Alcohol Addiction worldwide health and medical information
Regardless of how the addiction looks, someone typically has an alcohol addiction if they heavily rely on drinking and can't stay sober for an extended period of time. Being addicted to alcohol, sometimes called being an alcoholic, means that you have a physical dependency on alcohol. There are changes that happen in the brain of someone who drinks a lot of alcohol which makes them have physical withdrawals if they don't drink.
Alcohol addictionis a previous psychiatric diagnosis in which there is recurring harmful use of ethanol despite its negative consequences. There are two types of alcohol abuse, those who have anti-social and pleasure-seeking tendencies, and those who are anxiety-ridden people who are able to go without drinking for long periods of time but are unable to control themselves once they start. If someone close to you is displaying signs of alcohol addiction, it can be difficult to know what to do. You might feel worried about them, frustrated that they don't seem to want help or frightened for them or even by them.
Alcohol addiction, also known as alcoholism, is a disease that affects people of all walks of life. It's important to note that alcoholism is a real disease. It can cause changes to the brain, so a person with an alcohol addiction may not be able to control their actions. Alcohol addiction can show itself in a variety of ways. The severity of the disease, how often someone drinks, and the alcohol they consume varies from person to person. Some people drink heavily all day, while others binge drink and then stay sober for a while.
There is a fine line between the abuse of alcohol and alcohol addiction. Alcohol addiction is a primary condition characterised by the inability to stop using alcohol despite growing negative consequences. Uncontrollable cravings for alcohol, exceeding self-imposed limits, continued use despite physical, psychological, and social consequences, and an inability to stop drinking once one has started are all behaviours that signal addiction has developed. In addition, when someone is addicted to alcohol, tolerance and withdrawal may occur. This means that the user needs more and more alcohol to achieve the same effects, and the user may experience symptoms of withdrawal when not drinking. These attributes signal the development of a physical dependence on alcohol.
Alcohol dependence refers to a physical dependence on alcohol and is characterised by tolerance to alcohol and alcohol withdrawal syndrome. Alcohol withdrawal syndrome can be life-threatening and occurs when heavy drinkers stop drinking or drastically cut down their alcohol intake. Symptoms can range from mild anxiety and shakiness, to serious seizures and delirium tremens and can persist for up to a few weeks. The death rate of those who experience delirium tremens, which is a condition characterised by confusion, rapid heartbeat, and fever, is approximately 5%. For chronic heavy drinkers who are alcohol dependent, the withdrawal syndrome can be medically serious so care should be taken when these individuals decide to get help and stop drinking.
Recognizing alcoholism. There are various warning signs to help detect potential alcohol abuse. Also, the severity of alcohol abuse may play a role in the warning signs a person exhibits. For example, some people try to cover their alcohol abuse by drinking in private and isolating themselves from others. This makes it challenging for family members or friends to intervene and help their loved one. Mild alcohol abuse can be easily overlooked. However, what may appear as a minor issue can turn dangerous over time. These early warning signs should not be ignored. It can be tricky to spot the signs of alcoholism as alcoholics can be secretive about it and can become angry if confronted. However, if someone close to you is showing any of the following signs, it may be that they're suffering from alcoholism:
If left untreated, alcohol abuse can spiral out of control quickly. When alcohol abuse begins to negatively impact a person's life and causes harm, it is diagnosed as alcohol use disorder. Recognizing the warning signs of alcohol abuse and getting proper treatment can make a significant difference in someone's recovery process. While there is no exact formula to determining whether or not someone is an alcoholic, symptoms often co-occur. One symptom may snowball into another, fueling additional problems down the road. No matter how minor a drinking problem may seem, alcohol abuse symptoms should not be ignored.
The effects of too much alcohol on the body are devastating. Health consequences of heavy alcohol use include inflammation of the stomach, inflammation of the liver, bleeding in the stomach and esophagus, impotence, permanent nerve and brain damage (numbness or tingling sensations, imbalance, inability to coordinate movements, forgetfulness, blackouts, or problems with short-term memory), and inflammation of the pancreas. Long-term overuse of alcohol can also increase the risk and severity of pneumonia and tuberculosis, damage the heart, leading to heart failure, and cause cirrhosis of the liver, leading to liver failure.
