Alcoholism affects millions of families across the country, and can wreak havoc on the physical, emotional, and mental well-being of an individual. Because the disease of alcoholism has a stigma, people struggling with alcohol abuse may feel ashamed and try to keep their drinking a secret. This secretive behavior can lead to someone lying about alcohol or covering up their consequences, both of which are signs that a person is in denial.
Denial occurs when an individual refuses to acknowledge a painful truth about their life, especially if they feel embarrassed or afraid of the possible consequences. Alcoholic denial is a powerful emotional tool that protects a person from seeing the reality of their drinking — despite mounting evidence that they have a problem.
1. Making Excuses
For many people, alcohol is a socially acceptable way to celebrate events or handle the stress of daily life. Because alcohol is commonplace in American culture, it can be difficult to see when someone’s alcohol use has crossed the line into alcoholism. This can be the perfect breeding ground for a problem drinker to make excuses about their behaviors around alcohol.
Excuses for drinking can include statements or thoughts that include:
- “Anyone would drink if they had my problems.”
- “I’m just celebrating something good that happened.”
- “My family or significant other drinks, so I can too.”
- “You can’t trust people that don’t drink.”
Anyone struggling with an addiction has likely experienced what it’s like to justify unacceptable behavior. Someone can rationalize their choices in relation to alcohol, or use it to justify poor decisions made while drinking.
Examples of rationalization include:
- “I worked hard today, so I can drink tonight.”
- “I show up for my job and my family, so my drinking isn’t a big deal.”
- “I am not losing sleep or money, so I obviously don’t have a problem.”
- “I’m not in legal trouble or getting DUIs, so my alcohol use obviously isn’t an issue.”
- “I haven’t gotten in any trouble since my last DUI, so I must have this drinking thing beat.”
When a concerned friend or family member approaches someone about their drinking, they may get hit with responses that minimize the situation. By saying that drinking isn’t a big deal, the person in question is minimizing their alcohol use.
Minimizing could also take the form of lying about how much alcohol a person is consuming. By sneaking drinks or pouring large amounts of alcohol into an oversized cup and counting that as “one drink,” the individual minimizes their drinking.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention states that heavy alcohol use is consuming 15 drinks per week for men, and 8 drinks per week for women.
A standard drink refers to:
- 12 ounces of regular beer
- 8 ounces of malt liquor
- 5 ounces of wine
- 5 ounces of distilled spirits or liquor
Someone minimizing their drinking may “pre-game,” by having several drinks at home before they go out with friends. They may only order two drinks while at a bar or restaurant, making it seem like they are only drinking moderately.
There are many ways a person may blame something else for their drinking. If they are recently divorced or dealing with a breakup, an individual may blame their drinking on these problems. Blame can also show up when a person suffering from alcohol abuse blames their drinking on a specific person.
Someone using blame to justify excessive drinking may say things like:
- “Everyone in my family drinks, so it’s not my fault I drink a lot.”
- “If I hadn’t lost my job or relationship, I wouldn’t be turning to alcohol.”
- “If you would stop bothering me about it, I wouldn’t be so stressed out and have to drink.”
It’s human nature to compare and contrast ourselves with the people around us. This can become dangerous for a person with alcohol use disorder, as it allows individuals to justify their questionable drinking patterns.
Comparison can be either positive or negative. A person that compares positively may say, “I may drink a lot, but at least I can handle my alcohol, unlike some people.” Negative comparison may take the form of, “I don’t drink as much as that person — he’s a disaster.”
Additional examples of comparison include:
- “I’m not the homeless person under the bridge, so I must not have a drinking problem.”
- “I never had to go to alcohol rehab, therefore my drinking is normal.”
- “I don’t steal from my job/cheat on my spouse like alcoholics do, so I must be OK.”
Being defensive about alcohol use is a classic response used by someone suffering from alcohol addiction. This person may feel as long as they lash out and defend themselves, they’ll be able to keep drinking the way they want to.
Someone defending their drinking patterns may say things like:
- “Lay off, this is none of your business.”
- “I don’t have a problem except for you being in my business.”
- “It’s not as bad as you think, you’re just being overly sensitive.”
- “Everyone drinks, you’re making a big deal out of nothing.”
7. Suppressing And Pretending
It’s common for those experiencing alcohol addiction to suppress their true feelings. Their drinking may have stopped being fun, and now they use alcohol to hide from the reality of their life.
If a caring friend tries to discuss their alcohol usage, this person may cover up their fear of being found out by pretending they agree. They may nod in agreement and promise to get help, while hiding the truth that they don’t intend to do so.
Someone suppressing their feelings about alcohol may say or think things such as:
- “You’re right, I do need to take a look at this” (then never take action).
- “Perhaps I should cut back on my drinking” (then push the thought away).
- “Maybe I do have a problem with alcohol” (then minimize the real issue).
While hopelessness propels some individuals toward recovery, it can also be used an excuse to continue drinking excessively. People struggling with alcohol may think that the problem is too big or that they’re too far gone. Labeling oneself a “lost cause” is simply another form of denial that keeps suffering individuals in the cycle of addiction.
Feeling hopeless may cause a feeling of shame, which can drive someone back to drinking. Shame and guilt are powerful emotions that can be viewed as good reasons to continue hiding beneath the fog of alcohol.
9. It’s My Life
Another denial tactic is to push people away, by stating that it’s their choice to drink. By telling concerned friends that it’s none of their business, the individual struggling with alcohol abuse furthers their own deception. The truth is that addiction affects everyone around the person suffering, ranging from bosses to spouses and children.
When someone is using this denial tactic, they may say or think statements like:
- “Drinking is the answer to my problems, not my actual problem.”
- “I’m over 21, it’s my legal right to drink.”
- “I’m not hurting anyone but myself.”
- “I could stop if I really wanted to.”
Seeking Treatment For Alcohol Abuse And Addiction
Alcoholism is a progressive, incurable disease that can have negative emotional and social effects on someone’s life. More than 15 million American adults are suffering from alcohol use disorder — if you or someone you love is struggling with alcohol dependence, there is hope available in the form of alcohol rehab treatment.
Alcohol rehab programs can take several different approaches. In inpatient treatment programs, individuals are provided a stable residential environment where they can get honest about their alcohol use. Partial hospitalization programs are offered in day-long sessions, allowing individuals to continue work or family commitments, and outpatient programs are offered in half-day segments.
