The Other Side of Alcoholism (Alcohol Addiction)

By Tamon

It’s no longer news to find people who are being controlled or who are under the influence of alcohol on our streets.The trend of alcoholic consumption has greatly increased in recent times especially among youths. But what can be the actual cause of this rise in alcoholic consumption?The bad thing about alcohol consumption is that, “the more you drink it, the more it feels good and the easier you get carried away in alcoholism” that you become an alcohol addict. People easily become addicted to hard drugs such as marijuana, Cocaine, heroin, cigarette, or even in some bad moral habits like fornication, adultery, pornography, masturbation, lesbianism, gay and just to cite these few.

When we consider all these stuffs people get addicted to, there first thing we will realize is that, these stuffs are prohibited or banned in most states. Their safety is questionable and though they may be safe or used in certain instances, there’re all strict rules that guide their use. However, addicts abuse these drugs or goes against the safety rules and in time, their system becomes adapted to these drugs such that if they don’t take it, there may grow mad or disturbed.

While the law may be firmly ruthless against Cocaine, it isn’t the case with Alcohol. All the law provides is Alcohol consumption with caution and care, forbids drinking and driving and also every form of abnormal behaviors that could be associated with excess Alcohol consumptions causing social mishaps. It is for this reason why in terms of addiction, Alcohol addiction is beyond description. Since Alcohol is a composition of substances, its addiction has serious effects to the health of those addicted by it as well as other socio-economic consequences as explained subsequently in this article.

a). Causes of Alcohol addiction

          The causes of Alcoholism are different for each addict. Prior to drug addiction, Alcoholism is a serious problem that develops over a period of time. There are often a lot of factors that lead to a person’s problems with Alcohol: genetic, social and emotional. Several times these factors overlap, creating a strong urge in the person to turn to Alcohol as a way to cope.

i). Genetic factors play a significant role in the causes of Alcohol addiction. There is no denying that when addiction runs in a family, there is an accelerated chance of addictive tendencies in the forthcoming generations. However, this is not an excuse. It is left to each and every person to take responsibility for their actions and decisions. Alcoholics who stem from parents, grandparents, etc. who had difficulties with Alcohol consciously made the choice to experiment with drinking. There are several individuals who have Alcoholism in their family, but they do not become Alcoholics themselves. As of today, science has no means of anticipating which person will choose to abuse Alcohol and which person will choose to handle their problems in a healthier fashion.  If you originate from a family with a history of Alcoholism or addiction it is wise to be mindful of the choices you make regarding these situations. Addictive probabilities may take hold sooner than you can imagine and send you into the downward spiral of addiction.

ii). The causes of Alcohol addiction also include emotional issues. That is, physical/sexual abuse and mental issues (depression, low self-esteem, bi-polar and just to cite a few). Individuals who suffer or have suffered physical and/or sexual abuse will sometimes turn to drugs and Alcohol as a way of numbing their pain on the inside. This coping option only works for so long before the Alcohol begins to become a problem in their lives, just like the abuse they are trying to withdraw from. Mental issues such as depression will also cause people to turn to Alcohol to feel better. Initially, they will feel a kind of better but as they continue to drink the depressive nature of Alcohol takes over and will bring them down more than before they took their first drink. People who are bi-polar are very susceptible to turning to Alcohol and other recreational and prescription drugs as a means of self-medicating. It is not bizarre for a person who is bi-polar to take a variety of prescription drugs in addition to consuming Alcohol in an attempt to feel better or normal. Equally, people who suffer with low self-esteem may turn to Alcohol as a form of liquid momentum. This is a two edged sword, as they continue to drink they will often participate in activities and say things that they would not have if they were sober.

iii) Another factor in the causes of Alcohol addiction is social and peer pressure. A handful of people starts drinking socially and gradually develop an abusive relationship with Alcohol. What may have once been mere drinks with friends becomes drinking at every social function and feeling the overwhelming urge to drink if Alcohol is not part of the event. Peer pressure equally leads to several people’s abuse of Alcohol. In high school and college some teenagers enjoy the attention they get when they drink and brag about holding their liquor. This is a slippery slope as it can result them to develop dangerous drinking habits and a reliance on Alcohol as a means of social interaction. As time progresses they will not have developed the skills necessary to feel comfortable interacting with others socially without having a drink in their hand.