Alcohol's effects on the brain can be felt quickly. Not only can drinking cause temporary complications such as memory loss and coordination, it can also lead to long-term side effects that are sometimes irreversible.
Prolonged and excessive alcohol use can interfere with how the brain functions, as well as how it's structured. Damage to different regions of the brain, especially the cerebellum, limbic system and cerebral cortex, can significantly impact the body's communication pathways. For example, the cerebellum handles your body's motor skills. When alcohol affects this area of the brain, you're more likely to experience a loss of balance, as well as memory and emotional response issues.
The heart is extremely vulnerable to the negative effects of alcohol consumption. Over time, heavy drinking can weaken the heart, impacting how oxygen and nutrients are delivered to other vital organs in your body. Excessive alcohol consumption can increase triglyceride levels – a type of fat in your blood. High levels of triglycerides contribute to the risk of developing dangerous health conditions such as heart disease and diabetes.
Some of the early cardiovascular effects, like high blood pressure and an irregular heartbeat, can lead to a host of problems down the road. Long-term consequences of excessive drinking may include cardiomyopathy, stroke and sudden cardiac death.
The pancreas helps regulate your body's insulin use and response to glucose. When your pancreas and liver aren't functioning properly, you run the risk of experiencing low blood sugar, or hypoglycemia. A damaged pancreas may also prevent the body from producing enough insulin to utilize sugar. This can lead to hyperglycemia, or too much sugar in the blood. If your body can't manage and balance your blood sugar levels, you may experience greater complications and side effects related to diabetes. It's important for people with diabetes or hypoglycemia to avoid excessive amounts of alcohol.
Heavy drinkers are at risk of harmful, potentially life-threatening liver problems. When you drink, your liver breaks down alcohol and removes it from your blood. However, too much alcohol in a short period of time can overwhelm the metabolism process and lead to fatty liver. Fatty liver is a chronic condition that involves the buildup of bad fats in the liver. Obesity is one of the biggest factors of fatty liver. It can also cause liver failure and type 2 diabetes. Other serious liver complications associated with prolonged and excessive alcohol consumption are alcoholic hepatitis, fibrosis and cirrhosis. While each of these conditions is treatable, they require a proper medical diagnosis and intensive treatment plan.
One of the easiest ways to understand alcohol's impact on your body is by understanding how it affects your central nervous system. Slurred speech is one of the first signs you've had too much to drink. Alcohol can reduce communication between your brain and your body. This makes coordination more difficult. You may have a hard time balancing. You should never drive after drinking. As alcohol causes more damage to your central nervous system, you may experience numbness and tingling sensations in your feet and hands. Drinking also makes it difficult for your brain to create long-term memories. It also reduces your ability to think clearly and make rational choices. Over time, frontal lobe damage can occur. This area of the brain is responsible for emotional control, short-term memory, and judgement, in addition to other vital roles. Chronic and severe alcohol abuse can also cause permanent brain damage. This can lead to Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome, a brain disorder that affects memory.
You may think drinking alcohol can lower your inhibitions and help you have more fun in bed. But the reality is quite different. Men who drink too much are more likely to experience erectile dysfunction. Heavy drinking can also prevent sex hormone production and lower your libido. Women who drink too much may stop menstruating. That puts them at a greater risk for infertility. Women who drink heavily during pregnancy have a higher risk of premature delivery, miscarriage, or stillbirth.
The pancreas is part of the digestive process and helps regulate your body's blood sugar levels. Drinking alcohol over many years can start to negatively impact your pancreas and cause lasting health complications. Unfortunately, the early stages of many pancreatic conditions are often unfelt and therefore, left untreated.
Long-term alcohol abuse can eventually cause the blood vessels around the pancreas to swell, leading to pancreatitis. This greatly increases your risk of developing pancreatic cancer – a type of cancer that spreads rapidly and is very dangerous. Symptoms of an acute pancreatic attack may include abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea, fast heart rate and fever. While medications and other treatment methods can help manage the effects of pancreatitis, it is very difficult to reverse the condition.
