Alcohol is one of mankind’s oldest drugs. Therefore, alcohol addiction is also a long standing problem.
Alcohol is produced by fermentation, a metabolic process that occurs when an organism such as yeast converts carbohydrates like starch or sugar into alcohol. For as long as alcohol has been around there have been warnings about consuming too much of it.
In the late 1800’s the temperance movement began to demonize excessive alcohol use and pushed for prohibition. So in 1920 the US government passed laws prohibiting alcohol manufacturing, sales, and import or export of “intoxicating liquors”. This lead to a booming illegal alcohol trade that made gangsters like Al Capone possible. Americans proved that they would drink alcohol legal or illegal. The crime and corruption of the times lead to prohibition’s end in 1933.
Alcohol is a depressant that slows vital functions. Alcohol is absorbed into the bloodstream through the stomach and filtered or processed by the liver. The time frame within, along with the amount of alcohol a person uses determines exactly what type of effect is produced. The more a person drinks the greater the effect produced. Smaller amounts of alcohol can have a stimulant kind effect. Men and women drink alcohol essentially for the effect produced by it. For normal drinkers it means “loosing up” of relaxing with friends intimacy and conviviality.
Short Term Effects of Alcohol on the Body:
- Blurred Vision
- Slurred Speech
- Dulled Senses
- Reduced Inhibitions
- Reduced Coordination
- Loss of Body Heat
- Increased Urination
- Slowed Breathing
- Unstable Gate
- Long Term Effects of Alcohol on the Body:
- Encephalopathy (Wet Brain)
- Irregular Heartbeat
- High Blood Pressure
- Steatosis (Fatty Liver)
- Alcoholic Hepatitis (Cirrhosis)
- Weakened Immune System
- Erectile Dysfunction
When consuming an alcoholic beverage one is in actuality consuming a specific type of alcohol called ethanol, however we will refer to ethanol as ‘alcohol’ or an ‘alcoholic beverage' for the sake of convenience.
Alcoholic beverages are the most widely consumed drug in the United States and thus the most widely abused drug in the United States with at least 87.6 percent of adults aged 18 years or older reported as having consumed an alcoholic beverage at least once in their life and at least 24.7 percent of the same group of adults having engaged in binge and heavy drinking in the last month.
Common Slang Terms for Alcohol:
- Liquid Bread
- Drink or Drinks
Alcoholic drinks are typically ingested through beer, wine, spirts, liquor, and mixed drinks.
While the chances of overdosing on alcohol is very low compared to other “harder” drugs, alcohol poisoning and alcohol withdrawal are real threats that come with their own risk factors.
First let us look at Alcohol Poisoning. From your body’s perspective, alcohol is a poison; it is toxic and your body will fight to remove it. When the body can no longer keep up with the amount of intake given, alcohol poisoning occurs.
Symptoms of alcohol poisoning include unconsciousness, vomiting, confusion, a blue pallor of the skin, and stupor.
A hangover is the most common symptom of mild alcohol poisoning. Following a period of rapid alcoholic consumption, usually the next morning, a hangover is the body’s response to the flood of poison received. Symptoms include pounding headaches, light sensitivity, vomiting, and irritability.
The abuse of alcohol is known as Alcoholism, Chronic Alcohol Use, and Alcohol Use Disorder, or AUD, and affects 16.3 million adults in the United States. This figure accounts for 6.8 percent of all adults. As of 2015 there were an estimated 679,000 children aged 12-17 who reported to be suffering from AUD. Alcoholism is a sickness that should be understood as a chronic disease that should be treated regularly.
People who suffer from alcohol addiction find it difficult to quit drinking even when they want to and make an attempt to limit their intake. They experience a strong urge to drink and habitually consume alcohol even when it causes trouble with their family, friends, and work.
Binge drinking is commonly associated with alcohol addiction. Binge drinking is the onset of several alcoholic drinks over a relatively short duration of time. The National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) defines binge drinking as drinking enough drinks to raise blood alcohol concentration levels to .08 grams per deciliter in a two-hour period. This is reported to be five drinks for men and four drinks for women. Approximately 92 percent of United States adults who drink heavily have binged on alcohol in the previous 30 days.
In the case of alcoholism however, the body has an abnormal physical reaction to alcohol. This allergy, once developed, produces craving for more, once an alcoholic starts drinking they have little control over the amount they take. Once a person has developed an allergy to alcohol they can never return to a “normal” drinker again. Once a pickle always a pickle, they can never go back to being a cucumber.
Some of the Signs of Alcohol Addiction:
- Guilt about drinking
- Drinking more than you intend to; you can’t control yourself
- Drinking to the point of “blacking out”
- Lying to others about your drinking
- Chronically miss work or family events because of drinking
- Trusted friends or family members have confided that they are worried about your drinking habits
The next risk factor comes from the process of detoxing and the symptoms of Alcohol Withdrawal.
Detoxing from alcohol is the process of slowly weaning your body from the physical effects of alcohol. Often the sufferer will experience symptoms of severe nausea or sickness when undergoing detox. These sensations are known collectively as Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome.
When you drink every day, the body acclimates to having alcohol in the system and this causes the nervous system to become dependent on a steady level of alcohol. It loses the ability to adapt without alcohol and since detoxing removes alcohol from your system, your body reacts producing the symptoms of Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome. As a person begins to drink regularly they begin to develop a tolerance and need more and more in order to produce the same effect. Once a person develops alcoholism or alcohol dependence without alcohol they will begin to show signs of withdrawal or detox.
Some of the symptoms of Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome:
- Mild anxiety
- Abdominal Pain
- And in some cases hallucinations
The symptoms can start as early as two hours after the last drink, and increase in intensity depending on the level of alcohol addiction. By five to seven days, the most powerful symptoms will taper off. Alcohol withdrawal is one of the most dangerous detoxes and without medical supervision can lead to strokes seizures and even death.
Alcoholism consists of three factors. The first is the physical allergy or phenomenon of craving. This is what is unique to alcoholics and never occurs in normal drinkers. The second factor is the obsession of the mind. This is where the problem centers and what convinces an alcoholic to take the first drink. The third factor is the enteral or spiritual condition known as the malady. This is what causes many of us to be diagnosed with depression bipolar or with anxiety disorders. The restlessness irritability and feelings of discontent are what drive alcoholics to treat their alcoholism with what they know works, alcohol.
We do not recommend going it alone when detoxing from alcohol. We treat alcoholism every day and have been helping people overcome their alcohol addiction for over 20 years. To finally take the steps needed to help you or a loved one with their alcohol use, call us at 281-705-3457 and let us take it from here.
Bay Area Recovery Center has successfully treated individuals dependent on drugs and alcohol for over 20 years. People need to know treatment does work and there is life after alcohol addiction. Let us use our experience and expertise to develop a detox and treatment plan that is personalized to your situation. The illness of addiction is not something you or your family should have to go through alone. We can help. Call us now (713) 705-3457 or (281) 924-9846.
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