Just One Recovery has rehabilitated many people struggling with alcohol addiction in Orange County, California. Alcohol addiction is a serious disorder that has far-reaching effects socially, economically, psychologically, and physically. It can lead to depression, isolation, domestic violence, and even death. If your life has become unmanageable due to alcohol addiction, contact us today for genuine and individualized care. We assess your condition and develop the best rehabilitation program for you. In addition, we offer support to the family as they recover from the pain that they may have suffered due to the addiction.
What Is Alcohol Addiction?
Alcohol use disorder, which is often called alcoholism or alcohol addiction, is a serious mental disorder manifested by the inability to control one’s drinking.
Alcohol is legal and has become part of many celebrations and activities. People drink both in formal and casual situations.
Some people can control the amount of alcohol they take and the frequency in which they take it. The problem comes in when you lose control over how much and how often you drink. Few notice the transition from a controlled to an uncontrolled drinker and will only realize their addiction when it has caused a lot of damage.
Others notice the addiction but live in denial and the thinking that they will snap out of it when they choose to. The truth is, alcohol addiction is dangerous. It affects your thinking, your temperament and your relationship with other people. Once you transition from being a controlled drinker to an addict, you cannot perform normal tasks without alcohol. Without it, you feel naked, exposed and anxious. You are unable to interact with people in social settings and have to rely on a drink to keep your nerves calm. Once you take the alcohol, you feel relieved for a while only to restart the cycle when the effects of the alcohol wear out.
Once you are sober, you are faced with the problems your drinking has caused: marital conflict, self-pity, hopelessness, depression and in some cases, legal problems like DUI charges.
How Does Alcohol Addiction Develop?
The development of alcohol addiction starts as a simple process through casual drinking. Through life challenges, your background, genetics, and environmental factors, the habit progresses from casual drinking to regular, then compulsive drinking.
Most people start drinking in high school or college as an occasional thing. Some may remain casual or occasional drinkers, but others develop into full-blown alcoholics. Those who transition into heavy drinking and alcohol dependence often have a gap they are trying to fill or a problem they are trying to suppress.
In most cases, people develop tolerance to alcohol, leading them to drink more to satisfy their thirst. Alcohol tolerance is, perhaps, the primary reason why people increase their consumption of alcohol. When you take alcohol, it is absorbed directly into the bloodstream. The effects of taking alcohol manifest themselves within a short time. Since alcohol is a depressant, it triggers the brain to produce inhibitors, which explains why you stagger or have memory problems. With continued drinking, the brain gets used to inhibitors levels, meaning you will need more alcohol to experience the same “high”. As you increase your alcohol consumption, you step deeper into dependence and addiction.
During the first stages, the person will experience short term effects of alcohol such as drowsiness, hangovers, short-term memory loss, impaired judgment, and risky behavior.
Soon, the person starts noticing issues with their life due to the consumption of alcohol. To deal with these issues, the person drinks even more and avoids their problems. They look for opportunities to drink and attend events where they can drink.
At this stage, the person will experience a few lasting effects like headaches and hangovers, and will most likely use more alcohol to elevate the symptoms. Individuals in the middle stages of alcohol addiction are often in denial of there being a problem with their drinking. They can still attend work, but their productivity is compromised.
When not taken care of, the alcoholism transitions into the chronic addiction stage. This stage is characterized by chaos, broken relationships, isolation, depression, and physical symptoms of alcohol dependence such as tremors and hallucinations.
Who Is at Risk of Alcohol Addiction?
Anybody has the risk of developing into an alcohol addict. However, some conditions increase the chances of becoming an addict. They include:
- Family Background: People who are born into families where one or both parents struggled with alcoholism are also likely to develop drinking problems in the future.
- Mental illness: People with mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety are more likely to depend on alcohol for its depressant effect.
- Peer Pressure: If your peers are drinking, you are likely to start drinking as well and adapt to their drinking habits.
- Early exposure to alcohol: People who grow up exposed to alcohol are likely to develop drinking problems.
- Self-esteem issues: People with low self-esteem may find themselves drinking to feel confident. Such issues pose a great risk of dependence on alcohol.