 As you see, there are several factors that play a part in the development of a person’s struggles with Alcohol. It doesn’t matter if it is one of the above mentioned factors or maybe something specific and personal to the Alcoholic themselves, the causes of Alcoholism all have specific outcome. A person who counts on Alcohol suffers emotionally, physically, as well as socially because of their addiction.

 There is not one person who suffers with Alcoholism on the planet who said to themselves, I think I should become an Alcoholic. It is something that happened over a duration of time and a lot of poor choices along the way. Initially, they embrace Alcohol as a means of coping with whatever factors or issues faced in their life. As they continued to hang on to Alcohol to solve their problems or make them feel better their mind and body begins to expect Alcohol on a regular basis. When this occurs the person no longer sense that they have a choice whether to take the drink or not, their body is hinting them that they have to take the drink to function. And their fatal downward spiral into Alcoholism begins.

b). Signs and symptoms of Alcohol addiction  

          Alcoholism is a serious medical disease with signs and symptoms that vary depending on the amount and frequency of consumption. Continuous Alcoholism will significantly disrupt the lives of users and their families.

Visible signs and symptoms of Alcohol addiction and intoxication are recognizable by most adults:

• Slurred or incoherent speech

• Poor balance and clumsiness

• Delayed reflexes

• Stomach pains, vomiting or nausea

• Loss of consciousness or blacking-out

• Redness of the face at the time or after periods of consumption

It is possible for a person to reach a level of intoxication that becomes life-threatening (Alcohol poisoning). The respiratory system gets depressed, and the person will stop breathing. Progressive increases in the frequency and quantity of Alcohol consumption can begin to produce more serious medical signs and symptoms of Alcohol addiction. Someone abusing Alcohol makes drinking a central activity of their lives, displacing healthy activity and relationships, as well as leading to negative consequences. Alcohol abusers more of a time maintain some strength to recognize situations that lead to over-consumption, and to measure their Alcohol intake. Symptoms of Alcohol abuse are:

• Loss of control over the quantity consumed once they begin drinking

• Regular focus to professional and family obligations

• Dangerous behaviors that carry risk of legal, financial and/or health effects of Alcohol use for themselves and others

• Increase in expressions of anger or other emotions, especially in inappropriate mileu

• Insomnia, which may be followed by oversleeping

Untreated Alcohol abuse can progress to an addiction to Alcohol characterized by physical dependency and/or inability to stop despite serious consequences. Once they start drinking, Alcoholics show little to no control over the amount they consume. Alcohol dependence demonstrates that the user has made obtaining and consuming Alcohol a predominant focus of their lives. Signs and symptoms of Alcohol addiction and dependence represent a serious medical illness include:

• Significant hangovers, and increase in time needed to recover from after-effects of Alcohol use

• Increased amount of Alcohol consumed because of increased tolerance; or, reduce in the effects of Alcohol use without substantial increases in the amount consumed

• Decrease attention to personal and professional duties

• Recognition of side effects of medical complications from Alcoholism

• Repeated unsuccessful efforts to decrease withdrawal symptoms of Alcohol consumption

• Withdrawal symptoms of Alcohol when unable to consume

c). Health effects of Alcohol use

            There are numerous health, emotional and social effects of Alcohol addiction. One of the most well-known includes the damaging effects Alcohol has on the user physically. As a person takes Alcohol it goes through their mouth and esophagus into their stomach. At that point a small quantity of the Alcohol is converted there in the stomach. However, the greater part of the remaining Alcohol enters the user’s bloodstream and continues to disseminate throughout their body. This is why if the person notices barely or no food in their stomach they experience the effects of the Alcohol more intensely and quickly.  While Alcohol is processed in the stomach, it also follows its way into the user's body via their bloodstream. The effects of Alcoholism cause serious health effects of Alcohol use including: infection of the pancreas, defection of the esophagus, liver cirrhosis, defection of the liver, sleeping complications, infection of the stomach, sexual issues and premature dementia.

