Alcoholism is a chronic, and progressive disorder typified by the excessive and compulsive drinking of alcohol, which in turn results in physical or psychological dependence.
On Thursday 29th October 2017, President Trump declared the national health emergency over the Opioid crisis that has resulted in 64,000 deaths in 2016.
But there is another dangerous crisis that is responsible for even more deaths than opioids.
This is alcohol addiction and alcoholism.
It is worth noting that alcoholism is usually characterized by the inability to restrain from drinking. This, in turn, tends to affect work and social behavior, the neglect of eating essential nutrient-rich foods and even physical appearance.
Some unfortunate complications of severe alcoholism:
These include alcohol-related diseases like hepatitis or cirrhosis of the liver. There is also moderate to acute alcohol withdrawal symptoms which include insomnia, anxiety, confusions, alcoholic tremors and irritability.
Alcoholism Vs Alcohol Addiction.
If you abuse alcohol, you continue to drink even though you understand your drinking is causing problems.
Should you continue to misuse alcohol, it may result in alcohol dependency. Alcohol addiction can also be referred to as alcoholism. This is when you’re physically or emotionally (mentally) hooked to alcohol.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that alcohol was related to 88,000 deaths each year.
Alcohol abuse can lead to a variety of social and medical problems. These include crimes such as drink driving, physical abuse, sexual promiscuity and more. Alcoholic liver, alcoholism seizures, alcoholism hepatitis symptoms are some of the consequences of untreated symptoms of alcoholism.
So what is alcohol addiction?
Alcohol addiction is described by Mayo Clinic as the tendency to consume alcohol persistently in a pattern that results in lack of control of your drinking, thinking consistently about alcohol and drinking even after realizing that it is becoming problematic.
Other signs of Alcohol addiction:
They include alcohol withdrawal reactions when you don’t drink or suddenly stop yourself from drinking it.
What are the symptoms of Alcoholism and Alcohol Addiction?
The signs and symptoms of alcoholism and alcohol addiction can be anything from mild to very severe.
Here’s what you can feel if you are addicted to alcohol.
- You will not be able to limit the amount of alcohol you consume.
- You will realize that you need to cut down on your daily alcohol consumption or will make failed attempts to stop yourself.
- Most of your time will be divided between getting drunk, acquiring more or recovering from a session.
- You will have intensely strong cravings to drink alcohol.
- Your daily routine will be disrupted whether it’s at work, university or home. There will be a general decline in your motor skills will be apparent in everyday tasks.
- You will seek out alcohol even when you realize that it’s causing you problems in your life.
- You will slowly start to shun social life, reduce your work load and stop paying attention to your hobbies.
- Your body will develop stronger tolerance to alcohol and you will start to consume larger amounts of alcohol to feel its effects.
- When you are not drinking or spend more time without it, you feel nauseated, shakiness and sweating.
How do you treat alcoholism and alcohol addiction?
Alcohol addiction and alcoholism are very treatable. But the first step is acknowledging that you have a problem.
If you feel that you are drinking too much alcohol every day and it is leading to many problems in your life, it’s important that you talk to your doctor.
Other ways that you can treat alcohol addiction is by bringing in support from your friends and family. That’s important as one of the foremost restrictions to seeking treatment is denial.
Patients tend to feel that their drinking isn’t really the problem. They will listen to their closest relations like friends, family or someone they really respect. So if you know someone that has the signs of alcohol addiction, it is better to confront them and convince them that it’s time they should consider help.
So what are the treatment plans a patient can rely on?
Here are the ones that are recommended by care givers often:
Withdrawal and detox:
A patient is inducted into a detoxification program while their withdrawal reaction is being medicinally treated. Care givers usually resort to sedating medicines to tackle alcohol withdrawal symptoms.
The detoxification program is often a seven days program. To ensure optimal treatment, patients are treated at residential treatment centers where constant support is easily accessible.
Creating a treatment plan and teaching skills:
To help the patient, alcohol treatment specialists are brought in to help the patient suffering from alcohol addiction or alcoholism. They create a plan which includes setting goals, using numerous techniques for behavioral change, use of self-help books, patient counseling and offering follow-up treatment and care of the patient at the treatment center.
If drug addiction is also an issue for a patient, it is worth considering the variety of drug addiction treatment centers which adopt a more holistic approach to the treatment of addiction.
Patients are known to work better with their addiction when they are treated with psych counseling groups and or through individual sessions. Patient will use their families and friends sometimes as someone to talk to as well. This is often encouraged.
To help the patients, caregivers can also rely on oral medications like Antabuse which helps the patients by blocking an enzyme that the body uses to metabolize alcohol. With the enzyme gone, patients get unpleasant side effects causing them to stop desiring alcohol. Another medication that is often used is Campral that focuses on cravings but unlike the former, it doesn’t make you sick.
Some medications are also injected, foremost of which is Vivitrol (naltrexone) and is given once a month. An oral variation is available but for some patients, an injection works better as they tend to ignore doctor orders and like the “once in a month” treatment.
By joining support groups and enrolling in aftercare program, patients are able to easily manage their addiction. Support from empathethic and compassionate people helps them in managing their relapses, increase willpower to stop drinking and to focus on improving their life.
Treating underlying psychological problems:
Alcohol addiction and alcoholism are sometimes a result of various underlying psychological problems like depression, stress or other mental health conditions. A good psychotherapist can help the patient to treat these disorders.
Spirituality and religion
Sometimes people tend to use spirituality and religion to cope with alcohol abuse. Teachings in spirituality and religion help people addicted to alcohol to easily control their cravings and manage their condition. Caregivers also sometimes encourage their patients to look towards religion and spiritual beliefs for recovery.