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Alcoholism Symptoms, Alcohol Abuse, Alcohol Treatment

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Alcohol abuse is drinking alcohol to excess leading to temporary dysfunction in a person's ability to perform normally in school, their job, or interact responsibly with their friends, family and community. Alcohol abuse is synonymous with binge drinking. Between binges an alcohol abuser is sober and functions normally. Abuse is more common in males than females and the source of the familiar DWI - driving while intoxicated.

Alcohol dependency is an addiction to alcohol of any form - wines, rum, vodka, coolers etc It leads to longstanding poor school or job performance, neglect of responsibilities and personal hygiene, legal tangles, accidents, and downward economic drift. A person dependant on alcohol drinks everyday, several times a day and seldom fully sober. They find it difficult to keep jobs and their next drink becomes the focus of their life.

Alcohol Dependency Screening Questions:

  • Have you ever tried to CUTBACK on your drinking?
  • Do you feel ANGRY when your friends or family suggest you stop drinking alcohol?
  • Do you at times feel GUILTY at the amount of alcohol you're drinking?
  • Do you start your morning with an EYE-OPENER?

A yes to the above with symptoms of alcohol withdrawal suggests a person with alcohol dependency

Effects of Alcohol Abuse and Alcohol Dependency:

  • Liver damage: Alcohol is a toxin. It is degraded by your liver. High blood alcohol levels overwhelms your liver's enzyme system leading from inflammation (hepatitis) to irreversible scarring (cirrhosis) and lost liver function.
  • Stomach: Alcohol use burns the lining of your stomach leading to inflammation (gastritis) and deeper ulcers.
  • Pancreas: this small organ makes digestive juices and insulin. It lies along the path just after the stomach and gets burnt during constant exposure to alcohol.
  • Heart: Alcohol abuse leads to disorders of the beating rate of your heart (arrhythmia's) and enlargement of the muscle (cardiomyopathy).
  • Sex organs: Heavy alcohol use can lead to infertility by toxic effects on sperm and egg production. And in men, damage to their testicles can occur leading to a drop in testosterone leading to loss of sex drive and development of breasts.
  • Brain: besides just short-term intoxication, alcohol abuse leads to death of brain cells and loss of weight of your brain leading to memory and higher thinking dysfunction. At its worst alcohol abuse leads to dementia and incoordination.
  • Skeleton and muscle system: Alcohol in large amounts is toxic to bone and muscle leading to thinning of both and poor healing of injuries. Due to intoxication bouts, alcoholics also suffer frequent falls and injuries.

The above is a partial list of effects of alcohol abuse on major organs, but alcohol abuse actually affects virtually EVERY part of your body negatively. The more alcohol volume, often, and long a person drinks determines how bad their final outcome will be.

Alcohol Intoxication Symptoms (being drunk):

  • Recent Alcohol use - smell of alcohol on their breath
  • Aggressive or very moody behavior
  • Slurred speaking
  • Stumbling while walking
  • Unable to remember recent events and concentrate
  • Drowsiness and slow reflexes
  • Double vision

Alcohol intoxication by itself does not mean that a person is an alcoholic. They may just have taken too many drinks one particular night. And an alcoholic may seldom seem intoxicated as they grow accustomed to continuous drinking. Alcohol withdrawal symptoms though point the finger at alcohol dependency.

Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms:

  • Sweating when there's no reason they should be
  • Trembling hands
  • Unable to sleep
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Hallucinations - seeing or feeling things not there
  • Anxiety when there's no reason to feel such
  • Seizures

If an alcohol dependant person does not drink again within 48hrs alcohol clears from their blood and the above withdrawal symptoms occur leading finally to seizures. These symptoms can be so severe that they become life threatening and must be treated in a hospital.

Alcohol Abuse Treatments:

  • Psychotherapy and behavior therapy: here the reason for seeking alcohol is looked is identified and other coping methods suggested and tried.
  • Medication: sedatives like Diazepam and Lorazepam can be given to prevent alcohol withdrawal symptoms while the individual weans themself from drinking. Medications like Antabuse are used to make drinking unpleasant by changing the break down of alcohol to byproducts that make us nauseous - this helps to associate drinking with negative rather than pleasant feelings.
  • Support groups: Alcoholics Anonymous is the most popular and successful of these. It was formed in 1935 by a stockbroker and surgeon - both reformed alcoholics - to help others with this problem. It is a voluntary body of affected members who support each other in kicking the habit.

Total abstinence from alcohol - teetotaler - is the best course after treatment for alcohol dependency as any drinking after therapy is associated with a high risk of relapse.

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    Last Updated:
    April 22 2016
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