Many of these alcohol rehab programs will include medication-assisted treatment, which can reduce cravings and lower the chance of relapse for those who have previously tried to stop drinking and were unsuccessful.
To learn more about excuses for drinking, alcoholic denial, and treatment options near you, contact one of our specialists today.
Celexa is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI). SSRIs are one of the most commonly prescribed types of antidepressants, but they can often include uncomfortable side effects. Mixing Celexa and alcohol can not only increase the severity of these side effects, but can also result in other health complications.
More than 43 million Americans suffer from mental health concerns, including several forms of depression. Treatment and medications such as Celexa (citalopram) are often prescribed to help those struggling with depression.
What Is Celexa (Citalopram)?
Celexa is a brand name for the antidepressant drug, citalopram. Because it is an SSRI, Celexa works to increase levels of serotonin in the brain, a chemical that promotes a sense of mental balance.
Doctors may prescribe Celexa to treat mild to moderate depression. When an individual starts a new medication like Celexa, it can take up to four weeks to notice a difference in mood.
Be patient while your body adjusts to its new medication, and do not stop taking Celexa without first speaking to your doctor. Even if you don’t think the medication is working, stopping use suddenly can lead to withdrawal symptoms.
Some of the withdrawal symptoms associated with Celexa include:
- trouble sleeping
Can You Mix Celexa And Alcohol?
Any time someone is taking a medication, they are subject to a range of potential side effects. Alcohol has certain side effects of its own, and drinking alcohol can further intensify the side effects of citalopram.
Alcohol is a depressant, and taking it in combination with other powerful drugs like Celexa can have adverse effects on your health. The FDA recommends avoiding alcohol while on Celexa.
Some of the hazards of taking Celexa with alcohol include:
- impaired judgment
- feeling dazed, lethargic
- increased risk of overdose
Long-Term Effects Of Mixing Alcohol And Celexa
Alcohol can have strong effects on one’s physical and mental health. When alcohol is combined with another drug, these negative effects have a higher chance of developing. Mixing Celexa and alcohol increases the chance and severity of the side effects of both substances.
Some of the long-term effects of mixing Celexa with alcohol include:
- decreased effectiveness of Celexa
- increased risk of becoming physically dependent on alcohol
- higher chance of developing an addiction to alcohol
- increased risk of overdose, coma, and death
Many people may not realize that even small amounts of alcohol mixed with Celexa can cause an adverse reaction. If you are prescribed Celexa, make sure to talk with your doctor about any questions you may have regarding alcohol use.
It’s important to prioritize your mental health. If your doctor has prescribed Celexa, consider taking a break from alcohol in order to treat your depression properly with medication.
Medically Supervised Detox Programs For Alcohol Abuse
Combining alcohol with any medication can result in severe health risks, and mixing alcohol with antidepressants like Celexa can be a warning sign of potential alcohol abuse. More than 18 percent of the U.S. adult population has experienced mental illness, and 7.9 million of these individuals also struggle with substance abuse.
Alcohol detox programs, combined with innovative, dual-diagnosis treatment, can be a life-saving option for those suffering from depression and alcohol abuse. When someone regularly ingests large amounts of alcohol, their body becomes dependent on having that substance in order to properly perform. If an alcohol-dependent individual suddenly quits drinking, it can propel them into life-threatening alcohol withdrawal.
Someone withdrawing from alcohol will likely experience symptoms such as:
- clouded thinking
- compromised judgment
- poor appetite
- mood swings
- trembling hands
- rapid heartbeat
Medical detox programs exist in order to monitor and safely guide patients through the withdrawal process. These stabilizing environments provide support, education, and medication-assisted treatment to help patients in withdrawal from alcohol successfully detox.
Treatment For Alcohol Abuse And Addiction
Detox is the first step, but it is not addiction treatment—those who simply detox and do not attend treatment may return to drinking. Fortunately, there are multiple approaches to addiction treatment, allowing individuals to select the best fit.
Some of the different types of alcohol rehab programs include:
- Inpatient care: With these residential-style programs, patients are given an opportunity to fully immerse themselves in the recovery process. In highly supervised inpatient facilities, patients participate in various therapeutic activities, such as individual counseling, wellness groups, and medication-assisted treatment. Inpatient addiction treatment facilities may also provide life skills education, including parenting classes, faith-based recovery approaches, and financial wellness courses.
- Partial hospitalization programs (PHPs): PHPs can be an excellent fit for those who are unable to make the time commitment to inpatient care. Typically offered five days per week, PHPs are often called “day treatment,” and meet for up to six hours per day. Individual, couple, and family counseling is often provided, along with an emphasis on group therapy. PHPs may also host Twelve-Step support groups, a series of speakers, and job readiness curriculum for additional support.
- Intensive outpatient treatment: Outpatient care is the most flexible level of treatment, usually offered several days per week, in half-day sessions. Intensive outpatient treatment is scheduled to accommodate those with families, or full-time professional commitments. Because the schedule for outpatient care is not as regimented as other forms of treatment, these programs are usually recommended for those who have already been through inpatient treatment, or who have a strong recovery network of support.
Although mental health disorders and alcohol addiction affect millions of American families, there are affordable, personalized treatment options available.
To learn more about mixing Celexa and alcohol, or for questions regarding treatment for alcohol addiction, reach out to us today.
It is a well-known fact that alcohol dependence disorders cause significant damage to the body. New studies at the University of Eastern Finland show that those with alcohol dependence show significant changes in brain tissue. Some of the characteristics in brain change are shared between those suffering from anxiety-prone (type 1) and impulsive (type two) alcoholism.
What Are The Types Of Alcoholism?
Medical professionals categorize alcoholism by two types. Type 1 is considered to be less dependent and applies to those who commonly start drinking in response to stress or other outside circumstances. Men and women are equally susceptible and the condition is considered less severe than type 2. Impulsive (type 2) alcoholism applies to those who tend to drink heavily before the age of 25 and often have criminal history or aggression. Men are overwhelmingly afflicted with type 2 alcoholism and the condition is considered to be more severe. In addition:
- Type 1 alcohol addiction sufferers tend to feel anxious, shy, sentimental, emotional, and reflective. Type 1 alcoholism can be identified by slower anger escalation.