Alcoholism can cause the development of fatty liver, cirrhosis as well as hepatitis. This occurs because when a person drinks Alcohol it is metabolized in their liver. As they move on to consume more and more Alcohol their liver becomes severely affected by their Alcohol consumption and is unable to process a number of important chemicals to keep itself healthy. The consequences of Alcoholism cause the liver to fill with fat (known as fatty liver), fibrous scar called cirrhosis and become inflamed (known as hepatitis).  Alcoholic hepatitis (also known as inflammation on the liver) causes withdrawal symptoms of Alcohol such as jaundice, abdominal pain as well as fever. It is most possible to develop in those who drink heavily over a long period of time (years). However, not every long term Alcoholic experience this condition and those who drink only moderately have been known to develop Alcoholic hepatitis. This condition can be crucial if the Alcoholic does not stop drinking. The good news is that if the individual is apt to stop drinking their condition is often times reversible.

It is estimated that ten to twenty percent of severe Alcoholics develop cirrhosis of the liver. Cirrhosis is when the proper liver tissue changes to become scarred and unhealthy. When this occurs it hinders the user’s liver from functioning properly by blocking the flow of blood through the liver. This obviously slows down the liver’s capacity to properly process hormones, medications, nutrients, as well as toxins. Cirrhosis of the liver will also slow down this organs ability to produce proteins and other naturally occurring substances necessary to stay healthy.

The effects of Alcoholism also include fatty liver disease or Alcoholic liver disease (ALD). Present estimates depict that more than 15 million people in the United States overuse or abuse Alcohol. Of this 15 million, 90%-100% of them will develop fatty livers. Developing a fatty liver can occur to those who consume Alcohol in moderate to large amounts and can even develop over just a brief period of heavy drinking. As of today there is no specific therapy for fatty liver disease. As such, quitting drinking will greatly enhance your health and lessen the severity of developing additional effects of Alcoholism.

Alcohol is known to be extremely damaging on the user’s brain. When a person drinks Alcohol excessively they may experience memory lapses, black outs, Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome and brain damage. Blackouts take place when the Alcoholic drinks too much too quickly and causes their blood Alcohol level to rise drastically. They will not be able to remember details from a period of time or even whole events that took place during their blackout. Memory lapses are one of the most rampant effects of Alcoholism because of the drug’s effects on the user’s brain. Alcoholics will always have periods of time that are unaccounted for or they will have difficulty remembering specifics of events that took place while they were heavily intoxicated.

Brain damage due to Alcoholism is caused by frequent changes in the brain either directly or indirectly by Alcohol. When a fellow is an Alcoholic the brain is directly affected by their actions of consuming Alcohol on a regular basis. This can cause permanent and real brain damage. Another way that brain problem happens due to Alcoholism is from overall poor health effects of Alcohol use (one example is thiamine deficiency) or severe liver disease.

Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome is a serious disease caused by the effects of Alcoholism. This disease is made up of two separate syndromes: Korsakoff’s syndromes and Wernicke’s. The first syndrome, Wernicke’s encephalopathy is a short-lived serious condition that includes paralysis of the nerves, mental confusion that move the eyes and difficulty with muscle coordination. The next syndrome, Korsakoff’s psychosis is a long-term condition characterized by continued learning and memory problems.

d). effects of Alcohol withdrawal

Alcohol detoxification is poses greater health risks than other drugs. An instant discontinuation of Alcohol intake can often induce a condition known as delirium tremens. A fellow can give up as a direct result of Alcohol withdrawal. Practically, medical detoxification is required to safely discontinue heavy drinking. Withdrawal is a physiologic process that individuals undergo when they attempt to stop using substances like Alcohol after period of heavy and/or chronic use. Although the consumption of Alcohol is legal for adults over the age of 21 in the United States, there are many women who discover that they are incapable of using this substance in a way that is not problematic. As a widely accepted practice in various settings, many individuals can consume wine, beer, or liquor on occasion without suffering any negative consequences. However, others find themselves stuck in a pattern of ongoing Alcohol use or binge drinking without even realizing it.

When Alcohol is consumed on a frequent basis, an individual develops tolerance to the presence of the Alcohol in the body. This tolerance requires the person to consume greater amounts in order to achieve the desired effects or to simply avoid feeling withdrawal symptoms of Alcohol. As this pattern continues, an individual can become physically dependent on Alcohol, meaning that her body is no longer able to function as it once did unless Alcohol is consumed. As a result, when the body is denied Alcohol, the individual will go into a period of withdrawal as the body attempts to re-adjust to fun coming without Alcohol. Long-term Alcohol abuse and addiction put the user at risk for serious medical consequences if they attempt to stop Alcohol consumption without proper medical advice and supervision. When any of these symptoms are exhibited, it should be viewed as a warning sign that a person is experiencing withdrawal and is in need of medical attention.

