Just like many forms of human addictions, the addicts do not know they are alcoholic dependent until they hit rock bottom and lose everything they have and the people they love. This article will therefore discuss alcohol addiction facts, causes, and signs of alcoholism and how to treat an alcoholic.
Definition of Alcohol Addiction
National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD) defines alcoholism as a chronic disorder where a person has the compulsive need to take alcoholic substances at all time despite the consequences. An alcoholic person has no control over their drinking and will put alcohol first before everything else including family, food and rent. There are two time of alcohol dependence;
- Alcohol abuse-alcohol abusers love to drink but they still have the ability to control their intake at anytime. It’s still problematic because they drink a lot and cause problems to their lives.
- Alcoholism is a serious form of alcohol abuse that includes serious dependence, withdrawal and loss of control.
Alcohol Addiction Symptoms
So how do you know you or a person you know is really an alcoholic? These are the painful alcohol addiction symptoms;
- The main symptom of alcoholism is when a person continues drinking even after their drinking is obviously causing them problems. These problems can be family issues. Work related, financial and emotional.
- If the person is spending most of his time drinking
- If the person is neglecting what used to be important to them.
- Withdrawal-this means that when they are not under the influence of alcohol they become irritable and unbearable to others and themselves.
- Loss of control, once they start they can’t stop even when they are obviously above limit.
- The need to take alcohol instead of tea when you wake up in the morning.
Causes of Alcohol Addiction
Alcohol abuse can be caused by many factors such as peer pressure, family, environment and culture but what cause it to develop to alcoholism? According to scientists it may be genetic. There are families that are just prone to become alcoholics. Another reason may be traumatic experience where a person wants to forget. Psychiatric conditions are also major causes of alcoholism; these are depression, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia especially before they are medically diagnosed.
Effects of Alcoholism
There are significant social and emotional effects of alcohol;
- Drinking a lot obviously costs a lot of money, this makes the addicts family to suffer financially and he might get into a lot of debts and as a result become stressed more.
- The dependency makes it impossible to work effectively and many alcoholics lose their jobs and their families and eventually their friends.
- After losing the important things in their lives many people become depressed and indulge more in cheap alcohol, neglect themselves and if they don’t get help at this point will end up dead in a ditch somewhere.
Alcohol also has many adverse effects on human health, it’s poisonous to most of the human cells not to mention it depresses the brain and the central nervous system that’s why people vomit, change behavior and even pass out after taking alcohol in large doses. The following are specific health effects of alcoholism;
- Alcohol is definitely fatal in high doses, apart from the fact that it dehydrates the body; it is known to shut down the hurt and stop a person from breathing.
- The most common diseases related to alcohol intake are liver cirrhosis, stomach ulcers, beriberi due to thiamine deficiency and gastritis.
- Another common effect is aspiration pneumonia where people suffocate on their own vomit at night. This is avoidable normally but since the nervous system is depressed there is no gag reflex.
- Most alcoholics drink before eating and can go without food for day’s just drinking alcohol. This can cause a condition called hypoglycemia, lack of blood sugar and in turn the person will have convulsions and even comatose.
- Brain damage is the absolute effect of alcoholism. Doctors have proven that alcohol kills brain cells slowly and within years the person looks retarded.
- Alcohol causes abnormal heart rhythm and eventually heart damage like size change and structure.
- The most scary alcohol effect however happens in pregnancy, the unborn baby can develop neurological disorders, alcohol addiction and physical birth defects.
Alcohol Addiction Facts
Many people know all about the health and social effects of alcoholism but still continue drinking. The facts however are more alarming;
- One fact is that alcohol abuse will sooner or later harm your live either health wise or socially.
- It’s no surprise that 5000 people under 21 years of age die every year in USA only because of alcohol. This includes car accidents, homicides and alcohol poisoning.
- Alcohol impairs judgment and as a result bad activities like drunk driving, violence and inappropriate sexual activities will take place and in most cases cause death and diseases.
- Another scary fact is that 70% of college and high school students take alcohol and in most case go to intoxication levels.
- 17% of men and 8% of women are alcoholics.
- Alcoholism is the third leading cause of death all over the world after cancer and heart disease which by the way are also cause mostly by alcohol abuse.
- Alcoholism is a disease and can’t be treated with will power only. People die from withdrawal symptoms when they try to quit without medical help.
Along with the facts are statistics carried out by National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism and WEBMD.
- In USA alone one in every 14 adults is an alcoholic.
- Three million teenagers in America alone have an alcohol problem.
- Every family has at least one family member who has an alcohol problem.
- Only one third of alcoholics get medical help, the rest struggle to death.
- Research done by the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention shows that more than half of Americans are regular drinkers.