- In contrast, type 2 alcoholism is identified by more impulsive behavior, quick-temper, and easy excitement. Type 2 sufferers also tend to feel less guilt, fear, and loss of control over drinking.
- Alcohol dependence tends to develop quickly in type 1 due to the positive reinforcement from lessened anxiety.
- Type 2 alcoholism often results in drug abuse in conjunction with alcohol abuse.
Approximately 50-60 percent of the risk for alcoholism is based on genetics. Twin and adoption studies have been conducted to confirm the major risk factors. Identical twins, for instance, have greater likelihood of accordance than that of fraternal twins. Strong correlations between fathers and sons have also been observed in studies. In addition, the stress-relieving qualities of alcohol are significantly amplified for sons of fathers who have suffered from type 2 alcoholism.
Brain Tissue Similarities In Type 1 And Type 2 Alcoholism
One of the most prominent similarities between types 1 and two alcoholism is the increased level of dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) in the brain; in addition, decreased levels of serotonin transporters in posterior insula and posterior singulate cortex. These regions work in areas of the brain that are associated with emotion and social cognitive processes. This may explain the prominence of social anxiety observed in many cases of type 1 and 2 alcoholism.
Dehydroepiandrosterone And Alcoholism
DHEA is a steroidal endogenous hormone that is produced in the human adrenal glands, gonads, and the brain. It functions as a metabolic intermediate in biosynthesis of the androgen and estrogen sex steroids. DHEA is also responsible for binding to nuclear and cell surface receptors and acting as a neurosteroid. In addition, high DHEA levels can cause aggressiveness, irritability, trouble sleeping, and hormonal imbalance in women.
It is believed that DHEA is also partly responsible for alcohol tolerance, which is developed over time from long-term use. When alcohol tolerance is raised, alcohol consumption loses its effectiveness and lessens the pleasure of drinking.
Brain Tissue Differences
It has been found that brain tissue changes in those with type 2 alcoholism has increased levels of AMPA receptors. The AMPA receptor is responsible for mediating fast synaptic transmission in the central nervous system. AMPA receptors also play a role in learning and regulation. This is thought to contribute to the impulsive behavior observed in cases of type 2 alcoholism. In contrast, Type 2 alcoholism appears to affect tissues in the endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS is responsible for helping to regulate appetite, pain sensation, mood, and memory. The ECS also mediates the psychoactive effects of marijuana and stress response.
What Do These Similarities And Differences Mean?
According to Dr. Olli Kärkkäinen, “These findings enhance our understanding of changes in the brain that make people prone to alcoholism and that are caused by long-term use. Such information is useful for developing new drug therapies for alcoholism, and for targeting existing treatments at patients who will benefit the most.” It is found that 10-15 percent of the population in Western countries are alcohol dependent. By observing the brain tissue of those with type 1 and 2 alcoholism, researchers are better equipped to help treat the conditions more effectively.
We Can Help
If you or a loved one struggles with alcoholism, the caring staff at AlcoholTreatment.net is here to help. We can guide you through the recovery process, offer resources for loved ones who suffer alongside, and provide you with options for treatment that meets your needs. Contact us today for the support and understanding you need.
After dealing with the stifling symptoms of addiction and realizing how burdening it is on your life, you’ve decided to get treatment. However, you may have heard that relapse is possible, even after a rehabilitation program has been completed.
Learning how to manage cravings during the recovery process is going to be crucial to your success in the long haul. Therefore, what are some strategies that have proven to be successful with others?
First thing’s first: Don’t get discouraged when you experience the desire to drink again. The overuse of alcohol, just like the overuse of any drug, causes the brain to send impulses that trigger a feeling of desire for the drug in the person who is addicted. Although the feeling is uncomfortable, it is normal.
Sometimes people who experience urges to drink feel weak, but that is far from true. Everyone who goes through addiction and addiction treatment has to deal with cravings.
A great recovery starts with you knowing that you are not alone in this process, and that you have the strength to conquer the addiction.
Know What Triggers You
Unfortunately, there is not a cookie-cutter, one-size-fits-all approach to addiction treatment and recovery. Alcoholism and the triggers that go along with it, is more complicated than that.
In order to shut down the cravings that you experience, you must first begin the process of being self-aware. Knowing what triggers affect you and make you want to drink is crucial. Common triggers for people are:
- Being around certain people – Oftentimes it’s the people who forgive, allow, or instigate the start of your negative behaviors that cause you to fall into a downward spiral. Instead, surround yourself with people who support your recovery and do not tolerate drinking.
- Specific environments – Maybe you’ve gotten drunk many times at the same bar? This would be a place you should avoid.
- Money – If receiving money makes you think of buying your favorite alcohol, you may want a close friend or family member to help you delegate funds toward more productive causes.
- Emotions – Sometimes people drink when they feel down, or even when they have cause to celebrate. Knowing that a craving might hit because of an emotion you feel is a good way to nip a trigger in the bud.
Detail Your Craving
The more in-tune with yourself you are, the more successful you will be at denying your cravings. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, cravings are often experienced, and therefore, explained in different ways:
- Somatic – heart racing, feeling in pit of stomach, smells, etc.
- Cognitive – can’t stop thinking about it, nagging thoughts, etc.
- Affective – bored, nervous, etc.
Which of these explanations do you relate to? Being aware of how your mind and body react to certain feelings, thoughts, or surroundings can help you recognize a desire to drink before it gets out of hand.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse recommends using the following steps to avoid drinking:
This process involves first being more self aware so that specific triggers can be avoided completely. Then, the person recovering from alcoholism can cope with the craving.
How To Cope
Recovery is termed such because addiction is a lasting disease. A person who has accomplished alcohol rehabilitation then has a life ahead, in which coping mechanisms will need to be implemented.
Here are some ways to cope with a craving:
- Distraction – finding another activity to do or something else to think about
- Remember negative consequences – reflect on the negative consequences that alcoholism brought to your life
- Self-talk – Speak to yourself positively. Give good reminders, such as, “I can do this.” or “No, I’m not going to go to the liquor store. I’m stronger than that, and I have better things to do.”
- Talk to someone else – Being accountable to another person can greatly help you cope with a craving. A trustworthy friend can talk you down and help you stop the urge to drink.
Get A Support System
Whether you have family or friends that will help support your recovery process, or whether you designate time to seeing a counselor or therapist, having people around you who care is a nice cushion.
