Alcohol, also known by the name ethanol, is a substance which is commonly used in beverages. It is produced through fermenting yeast and sugar. Alcohol is both volatile and flammable, and in its natural form; it only has a slight odor. A versatile substance, alcohol can be used as a fuel or even an antiseptic. Alcohol is considered a psychoactive, neurotoxic drug and is one of the oldest controlled substances consumed by people. When alcohol is continually consumed over a prolonged period of time, it can ultimately lead to addiction.
Alcohol addiction is best described as any situation where its consumption leads to behavioral or health problems. People that are addicted to alcohol will drink considerable amounts over time, much more so than the average person, and they will have difficulty stopping. As with other controlled substances, alcohol causes withdrawal issues when a user attempts to quit, and alcohol tolerance will be present after prolonged use. Some of the areas of the body which are most affected by this substance include the liver, brain, heart and pancreas. When drunk, alcoholics may engage in behaviors that are risky to both themselves and others.
Warning Signs of Alcohol Addiction
Alcohol addiction may begin slowly, but will increase as a greater volume of the substance is consumed over time. Alcoholics will typically drink extensively on specific occasions, such as during holidays, parties or other celebrations. Young people are particularly at risk. Specific warning signs include:
- Physical dependence on alcohol
- Strong urges to drink, particularly during certain occasions
- Driving under the influence
- Drinking unusually large amounts
Side Effects of Alcohol Abuse
There is a wide range of side effects associated with alcohol abuse. Alcoholics who drink a lot over a long period of time may gradually destroy their livers, while those that binge drink within a short period of time may even die. Additional side effects include:
- Cardiovascular disease
- Peptic ulcers
- Sexual dysfunction
Alcohol detoxification will typically be used as a treatment option for those who are addicted to this substance. It involves rapidly ending alcohol consumption, while simultaneously using cross tolerant drugs as a substitute. These drugs have effects which are similar to those of alcohol, and are designed to avoid the withdrawal symptoms.
Other forms of treatment are psychological in nature, and will involve activities such as group therapy and psychotherapy which can help users deal with the underlying problems that cause them to drink, while preventing relapse.
There are a number of medications which have been approved for the treatment of alcohol addiction. Some of these include acamprosate, disulfiram and naltrexone. Some of these drugs can stabilize the chemistry of the brain in a manner that will reduce alcohol dependence, while others prevent the destruction of acetaldehyde, which is a chemical the body creates whenever it processes ethanol. The good news is that there are a plethora of treatments available for alcohol addiction. The rehab option you select should be based on your preferences, resources and needs.
Contact us at NeuroPsychiatric Addiction Clinic today so that you can receive an obligation-free orientation on alcohol rehab.