Alcohol abuse is widespread in the USA, and the numbers of people who are seeking alcoholism treatment are increasing. Alcoholism is defined as the persistent consumption of alcohol even when that consumption leads to detrimental effects. Therefore, people who abuse alcohol and those who are addicted to it can be diagnosed with alcoholism.
Alcoholism treatment is not just for people with addiction to alcohol. It is also useful for those who are abusing alcohol. The earlier people seek treatment, the more likely they are to recover without permanent health and emotional issues.
For more information on entering alcoholism treatment programs, contact Chesapeake Drug Treatment Centers at (757) 447-9507.
People who abuse alcohol are not necessarily addicted. There is no strict definition of abuse. Some agencies say that males who have more than 5 drinks in a day are abusing alcohol. Others define abuse based on the amount of alcohol in the bloodstream.
There is general consensus, however, on examples of abuse. These include:
Alcohol addiction often follows on from substance abuse. When people drink excessive amounts, they will eventually induce chemical alterations in their brains' neurotransmitters. When this happens, the brain needs the person to keep drinking to maintain normality. A dependency on alcohol now exists, and alcoholics experience this as overwhelming cravings to drink.
All alcoholics are substance abusers, but not all substance abusers are alcoholics. However, many abusers are at high risk of progressing to become addicts. Through continued drinking, the body develops tolerance to alcohol. This means that the number of drinks consumed today will have less effect than the same number of drinks consumed in the past. Abusers need to drink more to get to their "base" level of intoxication. Increasing their alcohol intake puts an abuser at even higher risk of becoming addicted.
Late onset alcoholism is a phenomenon that occurs in older people, often in response to some dramatic change in their personal circumstances. Two of the most common events associated with late onset alcoholism are retirement and bereavement (death of a spouse).
Alcoholism treatments can include any number of detox methods, therapies, and behavioral management strategies.
The first stage of treatment is to get the person sober. For alcoholics, detox can be especially tricky. Alcohol withdrawal syndrome (AWS) can be a traumatic and, occasionally, fatal experience. When an addict's body has adjusted its natural chemistry to account for the presence of alcohol, organs like the kidneys, liver, and stomach are permanently affected. The brain struggles to produce dopamine naturally without the chemical cues it receives when a person is drinking. As a result, the body can go into shock if a person stops drinking altogether on their own.
Because of the dangers that AWS can pose, medical detox is often the first step of treatment. Patients are allowed to gradually taper the amount of alcohol in their system while being treated for withdrawal symptoms as they appear. Symptoms can include nausea, headaches, body tremors, sleeplessness, and depression.
The second stage of treatment is a long-term therapy plan, during which recovering patients are asked to examine why they began using. Identifying causes and triggers of addiction (i.e., things that drive a person to drinking) can help prevent future substance abuse. It can also prevent relapse after a person completes their stay in a recovery treatment center.
The final stage is aftercare. For many patients, this means attending group meetings like Alcoholics Anonymous for support. Many former alcoholics continue to attend these meetings anywhere from 90 days after treatment to the rest of their lives. The important thing is to find healthy outlets for emotions and to find ways to socialize and live one's life while still maintaining sobriety.