- Stress: Stressed out people are often more likely to turn to alcohol for consolation and may end up becoming addicts.
- Steady drinking: When you regularly drink for a long time, you are likely to develop an alcohol use disorder.
Signs and Symptoms of Alcohol Use Disorder
It is hard to determine whether someone is addicted to alcohol in a society where its consumption is common. Still, there are signs and symptoms you can look out for to detect the problem soon. Detecting the problem early allows the family and the individual to seek appropriate rehabilitative care to help them recover from their addiction.
Some of the signs that indicate alcohol addiction include:
- You spend a lot of time drinking or dealing with the after effects
- You start abandoning your responsibilities (educational, social, occupational, etc.) or have trouble meeting them
- You start drinking more alcohol to get the same feeling (you have become alcohol intolerant)
- You are always or mostly thinking about alcohol
- All your attempts to stop drinking fail
- You become violent after drinking
- You lose interest in things you previously enjoyed
- You have an uncontrollable urge to drink, and you tend to drink more or for longer than you intended
- You cannot stop drinking even if it causes you problems
- You become angry when people bring up your alcohol abuse
- You need a drink to sleep, relax and relate with people in a social setting
- You continue to drink even when caring for little children or are pregnant
- You experience withdrawal symptoms when you stay for long without alcohol
Health Problems Related To Alcohol Use Disorder
During the early stages of using alcohol, you will most likely experience mood boosts. Over time, too much alcohol consumption causes you to become sedated due to the depressant properties of alcohol. Alcohol interacts with the central nervous system and eventually alters the chemicals in the brain, resulting in alcohol dependence. You may also experience problems with memory, impaired decision making, and behavioral changes after consuming alcohol.
Due to the way alcohol interacts with your body, it could lead to the development of diseases or worsening of existing conditions. The most affected organs are usually the liver, heart, pancreas, and brain.
Conditions you are likely to develop due to alcohol addiction include:
- Constant fatigue
- Inability to speak well due to poor muscle coordination
- Short-term memory loss
- Liver diseases such as cirrhosis and hepatitis
- Gastrointestinal complications to damage to the pancreas
- High blood pressure
- Damaged heart muscles
- You have an increased risk for stroke and heart failure
- Dementia (dependence on alcohol is the second leading cause of dementia in the US)
- Alcohol increases the chances of complicating or developing diabetes type 2
- Disruptions in the menstrual cycle
- Erectile dysfunction
- Increased risks of congenital disabilities when a woman drinks during pregnancy
- Increased risk of developing cancers such as that of the mouth, colon, rectum, breast, prostate, and esophagus
- Alcohol use can worsen an existing mental illness or result in mental illness such as depression
- Alcohol poisoning
- The victim may fall into a coma
Psychological Effects Of Alcohol Addiction
Alcohol consumption affects the brain regardless of the amount consumed. When you are dependent on alcohol, the brain cannot do without alcohol. It keeps sending signals to your body alerting you about the need to take alcohol. Alcohol has a number of effects on you psychologically including:
- Unexplainable mood swings
- Outbursts of anger
- Suicidal thoughts and tendencies
Social Problems Associated With Alcohol Use Disorder
Alcohol use disorder presents a lot of social problems that not only affect the mind and behavior of the user but also people coming into contact with him or her. Also, abusing alcohol increases your chances of committing crimes such as driving under the influence of alcohol, which may see you face serious penalties. Some of the social problems arising from alcoholism include:
- Domestic violence
- Loss of employment
- Risky behavior such as drinking and driving which could lead to injury or even death
- Public disorder
- Marital conflict and divorce
- Child neglect
Alcoholism is not an individual ailment that affects the addict only; it is a disorder whose impact is felt even by those close to the victim. The problems associated with alcohol abuse affect even the future generations of the person with alcohol use disorder. The far-reaching effects of alcoholism manifest themselves in several ways. For instance, children who are born in a home where one or both parents struggled with alcohol addiction may also become dependent on alcohol in the future.
