Alcoholism is a disease that can hit anyone. It doesn’t matter if you’re rich or poor, young or old, male or female—alcoholism cuts across all boundaries. If left untreated, alcoholism can destroy your personal and professional life, as well as your health. There are many ways in which alcohol affects people. Some people get addicted to alcohol very easily, while others take longer to develop a problem with it. The main thing is that once you start drinking excessively and relying on alcohol for relaxation and stress relief, you’ve crossed the line and have the first signs of alcoholism. How does this happen? What causes someone to become an alcoholic? And how do you recover from this terrible disease? Keep reading to find out everything you need to know about alcoholism.
What Is Alcoholism?
Alcoholism, or alcohol dependence, is an excessive and regular intake of alcohol accompanied by a physical dependence on it. Alcoholism is a very common condition that can affect anyone, no matter what their gender, ethnicity, or socio-economic background. Alcoholism is a disease that can be treated and managed, but not cured. It’s important to know that alcoholism is not a choice; people don’t choose to become alcoholics. The risk of alcoholism is increased by genetics, psychological issues, and the amount of alcohol consumed. Alcoholism can lead to serious health problems, such as liver damage, heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. It can also increase the risk of certain types of cancers, such as breast cancer in women and cancer of the mouth, esophagus, liver, and colon. The long-term consequences of alcoholism can be fatal. Alcoholism can also negatively impact relationships with family, friends, and co-workers, and lead to financial and legal problems.
Signs and Symptoms of an Alcohol Use Disorder
People with an alcohol use disorder, or AUD, drink in a way that harms their health, relationships, and ability to work. AUD signs and symptoms may include:
- Feeling the need to drink regularly or regularly being sick as a result of drinking
- Having cravings or urges to drink
- Drinking more than you intended to
- Experiencing difficulties at work or school, or a decline in your performance
- Having problems with relationships because of your drinking
- Continuing to drink even when it’s causing problems in your life
Long-Term Consequences of Untreated Alcohol Addiction
If you’re an alcohol addict, you might experience a wide range of negative emotions and physical changes as a result of your addiction. You may feel depressed, anxious, or nervous. You may also experience severe withdrawal symptoms, such as shakiness, nausea, sweating, or insomnia when you stop drinking. Given the negative psychological and physical effects of alcohol-related use disorders, it’s important to seek help as soon as possible. If you ignore your alcohol use disorder, it can become worse. Over time, alcohol can cause serious damage to your body, including liver disease and heart disease. Heavy alcohol use can also increase your risk of certain types of cancer. Alcohol can also harm your brain, impacting your memory and ability to learn. However, even if you have had alcohol problems for many decades, it is possible to quit drinking and begin the journey of alcohol recovery at any time.
How Does Alcohol Addiction Develop?
The exact mechanism of alcohol addiction is not clearly understood. It’s true that alcohol can make you feel relaxed, but it’s not a necessity for relaxation. When you drink alcohol, it’s absorbed into your bloodstream, and a certain amount of it ends up in your brain. Alcohol interferes with the normal transmission of chemicals in the brain, including serotonin and dopamine—two chemicals that affect your mood and feelings of enjoyment. When alcohol interferes with normal brain chemistry, it can produce feelings of relaxation and pleasure. When you drink, your body begins to process the alcohol and break it down into byproducts. As the alcohol is broken down, you begin to feel its effects less and less. This is why you have to keep drinking in order to keep the same level of intoxication. However, if you keep drinking, you’ll reach a level of alcohol in your blood that’s toxic to your body.
Types of Alcohol Abuse: Alcohol Dependence and Addiction
How is Alcohol Use Disorder Treated?
Dealing with alcohol withdrawal symptoms
Can Alcohol Addiction Be Cured?
Abstinence or Moderation?
What types are therapy are used for alcoholism?
