Alcohol Addiction and Abuse

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What Is Alcohol Addiction?

Alcohol addiction is a chronic disease that includes both physical and psychological alcohol dependence. This means that a person who is addicted to alcohol needs it to function normally. Alcoholism and alcohol abuse refers to drinking patterns that can lead to serious health problems as well as social and relationship problems.

What Is Alcohol Abuse?

Alcohol abuse is a pattern of drinking that results in harm to one’s health, interpersonal relationships, and ability to work. Alcoholism is a more severe form of alcohol abuse in which a person develops a tolerance for alcohol and must consume increasingly larger amounts of alcohol to feel its effects.

Physical and Psychological Alcohol Dependence

Physical dependence occurs when a person’s body has adjusted to the presence of alcohol in the bloodstream and comes to rely on it for normal functioning. The body becomes used to having alcohol in its system, so it may experience withdrawal symptoms if you suddenly stop drinking.

Binge drinking or excessive alcohol consumption can cause or worsen a range of health problems, including liver disease, cardiovascular disease (e.g., stroke, heart attack), high blood pressure, brain damage, and even cancer.

Psychological dependence refers to an alcohol craving or an obsessive need to drink. People who are psychologically dependent on alcohol may be unable to cut down or stop drinking despite serious health consequences, trouble with the law, and other negative consequences related to their drinking such as mental health problems.

When alcohol addiction has taken over your life and stopped you from living your potential, it is time to reach out for professional intervention. Alcohol Use Disorder causes devastating effects on your physical, mental, and emotional health. The severity of alcohol dependence increases with time and with excessive drinking.

Because alcohol is legal and normalized in society, many people struggle to reach out for help.  Here is where our alcoholism rehab is most useful. Our approach is evidence-based and non-judgmental and our holistic approach to treating you as an individual can enable your long-term recovery.

Signs you Need Help with Alcohol Abuse Disorder

Alcohol addiction affects you in different ways. It is not always defined by how much you drink, but also by the way it interferes with your day-to-day life. When there are more negative consequences of excessive alcohol consumption than positive and you have to try to quit but have not been able to, these are signs that you need help. These are some of the behavioral symptoms of alcohol use disorder that you may recognize in yourself or someone close to you that requires alcohol treatment:

  • Drinking more units of alcohol or excessive alcohol or more frequently than you intend
  • Drinking first thing in the morning to get through with the day
  • Feeling sick or hungover often after drinking
  • Thinking about alcohol so much that it interferes with other obligations
  • Experiencing problems with work, school, or friends as a consequence of drinking
  • Changing your activities or plans so you can drink alcohol
  • Putting yourself in high risk or dangerous situations
  • Blackouts or memory problems after a drinking session
  • Experiencing alcohol withdrawal symptoms if you try to stop
  • Needing to drink more to achieve your desired state

Defining Alcohol

Alcohol is a chemical substance with a high potential for addiction. It is made through fermentation using yeast and sugars. It is a psychoactive substance with dependence-inducing properties. It is a central nervous system depressant that interferes with your brain’s communication pathways, affecting how your brain looks and the way it functions. Drinking alcohol affects the part of your brain that controls speech, memory, judgment, and balance. Over the long term, heavy drinking alters neurons and reduces their size. But, recovery of the grey matter in your brain can happen as quickly as one week after you stop drinking alcohol. The legal drinking age in the United States is 21 years or older, but there are laws against driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol.

Socio-economic factors

Alcohol abuse and alcoholism caused more than 140,000 deaths each year between 2015 and 2019 in the United States according to the report of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Excessive drinking has also been a cause of one in five deaths in adults of age 2o to 49 years. However, the CDC describes heavy drinking as a “drain on the US economy” and says it costs the local economy $249 billion. $179 billion is lost to productivity in the workplace, $13 billion is lost to collisions as a result of alcoholism and the criminal justice system loses $35 billion because of heavy drinking.

How alcohol addiction affects our body’s growth

Alcoholism during puberty lowers your levels of growth and sex hormones, affecting sexual maturation, height, muscle mass, and bone density. Alcohol consumption during pregnancy is responsible for fetal alcohol syndrome and the safe amount for consumption to avoid FAS is not known. Drinking during pregnancy contributes to hyperactivity and attention problems in children, as well as memory and learning deficits.

Alcohol’s effect on the brain

Serious brain disorders like Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome (WSK), which causes mental confusion and psychosis, are associated with alcoholism and alcohol abuse. Alcohol interferes with neurogenesis and may obstruct the genesis of new neurons. The latter is often associated with dementia.

This said, controlled, occasional drinking does not mean you have a problem. For additional information on what is concerning when it comes to drinking habits – read on.

