Alcohol is a widely used beverage containing ethanol, or with an ethanol base which has a toxicity level that we humans have been using for thousands of years for a variety of reasons. Based on creed, culture, and age, humans drink alcohol for medicinal purposes, hygiene, religious reasons, and most commonly for recreational use. Unfortunately, one problem that we may face with this consumable toxin is addiction; let’s take a look at how alcohol addiction affects our bodies and minds and what we can do to treat it.
Learning About Addiction
Although many of us can consume a drink socially at a party or celebration with no urge to continue imbibing, addicts aren’t quite so quick to say no when offered more drinks than they should consume in one sitting. The average beer is twelve ounces with an alcohol content level of 5%, while a glass of wine is 12% alcohol and is served in 5 ounce amounts. This totals to 0.6 ounces of pure alcohol for each beverage, which is the standard amount served in each drink in the United States; 4-5 of these is considered over-drinking.
As we drink more we may begin to feel more relaxed, self-assured in our actions, and maybe even a little reckless. These feelings of excitement, confidence, and lower levels of anxiety are what draw drinkers to continue imbibing, long after they should put down the bottle and call it a night. Unfortunately, it’s also the reason that so many drunken driving accidents happen each year.
How Do I Know If Somebody I Love Is Addicted?
It’s easy for us to make the assumption that alcoholism means we are constantly stumbling and slurring due to drunkenness, but this isn’t completely true. There are different levels or degrees of drunkenness and we can abuse alcohol without ever realizing it. Let’s focus on a casual glass of wine with friends after work one day; this is completely normal if it stays at one or two glasses on this single occasion. Once the drinker begins adding more drinks, or more days of drinking per week, we can begin to see a pattern and understanding should be creeping in that maybe there’s a problem here.
Often times moodiness, forgetfulness, an inability to meet deadlines or repeatedly forgetting responsibility are factors that a friend or loved one is affected, especially if it’s somebody that you’ve seen drinking on more than one occasion. Many alcoholics will pour an alcoholic beverage without even thinking about it, no matter the time of day.
What Risks Are Involved With Alcoholism?
Short term health risks that are affiliated with alcoholism include injuries like burns, bruises and scrapes from uncoordinated behavior that often associates with drinking in heavy quantities. Long term health risks are much more serious and include illnesses like dementia, depression, neuropathy, myocardial infarction, and an increasing chance of many different forms of cancer. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has confirmed that eighty eight percent of deaths each year in our country are related to alcohol related accidents or occurrences. Many alcoholics also tend to show signs of gastrointestinal problems and liver diseases over time.
Treatments vary depending on how deep the addiction is, but most alcoholics will find themselves in a rehabilitation program of some kind. Whether this leads to an in-residence rehabilitation facility, or a 12 step program through a local chapter of Alcoholics Anonymous followed up by a doctor, we know that behavioral therapies have had very good results with alcoholism. For less extreme cases, an out-patient experience where patients check in with a physician on a regular basis and attend group therapy sessions can be enough to get them through.
Although there are medications available on the market for alcohol addiction, they don’t work the way that cold medicine or other pharmaceuticals work when our bodies are battling an illness. Many of the drugs on the market for alcoholism make the drinker feel very sick if alcohol is consumed; the most well-known FDA approved drug of this nature is disulfiram, but there are other medications on the market with alternative effects to try and control cravings and change mental processes relating to alcohol.