Alcoholism is a medical condition involving frequent or heavy alcohol use. It occurs when a person drink so much that their body eventually becomes dependent on or addicted to alcohol. When this happens, alcohol becomes the most important thing in their life, they can’t stop drinking, even when it causes problems, emotional distress or physical harm to themselves or others.It’s a disease of brain function and requires medical and psychological treatments to control it.
Alcoholism has been known by a variety of terms, including alcohol abuse and alcohol dependence. Today, it’s referred to as alcohol use disorder.
What is considered 1 drink?
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism defines one standard drink as any one of these:
• 12 ounces (355 milliliters) of regular beer (about 5 percent alcohol)
• 8 to 9 ounces (237 to 266 milliliters) of malt liquor (about 7 percent alcohol)
• 5 ounces (148 milliliters) of unfortified wine (about 12 percent alcohol)
• 1.5 ounces (44 milliliters) of 80-proof hard liquor (about 40 percent alcohol)
Signs and Symptoms –
Signs of alcoholism or alcohol use disorder include:
• Blacking out or not remembering things that happened.
• Continuing to drink even if it causes distress or harm to you or others.
• Drinking more or longer than you planned.
• Feeling irritable or cranky when you’re not drinking.
• Frequent hangovers.
• Getting into dangerous situations when you’re drinking (for example, driving, having unsafe sex or falling).
• Giving up activities so you can drink.
• Having cravings for alcohol.
• Having repeated problems with work, school, relationships or the law because of drinking.
• Needing to drink more and more to get the same effect.
• Not being able to stop drinking once you’ve started.
• Spending a lot of time drinking or recovering from drinking.
• Wanting to cut back but not being able to.
• Obsessing over alcohol.
A person who is suffering from alcoholism also might experience symptoms of withdrawal when they cut back or stop drinking, such as:
• Nausea, dry heaves.
• Racing heart.
• Trouble sleeping.
• Seeing things that aren’t there (hallucinations).
• Delirium tremens.
• Coma and death.
Alcohol use that turns into a use disorder or alcoholism develops in stages.
• At-risk stage
This is when you drink socially or drink to relieve stress or to feel better. You may start to develop a tolerance for alcohol.
• Early alcohol use disorder
In this stage, you have progressed to blackouts, drinking alone or in secret and thinking about alcohol a lot.
• Mid-stage alcohol use disorder
Your alcohol use is now out of control and causes problems with daily life (work, family, financial, physical and mental health). Organ damage can be seen on lab tests and scans.
• End-stage alcohol use disorder
Drinking is now the main focus of your life, to the exclusion of food,
intimacy, health and happiness. Despair, complications of organ damage and death are now close.
Alcohol dependence can take from a few years to several decades to develop. For some people who are particularly vulnerable, it can happen within months.
Over time, regular alcohol consumption can disrupt the balance of:
• gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain
GABA controls impulsiveness and glutamate stimulates the nervous system.
Dopamine levels in the brain rise after consuming alcohol. Dopamine levels may make the drinking experience more gratifying.
Over the long- or medium-term, excessive drinking can significantly alter the levels of these brain chemicals. This causes the body to crave alcohol in order to feel good and avoid feeling bad.
Risk Factors –
Alcohol use may begin in the teens, but alcoholism occurs more frequently in the 20s and 30s, though it can start at any age.
• Steady drinking over time
Drinking too much on a regular basis for an extended period or binge drinking on a regular basis can lead to alcohol-related problems or alcohol use disorder.
• Starting at an early age
People who begin drinking — especially binge drinking — at an early age are at a higher risk of alcohol use disorder.
• Family history
The risk of alcohol use disorder is higher for people who have a parent or other close relative who has problems with alcohol. This may be influenced by genetic factors.
• Depression and other mental health problems
It’s common for people with a mental health disorder such as anxiety, depression, schizophrenia or bipolar disorder to have problems with alcohol or other substances.
