Dependency on alcohol can take anywhere from a few months to years to develop depending on an individual’s sensitivity. Genetics can play a key role in developing alcohol dependency. Stress also plays a significant role in alcoholism. Increased levels of stress can cause a person to reach to alcohol in order to cope with the feelings of anxiety associated with stress. Depression and other mental health disorders may also lead to abusing alcohol as a coping mechanism. Whatever the reason for yours or your loved one’s addiction, the dangers are high for those suffering from alcoholism but help is available.
The Dangers of Alcohol Abuse
The dangers that come with chronic drinking can make a serious impact on an individual’s health. While some effects of alcohol may be short-term, they can have lasting consequences. Alcohol is a depressant and limits the functions of the nervous system. It can alter emotions and thoughts, lower inhibitions, and can impair a person’s judgement. Reaction times begin to slow, and reflexes become sluggish with alcohol use. This is the reason why drinking and driving becomes dangerous, putting yourself and others at risk of serious injury or death.
Long-term health effects are also seen with alcohol abuse. Liver disease, including hepatitis and cirrhosis, are permanent, progressive conditions that can develop over time. High blood pressure, heart damage and failure, stroke, and diabetes are also long-term effects of excessive drinking. Alcoholics may also suffer from bone loss, vision damage, and have an increased risk of certain types of cancer.
Alcoholism is not a death sentence. If caught in time, many health issues can be reversed or improved. For those needing help, there are many resources available both locally and nationally that can help you or your loved one achieve sobriety.
Getting Help for Alcoholism
The biggest decision an alcoholic will ever make is choosing to seek out help for their addiction. The recovery from alcoholism is a lengthy process and lasts far beyond the time spent in rehabilitation or therapy. Staying sober takes a serious commitment to on-going therapy and a sincere desire to improve your health.
Achieving sobriety, while different for everyone, generally falls into three stages. The first stage is detoxification. This stage involves the withdrawal stage and is best completed under the care and supervision of medical professionals. Withdrawal can be very uncomfortable and having assistance from healthcare professionals allows individuals the ability to alleviate the side effects with medical intervention.
The second stage of treatment involves rehabilitation. This can be done in one of two ways, through either inpatient rehab or outpatient rehab. Inpatient rehab is typically an intensive treatment program that allows an individual to check into a facility for 30, 60, or 90 days. Outpatient rehab will allow an individual to take part in an individually tailored program without interrupting their day to day life. Your regular physician will be able to help you decide on the best treatment option based on your needs.
The last stage of treatment for alcoholism is usually the hardest. The maintenance stage lasts for a lifetime and includes various ongoing therapy such as support groups and individual counseling. Having a solid support system helps make the long road to maintained sobriety smoother.
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For more information on United States statistics of Alcohol abuse and awareness visit https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/alcohol-health/overview-alcohol-consumption/alcohol-facts-and-statistics