- There are three times more men with a drinking problem than women and this explains the higher population of women.
Myths about Alcohol
- Every one drinks.
- Drinking makes you feel better.
- You can be a heavy drinker but you are not an alcoholic.
- You can’t quit alcohol.
- Black coffee will sober you up.
- You can trick a breathalyzer if the police pull you over after a drinking night.
- Women and men can take the same amount of beer.
Alcohol Addiction Treatment
After they hit rock bottom and lose everything they had, most alcoholics will get help. It is detrimental to think you can just decide to stop drinking, alcoholism is a disease and therefore one will need medical help and support from people who are going or have gone through the same problem. There are a couple of options of alcohol addiction treatment;
- Intervention-this is where your loved ones arrange to talk to you so they convince you to seek help. This is usually for addicts who are not ready to stop on their own. They talk to the addict about how his drinking is hurting them and him and how they will help him.
- Oral medication-if the addiction is not too severe there are pills one can take prescribed by a doctor to help deal with the withdrawal symptoms and cravings.
- The third option is rehabilitation if the addiction is really bad. Your loved ones can confine you forcefully or you can volunteer to check yourself in rehab and get help. In rehab one is given; drugs to reduce withdrawal and cravings, psychotherapy and counseling. There are group sessions to talk through the problems with your peers and the therapist and after 50 days one is released to the world.
- After any of the above options of alcohol addiction treatment, it’s important to make sure you don’t slip back to your old ways. There are groups in every town called alcoholic anonymous that deal with such kind of people. They meet a couple of times every week and discuss their experiences with alcohol abuse. For this information you can check if you have on in your area on- www.alcoholics-anonymous.org.uk.
Withdrawal Symptoms of Alcoholism
If you are too dependent on alcohol the day you decide to stop drinking you will go through this hard signs;
- Shaking and shivering
- Profuse sweating
- Nausea and
Also you will experience depression; you will be very irritable and restless and will definitely have trouble sleeping. These symptoms will take weeks to disappear and can drive a person to drink again because they are unbearable. Doctors give pills to make them easier and that is why it’s important to seek medical help if you want to stop drinking.
Ways to Prevent Alcohol Addiction
Most people who drink are not alcoholics but they are likely to become one if they don’t take care. The following are ways one can make sure they don’t go from occasional drinkers to alcoholics;
- Get hobbies, instead of looking for a drink when you are stressed or meeting your friends in a bar to talk, invite them for a jog or join recreational classes like drawing and yoga.
- Have principles. Give yourself a limit and do not under any circumstances go beyond that limit. After that start taking water.
- Take breaks. You don’t have to drink every day, limit your drinking to weekends and functions and this will make your body non tolerant to alcohol.
Alcohol Addiction Recovery
Most people go through rehab but after they come home they slip so what are the measure one can take to make sure that doesn’t happen;
- Stop completely, there is nothing like cutting back with alcoholics because they have no self control so the solution is to stay away from alcohol.
- Get a sponsor-this should be someone you respect and close so they keep you in check.
- Let everyone know about your new limits, if your friends know you don’t drink they won’t offer you beer.
- Change your company. As the saying goes-bad company corrupts good behavior. Hang out with people who don’t drink and get busy with new things.
- Write a list of all the things you lost in alcoholism and set a goal to recover everything. This will discourage you from ever going near a drink.
- All said and done an alcoholic need to have made a personal decision to quit completely because otherwise all these measures won’t work.
Apart from alcoholic anonymous there are other help sites for addicts like co dependents anonymous for family members-http://www.coda.org and National Resource Centre.
Other Articles on Alcohol Addiction
In the alcoholic library there are many articles one can read on alcoholism;
- How to Talk to Your Alcoholic Partner
- Effective Addiction Treatment
- Almost Addicted: Is My Drug Use a Problem? By Harvard Medical School.
- Are You An Enabler? and
- Making Habits, Breaking Habits: Why We Do Things, Why We Don’t and How to Make Any Change Stick.
Alcoholic addiction is a serious condition that affects not only the addict but his loved ones as well. It’s one of the main reason countries don’t develop and the leading cause of accidents and deaths in general worldwide. Alcohol addiction recovery is a long life process and one needs support, love and encouragement.
Many people continue to suffer in silence and where alcoholism is concerned, admitting that one needs help is the first step to recovery. This disease has claimed many lives all around the world and it is critical to find help before it reaches a chronic stage. All in all, there is hope for every person who is willing to turn over a new leaf. The above resources will shed more light for any person who is seeking help. For those who do not succeed with the first attempt, this is not unusual at all and trying again is the key to finding a lasting solution. Family and friends should never give up on those who want to change; the moral support system is one of the most pivotal elements to help people entangle themselves from the shackles of alcoholism.