Alcoholism, also known as alcohol addiction, is a lifestyle disease that is usually characterized by repeated episodes of heavy drinking and an inability to control one’s drinking habits. Problems such as societal pressures, as well as psychological problems, are some of the leading causes of alcoholism. Fortunately, there are several alcoholism treatment facilities such as Liberty Bay Recovery in Portland, Maine, which provide help for people struggling with alcoholism.
What Is Alcoholism?
The problem of alcoholism is often more complex than many people realize. Some people develop the condition independently even when there is no history of alcoholism in their family. In many other cases, alcoholics appear to inherit the condition from their parents genetically via a biochemical defect.
Alcoholism is generally considered a progressive condition by many leading experts. As a result, it often takes as many as 12 or more years of excessive alcohol consumption before the well-known symptoms of alcoholism become fully developed in an individual. In many cases, it takes as many as 18 years of alcohol consumption before a person’s health starts deteriorating due to alcohol abuse. The physical effects of alcoholism on the body include nervous, cardiovascular, and gastrointestinal systems damage. When left untreated, this damage can be fatal.
The physical signs of alcohol consumption and intoxication are easily recognizable by most adults and include the following:
- Poor body balance and general clumsiness
- Slurred or incoherent speech
- Delayed motor reflexes
- Redness in the face when taking alcohol or after the event
- Stomach pains, nausea, and vomiting
- Loss of consciousness (blacking out)
When the level of alcohol intoxication goes too high, it can become life-threatening. This is also known as alcohol poisoning whereby the victim’s respiratory system becomes depressed, and the person stops breathing.
Signs of Alcohol Abuse
When a person progressively uses alcohol in increased quantity and frequency, they can develop the symptoms of alcoholism. A person abusing alcohol makes alcohol consumption central to their lives, often displacing their relationships and healthy activity which results in negative consequences. People who abuse alcohol often maintain the ability to recognize situations that can potentially lead to overconsumption of alcohol and thus try to regulate their alcohol intake. Some of the common signs of alcohol abuse include the following:
- Loss of control over the amount of alcohol consumed once the person starts drinking
- Regular lack of attention to both family and professional obligations
- Indulgence in dangerous behavior that leads to legal, financial, and health consequences for both the alcoholic and their family
- Elevated levels of anger and other undesirable emotions often in inappropriate settings such as public places
- Insomnia (difficulty falling asleep) which is often followed by heavy sleeping
Signs of Alcoholism (Alcohol Dependence)
When alcohol abuse is left untreated for a long time, it often progresses to alcohol addiction that is characterized by physical dependency as well as an inability to stop despite the person being aware of serious consequences. Once an alcoholic begins drinking, they have little or no control over the volume of alcohol they consume. The progression to alcohol dependency is an indication that the person has made the act of obtaining and consuming alcohol the main focus of their lives. Signs of alcohol dependence are considered a serious medical illness and include the following:
- Serious hangovers after alcohol consumption with an increase in the time needed by the person to fully recover from the after-effects of alcohol
- An increase in the amount of alcohol consumed by the user due to an increase in alcohol tolerance
- A reduced capacity to focus on both personal and professional responsibilities
- Acknowledgment of the side effects of alcoholism as well as the associated medical complications
- Repeated but unsuccessful attempts to lower alcohol consumption
- Withdrawal symptoms when the person does not consume alcohol
Withdrawal Symptoms of Alcoholism
Long-term alcohol abuse puts the user at risk of serious medical complications whenever they attempt to stop consuming alcohol without proper medical supervision and advice. Alcoholism withdrawal symptoms are indicative of a serious and advanced addictive disease and should therefore never be taken lightly. Some common alcoholism withdrawal symptoms include the following:
- Tremors, uncontrolled shaking of hands or the body, and convulsions
- Extreme agitation and anxiety
- Profuse sweating even when the weather is cold
- Nausea or vomiting
- Persistent insomnia
Many people are unaware of the fact that alcohol detoxification is a more complex process than detoxification from other drugs and poses a greater health risk. Sudden discontinuation of alcohol consumption by an alcohol addict can induce a serious medical condition known as delirium tremens. Alcohol withdrawal can easily lead to death. Medical detoxification is strongly recommended to help an alcohol addict stop drinking safely.
The Effects of Alcohol Abuse Addiction
Long-term abuse of alcohol poses serious dangers to a person’s physical, emotional, mental, social, and spiritual well-being. In addition to serious effects on the user’s career and their relationships with family and friends, alcohol abuse causes serious and irreversible damage to sensitive body organs including the following:
- The liver
- Nervous system
- Gastrointestinal tract
Alcohol abuse can produce a myriad of medical side effects. Many alcoholics are usually in denial about the real cause of these medical problems and often blame other conditions for it. Some common medical side effects that are caused by alcoholism include the following:
- Stomach problems
- High blood pressure
- Sexual problems
- Osteoporosis (weakening of the bones), especially in women
Alcoholism often leads to severe social consequences for the drinker. A person who is often hung over at work jeopardizes their job and often end up being terminated, leaving them and their families in serious financial difficulties. Alcohol abuse also causes problems such as marital conflicts, domestic violence, and legal problems and can be made worse by the co-occurrence of problems such as bulimia or anorexia, especially in women.
Alcohol Effects on the Body
The intoxicating effect of alcohol is due to the presence of ethanol which acts as a depressant on the central nervous system and the brain. Ethanol molecules bind to the brain’s GABA receptors where they activate the release of the brain’s chief inhibitory neurotransmitter. This aspect of alcohol intoxication is also the chief reason why alcohol detoxification is often dangerous. Alcohol is metabolized in the liver where it is broken down into less toxic compounds and eliminated from the body through the kidneys and lungs. This is why long-term consumption of alcohol often results in serious and irreversible damage to the liver.
Alcoholism is a medically diagnosed disease that manifests itself in frequent alcohol abuse despite numerous negative consequences in the user’s life. Alcohol abuse is responsible for more than 100,000 deaths every year in the U.S. and Canada and is also the leading cause of teenage deaths usually through drunk driving.
Drinking patterns tend to vary from one person to another. Some people consume alcohol every day while others tend to binge during specific times, especially when they are feeling stressed out.
What Causes Alcoholism?
Many studies have been conducted to try and understand the chief cause of alcoholism. Even though scientists have not been able to pinpoint the exact cause of alcoholism, they have nevertheless been able to isolate a number of contributing factors. The genetic predisposition of the user, mental health, and a person’s environment are some of the leading causes of alcoholism. These diverse factors explain why two people who grew in the same family often respond to alcohol in different ways. Even in families where alcoholism is prevalent, different family members respond very differently to treatment.
Don’t Wait. Call Today.
There are many good reasons why you should enter a rehab program and stop the destructive cycle of alcohol addiction that damages not only your health and finances but also strains your relationship with family members and friends.
Alcohol addiction can easily damage your life when left untreated, leaving you with nothing but tears and regrets. Call us today at 844-894-2673 for more information on how Liberty Bay Recovery can help you win the battle against alcohol addiction.
Regardless of which insurance plan you have, be it Aetna, Cigna, Humana, GEHA, UMR, Harvard Pilgrim HealthCare, or Value Options—we are ready to help you. We offer many affordable self-pay options as well.
Contact Liberty Bay Recovery
Remember that it’s never easy to kick a drug habit, and trying to kick alcohol addiction on your own is not only extremely difficult, but almost guaranteed to fail. In Liberty Bay recovery, you have a caring friend who will walk with you on your road to victory over alcohol abuse and addiction. Contact Liberty Bay Recovery in Portland, Maine today and let us help you live a full and happy life once again.