Although many of us like to be independent, it is easier to get through our most difficult problems with a person by our side. Know that you are not in this alone, and you do not have to recover alone.
Contact Us For Help
Experiencing rehabilitation, getting clean, and learning strategies to deal with the cravings of alcoholism can give you or a friend a new chance at life. Although the desire to drink might seem strong, your well-being is not worth jeopardizing with one more drop of alcohol.
Experts are available to help by offering quality, effective treatment for individuals struggling with addiction. Contact us here at AlcoholTreatment.net today to get your life back on track.
I dread the day when one of my kids asks, “Is marijuana safer than alcohol?” Because the truth is no drug is truly “safe.” And yet, as far as harm caused, can one drug be safer than another? Certainly caffeine causes less harm than heroin, and yeah, you’re less likely to murder someone while using marijuana than smoking crack, but what do we mean by safer?
Another issue is that drugs affect people both similarly, and quite differently. Someone with a genetic predisposition toward alcohol addiction, though they may feel similar effects as their friend without this genetic predisposition, is at greater risk of long-term harm from alcohol. Similarly, someone seeking marijuana in a state where the drug is not legal, may face dangers in obtaining the drug, whereas alcohol is a legal and accessible drug.
Further consideration is the quantity used. If using equal amounts of marijuana or alcohol, what effects may be felt, and are there any immediate health risks or risk of harm to yourself or others?
In order to consider the question on the safety of one drug over another, we must consider a myriad of factors, including drug interactions, and even mood disorders that can alter the effects of the drugs.
Which is safer? Consider:
- What is the addiction risk for either drug?
- What are the short-term adverse health effects?
- What are the long-term adverse health effects?
- Do any pre-existing conditions exist that would exacerbate side effects?
- Are there any prescribed medications that could exacerbate side effects?
- Which drugs are more likely to cause aggression?
- Which drugs are more likely to increase risk of accidental death?
- How much of the drug must be used in order to increase these risks?
Addiction Risks For Marijuana And Alcohol
Marijuana today isn’t the stuff of the previous generation. The sought-after psychoactive compound found in marijuana, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), is now available in significantly higher concentrations than it was 20 years ago. And it may be smoked, or used in baked goods to increase effect. Others use hash oil, wax, or shatter, extracts of marijuana, containing 15 percent to 85 percent pure THC. Obviously, addiction risk depends on how much THC is being ingested.
Of those smoking marijuana, approximately 9 percent become addicted to the substance. This number climbs with THC potency. Unfortunately, for those trying to determine whether smoking marijuana is safer than consuming alcohol, the genetic factor can be problematic.
Researchers have found that the same genetic pairings increasing a person’s risk of addiction to alcohol, is the same as those pairings associated with addiction to marijuana.
More than 7 percent of those who have used alcohol in the last year will become addicted to the substance. While that number seems smaller in comparison, it represents a participant population far larger than those using marijuana. However, these numbers, close as they are when compared to use, indicate that the shared genetic links to addiction are, indeed, similar between alcohol and marijuana. Does one emerge safer in the end? Not if you have the genes for addiction.
Short-term Health Risks Associated With Use Of Marijuana And Alcohol
Short-term risks of using either alcohol or marijuana are similar. Distortion of reality, loss of coordination and fine motor control, slowed reaction time, and drowsiness. Someone who consumes too much alcohol may experience additional symptoms including vomiting, loss of consciousness, and memory loss, though someone ingesting large amounts of THC may experience paranoia or anxiety, and psychotic episodes.
Long-term Health Risks Associated With Use Of Marijuana And Alcohol
Both marijuana and alcohol share some common long-term side effects of use, including reduced immunity, reduced cognitive functioning, memory loss, sexual dysfunction, apathy, mood changes, brain damage, and increased cancer risk. While marijuana affects the lungs, alcohol targets the liver. Alcohol carries a higher risk of death due to alcohol poisoning, liver disease, and cancer, over marijuana.
Other Risks Of Using Either Marijuana Or Alcohol
Really, some of the side effects from use of marijuana or alcohol come not from the direct physiological impact of the substances, but from changes in behaviors associated with use of the drugs. Someone using alcohol is far more likely to get into a fight, die in a car accident, or die from overdose, than someone using marijuana.
However, the myth that those who use marijuana are impervious to harm is shattered by similar risk-taking behaviors. Though the numbers are lower, someone using marijuana who gets behind the wheel of a car, is also a threat to themselves and others. In either case, risk-taking behaviors can lead to any number of unintended consequence including sexually transmitted diseases, pregnancy, assault, accidents, and death due to drug interactions, if the person is taking prescribed medicines, while using either marijuana or alcohol.
For those with co-occurring mental disorders, the risk of addiction, exacerbation of symptoms associated with the disorder, as well as suicidal tendencies increase.
Safety Is Relative
When it comes to looking at using one drug over another, the only sure thing that emerges is that safety is relative. How a person obtains a drug, where they choose to use the drug, and with whom, which activities they engage in following use of the drug, how long and at which quantities they use the drug, pre-existing medical conditions and medications, genetic predisposition toward addiction, and more all play a part in either increasing or decreasing safety of one drug over another. The fact is, no drug is truly safe. And the only safe option is to refrain from using at all.
If You Are Suffering From An Addiction To Drugs Or Alcohol, Help Is Here
AlcoholTreatment.net is an online portal for the professional support and evidence-based treatment options avialable to meet your individual needs and preferences. Contact us today and discover a world outside of the addiction. We’ll connect you with the kind of comprehensive care that increases your chance of success, leading you on a rewarding path to a life in recovery beginning today.
Alcohol and cocaine are a recipe for disaster. And surprisingly, it’s not specifically the alcohol or the cocaine doing the most damage, but a resulting toxic metabolite produced by the liver. Additionally, combining cocaine and alcohol results in changes in behavior and cognitive function that can result in greater consumption of either or both substances, increasing overdose risk.
Why Do People Risk Death To Combine Alcohol And Cocaine?
When someone is abusing cocaine, the body quickly metabolizes the substance and the associated euphoria lasts upwards of just 15 minutes. Alcohol, a depressant drug, slows the metabolism of cocaine and, in effect, increases the high and length of time this euphoria is experienced.
However, when these substances are combined, metabolism of both substance is slowed by approximately 20 percent, increasing exposure to these toxic substances, as well as metabolites resulting from simultaneous exposure to cocaine and alcohol.
