Alcohol Addiction Treatment
Signs, Symptoms, and Treatment Options
It should come as no surprise that alcohol is one of the most abused substances in the country. The legality and social acceptability of the drug has made it a commonly used substance for nearly any occasion. Unfortunately, using alcohol regularly can lead to a number of dangerous problems including the development of an alcohol addiction and the effects that come with sustained alcoholism. More than 140,000 people die each year from excessive alcohol use. If you are worried that you or your loved one may be struggling, contact our team at Reflections and get the help you need.
What is Alcohol Addiction?
Alcohol addiction is a substance use disorder problem caused by excessive and compulsive drinking. The definition of alcohol addiction or alcohol use disorder (AUD) is “a condition characterized by an impaired ability to stop or control alcohol use despite adverse social, occupational, or health consequences.”
Causes of Alcohol Addiction
Alcohol addiction can be caused in a number of ways through mental health conditions, but the addiction forms through changes in brain neurology through the effects of alcohol. Using alcohol leads to feelings of pleasure as well as weakened negative feelings. This then leads to people using the drug again and again to chase that same feeling.
As drinking continues, changes in brain structure and function begin to take place and the brain’s reward system begins to establish drinking as a routine, leading to alcohol cravings and alcohol withdrawal symptoms. These problems, in turn, lead the user to drink more in order to fend off these problems or succumb to their urges.
The development of a dangerous cycle and deadly downward spiral occurs and soon, people are using alcohol in excess not only to stave off withdrawal but also to overcome the tolerance they have built up to the drug.
Effects of Alcohol
Alcohol affects nearly every organ in the body, increases risk of numerous diseases, exacerbates mental health problems, and can lead to professional and financial issues as well. Overall, alcohol can impact people’s lives physically, emotionally, mentally, financially, and more. Prolonged use leads to a number of alcohol addiction symptoms that can be deadly.
Short-Term Effects of Alcohol
Alcohol and alcohol abuse can lead to a number of short- and long-term problems. Some of the most common short-term effects of alcohol include:
- Slurred speech
- Poor vision
- Slow reflexes
- Slowed brain activity
- Hair loss
Binge drinking in high amounts, it can also cause problems like vomiting, breathing difficulties, passing out, and more.
The effects of alcohol are not limited to the physical problems that can occur from excessive use. It is important to understand the consequences that alcohol can have on personal judgment and how it can lead to life-altering consequences.
The most supreme example of this is drunk driving. Drunk driving is a major issue across the nation. In fact, every day 32 people die in the U.S. from drunk driving crashes. Impaired judgment is the most likely cause people get behind the wheel with alcohol in their system.
Long-Term Effects of Alcohol
Excessive and consistent alcohol use can lead to a number of dangerous problems in vital areas like the brain, heart, liver, and more. Some of the long-term effects of alcohol on the heart include:
- High blood pressure
Along with these problems, one of the most dangerous issues associated with heavy drinking is the effect it can have on the liver. Prolonged alcohol abuse can cause liver inflammation, liver scarring and eventually cause liver diseases like cirrhosis, a problem that causes permanent liver scarring and leads to liver failure, resulting in death.
Along with these, alcohol is also a known carcinogen and increases the risk of a number of different types of cancer including:
- Liver Cancer
- Breast Cancer
- Colorectal cancer and more
One of the most dangerous effects of alcohol use is the risk of alcohol poisoning or alcohol overdose. An alcohol overdose happens when there is so much alcohol in the bloodstream that certain parts of the brain that control daily life function begin to fail or shut down. Some of the most common examples of this include breathing, heart rate, body temperature control, and more.
Obviously, major changes or loss of function to these areas can lead to dangerous consequences including permanent brain damage or death.
How Long Does Alcohol Stay in Your System?
Generally speaking, alcohol stays in your system for up to 25 hours but can depend on a number of factors including how much you drank, your body weight, tolerance, and more. The half life for alcohol is 4-5 hours and it takes about 5 half lives to get rid of the substance completely.
One of the most dangerous problems associated with excessive alcohol use is alcohol withdrawal. Alcohol withdrawal is one of the only forms of drug withdrawal that can result in death. That is why it is vital to seek professional treatment if you are dealing with alcoholism. Some of the most common symptoms of alcohol withdrawal include anxiety, depression, nightmares, irritability, shakiness, mood swings, and more.
Alcohol withdrawal syndrome occurs when an AUD has set it in and the individual suddenly decreases or stops alcohol consumption altogether. In most cases, mild alcohol withdrawal symptoms will begin just hours after the last drink.
Alcohol Withdrawal Timeline
Alcohol withdrawal will occur in a few stages that lead to various symptoms ranging from mild and annoying to severe and deadly.
The first stage of alcohol withdrawal occurs a few hours after the last drink and is characterized by problems like elevated blood pressure, insomnia, anxiety, GI issues, headaches, and more.
The second stage of alcohol withdrawal occurs 12 to 24 hours after the last drink and the user will deal with more moderate symptoms including hallucinations
The third stage of alcohol is the most severe and can occur just two days after cessation of alcohol use and this stage can last up to five days depending on the situation. This final stage of alcohol withdrawal leads to delirium tremens, the most severe alcohol withdrawal symptom that can cause complications such as seizures, arrhythmias, confusion, respiratory failure, and even death.
How Long Does Alcohol Withdrawal Last?
Alcohol withdrawal can last up to 7 days and even longer in some cases.
Detox for Alcohol
One way that people can overcome alcohol withdrawal is through detox. While some believe that detoxing from alcohol at home is fine to do, it is vital to seek out the help of a professional treatment program. Alcohol withdrawal can be deadly in some cases and is not anything to play around with.
During a medically monitored alcohol detox, clients will be given fluids and examined 24/7 to ensure that withdrawal symptoms do not become too severe. Emergency services are available in these circumstances. During this time, some treatment programs also elect to use alcohol withdrawal medications like benzodiazepines to help numb the symptoms that clients are struggling with.
Alcohol detox is the first step in addiction treatment and is vital to ensure that users can overcome the early stages of sobriety so they can shift their focus to learning about addiction and developing skills related to relapse prevention during their time in a rehab facility.
Alcohol Addiction Treatment
Alcohol addiction treatment and rehab looks different at each treatment facility. But, generally speaking, you can expect some form of individual and group therapy sessions, oftentimes coupled with other forms of addiction treatment including dual diagnosis treatment, medication-assisted treatment, support groups, relapse prevention training and holistic options like yoga, art therapy, equine therapy, and more.
At Reflections we offer all of these things and more at our high-end rehab programs. We can help with all levels of care including detox, our inpatient and outpatient alcohol treatment programs are in place to help those struggling with alcoholism get the help they need.
Inpatient Alcohol Rehab
Inpatient, or residential, alcohol treatment at Reflections utilizes evidence-based treatment modalities balanced with experiential and holistic recovery options to ensure that all clients get the help they need. Clients will stay at our 2-acre gated estate in Northern California as they work through the program. During their time they will have access to luxurious amenities like a pool and spa, massage therapy, private bedrooms, and more.
Outpatient Alcohol Rehab
At Reflections, treatment doesn’t end when you leave our inpatient facility. We have step down treatment available to help with the next levels of care. At our outpatient alcohol rehab, clients will continue to go to treatment for a few hours a day a few days out of the week, depending on their care program, while they live back at home or at a sober living facility and adjust to their new sober lifestyle.