Alcohol dependency, or alcoholism, is a disease that requires treatment in a drug and alcohol rehab program. Certain people have a strong disposition towards developing a dependency, such as those who have a family history of alcoholism. Often, there are certain triggers that cause someone to turn to heavy drinking and, eventually, alcoholism. These triggers include stress, bereavement and financial difficulties.
In many cases, people who have an alcohol dependency have a dual diagnosis. This means they also have an underlying psychiatric or psychological disorder that either led to or was caused by alcoholism. In many cases, people who suffer from a mental health issue such as anxiety, depression or psychosis, use alcohol in order to reduce the symptoms they experience. This is known as self-medicating. Unfortunately, however, alcohol will actually eventually make the symptoms worse.
Health Problems and Alcohol
Alcohol dependency and withdrawal can cause a range of health issues that can be life-limiting, even if you eventually stop drinking. This includes such problems as liver disease, heart disease and high blood pressure. Liver disease is particularly common in alcoholics and some even develop cirrhosis, which is permanent damage to the organ, stopping it from working properly. Only complete abstinence for life will stop you from experiencing liver failure and dying if you have cirrhosis.
Alcoholism also causes a range of psychological disorders. This is because it affects various neurotransmitters in the brain. Depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts are very common among those people who are alcohol dependent. Unfortunately, this often leads to further self-medicating, thereby actually making the problem worse.
Finally, alcoholism often destroys relationships, both on a personal and professional level. Many alcoholics lose their job and become estranged from their partners and children. This then leads to a lower mood, which means they are more likely to self-medicate with alcohol, thereby continuing the vicious cycle.
If you feel that you need help with your alcohol problem, it is very important to seek professional help. Depending on how strong your dependency is, you should never go “cold turkey” by yourself, as this could lead to a delirium tremens, which can have fatal consequences.
Detox has to be done very carefully and you must be fully supervised by medical professionals. The process is incredibly uncomfortable. When Alcoholics Anonymous first started, they would advise a gradual reduction of how much alcohol someone would consume. Now, it is more common for certain other medications to be used in order to help people get through the withdrawal process. However, it is very important that alcohol is not simply substituted with a different drug instead.
Alcohol withdrawal usually takes between five and ten days. However, it is very important to understand that this period of withdrawal only addresses the physical dependency and not the psychological one.
During withdrawal and for a period afterwards, alcoholics will usually be prescribed vitamin B1 (thiamine), as this is a vitamin most are lacking. This can cause wet brain or Korsakoff’s Syndrome, leading to early onset dementia. This is one of the reasons why withdrawal should only be done under medical supervision. The other is that acute psychosis can also develop, which must be treated appropriately.
The psychological effects of alcohol dependency also require treatment and these can last for substantial periods of time. This is why it is so important to have the support of professionals, such as our staff at Creative Care, to help patients through this process. Alcoholics Anonymous also offer great programs to help people once they return to their communities and have ensure the number of relapses has been seriously reduced.
Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms
An alcohol dependent person will experience a number of physical withdrawal symptoms. These include:
- The shakes, particularly in the hands
A number of psychological symptoms are also often experienced, including:
At Creative Care, we understand that no two people are the same, and they will therefore experience their withdrawal in different ways. This is why we create tailored packages to ensure the greatest chance of success. Alcohol withdrawal can take years, particularly the psychological side of it, and we will provide support throughout this time. Please contact us today if you want to get started on the road to recovery.