How Does Alcohol Combined With Cocaine Increase Toxicity?
Apart from adding one toxic substance to another, when someone uses cocaine, then drinks alcohol, a dangerous metabolite is also produced. The metabolite, cocaethylene, is not only toxic, but far more toxic than cocaine or alcohol alone. Testing on laboratory animals reveals a 30 percent increase in toxicity, and combined with the dramatic slowing of metabolism caused by the introduction of alcohol to the system, this elevated toxicity is sustained for hours longer than when the substances are abused individually.
Cocaethylene has many adverse health effects, most notably heart failure, liver failure, and sudden death. One study on laboratory animals revealed that increased cocaethylene resulting from exposure to alcohol and cocaine lead to overall reduced cardiovascular functioning and and even death for some of the animals included in the study.
During use of these substances, the brain, cardiovascular system, and liver are put under enormous stress for a period often lasting 12 hours, long after the feelings associated with the drugs wear off. As the person comes down off the high experienced by use of the drugs together, they may seek to achieve the same high by combining these drugs again, within that initial 12-hour period or immediately following. The taxing effects of the combination on the body is one of the primary mechanisms for sudden death related to cocaine addiction.
Use of cocaine also slows the effects of alcohol, so someone consuming alcohol while using cocaine may feel that they can drink more, leading to binge drinking and a substantial increase in the risk of alcohol poisoning.
The brain of someone abusing cocaine is significantly changed in a short period of time. Reduced blood flow reduces oxygen to vital brain cells. Cumulative damage caused to the cardiovascular system from alcohol abuse can further reduce blood flow to vital organs, including the brain. Brain shrinkage is reported in those who abuse alcohol due to the death of grey and white matter cells. This can create significant and lasting cognitive impairment for an individual battling addiction.
Other Risks Associated With Alcohol And Cocaine
Apart from the known physiological risks associated with combining alcohol and cocaine, mood changes associated with the combination and resulting metabolites increase aggression in humans. This combined with alcohol-induced aggression and the stimulant aspect of the cocaine can produce some violent outbursts from individuals consuming the combo.
With more than five million people claiming to have used alcohol and cocaine together in the US alone, during one single year survey, many of these users are women. Women generally are more vulnerable to physical and sexual violence while abusing substances like cocaine and alcohol. Studies of the effects of alcohol and cocaine combined on fetal development indicates the toxicity from the substances interferes with normal brain development.
Evidence-Based Treatment Of Co-occurring Alcohol And Cocaine Addiction
There has never been a true one size fits all approach to treating drug and alcohol addiction. The same is true for treating co-occurring alcohol and cocaine addiction. Studies indicate specific treatment types show greater efficacy over others. Of these cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is one of the most successful treatment types for addressing co-occurring alcohol and cocaine abuse. Contingency management (CM), a subset of behavioral therapy and motivational enhancement therapy, uses a system of reward to address progress made in treatment.
Motivational enhancement therapy (MET) shows some promise with treating the co-occurring disorders, though the data does not yet support its efficacy when used alone to treat the addiction disorder. A twelve-step program also shows some limited promise. Either may be more effective when combined with CBT or CM.
Naltrexone, disulfiram, topiramate, valproate, or baclofen are pharmacotherapies that may be used in conjunction with one of the treatment types mentioned earlier, though none show significant promise as a solid treatment for a co-occurring addiction to both cocaine and alcohol. They may be used to address cravings in the early stages of recovery.
Overall recovery successes were improved with combined use of multiple therapeutic approaches, over a single approach.
Get The Evidence-Based Treatment You Deserve
AlcoholTreatment.net will connect you with the online resources, professional support, and the evidence-based treatment you need and deserve. One confidential phone call can take you from a place of addiction, to a place of hope. Locate the facilities and support in your community, or away. Contact us today and discover a new and rewarding life in recovery.
The chronic use of alcohol can lead to damage to vital organs including the liver. Complicating matters is the exponentially destructive nature of alcoholism in perpetuating its own use despite associated risks of social isolation, loss of a career, and financial ruin. The alcohol-addicted person faces an equally uphill climb away from the negative physical impact of alcohol on the body, especially on the liver. And this journey may only begin once the user has stopped drinking.
Of the many ways in which alcohol continuously negatively affects the human body, cirrhosis of the liver poses not only an immediate threat, but may also cause other detrimental health effects, including increased risk of death. The liver is a vital organ and its use in removing toxins from the body, puts it in peril when someone consumes too much alcohol. Chronic alcohol use can damage the liver to the point of requiring a transplant or necessitate permanent medical intervention to function.
Every person’s experience with alcoholism, as well as cirrhosis will differ. In the end, the body’s reactions and its ability to better fend off the disease will be determined—across the board—by how well you maintain sobriety. As you find yourself enmeshed within the stronghold of cirrhosis, coming to terms with having to give drinking up can be the difference between sustaining your life or succumbing to the disease.
The liver has many functions that aid in maintaining good physical health. It aids digestion, helps the body store glucose, breaks down saturated fats, stores nutrients, and produces the blood proteins needed in things like clotting and immune system support. Lastly, the liver filters out substances that are detrimental to the body. These substances are toxins such as drugs and alcohol.
If the liver malfunctions, it can lead to many serious illnesses and even lower immune system function, which can promote dangerous risks, such as contraction of life-threatening diseases. With more than 100 types of liver disease and malfunctions, it is no wonder that cirrhosis of the liver has the 12th highest rate of death by disease.
Stages Of Cirrhosis
Alcohol consumption and cirrhosis are commonly associated. Liver toxicity, due to sustained alcohol consumption eventually leads to cell death and the hardening of the liver tissue known as cirrhosis. This condition can lead to liver failure.
Signs of a failing liver include a yellowing of the skin (jaundice), bruising, swelling, fatigue, confusion, and loss of appetite. These signs usually only appear with any severity in the later stages of liver disease and require immediate medical attention.
There are four stages to cirrhosis of the liver.
Swelling and inflammation due to the initial breakdown of liver tissues and immune cells. Fluid retention occurs as ducts and regulatory areas, like arteries, do not provide for normal blood flow.
