It’s important to get the right facts about alcohol addiction. However, most people go through their lives without realizing dangers of this drug. That could even be where you are right now. It’s possible that you recognize that you drink too much, but you wouldn’t go so far as to call yourself an alcoholic.
On the other hand, you may recognize dangerous patterns within your drinking behaviors. The problem is that you just don’t know how to stop. Both scenarios are common, and regardless of what your situation is, there is help for you.
It all begins with learning as much as you can about alcohol abuse and alcoholism. This is critical because the more you know, the more you will see a need for a change in your life. Also, it’s important to learn about the different methods of recovery. Detox and rehab are very powerful when they are combined to fight this terrible disease.
It’s tempting to think of drinking as a way to relax and unwind, or to be more social. It gives you confidence and calms you down in stressful situations. Alcohol is a depressant drug, and it’s very easy to become addicted. Unfortunately, a lot of people don’t realize it.
If you’re an alcoholic, you need to know the facts. If you’re not sure if you’re addicted, it’s important to find out the truth about yourself. That’s the only way you can move forward and get help if you need it.
Drinking has gotten way out of control in the United States. In fact, according to The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, statistics tell us that:
Do these statistics surprise you? The fact is that alcohol misuse is much more common in our country than we realize. If you have a serious drinking problem, you may be included in the facts above. However, there are ways to change that.
Both the short-term effects and the long-term effects of alcohol use can be devastating. It’s important to recognize what happens in your body and your mind when you drink. Also, people who drink for many years may eventually develop fatal medical conditions.
These are issues that most people don’t think about until it’s too late. Stopping your alcohol use early on can potentially save you from experiencing many of the following effects.
If you’re like most people, you know that drinking may cause you to experience some immediate effects. You anticipate many of them, and some are even the reason why you drink alcohol in the first place. What you might not realize is the damage you could be doing, even in the short-term.
Some of the short-term effects of alcohol include:
If you drink in excess – even one time – there are additional risks involved. You may experience blackouts, depression and stupor. It’s possible that drinking too much can also lead to alcohol poisoning.
Failing to get help for your alcohol addiction can have some serious long-term effects on your body as well. These usually surface after some time has gone by, and they can include:
If you have been drinking for a long time, this is known as chronic alcoholism. You may feel like it’s too late for you to stop. Many people feel this way. We want you to know that it isn’t true. It’s never too late to stop drinking, although some of the long-term effects may not be reversible.
People who have been alcoholics for years rarely escape unscathed. It’s important to realize that you may eventually be diagnosed with one or more diseases as a result. Some can be treated, while others may develop into lifelong conditions. Let’s take a look at some of the risks of chronic heavy drinking.
This is a type of brain damage that can occur with chronic alcoholism. It is possible for the symptoms to improve with therapy. However, the damage of Wet Brain is often irreversible.
This condition is caused because of a thiamine or B1 deficiency. Alcohol interferes with the absorption of this vital vitamin. The onset of this condition is very sudden, and it’s not something that takes time to begin. It does occur in two different stages, and can be treated if caught early on.
Fatty liver is also called hepatic steatosis. This refers to the buildup of fat in the liver, and chronic alcoholism is one cause of it. It can be difficult to detect because some people may not show any symptoms. If it’s caught early enough, it can be treated and possibly even reversed.
Your doctor may suspect fatty liver disease if the organ seems enlarged during a physical exam. If the condition is allowed to progress, you may experience jaundice, confusion and a fluid-filled abdomen. You may also find that you bleed more easily.
Cirrhosis is another chronic liver condition. Alcohol is toxic to the cells in the liver. If they develop this condition, it can be fatal. When you have cirrhosis, it means that your liver is heavily scarred. Women appear to be more vulnerable to this disease than men are.
When the liver is scarred, it’s no longer able to perform the way that it should. This means that it can’t make protein, clean your blood, digest food and fight infection in the body. This can eventually lead to serious problems, including kidney failure, gallstones and high blood pressure. If too much scar tissue forms, you may need to think about having a liver transplant.
Your red blood cells are responsible for carrying oxygen in your body. When you drink too much, this results in the number of these cells to be very low. This is a condition known as anemia.
If you develop anemia, it may be difficult for you to function in your everyday life. You may be chronically fatigued and short of breath. You may get lightheaded when you stand up, and even faint periodically.
Anemia can be treated, fortunately. However, stopping your use of alcohol will be a required part of your treatment.
When you consume alcohol, your body converts it into acetaldehyde, which is a known carcinogen. This is what can potentially lead to cancer. If you also use tobacco, your risk of cancer increases even more.
There are several types of cancer that may develop in chronic alcoholics, and they include:
When you drink heavily, there is a greater chance of blood clots in the body. This can easily lead to you having a stroke or a heart attack. If you regularly binge drink, your risk of heart problems multiplies even more.
Excessive heavy drinking can also lead to cardiomyopathy. This is a possibly fatal condition. It means that your heart is weakened and eventually, it will fail. You may experience heart rhythm abnormalities that can lead to death if not treated immediately.