Alcohol-related problems — which result from drinking too much, too fast, or too often — are among the most significant public health issues in the United States. Many people struggle with controlling their drinking at some time in their lives. Millions adults have an alcohol use disorder and 1 in 10 children live in a home with a parent who has a drinking problem. The good news is that no matter how severe the problem may seem, most people with an alcohol use disorder can benefit from some form of treatment. Research shows that about one-third of people who are treated for alcohol problems have no further symptoms 1 year later. Many others substantially reduce their drinking and report fewer alcohol-related problems.
Remember to take care of yourself, too. The emotional impact of helping a loved one stay sober can take a toll. Seek help from a therapist or a counselor if you feel stressed or depressed. You can also participate in a program that's designed for the friends and family members of alcoholics.
Most people with alcohol problems do not decide to make a big change out of the blue or transform their drinking habits overnight. Recovery is usually a more gradual process. Overcoming an addiction to alcohol can be a long and bumpy road, and at times, it may even feel impossible. But it's not, if you're ready to stop drinking and willing to get the support you need, you can recover from alcoholism and alcohol abuse—no matter how heavy your drinking or how powerless you feel. And you don't have to wait until you hit rock bottom, you can make a change at any time.
Yes, but it's not simple. Because addiction is a chronic disease, people can't simply stop using alcohol for a few days and be cured. Most patients need long-term or repeated care to stop using completely and recover their lives.
Before starting the treatment process, a person must first recognize their condition and have a desire to quit drinking. Sometimes, an individual may acknowledge they have a drinking problem on their own. Other times, family members or friends may stage an alcohol intervention. This involves loved ones expressing their concerns about the person's excessive drinking patterns. An intervention also helps to start the discussion about treatment and support options that are available. Choosing to get help for alcoholism is one of the biggest decisions a person will make in their life. Before starting treatment, you should understand the various services each program offers. For instance, a comprehensive program focuses on the person as a whole, rather than just their alcohol use. Many comprehensive treatment programs employ several or all of these factors:
Detoxification is the initial step in treating alcoholism, and it can also be the most difficult. Within the first few days after you quit drinking, you may experience extremely uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms. Because of this, the alcohol detox stage should only be completed under professional medical care. Treatment professionals will also be able to provide you with medication to help ease the pain. This allows you to focus on getting better. After detox, you will be able to move forward with other forms of treatment and therapy.
An inpatient rehab facility is the most structured treatment environment for those overcoming alcoholism. Generally, these rehabs are geared toward treating the most severe forms of alcoholism and require individuals to remain on-site for the duration of the program – 30, 60 or 90 days. Treatment professionals provide around-the-clock care and will prepare you for life after rehab. This may include information on how to overcome triggers, the importance of sobriety maintenance programs and what to do in the event of a relapse.
Frequent meetings with an alcohol counselor are important for individuals to communicate and receive guidance during their recovery. Counseling opens a line of communication during the good times, as well as the difficult times. Your therapist will also be able to work with you on any underlying issues that may be triggering your drinking problem such as peers, family relationships, work or other circumstances. This will give you an opportunity to learn more about yourself, as well as how to keep your body healthy both inside and out.
In the United States, there are many government-issued services and resources that can help with alcoholism. One of the most common, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), serves as an information hub and treatment referral service. Additionally, more states are focusing on affordable treatment options to make sure anyone who is in need of treatment receives help. Unfortunately, with an increasing demand for alcoholism treatment services, many government-funded programs have wait lists and other requirements such as financial and medical need.
Although there is no magic pill that will cure alcoholism, there are medications approved by the Food and Drug Administration that are used to help people who have stopped drinking to remain sober. Currently, these medications are approved in the U.S. for the treatment of alcoholism:
Pharmaceutical treatments work best when the alcoholic has a sincere desire to quit. For those who are committed to remaining sober, medications can give them the extra help they need to avoid relapse. The addictive nature of many substances derives from the way they manipulate the brain's pleasure and reward centers. Though their precise mechanisms of action vary, many pharmacotherapeutics in the treatment of addiction help to restore balance to the very neurochemical processes that are disrupted by alcohol use.
Though in these instances official approval as addiction treatment medications has not been given, they serve as indicators of how researchers continue to look for new pharmaceutical options to add to the toolbox of addiction treatment. With ongoing investigation, the hope is that we will soon be able to augment our proven therapeutic methods and practices to make additional headway in the treatment of substance abuse.