As symptoms of fluid retention and swelling increase, the inflammation is more pronounced. By this time, fibrosis (or a hardening of the liver tissue) is setting in. Fibrosis is the occurrence of scar tissue in lieu of healthy liver tissues. There are less noticeable symptoms during this stage as the remaining tissue cells will still be at work while the malfunctioning cells, now turning into hardened and useless scar tissue, will never function again. Dead tissue cannot be revived and can lead quickly to total liver failure.
The third stage of cirrhosis can be associated with what is referred to as “bridging fibrosis.” Unnatural connections between arteries, veins, and other vessels at this time are created, forming bridges that encourage abnormal blood flow and pressure in the liver. The pressure is a type of hypertension that increases with the disease, becoming worse over time.
The gravest of cirrhosis stages, the fourth stage is characterized by extreme malfunction of the liver. At this point many symptoms are present and noticeable by the sufferer. He or she may find themselves in a constant strain of digestive issues, edema, and insatiable skin itching. Jaundice, mental confusion, and sleeplessness persist in most, while others also notice the highest point of fluid retention and difficulty with normal functions, such as speech.
Cirrhosis And Alcoholism
Alcoholism and cirrhosis are closely associated. This is because alcoholism-induced cirrhosis is a major cause of death in the US and many other nations. Other alcohol induced diseases occur, such as fatty liver, which have a tendency to lead to cirrhosis. Between 10 and 15% of those suffering from alcoholism will get cirrhosis of the liver. For those in last-stage cirrhosis, as few as 35% will survive if they continue drinking, compared with 60% if they stop. Earlier-stage sufferers have a 70% survival rate, but only if they discontinue all alcohol use.
For those who are experiencing a consistent need to consume alcohol, if only to physically avoid withdrawal, chances are more likely that their alcohol problem is an addiction. Withdrawal indicates the body’s desire for a substance and subsequent dependency on said substance. Under the pressure of addiction, an alcohol user may find themselves feeling more and more ill as years pass. Their tolerance continues to go up and dependency is clear as the more they drink, the more they need and the more they need, the more they abuse, and the worse they feel leads right back to the beginning.
Habit and emotional ties to alcohol can play a pivotal role in continued use of the drug as well rates of relapse. Sobriety does not mean the end of cravings (though these will decrease in severity and frequency over time). When someone relies on alcohol for emotional support, the complication of a disease like cirrhosis can create powerful cravings for the drug, despite the detriment.
Someone developing cirrhosis of the liver may not necessarily be addicted to alcohol. Any sustained level of excessive drinking can lead to the disease.
Help For Addiction
If you are currently drinking while facing the symptoms of cirrhosis of the liver, rehabilitation may be medically necessitated. This rehabilitation can come in many forms and is an integral part of reversing at least some of the damage done. It can also prevent further damage and liver failure.
There are many options for an individual facing an addiction to alcohol. With therapies ranging from privatized, intensive outpatient therapy, to cognitive group therapy, as well as inpatient residential centers—commonly offering anywhere from one week to 120 days or more— treatment for addiction to alcohol is becoming more individualized with improved overall success rates.
Care For Cirrhosis
Depending on the stage of cirrhosis, and in addition to achieving sobriety, symptoms of the disease reduced through dietary changes and medications to reduce bloating or other discomforts.
While lifestyle changes and medications may relieve symptoms of the disease in its opening stages, treating advanced Cirrhosis often requires a liver transplant, as the functioning tissues of the organ will no longer work and cannot be healed. To be considered for a liver transplant, an individual must be committed to sobriety.
Getting Assistance And Keeping Healthy
Treatment for your addiction and cirrhosis is vital to your overall health and well-being. Risking progressing through the stages of either disease will only make recovery more difficult as time passes. Remember that in healing the damage done to your liver or keeping the healthy parts functioning, you must remove alcohol consumption from your life.
For information on healthy ways to get back on track in life, please contact us at AlcoholTreatment.net today.
While 12-step group therapies like Alcoholics Anonymous are hugely successful, not everyone has the ability to attend the meetings at the times posted, or may choose a non 12-step group for a variety of other reasons. There are other programs dedicated to recovery from addiction that are similar in structure, but may offer more flexibility or a different approach that is more appealing for some.
Some of the most popular evidence-based programs are SMART Recovery, Secular Organizations for Sobriety, LifeRing, Women for Sobriety, and Moderation Management. These programs offer a variety of formats from online to regular face-to-face meetings and provide support to a broadening group of people seeking help outside of the traditional 12-step model. Each program model may be used in conjunction with other support programs and therapies. All are free and open to anyone seeking sobriety.
Self Management for Addiction Recovery Training (SMART), known widely as SMART Recovery, is a program whose underlying philosophy differs substantially from that of the 12-step. Whereas the 12-step program focuses on a need for the individual to acknowledge a power outside of themselves to overcome the addiction, SMART Recovery focuses on an empowerment model.
SMART Recovery, like the AA model, relies heavily on regular meetings and a peer network of support, but the primary focus is on developing reliable coping techniques, rather than on a continuum of support through long-term participation in group meetings. The program focuses on four primary areas: building and maintaining motivation, coping with cravings or urges, managing thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, and creating balance within a person’s life. The program also supports use of SMART Recovery in conjunction with other therapies and medications.
Someone participating in a Smart Recovery program can access information online, attend daily meetings, utilize the program’s message boards and chat rooms, and works on a wide range of addiction issues.
Secular Organizations for Sobriety (SOS)
Secular Organizations for Sobriety, also known as “Save Our Selves” or SOS is an alternative program to the traditional 12-step, for those who seek a secular empowerment model. Like the 12-step program, SOS views alcohol addiction as a disease or ailment from which a person is never “cured.” The program recognizes genetic and environmental factors that impact the severity of the addiction. Rather than apply a step-by-step approach to achieving sobriety, SOS focuses on a three-part management strategy that is followed routinely. The first step is the acknowledgement of the addiction, the second is acceptance of the addiction, and the third step is making sobriety a priority.
Regular meetings are designed to build peer-to-peer support that may extend indefinitely as a mode of encouragement. Similar to other alternatives to the traditional 12-step program, SOS meetings are held face-to-face and online. Individuals are encouraged to utilize additional therapies, as desired.
The vast majority of participants in SOS programs are self-described atheist, but approximately 20 percent of those surveyed describe themselves as “spiritual.”
