Alcoholism can consume you. If you have a loved one struggling with it, you may be concerned watching them and wondering how to get help for change. You may also be wondering if alcoholism is what they’re experiencing and how you can tell the difference between alcohol abuse and alcoholism (alcohol addiction).
Alcohol abuse happens when you’ve been going beyond moderate drinking. It becomes a habit, and it often leads to the development of alcoholism. Why?
Abuse of alcohol changes the way you perceive things. Since alcohol is a depressant, each time you drink you experience feelings of relaxation and calmness. These feelings don’t just affect your body, but your brain as well. As your brain adapts to these changes, you experience permanent changes—changes which make you seek the feelings again and again.
Alcohol abuse comes before alcoholism, but doesn’t always lead to it. Consider the following early signs of alcoholism:
- You can no longer limit how much you drink
- You’ve wanted to limit or cut back on drinking, but can’t
- You spend a lot of time drinking, or recovering from drinking
- You get strong cravings for or urges to drink
- You continue to drink even when you recognize the problems it causes you
- Some of your obligations, like work or school, suffer due to your drinking
- You no longer feel the effects when you drink, or have to drink more to feel the effects
- You’ve taken risks while drinking or after heavy drinking, like driving
- Activities that usually interest you no longer do, especially if you can’t drink
- Social events that don’t include drinking may make you uncomfortable
- When not drinking you experience withdrawal symptoms, like headache, nausea, or shaking hands
What Are The Side Effects Of Alcoholism?
The unfortunate thing about alcohol abuse is that it can affect your health even in just a short time. The National Institute On Alcohol Abuse And Alcoholism (NIAAA) explains that alcohol can affect a number of organs, including the brain, heart, liver, and pancreas as well as your immune system.
Prolonged alcohol abuse can lead to liver disease or heart failure, toxic waste in the pancreas, and a weakened immune system. Alcoholism may also contribute to development of many different types of cancer.
Even the short term side effects of alcohol aren’t to be envied: drowsiness, nausea, diarrhea, slurred speech, trouble breathing, impaired judgment, changes in coordination and perception, blackouts (memory gaps), and anemia can all result from alcohol abuse.
What Are The Withdrawal Symptoms?
Alcohol is a substance that causes physical dependence when you abuse it, and because of that it also causes withdrawal. If you’ve become physically dependent on it, and try to stop or cut back on drinking, you might experience some adverse symptoms.
- Shaking hands (tremors)
- Troubles sleeping
Alcohol withdrawal is also dangerous. When not properly treated or monitored, it can be life-threatening. That’s why detoxification from alcohol should always be medically supervised, with medication when needed.
Proper detoxification means monitoring vital signs to regulate heart rate and breathing and helping you manage withdrawal symptoms at a safe level. Seizures can occur during withdrawal, but with medical supervision, you’re in good hands to safely heal.
How Is Alcoholism Treated?
One of the most important things to understand about alcoholism is that it’s a disease. How is this possible? Alcoholism is an addiction, and addiction affects the health of the mind, body, and spirit. Treatment must address each aspect of health to be effective.
At AlcoholTreatment.net, we recognize alcoholism as the disease it is, and work to treat it as such. Each person is as unique as the treatment he or she needs, so custom, individualized treatment plans are key to achieving long-term sobriety.
Perhaps the largest component of an effective treatment plan, though, is a private, residential inpatient rehab center. For many, alcohol abuse and addiction is fueled by the environment in which they’re surrounded daily. Getting away from that environment, and healing in a safe, welcoming one is important for a successful treatment outcome.
Individualized treatment plans mean building a treatment program that works for you. Not all rehab centers structure treatment this way, but we do. Why is this so important? Every individual comes into treatment with different needs.
Some are victims of abuse. Some have suffered from mental health issues in addition to substance abuse. Some struggle with more than one substance use disorder. No matter the issues you struggle with that you may think can keep you from getting effective treatment, they can be addressed in rehab.
Here are some of the evidence-based methods that help you successfully heal while away in treatment:
- Counseling: to work through mental health issues and build confidence and self-esteem
- Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT): a type of therapy that teaches you to shed negative behaviors and replace them with positive, ones, building a fulfilling lifestyle
- Gender-specific treatment: men and women have unique treatment needs, and this type of treatment is tailored to those needs
- Medication-assisted therapy: for some in detox, this can be a welcome relief that helps you to make it through uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms
- Co-occurring disorder treatment: for those struggling with both mental health issues and alcoholism
- Family support services: having the support of those around you can make a vast difference in treatment outcomes
- Intervention services
- Aftercare support
Where Can You Find Treatment?
Maybe you’ve looked into treatment in the past, and it seemed out of reach. We’d like to help you find a rehab center that gets you away from the environment of abuse, and into one of serenity and hope in healing.
If you or someone you know is struggling with alcoholism, we can help. When you contact one of our treatment specialists, your call will be completely confidential. Contact us today at AlcoholTreatment.net, or call 1-800-247-9938 to learn more.