Quality and Compassionate Treatment for Alcohol Abuse and Addiction
Alcohol abuse and addiction continue to claim more and more American lives each year. Between direct causes such as acute alcohol poisoning, liver failure and other heart disease and indirect causes like assault, drunk-driving and other types of reckless behavior, excessive drinking has lead to tens of thousands of deaths over the years. While there is a marked difference between alcohol abuse and addiction, it’s important to get quality treatment before the former transforms into the latter. Excessive drinking can quickly erode an individual’s physical and emotional health, as well as their quality of life and the relationships with their families.
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Identifying Alcohol Abuse and Addiction
In order to properly identify the presence of alcohol abuse and addiction in your life or the life of a loved one, it’s critical to understand the distinction between the two.
Alcohol Abuse – Excessive consumption of alcohol that, while not yet at the level of dependency, creates dysfunction and damage in a person’s life. Alcohol abuse is often exemplified through binge-drinking and consuming alcohol well beyond the suitable limit. Alcohol abusers may start drinking earlier or at more frequent intervals.
Alcohol Addiction – Alcohol addiction or alcoholism is characterized by a neurophysiological compulsion to keep drinking. Alcohol addiction sufferers become victims of their brain chemistry and are unable to stop drinking without comprehensive clinical intervention. The path to alcohol addiction often starts with prolonged and unaddressed alcohol abuse.
By the time alcoholism manifests, sufferers can experience a variety of moderate to severe withdrawal symptoms, including:
- Joint and Muscle Pain
- Intestinal Distress
- Restlessness and Irritability
- Sleep Disorder
- Increased Risk-taking Behavior in the Pursuit of Alcohol
- DUI, Incarceration or Other Legal Troubles Due to Alcohol
- Decline in Professional or Academic Performance
- Difference in Social and Behavioral Patterns
These withdrawal symptoms should be treated by an experienced and capable addiction care professional.
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Physical and Psychological Dangers
Excessive drinking causes significant long-term physical and psychological damage. Alcohol severely depresses the central nervous system and can damage major organs, including the liver and the heart. In addition to the immediate physical dangers, problem-drinking can also lead users to questionable and irresponsible decision-making that endangers their lives and the lives of others. The CDC reported 10,076 drunk-driving deaths in 2013, accounting for over one third of nationwide traffic fatalities.
Some of the more common long-term physical dangers of alcohol abuse include:
- Liver Disease (Cirrhosis, Hepatitis, Jaundice, Etc.)
- Cardiomyopathy (Heart Disease)
- Gastro-Intestinal Problems
- High Blood Pressure
- Migraine and Headache
- Tremors and Shaking
Alcohol abuse and addiction may also lead to serious lifestyle problems such as job loss, family estrangement, financial struggles, and deterioration of relationships. Psychological issues include depression, anxiety, paranoia, psychosis and other chronic conditions which may require ongoing psychiatric care.
Effective Alcohol Abuse and Addiction Treatment
Treatment for alcohol abuse and addiction incorporates detoxification and withdrawal management along with rehab and behavior modification. Because alcohol withdrawal can be very dangerous, medically supervised detox is usually recommended in all cases, but each user’s program should be tailored according to their care needs and alcohol abuse history. Treatment will invariably include some combination of the following:
- Group Therapy
- Individualized Counseling
- Withdrawal Management
- Behavior Modification
- Supplemental Therapies
- Aftercare and Ongoing Monitoring
Treatment should also focus on the root causes of alcohol addiction. An effective alcohol treatment program should give patients the opportunity to confront the issues that led to their alcohol abuse in a safe, healthy and supportive environment. Patients should also have the opportunity to work with therapists to develop techniques that allow them to deal with cravings in their day-to-day lives. Alcohol’s legal availability and dominant presence increase the risk of relapse among users compared to other drugs. It’s important that recovering alcohol abusers have the behavioral therapy that will allow them to avoid potentially dangerous situations.