A secular peer-to-peer recovery program, LifeRing’s focus is on changing the “addict self” into a “sober self” through positive interactions with others seeking sobriety. This peer-based support system mirrors the 12-step group meetings, but without the emphasis on a “higher power.” Similar to the SMART Recovery, LifeRing provides an online format, regular meetings, and encourages individuals to utilize the program either alone or in conjunction with other therapies.
Women For Sobriety
Research has shown that women choose to begin drinking for very different reasons than men. Women are more likely to use alcohol to numb the effects of past traumas, rather than bolster their self confidence. As a result, therapies designed to empower women and improve feelings of self worth while also addressing past traumas and improving coping strategies are more effective in helping women achieve and maintain sobriety. The organization’s motto, “Release the past, plan for tomorrow, and live for today,” emphasizes this philosophy.
Similar to the traditional 12-step program, Women for Sobriety relies on peer-to-peer networking with regular face-to-face meetings and provides online meetings and support for those unable to attend in person. Rather than encouraging the 12-steps, individuals participating in the program are encouraged to read daily from provided literature, and to participate in mediation or reading from literature promoting self growth and empowerment. The organization’s “New Life” program is based on 13 acknowledgements, as part of an acceptance and empowerment structure. These acknowledgements are designed to acknowledge the reality of the situation, as well as the possibilities, and inspire positive change. For example, the sixth acknowledgement, “Life can be ordinary or it can be great,” is met by, “Greatness is mine by a conscious effort.”
As with Alcoholics Anonymous, these steps or acknowledgements can serve as powerful mantras for the individual seeking sobriety.
Not many programs exist for people classified as problem drinkers, but who may not yet be coping with addiction. Moderation Management is designed to address issues arising before a person becomes addicted to alcohol, or in the early stages of addiction.
The program is designed to focus on behaviors associated with problem drinking. Assessing the level of problem drinking and associated factors, Moderation Management supports early development of coping strategies and life changes that aid in helping someone in avoiding the life-threatening disease of alcoholism.
The group format includes regular face-to-face meetings, and online meetings and support. Members may or may not choose to go on to a treatment program or other group support program.
Recovery From Alcohol Addiction
of the programs mentioned in this article may be used alone or as part of a comprehensive treatment plan. AlcoholTreatment.net is an online resource connecting you with the professional support and evidence-based treatment options available in your area. If you are suffering with an addiction to alcohol, don’t wait to get help. Contact AlcoholTreatment.net today and begin a new and rewarding life in recovery.
Alcohol addiction doesn’t happen overnight and it isn’t a conscious choice someone makes. Like cancer, alcohol addiction is a disease that spreads undetected in the brain and body until the hold is evident. Consequences of alcohol addiction include the loss of one’s social circle, family, spouse, children, the loss of a career, and physical and mental deterioration. Someone addicted to alcohol at the end stages may suffer from any number of co-occurring diseases and illnesses, organ failure, among the running risk of alcohol poisoning and suicide.
Risk Factors, The Social Drinker, And Drug Sensitization
Alcohol addiction can affect anyone, especially those with certain risk factors including a genetic predisposition toward addiction. Genetics can play a huge role in both the likelihood and severity of addiction, making someone more vulnerable to the effects of alcohol. Someone who drinks socially may unwittingly be affected by alcohol disproportionately to anyone else in their group of friends.
Apart from genetic predisposition, mental disorders including depression and anxiety, socioeconomic factors, environmental factors including a history of alcohol addiction in the family or exposure to alcohol addiction in the home, can all contribute to a higher risk toward addiction. In fact, a child of someone who struggles with an alcohol addiction is eight times more likely to experience addiction. Knowing these risk factors is one preventative measure in stopping an addiction before it starts.
Risk Factors for Alcohol Addiction
- Genetic predisposition (“runs in the family”)
- History of anxiety or depression
- Socioeconomic factors
- Environmental factors including early exposure
There are two types of social drinkers: Those who drink in excess on the weekends, and those who enjoy a beer after work. Neither implies someone is addicted to alcohol, but both can contribute to a process of drug sensitization associated with addiction behaviors.
Both the excessive weekend drinker and the more moderate daily social drinker are introducing their bodies to a substance that has a direct effect on the brain’s reward centers. This reward center, known as the nucleus accumbens, rewards life-sustaining activities–like eating good food, drinking water, exercise, or even having sex–with a flood of the neurotransmitter dopamine. Anyone who has ever enjoyed their favorite meal and felt that warm satiated contentment following, has experienced the intoxicating effects of dopamine.
Part of a larger survival mechanism in the brain, the dopamine reward center is a helpful tool, except in the case when substances like alcohol or other drugs are introduced. These substances elevate the dopamine levels in the body significantly, leaving us feeling euphoric. The brain takes notice of this effect and becomes hyper focused on your surroundings, including those who are with you, the sounds and smells of the room, and even the time of day.
At first, these changes are so subtle, they go unnoticed, but within the brain something is changing. A process known as drug sensitization is unfolding. The body is increasingly aware of the powerful effects of alcohol, and becomes sensitized, initially increasing the euphoric response at even the smallest introduction of the substance. This means the person who orders a drink and intends to drink only one, may suddenly feel compelled to order a second. They may also find themselves craving a drink at a certain time of day, or in the company of specific people.
Even in this early stage, someone may drink until they black out or suffer memory lapses, early warning signs of alcohol addiction.
Hiding Alcohol And Increasing Social Isolation
At this stage in the evolution of alcohol addiction, the person who once enjoyed the company of their friends after work may seek out only the friends who they know will get a drink following. They begin to feel compelled to schedule their day around access to alcohol. Isolation from social groups who do not engage in drinking begins. They may not be entirely aware of the problem, but feel compelled to hide their drinking.
With regular consumption of alcohol, nearly all significant parts of the brain are changing. Alcohol negatively impacts areas of the brain associated with goal-setting, decision-making, and behavior. Someone who was once a very responsible employee or parent may now miss work or forget to pick up their children from school.
Withdrawal symptoms also begin to emerge. The individual may become moody or withdrawn, and preoccupied with their next drink. Severe cravings begin to emerge. Alcohol also affects the body’s immune system, so someone in this stage of alcohol addiction may suffer from frequent illness, apart from withdrawals. They might also suffer from depression and anxiety.