The Dangers of Alcohol Addiction

Alcohol addiction is a serious condition that can have serious effects on your health and well-being. The dangers of alcohol addiction are numerous ranging from mild to severe. The most obvious danger of alcohol abuse is intoxication, which can lead to serious injuries or even death.

Excessive drinking or long-term alcohol use increases your risk of severe and chronic brain changes. You will also experience other alcohol problems, generally poor health, liver disease, and effect on your brain function.

Alcoholics may also experience uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms when they stop drinking, including seizures, hallucinations, and delirium tremens (DTs). DTs can be fatal if left untreated.

If you are struggling with alcohol abuse or addiction, it’s important that you seek alcohol treatment as soon as possible.

What Is the Difference between Alcohol Addiction and Abuse?

Both alcohol abuse and alcohol addiction cause harmful patterns of drinking and collectively they are referred to as alcohol use disorders (AUDs).

Alcohol abuse is a milder form of alcohol addiction. You might be binge drinking alcohol, doing things you regret, or drinking more than you intend. It causes you to develop a tolerance, which progresses to addiction. When you are addicted to alcohol use you are unable to control your consumption and you start craving alcohol despite it having adverse effects on your physical, mental and emotional health.

Alcohol addiction causes alcohol withdrawal symptoms when you reduce your intake or try to stop.

Alcoholism has both short-term and long-term health risks and consequences. Short-term effects are more pronounced and last for about one hour after you stop drinking. Long-term alcohol effects may take longer to develop, but they will last longer than short-term effects.

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How Alcohol Affect Us

There’s nothing wrong with having a drink or two. But when does drinking become drug abuse? We all have different sensitivities to alcohol and different types of alcoholic beverages have higher levels of alcohol than others. Our bodies eliminate or break down certain substances differently because of our genetic makeup. Factors like your gender, age, illness, diet, medical and non-medical drugs, and the amount of food in your stomach can affect how you respond to alcohol use. Excessive alcohol use leads to high blood alcohol levels and this causes intoxication because your body doesn’t get a chance to metabolize it.

Physiological effects

The World Health Organization says that alcohol is a leading cause of more than 200 diseases and injuries. In the short term, addiction to alcohol changes your coordination and reflexes and causes vision problems. Over the long-term alcoholism results in a greater physical dependency leading to a weakened immune system, impaired liver function, and digestive problems.

Heavy and chronic drinkers experience problems with circulation and lower bone density. The damage caused to your digestive system impairs your ability to absorb nutrients, leading to malnutrition. Alcohol addiction causes muscle spasms and atrophy. It puts you at an increased risk of developing different cancers such as breast cancer among females. Women are more vulnerable to nerve damage as a result of heavy drinking.

Psychological effects

In the short term, alcohol can lower stress levels and induce a temporary state of relaxation. It also causes a loss of inhibitions. Over the long term, it takes a toll on your mental health and is associated with various mental health issues such as mood swings, personality disorders, bipolar disorder, depression, and anxiety.

According to American Psychiatric Association, its depressive effect on your central nervous system causes memory, learning, and concentration problems as well as impaired impulse control. It also has a strong association with other mental health problems like violence, including suicide, homicide, sexual assault, and intimate partner violence.

Crime-related statistics

1.4 million violent offenses involve alcohol and almost four out of ten violent crimes in the US involve it. Alcohol was a factor in 37% of rapes and sexual assaults, 15% of robberies, 25% of simple assaults, and 27% of aggravated assaults. Alcohol abuse and alcoholism are more likely to play a role in violence where the attacker is known to the victim. 70% of violent incidents involving alcohol occur in the home, and 20% of these involved a weapon.

How Does Alcohol Addiction Affect My Family?

It’s extremely different for members of a family to watch someone they care about struggle with alcohol addiction. Alcoholism can destroy marriages and relationships. This substance abuse introduces compounded legal and medical problems as well as psychological trauma and distress into a household.

Parents become worried and anxious about teenagers who drink underage. Their stress can lead to communication breakdowns in the family, leading to marital problems and divorce. Parents may want to help but not know how to treat alcoholism, isolating the child or teen with the problem.

Children of parents having drinking problem experience neglect and abuse, as well as violence. They are more emotionally vulnerable and grow up to be four times more likely to develop alcohol dependencies themselves. They struggle developmentally and academically without the support of a stable home and reliable parents.

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Alcohol Overdose

Drinking too much alcohol or alcohol poisoning is a potentially life-threatening situation that can occur if you drink more or more quickly than your body can process. If you suspect someone has overdosed, it is a medical emergency and you must call 911 immediately.

