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What is alcoholism and what is involved in drug and alcohol treatment?
Some people are able to drink alcohol throughout the course of their lives, and despite alcohol’s inhibition-lowering tendencies, never have a bit of trouble with self-control, not with what, how much, when, or with whom they choose to drink. Others, by comparison, seemingly lose control with their first drink, and never truly regain it until they enter recovery. Still others, with their first drink, begin a long slide upon a slippery slope that eventually lands them in alcohol treatment centers as well – if they’re lucky.
It is one of the mysteries of the disease that two people can initially imbibe alcohol from pretty much the same set of statistics – the same socio-economic group, same level of education, same type of social gathering – yet ultimately end up in such different places. Alcohol dependency is one of the most prevalent forms of addiction in the world today. Typically, if a person wonders whether they have a problem with alcohol, chances are, they do. Successful recovery often requires long-term drug and alcohol treatment, and indeed, many experts hold the position that one is never cured from alcoholism, but instead, is perpetually “recovering.”
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What is Alcoholism?
Alcoholism is a chronic, progressive disease that’s primary characteristic is the inability to stop drinking alcohol. It has both psychological and physical components. Over time, sustained alcohol usage exacts a heavy toll, not only on the drinker’s body, but also, his brain. Alcohol alters how the human brain functions by changing how the brain’s pleasure and reward center works. Alcohol use becomes first a craving and then a compulsion. The alcoholic eventually only feels “right” when drinking. Unfortunately, his drinking tends to have disastrous effects. Not only is his health affected, but also his social relationships. It isn’t uncommon for alcoholics to have legal problems, such as those that result from drinking and driving, marital difficulties, and career and financial problems, as well.
What Causes Alcoholism?
Experts disagree as to the precise “cause” of alcoholism, and it is widely believed to have several causative factors. Heredity is believed to play a part, as does environment. Children who grow up in alcoholic homes, for example, are more likely to become alcoholics than children who grow up with parents who don’t drink, or who do not drink to excess.
It is known that over time, a person will develop a tolerance to alcohol, meaning he’ll need to drink more to achieve the same degree of effect. As the person’s tolerance continues to build, they are more likely to experience all of alcohol’s adverse effects, and in extreme causes, may be in danger from alcohol poisoning, which can lead to death.
Alcohol alters the chemical composition in not only the pleasure seeking reward center of the brain, but also in the pre-frontal cortex, the section responsible for one’s thought processes and impulse control. With one’s desire for pleasure heightened and ability to control impulsive decisions lowered, it isn’t difficult to see how people get into trouble once they start trekking down Alcohol Avenue. As the consequences of a person’s behaviour when inebriated catches up with them, their feelings of shame and guilt become part of the motivation to drink even more, craving the ease that the brain’s dopamine release provides.
Who Is at Risk?
It has been said that alcoholism is an equal opportunity disease, meaning that people of both sexes, all ages and races, and from all walks of life are potentially vulnerable. Those at the greatest risk, however, are children of alcoholics who drink, people with certain psychological disorders, such as anxiety and depression, PTSD, bipolar, BPD, schizophrenia, and others. Indeed, many people with such disorders who are alcoholics are believed to be attempting to self-medicate, especially if their disorder is undiagnosed. People who drink more than five drinks per day are also considered to be at risk for alcoholism.
How Is a Drinking Problem Diagnosed?
How people respond to alcohol can differ substantially from person to person. There are, however, several clear warning signs, which should be noted, particularly when they occur in conjunction with one another. Some of the most common are listed below.
- Needing to drink in order to feel comfortable socially
- Hiding the amount of one’s alcohol consumption
- Engaging in dangerous or otherwise risky behaviours while drinking, such as drinking and driving, or unprotected sex
- Legal problems that would not have occurred had you not been drinking
- Missing work, school or family engagements as a direct result of alcohol
- Needing to drink more to achieve the same effect
- Experiencing “blackouts” or periods of memory loss that occurred while drinking
A person who is experiencing any of the above needs to seriously consider whether his social drinking has become a drinking problem, and seek alcohol dependence treatment from alcohol abuse rehab if appropriate. The greater the number of these warning signs one is experiencing, the greater the need for professional evaluation.
In addition to the number of social difficulties that someone with a drinking problem is likely to encounter, there are physical ramifications from long-term heavy drinking that frequently (some would say inevitably) affect a person, as well. The physical aspect of alcoholism increases a person’s risk for circulatory system disorders, such as heart disease and high blood pressure. It also increases one’s risk of having a stroke, and of dementia. Cancer risk, specifically of the mouth, oesophagus, larynx, liver and pancreas are increased. These are serious risks, and their likelihood can be greatly reduced with timely and successful drug and alcohol treatment.
How to treat alcoholism? – By seeking help from alcohol treatment centers
There certainly isn’t anything wrong with having a social drink now and then, but when a person’s social drinking begins to complicate their daily life, it is time to stop and evaluate whether alcohol treatment from an alcohol treatment center might be in order. Many people assume they can go the self-help route. While it is true that Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) has an admirable track record of success, no one tracks the program’s failures. Many experts and recovering alcoholics alike believe the best chance for true recovery involves in-patient alcohol treatment in a qualified alcohol treatment center. Furthermore, many of a person’s physical symptoms and concerns will reverse themselves once a successful recovery is underway. Therefore, going to an alcohol treatment center to get alcohol addiction treatment is highly recommended for alcoholics.
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Timing matters. It’s important to get help
while a person is open to change
Timing matters. It’s important to get help while a person is open to change.
So ask any questions or reserve a place at ARC now. TODAY!
So ask any questions or reserve
a place at ARC now. TODAY!
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“If I didn’t come here and do this treatment, I don’t think I’d be on this earth now.” - Johnathon
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ARC clients make it!
“If I didn’t come here & do this treatment, I don’t think I’d be on this earth now.”
– John, free from alcohol & drugs for 3 years at time of review
Addiction Recovery Centre – ARC – Drug & Alcohol Rehab Center in Portsmouth
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