Quite frequently, people confuse alcohol abuse with addiction. The two are definitely not interchangeable, and it can help to understand the definition of abuse.
Alcohol abuse refers to drinking more than you should, and more frequently than you should. When you’re abusing this drug, it hasn’t turned into a need for you yet. However, that could happen at any given moment. Some examples of abuse might include having too many drinks with friends one time on a night out, or drinking alone when you’re feeling upset about something that happened to you that day at work.
In and of itself, abuse is something to be aware of, but it doesn’t necessarily always lead to addiction or alcoholism.
On the other hand, alcohol addiction always begins with abuse. When you’re addicted, you feel as though you have to have a drink (or several drinks) in order to feel normal. Drinking quickly becomes a part of your identity, even though your addiction might be something you keep carefully hidden away from those close to you.
It is possible for the line between alcohol abuse and addiction to become blurred for some people, so it can help to know what some of the signs of alcoholism are. They include:
If you’re exhibiting any of these symptoms, it’s definitely time to get professional help. If you’re uncertain, you may need to take other steps to get the answers to your questions. You may want to start by taking an alcohol addiction quiz.
Whether you are mixing alcohol with medications, or with illegal drugs, both are bad ideas. Many medicines have warnings on their labels regarding drinking, and they’re often ignored. The perception is that drinking is safe because it’s legal and so widely available. By now, we hope you can see how false this belief is.
Mixing alcohol with other substances can cause serious side effects, including:
There are other risks as well, such as heart problems, internal bleeding and problems with breathing.
Sometimes people will drink while using other substances because they want to enhance the euphoric feeling. This is a typical sign of addiction, and it can easily lead to a secondary addiction. In some cases, certain combinations may even be fatal. Some drugs that are commonly used alongside alcohol include:
For alcoholics, there really is no such thing as just quitting cold turkey. Attempting this method is likely to result in a quick relapse, which just contributes to the cycle of addiction. The best way to recover to a treatment facility for help.
There are two different types of addiction treatment you need. The first will deal with the physical aspect of your dependence on alcohol. The second will cover the psychological aspect of it. Both are necessary and both will give you the best chance at success.
Your alcoholism rehab will begin by going through the detoxification process. An alcohol detox program will help you by controlling your withdrawal symptoms. If you’re at risk for any complications, that risk will be significantly decreased. You’ll also find that your withdrawals will be much shorter in duration than if you were to quit on your own.
The physical aspect of your addiction is very powerful. It’s what causes you to crave alcohol and experience other symptoms when you aren’t drinking. It’s very important to get this under control. If you don’t, it will be harder for you to maintain long-term sobriety.
Stopping your use of alcohol abruptly on your own is never recommended. Doing so can result in serious withdrawal symptoms, and some of them may require immediate medical attention.
Some of the more common symptoms of alcohol withdrawal include:
You can also experience tremors, become disoriented or develop seizures when withdrawing from alcohol. When this occurs, it’s called delirium tremens, or the DTs. If DTs are left untreated, the condition can become fatal. It’s very important to get immediate medical help if you suspect you have developed delirium tremens.
Most people really need to go to through a period of detox in order to allow toxins to be purged from their bodies. This also gives their bodies a chance to adjust to the “new normal” of not drinking. Alcohol addiction treatment centers rely on detoxification as a way to prepare their patients for rehab because it lessens withdrawal symptoms and is a much safer way to quit drinking.
Alcohol is actually one of the drugs that requires medically-assisted detox. This means that you will likely be prescribed medications to help you with your recovery. It’s a form of detoxification called medication assisted treatment, or MAT.
There are a number of medications that can be prescribed for alcoholics who are facing withdrawals. You may be placed on drugs such as:
Medical detox has really progressed over the last few years. Today’s medications are much better, and carry less of an addiction risk. However, holistic treatment may also be combined with them. Improving your diet and increasing your physical activity enhances your overall health. This is only going to contribute to your success in recovery.
You may feel it necessary to attempt at at-home detox before committing to an inpatient detoxification program. However, we want to advise you against this. Any withdrawal vitamins, supplements or cleanses aren’t likely to be effective. In fact, they can put you at a greater risk for complications.
An at-home detox may sound like a good idea, but it’s very dangerous. You really need to be in a proper facility where you can get the care you need.
Once you have gone through the detox process, the next step is to go to an alcohol rehab facility. This is going to help you by addressing the mental side of your addiction.
You may not realize it, but there is a part of your brain that feels you need to drink. You may believe that you have to, and if you don’t, you won’t survive. So many alcoholics think that they are in complete control of their drinking, but this just isn’t true.
The right treatment program is going to tackle this belief. It can take some time for you to begin thinking clearly. Right now, you don’t have the coping skills that are necessary to stop consuming alcohol. However, once you receive the proper treatment, you will.
It’s best to opt for an inpatient rehab, in most cases. While outpatient addiction treatment can work for some, most people need a higher level of care. The only exception might be if you can’t commit to an inpatient facility and you choose an IOP. Intensive outpatient treatment programs are very good, and close to the level of care you’d receive in an inpatient center.
