The pain of alcoholism is almost unbearable, yet alcoholism continues to affect a huge part of the population. Although most people (87.4 percent) have drank alcohol at least once, some become dependent and incapable of functioning without it, leading to problems to social, home, and personal contexts. With more than 16 million people, reports the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), suffering from alcohol abuse, alcoholism is only becoming worse. However, you can work to prevent and lessen the grip of alcoholism by understanding alcoholism’s signs and symptoms, treatment options, and the importance of obtaining inpatient help through an alcohol rehabilitation center.
Alcoholism Signs and Symptoms
In order for a person to be diagnosed with an alcohol use disorder, which may range from mild to severe, he or she must experience any two of 11 criteria within the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders: Fifth Edition. According to the NIAAA, these criteria includes the following:
- Stopping or cutting back on engaging in activities that were once enjoyed, important, or interesting.
- Becoming involved in situations where alcohol resulted in an increased risk of getting hurt, such as drinking and driving.
- Experienced intense craving or urges to drink.
- Experience large amounts of time drinking or being sick from alcohol consumption.
- Experienced occasions where a person drink more than originally planned.
- Attempted to stop or reduce drinking alcohol, but was unable to do so.
- Experiencing problems or interference when taking care of responsibilities, which include familial responsibilities, work responsibilities, and school responsibilities.
- Continuing to drink when a person is aware of alcohol-induced depression or anxiety, or after experiencing a loss of memory from drinking.
- Experiencing withdrawal symptoms, which may include insomnia, tremors, depression, nausea, sweating, restlessness, anxiety, or irritability, when the effects of alcohol were going away.
- Developed a tolerance for alcohol, which refers to a person’s need to drink more than previously in order to achieve the same, euphoric effect.
The signs of alcoholism may also include behavioral changes, such as engaging in risky behaviors, stealing, forgetfulness, or a failure to take responsibility.
Treatment for Alcoholism
When alcoholism is severe, suddenly stopping alcohol consumption can result in serious, life-threatening side effects. Unfortunately, attempting to withdraw from severe alcoholism at home is ill-advised, and most people with severe alcoholism begin treatment at an alcohol rehabilitation center.
Regardless of the severity of the disorder, withdrawal from alcoholism treatment starts with monitored, managed detox. This refers to the process of removing alcohol from the body and ensuring a person does not experience any life-threatening withdrawal symptoms. Depending on the severity of the dependence, withdrawal from alcoholism may result in fever, increased heart rate, hyperventilation, nausea, vomiting, excessive perspiration, hallucinations, aggression, or even suicidal or homicidal thoughts and ideation. Fortunately, withdrawal treatment during detox uses medication to slowly reduce the alcohol level within the body, reducing the prevalence of alcohol withdrawal symptoms.
Upon completion of detox, alcoholism treatment continues with medication treatment to maintain lasting withdrawal symptoms. For example, insomnia or anxiety may be treated with sleep inducing medication and anti-anxiety medications to help a person maintain sobriety and continued recovery. If any other mental health disorder is occurring at the same time as the alcoholism, the treatment for alcoholism warrants comprehensive treatment of all conditions concurrently. Failure to treat all conditions will increase the likelihood of relapse.
Throughout inpatient and outpatient treatment, psychotherapy, or talk therapy, is one of the most effective means of learning to cope with stress in a healthy way. Additionally, certain types of psychotherapy, such as multidimensional family therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy, help a person identify how irrational thought processes lead to an increased desire to drink. This further encourages a person to change negative thought processes into positive aspirations.
Alcoholism seems to constantly be in the news, and the majority of those with an alcoholism problem do not seek treatment. This may be due to public perception of alcoholism or a lack of education about what treatment options exist. Those with friends or family members who abuse alcohol need to know the startling truth about alcoholism.
Next Level Recovery is a leading addiction treatment provider. Our treatment programs are evidence-based and customized to the individual needs of those involved with addiction. We encourage our clients to participate in real world activities, such as work and educational opportunities, while they are in our program. For more information on our programs, call us today at 801.386.9889.