• Easy access
There appears to be a correlation between easy access to alcohol — such as cheap prices — and alcohol abuse and alcohol-related deaths. One study registered a significant drop in alcohol-related deaths after one state raised alcohol taxes. The effect was found to be nearly two to four times that of other prevention strategies, such as school programs or media campaigns.
• History of trauma
People with a history of emotional or other trauma are at increased risk of alcohol use disorder.
• Having bariatric surgery
Some research studies indicate that having bariatric surgery may increase the risk of developing alcohol use disorder or of relapsing after recovering from alcohol use disorder.
• Social and cultural factors
Having friends or a close partner who drinks regularly could increase your risk of alcohol use disorder. The glamorous way that drinking is sometimes portrayed in the media also may send the message that it’s OK to drink too much. For young people, the influence of parents, peers and other role models can impact risk.
• How the body processes (metabolizes) alcohol
People who need comparatively more alcohol to achieve an effect have a higher risk of eventually developing health problems related to alcohol.
There happens a lot of complications due to alcoholism which are as follows-
• Drinking alcohol usually elevates a person’s mood at first.
• A person who has been consuming unhealthy amounts of alcohol for a long time is likely to become sedated when they drink.This is because alcohol depresses the nervous system.
• Alcohol may undermine a person’s judgment. It can lower inhibitions and alter the drinker’s thoughts, emotions, and general behavior.
• Heavy regular drinking can seriously affect a person’s ability to coordinate their muscles and speak properly.
• Heavy binge drinking could lead to a coma.
Eventually, alcoholism ( regular heavy drinking) may cause at least one of the following problems:
• Fatigue: The person feels tired most of the time.
• Memory loss: Alcohol affects the short-term memory in particular.
• Eye muscles: The eye muscles can become significantly weaker.
• Liver diseases: There is a higher chance of developing hepatitis and cirrhosis, an irreversible and progressive condition.
• Gastrointestinal complications: Gastritis or pancreas damage can occur. These will undermine the body’s ability to digest food, absorb certain vitamins, and produce hormones that regulate metabolism.
• Hypertension: Regular heavy drinking is likely to raise blood pressure.
• Heart problems: There is a higher risk of cardiomyopathy (damaged heart muscle), heart failure, and stroke.
• Diabetes: There is a high risk of developing diabetes type 2, and people with diabetes have a high chance of complications if they regularly consume more alcohol than is recommended. Alcohol prevents the release of glucose from the liver, resulting in hypoglycemia. If a person with diabetes is already using insulin to lower their blood sugar levels, hypoglycemia could have serious consequences.
• Menstruation: Excessive consumption of alcohol can stop or disrupt menstruation.
• Erectile dysfunction: There may be problems getting or sustaining an erection.
• Fetal alcohol syndrome: Consuming alcohol during pregnancy increases the risk of birth defects. The newborn may have a small head, heart problems, shortened eyelids, and developmental and cognitive problems.
• Thinning bones: Alcohol interferes with the production of new bone, leading to a thinning of the bones and an increased risk of fractures.
• Nervous system problems: There may be numbness in the extremities, dementia, and confused or disordered thinking.
• Cancer: There is a higher risk of developing several cancers, including cancer of the mouth, esophagus, liver, colon, rectum, breast, prostate, and pharynx.
• Accidents: There is a higher chance of injuries from falls, road traffic accidents, and so on.
• Domestic abuse: Alcohol is a major factor in spouse-beating, child abuse, and conflicts with neighbors.
• Work or school problems: Employment or educational problems and unemployment are often alcohol-related.
• Suicide: Suicide ratesTrusted Source among people with alcohol dependence or who consume alcohol inappropriately are higher than among those who do not.
• Mental illness: Alcohol abuse increases the risk of mental illness, and it can make existing mental illnesses worse.
• Problems with the law: People who consume alcohol are significantly more likely to spend time in court or in prison, compared with the rest of the population.
You’re likely to start by seeing your doctor. If your doctor suspects you have a problem with alcohol, he or she may refer you to a mental health professional.