With inpatient treatment, you receive around-the-clock support. That’s something that most recovering alcoholics find that they need. You’ll always have someone to talk to, and you won’t be able to relapse. This is important because when you recover at home, it’s very easy to go back to drinking again.
About half of all alcoholics suffer from co-occurring disorders. These conditions are actually mental illnesses that usually cause the addiction to take place. In some cases, the co-occurring disorder is caused by the alcohol use. However, this is more rare.
If you suffer from a mental illness, it’s possible that you’re using it as a way to self-medicate. Alcohol has been known to help with some types of symptoms caused by anxiety and depression. However, it has no real therapeutic value, and those symptoms are likely to return before long.
If this applies to you, you’ll be receiving dual diagnosis treatment. This is a way of treating the mental health condition and the addiction at the same time. It puts everyone on the same page, and acknowledges the connection between the two. What you’re really doing is addressing the cause of the alcoholism, not just the drinking problem itself. This approach is going to benefit you in the long-term.
You will experience many different types of therapy when you go to alcohol rehab. You’ll be meeting with your therapist on a regular basis. It will be their job to diagnose you with a co-occurring disorder, if necessary, and then provide treatment.
You will also participate in group therapy, which has shown to have so many benefits for recovering alcoholics. You’ll have several different groups that you’ll meet with every day. You will give and get support from one another during those times.
You may also participate in family therapy, yoga, and many other forms of treatment. Your treatment plan will be unique and specific to your personal needs.
It can be difficult to come up with the money for treatment programs on your own. Some can run as high as several thousand dollars for both rehab and detox. This causes a lot of people to decide that getting professional help must not be for them. However, there are many ways that you can cover the costs of addiction treatment.
If you have health insurance, you don’t have anything to worry about. By law, your insurance company is required to provide you with addiction treatment benefits. This will include helping to pay for both alcohol detox and rehab.
If you don’t currently have health insurance, you may want to apply for a policy through HealthCare.gov. There, you can find information about what is offered in your state, and you can sign up online.
If you’re not able to get health insurance, you may want to take another approach. You may be able to finance your treatment on your own. It’s also possible to talk with your local Department of Social Services for information on how to fund rehab and detox. They may be able to point you in the right direction.
If you have concerns about a loved one who is battling alcoholism, you may be extremely worried and frustrated. Maybe you feel like it’s not something you can talk about with them. It’s possible that you think they may shut you out of their lives, or refuse to talk to you for a while.
Even though these concerns are valid, it’s important to remember the bigger issue. Addiction is a disease that needs to be addressed. You may be surprised that your loved one actually listens to you. It’s possible that they have been trying to think of a way to stop drinking, but they didn’t know where to turn. Try to stay positive and work up the courage to have this difficult discussion.
It’s best to talk to an alcoholic about going to detox and rehab when they’re sober. The best time to have this conversation is probably going to be first thing in the morning. Ask them to sit down with you for a few minutes because there’s something you need to talk to them about.
When you start, express to your family member that you love them. Tell them you’re only bringing the subject up because you’re so worried about them. Be prepared to show examples of their destructive behaviors. This might mean bringing up medical issues that you know are caused because of alcoholism. It might mean talking about bills they can’t pay because they’re spending their money on drinking. You need to be firm with what you say, but remember to be kind at the same time.
Once you’ve presented the information, ask them to get help. If possible, do some research before you talk. Find out about local rehab centers in your area, or talk with them about joining Alcoholics Anonymous. If you can, offer to go with them to meetings, or to be with them when they call for information. The more support you can provide, the more likely they are to get the help they need.
Sometimes it doesn’t matter how much you beg and plead, because your loved one refuses to get help. When this happens, it causes a lot of strain on you. You may feel compelled to enable the alcohol addiction just to keep your family member happy. This isn’t a good way for either of you to live.
If you can see that nothing is changing, and that your loved one doesn’t intend to get help, it’s time to act. You may need to start thinking about having an intervention.
You can find intervention services at many treatment facilities. These services provide you with the help and support of an interventionist who will guide the entire process. The best part is that many alcoholics will agree to get help once they’ve been through an intervention. Hopefully this will be the case for your loved one as well.
If you are an alcoholic, you don’t have to remain stuck in your addiction. So many people do because they don’t realize that there is a way out for them. They may continue drinking for years because they don’t see any other option. We want you to know that you do have choices, and recovering can be the one you make.
At Northpoint Recovery in Washington, we can help you. You don’t need to continue to live that way. Help is available for you to aid in lessening withdrawal symptoms and give you the knowledge and tools you need to recover. Regardless of how long you’ve been an alcoholic, the best time for you to stop drinking is right now.
Our facilities currently open for services:
Outpatient drug and alcohol rehab and addiction counseling located in Boise, Idaho.
Our National Medical Detox and Inpatient Addiction Facility.
Outpatient drug and alcohol rehab and addiction counseling located in Washington State.