There are many types of therapy that are used to treat alcohol addiction. Alcohol use disorder is a legitimate mental health condition on its own, but it is also often linked to other mental health issues like depression and anxiety. Therapy for alcoholism recovery helps you get your drinking habits under control while simultaneously tackling underlying mental illness. The main types of therapy used to treat alcoholism are:
- Individual therapy: In individual therapy, you meet with a therapist on a regular basis to talk about your emotions and feelings, your relationships with others, and your negative thought patterns. Individual therapy can help you deal with life events such as divorce or death, increase self-esteem and self-awareness, and support you in achieving your goals. It can also help you deal with harmful thought patterns and emotions such as guilt, shame, and anger.
- Couples therapy: Couples therapy is designed for couples who are having relationship issues. This can include partners who are abusive or have a substance abuse problem. Couples therapy is often done in combination with individual therapy for each partner. This allows partners to support each other in their efforts to change.
- Family therapy: Family therapy can help if you or someone you know has a substance abuse problem. Family members can benefit from therapy to learn how to deal with the alcohol or substance abuse problem and have a better understanding of how to respond to it. Family therapy can also be helpful if you have a child with a substance abuse problem or have been affected by the substance abuse of a family member or friend.
Recognize your triggers for substance abuse
A trigger is something that causes you to act in a certain way that you might not otherwise act. Triggers can be physical, mental, or emotional. Triggers can lead to relapse for people who have recovered from alcoholism. For people who want to recover from their alcohol problems, recognizing the sources of alcohol cravings is absolutely essential.
Some common triggers for alcohol relapse include:
- Emotional triggers: Emotional triggers are feelings of anxiety, anger, or sadness that lead you to want to drink. You can work on ways to manage these feelings and reduce the desire to drink.
- Environmental triggers: Environmental triggers are places and situations that lead you to want to drink. Some common environmental triggers are being at a bar, seeing someone you used to drink with, or being in a stressful situation.
Outpatient Treatment vs Inpatient Treatment for Alcohol Treatment
12-step programs and support groups
If you are a recovering alcoholic, it is important to meet sober friends, develop healthy relationships, and have continuing sources of ongoing support. 12-step programs and support groups are popular options for people who want to recover from alcohol addiction. Alcoholics Anonymous is one such support group and it has meetings in most cities and towns. Support groups can be helpful in a variety of situations, including in recovery from alcohol addiction. Support groups are an important part of the recovery process because they can give you a place to vent, get encouragement and advice from people who understand what you’re going through, and learn from other people’s experiences.
Building a social support system
Developing coping skills in sobriety
How can family members help their loved one stay sober?
How to stay sober after rehab
Many people who enter treatment for alcohol abuse or addiction relapse at some stage in the future. This doesn’t mean that you weren’t sincere about wanting to quit drinking, it just means that you need to find ways of staying sober that work for you—otherwise you might as well not even try. Getting sober and staying that way is all about learning how to deal with life’s challenges in new ways. The things that triggered your desire to turn to alcohol in the first place are still there, but instead of turning to booze you need to learn how to handle them in a healthy way. You can’t change the fact that you have a genetic predisposition toward alcoholism, but you can change how you deal with life without alcohol. A quality outpatient treatment center will stay in touch long after a client has graduated, ensuring that they maintain their healthy habits and never return to their drinking problem again.
Staying sober after rehab can be a challenging and sometimes overwhelming task, but sober living houses in Los Angeles can provide a supportive environment for individuals transitioning back into everyday life. At a sober living house like Design for Recovery, residents can benefit from a structured and supportive community that promotes physical, emotional, and mental wellbeing. Through counseling, peer support, and various activities that encourage healthy habits, residents can develop the skills and tools needed to maintain their sobriety and achieve lasting recovery. The sober living environment also provides a safe space to continue practicing the coping mechanisms learned in rehab, helping residents to build and maintain healthy habits and routines. By prioritizing their sobriety and surrounding themselves with supportive peers, individuals can find the ongoing support they need to successfully navigate the challenges of life after rehab. If you’re seeking a supportive community to help you maintain your sobriety after rehab, consider enrolling in a sober living house like Design for Recovery in Los Angeles.
Is Alcoholism a Disease: Long-Term Effect of Alcohol Abuse