family, Friends, and Alcohol Abuse: How to Reach Sobriety Together
If you are looking to get a loved one into alcohol rehab, know that you are taking the first brave step in helping your loved one reach sobriety. Helping an alcoholic can be stressful, frustrating, and seemingly impossible, especially if that person’s addiction has harmed you in the past.
If you think you or someone you know might be abusing alcohol, look for the following symptoms:
- Swelling or redness in palms
- Frequent infections and skin sores
- Lowered sexual desire
- Flushed skin
- Numb or tingling feet and hands
- Intense cravings for alcohol
- Temporary blackouts
- Headache, anxiety, or insomnia when one isn’t drinking
- Increased risk taking while drinking
You may have already noticed other ways that alcoholism has negatively impacted your loved one. Their health may be deteriorated, and finances may become strained.
An intervention could be a beneficial way to sway your loved one off of alcohol. An intervention is a carefully planned process by an alcoholic’s friends and family to address an alcoholic’s addiction. It’s important to discuss the consequences of their addiction and ask if they will go to treatment. You want the abuser to accept that help is okay and that they have friends and family supporting them.
How to Pay for Alcohol Abuse Treatment?
If you’ve made it this far, you are likely convinced that you or a loved one needs alcohol abuse treatment. This is a brave, but rewarding step into a better future. One of the main concerns when finding treatment is the cost. And while rehab has the potential to be expensive, in reality, alcohol abuse treatment is manageable with the help of your insurance. Many insurance plans will cover a large percentage, if not all, of your alcohol abuse treatment at a variety of locations.
This means treatment is available for virtually everyone who is willing to receive it. If you or a loved one is worried about the cost, there are also many options available that are relatively cheap without insurance. Many addiction centers truly believe in helping people beat an addiction. With the help of your insurance, treatment is available for everyone.