Therefore, it is the responsibility of family, friends, and people close to the person with alcohol dependence to help them in acquiring the right retreatment and rehabilitation services to help them control their alcohol use. There are various treatment options for people with alcohol abuse that the victim can choose from:
In detoxification, you are trying to rid your body off any toxins. During this time, you withdraw from taking alcohol. Typical detoxification treatment for alcoholism takes between two and seven days to complete. Detoxification is usually carried out in a controlled environment such as an inpatient treatment facility or a rehabilitation center.
Once you withdraw from taking alcohol, you may experience withdrawal symptoms such as shakes, confusion, convulsions, hallucinations, autonomic instability and in some cases, death. To prevent these withdrawal symptoms, you will be provided with sedating medication.
- Pharmaceutical Treatment
The Food and Drug Administration has approved a number of medicines that can be used to help in controlling alcohol abuse. These medications work by reducing the brain’s craving for alcohol and inducing nausea upon consumption of alcohol. Others reduce the discomfort associated with abstinence from alcohol
Some of these medications include Antabuse, Naltrexone, and Acamprosate. These medications are essential in preventing a relapse. Once you have completed the detoxification program, you can use the medication to reduce cravings and keep you away from alcohol.
- Alcoholism Support Groups
Support groups are groups of people with similar problems that come together to share their experiences, journeys, strengths, and hopes. By such sharing, they hope to help each other solve a common problem. Alcohol dependents can form support groups to share their problems related to alcohol, their triggers, hopes, and goals. Such groups enable the individual to gain courage in dealing with their problem as they realize that they are not the only ones fighting with addiction. Support groups also help in establishing and building accountability, not to mention that it is a networking opportunity.
Counseling involves talking things out with a professional counselor. During counseling sessions, the counselor assesses you past alcoholic behavior, your motivations for quitting and the steps you are taking to achieve this. Most rehabilitation facilities assign their patient a counselor. In most cases, a counselor may apply cognitive therapy during the sessions.
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Cognitive behavioral therapy focuses on changing behavior by changing thought patterns. Here, the therapist will seek to learn about the challenges, thoughts, and behavior in the present. During the therapy, you will become more aware of your thought patterns, develop a clear understanding of your problems and behavior, you learn the role of your past in present behavior, and you can interact with your thoughts on a more conscious level.
- Family Therapy
Family therapy includes members of the patient’s family. It is a group therapy treatment option during which members of the family try to support the addict as they heal from the relationships that were hurt by the addiction. Family therapy serves three major purposes:
- It allows the patient to receive direct support from family members
- It helps in healing broken relationships between the family and the addict
- It increases the chances that the person will remain in therapy
- Psychotherapy and Group Psychotherapy
Psychotherapy is a form of detoxing the mind. It allows the addict to talk freely about their problems to a listening and non-judgmental ear. It can be done individually or in groups. In a group setting, the psychotherapist brings together a number of addicts who talk about their problems with alcohol. This form of treatment aims at identifying the actual cause of alcoholism and the gap the individual was trying to fill by consuming alcohol.
An alcoholism treatment program works best where the addict recognizes the problems and puts up means to fix these issues. When the alcoholic is either in denial or does not think he or she has a drinking problem, people close to the person, their employer or a health official may bring the alcohol use disorder to their attention.
However, in most cases, an open confrontation will create a wall of defensiveness and thwart any attempts at seeking medical help for the individual. Therefore, it is always ideal to have a knowledgeable person counsel you on how to bring the matter to the attention of an addict.
Intervention programs alert the addict on how their actions are affecting the people around him or her, their employment as well as their physical and mental health. Showing support for the person is crucial in helping them feel loved rather than judged.
Ultimately, the decision to seek treatment lies with the alcoholic. You cannot force him or her into going through rehabilitation if he or she is not willing. To succeed in convincing the addict to seek treatment through a rehabilitation program, you need to:
- Plan for the intervention program
- Choose the right time to approach the person
- Show love and support
- Seek professional help
Alcohol addiction affects the alcoholic person and the society in which they live. If you are battling or you know someone who is battling with alcohol addiction in Orange County, call 714-538-8085 to talk to a Just One Recovery expert. We are dedicated to offering you the most quality rehabilitation process. While we don't promise it will be an easy journey, we promise to be there and support you to see you through your addiction. Don’t let alcohol addiction negatively affect your lives when you can make a bold step of talking to our rehab experts today!