• Tremors, convulsions, or uncontrolled shaking of the hands (or even the entire body) are indicators of effects of Alcohol withdrawal

• Profuse sweating, even in cold conditions reveal the effects of Alcohol withdrawal

• Extreme agitation or anxiety

• Persistent insomnia

• Nausea or vomiting

• Seizures

• Hallucinations

• Psychomotor agitation

• Increased pulse rate (going above 100 beats in a minute) is a signal of the effects of Alcohol withdrawal

e). consequences of Alcohol addiction

            When in active Alcohol addiction, several facets of a person’s life become affected and usually not in a positive way. For the fact that Alcohol is legal, it does not mean it cannot impact your life negatively when abused. Still, many people find this hard to accept. There are a couple of consequences of Alcohol addiction.

i). Relationship Deterioration

As you indulge in Alcohol addiction and become addicted it begins to affect your relationships. Your friends become irritated and will obviously begin to seek ways for you to stay safe for those who are concerned. Through Alcohol addiction, your friends will become fed up with your inability to control your drinking, to the point that even your good friends will tell you they are tired of keeping you as their friend. This is one of the major serious consequences of Alcohol addiction. If intimate friends and even family relations start withdrawing from you especially those you see you as a potential threat that can contaminate their younger ones, then that’s really serious.

ii). An Unhealthy Physical Appearance

You may not realize it as early consumer of Alcohol, but the truth is that Alcohol will takea large toll on your body. Taking all sort of Alcoholic drinks such as; photo credits, beer, cider, wine, tequila, rum, brandy, gin, whiskey, vodka and liqueurs with different percentages of Alcoholic contents, dissipate energy and vitality. More often when you drink uncontrollably and becomes drunk, the tendency is that you miss out your time for breakfast, lunch and supper. This of course has serious consequences on your physical appearance as it degrades body freshness.

iii). Ability to perform daily tasks

This is a large indicator of Alcoholism. This is one of the consequences of Alcohol addiction to watch out for. As you drink Alcohol and becomes overwhelm by it, as a student it puts your education at risk and most especially for an employee, it could cause you being fired due to inconsistency and delay in the execution of your job. Additionally, one of the dreaded consequences of Alcoholism is that it could spoil the good reputation people have known you for over the years. This is because as you drink irrationally, get drunk and misbehave, you lose the good reputation people have known you for.

f). Treatment of Alcohol addiction

            The following steps serve as the treatment of Alcohol addiction in brief:

• Complete abstinence is the only treatment of Alcohol addiction and dependence

• Emphasize that the most common mistake is underestimating the amount of help needed to stop drinking

• Hospitalize patients if they have a profile of delirium tremens or if they have significant comorbidity

• Consider inpatient treatment of Alcohol addiction if the patient has poor social support, important psychiatric difficulties, or a history of relapse after treatment

• Strongly approve Alcoholics Anonymous (AA)

• Motivate hospitalized patients to call AA from the hospital; AA will send someone to talk to them if the patient makes the contact

• Patients need to attend AA meetings constantly (daily at first) and for a sufficient length of time (usually 2 years or more) because recovery is a difficult and lengthy process

• In the beginning of therapy, and probably ongoing, patients should get rid of Alcohol from their homes and avoid bars and other establishments where strong pressures to drink may hinder abstinence

• If the patient has an antisocial personality (that is, severe problems with family, peers, school, and police before age of 15 years and before the onset of Alcohol problems), recovery is less possible

• If the patient has anxiety disorder, primary depression, or another potentially contributory disorder (the other disorder must antedate the problems with Alcohol or it must be a significant problem during long periods of sobriety), treat this primary problem violently

            Although the United States falls in 32nd place on the list of the world’s top Alcohol consuming countries, Alcohol-associated problems are a serious concern for the country because they can affect everyone. In fact, a government survey declares that addiction to Alcohol lasts longer than addiction to any other drug; therefore it must be taken seriously.

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