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Alcohol addiction is the fourth leading cause of preventable death and the third leading cause of early death worldwide. Over 5.9% of people die globally every year because of alcoholism.

In 2019, 14.5 million people between the age of 12 and older had an alcohol use disorder (AUD). Alcohol has the power to rewire the consumer’s brain and creates a physical dependence due to which withdrawal symptoms emerge when alcohol use is stopped.

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What is Alcoholism?

Alcoholism or alcohol addiction refers to patterns of drinking alcohol that lead to significant mental or physical health problems. 

Alcoholism can manifest itself in a multitude of ways.

The severity of alcohol addiction depends on various factors, including the frequency of use, the amount of alcohol consumed, and the consumer’s medical history, among other factors. 

The effects of alcohol abuse also vary from person to person. 

At the same time, some people consume alcohol heavily all day, and some binge drink and stay sober for a while.

Excessive alcohol use or alcohol use disorder is a disease that affects people of all ages. 

Experts have recognized some factors that may predispose a person to alcohol abuse, such as genetics, sex, race, and socioeconomic factors.

Alcoholism is not a condition but a disease that can cause neurochemical changes which render the consumer unable to control their actions. 

The disease also affects the heart, liver, pancreas, and immune system. Alcoholism can be treated with an alcohol rehab program like ours at Cornerstone Healing Center. 

Signs of Alcohol Abuse

The risk of alcohol addiction starts at low levels of drinking and gradually increases as the consumer increases consumption. 

Alcohol addiction is characterized by an increased tolerance to alcohol which makes the person consume more alcohol. 

The disease is also characterized by physical dependence on the substance which renders the person unable to control their consumption.

Physical dependence on alcohol can produce strong urges to drink alcohol in the affected individual. 

Alcoholism can adversely impact the individual’s mental health, causing psychiatric disorders and increasing the risk of suicide.

Short-term side effects of alcohol abuse are mostly physical. However, long-term abuse of alcohol causes both physical and psychiatric symptoms.

Usually, it’s these physical and mental symptoms that prompt the search for alcohol rehab. 

Short and Long Term Effects of Alcohol Abuse

Short-term Effects

A blood alcohol concentration between 0.03% and 0.12% improves mood, relieves anxiety, produces euphoria, and increases self-confidence. 

When a person drinks alcohol enough to cause BAC between 0.03% and 0.12%, their face appears flushed and muscle coordination gets better.

A blood alcohol concentration (BAC) between 0.09% and 0.25% causes sedation, balance problems, blurry vision, and lethargy. 

A blood alcohol concentration (BAC) between 0.18% and 0.30% causes slurred speech, confusion, dizziness, vomiting, and staggering.

A blood alcohol concentration (BAC) between 0.25% and 0.40% leads to vomiting, anterograde amnesia, unconsciousness, and life-threatening symptoms, such as respiratory depression and inhalation of vomit during the state of unconsciousness. 

A blood alcohol concentration (BAC) between 0.35% and 0.80% can cause alcohol poisoning which is potentially life-threatening.

Long-term Effects

Men and women must limit their daily intake of alcohol to two drinks and one drink respectively. 

Regular consumption of more than one drink for women and two drinks for men increases the risk of alcohol-related harms, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, atrial fibrillation, and stroke.

People who binge drink face an even greater risk of these harms. Binge drinking can also lead to violence or accidents. 

Alcohol use disorder (AUD) can reduce a person’s life expectancy by around 10 years.

Long-term abuse of alcohol can cause a range of physical symptoms including epilepsy, alcohol dementia, nutritional deficiencies, peptic ulcers, pancreatitis, cirrhosis of the liver, and sexual dysfunction. It can also be fatal eventually.

People with alcohol use disorder (AUD) have an increased risk of developing malabsorption syndrome (a disorder characterized by the inability of the small intestine to absorb nutrients), alcoholic liver disease, cardiovascular disease, and several types of cancers.

Long-term use of alcohol can also cause irreversible damage to both the central nervous system (CNS) and peripheral nervous system (PNS).

Furthermore, it is associated with a broad range of immunologic defects, generalized skeletal fragility, and a recognized tendency to accidental injury which results in a propensity to bone fractures.

Those who want to survive alcoholism must seek out an alcohol rehab that can help them heal from alcoholism. 

Psychiatric Effects

Severe psychiatric problems are common in individuals misusing alcohol for a long time. About 10% of all cases of dementia worldwide are related to long-term misuse of alcohol, making alcoholism the second leading cause of dementia.

Alcoholism increasingly affects brain function over time and causes psychological damage. 

People affected by alcoholism experience difficulty socializing as prolonged misuse of alcohol leads to neurotoxicity which impairs basic executive functions, such as focus, panning, attention, ability to remember instructions, and ability to multitask.

The neurotoxicity caused by alcoholism extends to the prefrontal cortex area of the brain which is responsible for cognitive control. 

Individuals also experience perception problems, dysprosody (a neurological speech disorder), and an inability to understand humor.

Psychiatric disorders are also common in such individuals with over 25% of people with alcohol use disorder suffering from severe psychiatric disturbances. 

This includes disruption in sleep among other things. The most common psychiatric disorders are anxiety and depression disorders.

 

How is Alcoholism Treated?

Treatment of alcohol abuse disorder (AUD) is challenging, but not impossible. While initial cooperation is not always necessary, it becomes easier if the individual struggling wants to change. 

Alcohol abuse treatment programs cannot force individuals to stop drinking but if they are ready, it can provide the tools needed to stop. The success of our alcohol rehab program has a lot to do with the individual’s desire to get better.

Alcohol Rehab

Rehab is the most common initial treatment option for individuals with alcohol use disorder (AUD). A rehab program is either outpatient or residential or both (meaning inpatient alcohol rehab then outpatient rehab after completion).

An inpatient rehab program for alcohol addiction can last from 30 days to 12 months. Alcohol abuse treatment programs are designed to help individuals handle alcohol withdrawal symptoms and emotional challenges.

Alcohol Addiction Support Groups

People with alcohol addiction can also turn to 12-step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) to get better. They can also join other support groups that don’t follow the 12-step model. These support groups include sober communities that help people struggling with alcohol addiction handle the withdrawal symptoms and deal with the challenges of sobriety in their everyday lives.

Other alcohol addiction treatment Options

People affected by alcoholism can also benefit from other treatments including counseling, nutritional changes, and anti-craving drug therapy. Drugs are prescribed to help the affected individuals deal with emotions common in recovery. Doctors may prescribe antidepressants if the affected individual were self-medicating to deal with depression.

Therapy is also helpful for teaching affected individuals how to manage the stress of recovery and the skills required to prevent a relapse. Nutritional changes help reverse the damage alcohol may have done to the person’s health, such as unexplained weight changes.

Get help for alcoholism with Cornerstone

If you’re at a point in your life where you’re tired of how alcohol is controlling your every move and decision, alcohol rehab is the right choice for you. 

Cornerstone Healing Center is Scottsdale, AZ alcohol rehab center that can help you. Cornerstone is focused on initiating the healing of our clients in mind, body, and spirit. We are evidence-based, trauma-informed, and led by a clinical team who is concerned with your long-term success in recovery. 

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