Choosing Alcohol Over Family, Friends, And Hobbies
Alcohol addiction progresses with its direct impact to the brain and body. In the later stages of addiction, both the white and grey matter of the brain begin to deteriorate. This brain shrinkage, affecting the neural network of our brain, outwardly alters everything from how a person thinks and cognitive ability, to impulse control and personality. A once kind and loving individual may appear withdrawn, show no interest in former hobbies or activities, get into trouble with the law or at work.
At this stage those suffering from alcohol addiction often feel that their life no longer resembles that which they had prior to the addiction. They begin cut contact with loved ones and friends, give up on a career or get fired from a job, they may lose custody of their children, and appear to have no control over their drinking.
Physically, an alcohol-addicted person may have lost or gained a significant amount of weight, suffer from chronic headaches, insomnia, frequent illness and associated diseases including liver disease, pancreatitis, and cancer.
Someone in the final stages of alcohol addiction is likely to suffer from vitamin deficiencies, choosing alcohol over healthy food, and is likely to have poor balance, as the parts of the brain associated with coordination have been damaged. Permanent brain damage may affect the person’s ability to learn and retain new information. Dementia-like symptoms begin to appear. At the end-stages of the disease, a person may suffer from psychosis. This end stage may result in death by accident, suicide, and disease associated with the addiction.
Why A Medically Managed Detox Is Necessary In Treating Alcohol Addiction
Due to the severity of withdrawal symptoms in later stage alcohol addiction, a medically managed detox is vital. Withdrawal symptoms may be severe and life-threatening in these stages and are often managed with medications in conjunction with vitamin supplements and emotional support.
Change The Course Of Your Life
Change the course of your life today by getting help for your alcohol addiction. AlcoholTreatment.net is an online resource dedicated to helping you locate the professional support and evidence-based, comprehensive treatment plan that is right for you.
Don’t wait. You deserve better. Contact us today and discover a new and rewarding life in recover that awaits you.
Alcohol affects most areas of the brain and several major organ systems. Apart from alcohol’s immediate impact on multiple regions of the brain, the liver is the organ most directly affected by alcohol consumption. Long-term alcohol abuse can lead to several diseases relating to the liver, including alcoholic fatty liver disease, alcoholic hepatitis, alcoholic cirrhosis, and cancer of the liver.
Tens of thousands of people die each year from alcohol-related liver disease. The effects of heavy drinking are indiscriminate; you don’t have to be addicted to alcohol to suffer these and other consequences of heavy drinking (30 percent of those suffering from alcohol-related liver disease are not addicted to alcohol). A heavy drinker is a man who consumes more than two drinks a day, or a woman who consumes more than one per day.
Why Does Alcohol Damage The Liver?
The liver serves many functions, but it’s primary role is to break down and filter toxins within the bloodstream from the digestive tract. The liver is also capable of metabolizing substances, like alcohol. Alcohol cannot be stored in the body, so the liver attempts to quickly to breakit down and excrete it. Though an efficient organ for detoxifying the body, people typically consume more alcohol than the third of an ounce the liver can process in an hour.
The liver releases enzymes based on the quantities of alcohol consumed in a given period. These enzymes break down alcohol into the toxin acetaldehyde and then again into the less harmful acetate. However, during this phase of oxidation, acetaldehyde, even in small amounts can produce considerable harm, damaging liver cells and tissues.
Acetaldehyde is a highly reactive molecule and when produced in larger quantities, these molecules can bind with proteins within the bloodstream and liver. This can generate an autoimmune response, causing white cells to attack otherwise healthy liver cells.
Likewise, the toxin acetaldehyde destroys the DNA of healthy neighboring cells, which can increase a person’s risk of developing a malignancy. Approximately 4 percent of all cancers in the United States relate directly to alcohol consumption.
Fibrosis of the Liver
Fibrosis of the liver–or severe scarring–is thought to be caused in part by the same byproducts of alcohol oxidation mentioned earlier, which may increase collagen production. The production of collagen in the liver results in scarring that is irreversible.
Another byproduct of the alcohol metabolic process is the presence of free radicals, or oxygen-containing molecule fragments. These free radicals are generated in large quantities when alcohol is consumed and can affect liver cells directly, causing cell death.
Additional stress on the liver from alcohol comes from bacteria. Consuming alcohol (even for those who drink socially) can cause a leaky gut, releasing otherwise contained bacteria into the liver, generating additional stress and inflammation.
Symptoms Of Alcohol-Related Liver Disease
The challenging aspect of liver disease comes from the fact that this damage goes largely unnoticed by those affected until much damage has already been done. Early symptoms can include fatigue, gastrointestinal upset, or stomach pain and can easily be dismissed for illness. As the disease progresses, more noticeable symptoms begin to emerge, including a yellowing of the skin or jaundice, a loss of appetite, vomiting with blood present, unusual swelling of abdomen and lower extremities, and changes in how your body responds to alcohol. As liver disease progresses, the body is no longer able to process alcohol the way it had previously, leading to an increased sensitivity to this and other substances.
Symptoms Of Liver Disease:
- Gastrointestinal upset
- Stomach pain or achiness
- Loss of appetite
- Blood present in vomit
- Unusual swelling of abdomen and lower extremities
- Changes in sensitivity to alcohol
Factors That Increase Your Risk Of Alcohol-Related Liver Disease
There are a number of factors that contribute to an increased risk of developing liver disease. These include alcohol addiction, excess weight, and genetic predisposition. Women also metabolize alcohol at a much slower rate than men, so women tend to be at a higher risk of alcohol-related liver disease. Also smoking one pack of cigarettes or more or consuming four or more cups of coffee per day also increase your risk of developing liver disease.
Alcohol Treatment And Liver Transplants
Heavy alcohol abuse reduces the average lifespan by 30 years. Damage to the liver, in some cases, requires a liver transplant. However, most often–in cases where someone is currently drinking–a donor liver will be denied. Therefore, treatment for alcohol addiction is vital.
Treatment for alcohol addiction requires medical monitoring and management of associated withdrawal symptoms. A comprehensive treatment plan will assess and address the addiction, associated health issues, co-occurring mental disorders, related past traumas, and help you develop a long-term strategy in achieving and maintaining sobriety.
Your Life And Liver Depend On Treatment For Alcohol Addiction
If you or someone you love is struggling with an addiction to alcohol, AlcoholTreatment.net is your online resources for the professional support and comprehensive, evidence-based treatment options best suited to meet your individual needs. Don’t wait. Contact AlcoholTreatment.net and begin a new and rewarding life in recovery.