In 2020 there were 12 000 opioid overdoses including alcohol recorded. Because alcohol is often omitted from death certificates, the number of deaths may be even higher. Seeing professional treatment for alcohol addiction can save your life. Overdose during relapse can occur because your tolerance has dropped.

About Our Alcohol Addiction Treatment Center

Our luxury rehab center has been developed to help you recover from alcohol addiction. No matter how much or how long you have been drinking, we will assist you to regain control of your life. Our commitment to your recovery is demonstrated by our clients’ high success rates and our dedicated team of experienced clinical professionals. We will create a tailored recovery program through a tailored and evidence-based treatment plan that prioritizes your life goals.

Why Choose United Recovery CA for Alcohol Addiction and Abuse Treatment?

We at United Recovery are completely dedicated to delivering the optimal addiction help for you and your loved ones. Our medical personnel is strict, but understanding - they will provide you with an in-depth assessment and treatment. Our therapists are highly experienced and will guide you, through behavioural and psychological therapies, towards a new lifestyle. With our counsellors accompanying you through your after-rehab months, throughout the aftercare period, you will be able to focus on re-establishing your position in the world, reactivating your Self and rebuilding your character.

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How does alcohol affect my brain?

Alcohol blocks the chemical signals between your neurons, which makes you intoxicated. This causes slurred speech, slow reflexes, impaired memory, and impulse control problems. It is a CNS depressant that affects your inhibitions and can cause temporary relaxation and euphoria.

How long does it take for alcohol to leave my body?

The body eliminates alcohol at different rates depending on a person’s age, gender, weight, and your overall health. Alcohol is processed at a constant rate by the liver without regard to meals or sleep. The liver can only process one drink per hour on average. This means if you have five or more drinks in two hours, it will take 10 hours for all five drinks to leave your system.

How does the government decide what is the adequate amount of alcohol to drink per week?

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), binge drinking is consuming four or more alcoholic drinks for women, or five or more alcoholic drinks for men, in two hours duration.

NIAAA defines heavy drinking as having an average consumption of more than 60 g of alcohol per day for men, and 40 g/day for women. The organization also says that if you drink beer or wine at least once a week but do not consume at least 12 standard drinks per week, you are considered a low-risk drinker by the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

What is too much alcohol when it comes to driving?

The legal limit for blood alcohol content (BAC) in the United States is 0.08 percent but it’s possible to be charged with driving under the influence (DUI) if your BAC is above 0.05%. The BAC calculation is based on a person’s weight, gender, and amount of alcohol consumed.

If you exceed this limit, you can be arrested for driving under the influence (DUI). Your license will be suspended and you may have to pay hefty fines and go through alcohol education classes as part of your sentence.

Why shouldn’t I mix alcohol with my prescription pills?

Alcohol and some prescription pills, such as painkillers and sedatives, are both depressants. This means that they slow down your brain and body. If you combine them together, the effects of each substance are intensified. Using alcohol with prescription medications can cause serious side effects such as:

  • Dizziness
  • Slurred speech
  • Memory loss
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Drowsiness or sleepiness

It’s best to avoid mixing alcohol with any medication unless your doctor tells you it’s okay to do so.

You can get better with the right support. Don’t hesitate to contact us now so that we can discuss the next steps.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

How does alcohol affect my brain?

Alcohol blocks the chemical signals between your neurons, which makes you intoxicated. This causes slurred speech, slow reflexes, impaired memory, and impulse control problems. It is a CNS depressant that affects your inhibitions and can cause temporary relaxation and euphoria.

How long does it take for alcohol to leave my body?

Alcohol has a half-life of four to five hours, depending on your metabolism. However, it takes around five half-lives for it to be eliminated completely, which is approximately 25 hours for all traces of it to be eliminated.

How does the government decide what is the adequate amount of alcohol to drink per week?

One unit of alcohol is defined as the amount that your body can process in one hour. The number of units in one drink is calculated based on the size of the drink and its alcohol content or strength. The recommended guideline is one standard drink per day for women and two for men. Weekly, it is not recommended for men or women to consume more than 14 units.

What is too much alcohol when it comes to driving?

When it comes to driving there are maximum blood alcohol levels (BAC) that are measured by law enforcement. In all states except Utah, the legal level for driving is 0.08%. The amount of alcohol in your blood depends on variables like how tired you are, the food you have eaten, and if you are on medication. You can calculate your BAC levels using a chart found here.

Why shouldn’t I mix alcohol with my prescription pills?

Mixing your prescription pills with alcohol can have harmful side effects including headaches, vomiting and nausea, drowsiness, and loss of coordination. It can also lead to more serious side effects, depending on the type of prescription you are on.

Do You Need Help?

You can get better with the right support. Don’t hesitate to contact us now so that we can discuss the next steps.