To assess your problem with alcoholism, your doctor will likely:
• Ask you several questions related to your drinking habits
The doctor may ask for permission to speak with family members or friends. However, confidentiality laws prevent your doctor from giving out any information about you without your consent.
• Perform a physical exam
Your doctor may do a physical exam and ask questions about your health. There are many physical signs that indicate complications of alcohol use.
• Lab tests and imaging tests
While there are no specific tests to diagnose alcohol use disorder, certain patterns of lab test abnormalities may strongly suggest it. And you may need tests to identify health problems that may be linked to your alcohol use. Damage to your organs may be seen on tests.
• Complete a psychological evaluation
This evaluation includes questions about your symptoms, thoughts, feelings and behavior patterns. You may be asked to complete a questionnaire to help answer these questions.
• Use the DSM-5 criteria
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), published by the American Psychiatric Association, is often used by mental health professionals to diagnose mental health conditions.
Treatment for alcoholism can vary, depending on your needs. Treatment may involve a brief intervention, individual or group counseling, an outpatient program, or a residential inpatient stay. Working to stop the use of alcohol to improve quality of life is the main treatment goal.
Treatment for alcoholism or alcohol use disorder may include:
• Detox and withdrawal
Treatment may begin with a program of detoxification or detox — withdrawal that’s medically managed — which generally takes two to seven days. You may need to take sedating medications to prevent withdrawal symptoms. Detox is usually done at an inpatient treatment center or a hospital.
• Learning skills and establishing a treatment plan
This usually involves alcohol treatment specialists. It may include goal setting, behavior change techniques, use of self-help manuals, counseling and follow-up care at a treatment center.
• Psychological counseling
Counseling and therapy for groups and individuals help you better understand your problem with alcohol and support recovery from the psychological aspects of alcohol use. You may benefit from couples or family therapy — family support can be an important part of the recovery process.
• Oral Medications
Naltrexone and acamprosate are approved medications for the treatment of alcohol use disorder. Topiramate and gabapentin can also decrease cravings in some people. An older medication — disulfiram — is now used only rarely. These medications seem to help decrease the background obsessional thinking around alcohol.
• Injected medication
Vivitrol, a version of the drug naltrexone, is injected once a month by a health care professional. Although similar medication can be taken in pill form, the injectable version of the drug may be easier for people recovering from alcohol use disorder to use consistently.
• Continuing support
Aftercare programs and support groups help people recovering from alcohol use disorder to stop drinking, manage relapses and cope with necessary lifestyle changes. This may include medical or psychological care or attending a support group.
• Treatment for psychological problems
Alcohol use disorder commonly occurs along with other mental health disorders. If you have depression, anxiety or another mental health condition, you may need talk therapy (psychotherapy), medications or other treatment.
• Medical treatment for health conditions
Many alcohol-related health problems improve significantly once you stop drinking. But some health conditions may warrant continued treatment and follow-up.
• Spiritual practice
People who are involved with some type of regular spiritual practice may find it easier to maintain recovery from alcohol use disorder or other addictions. For many people, gaining greater insight into their spiritual side is a key element in recovery.
For serious alcohol use disorder, you may need a stay at a residential treatment facility. Most residential treatment programs include individual and group therapy, support groups, educational lectures, family involvement and activity therapy.
Herbs to help in getting rid from Alcoholism –
Kudzu extract has shown promise in helping people avoid binge drinking. Kudzu may also help heavy drinkers cut the amount of alcohol they consume, even if they are not being treated for alcoholism. It has several effects. One is that it raises your blood alcohol levels faster, which means you may feel intoxicated sooner.
A study of heavy drinkers who were not in a treatment program found that taking kudzu had no effect on their alcohol cravings. But it did reduce the number of drinks they had each week by a third to a half.
It also cut the number of heavy drinking days and increased the number of days they didn’t drink at all.
Ashwagandha is an herbal supplement made from the Withania somnifera plant. Ashwagandha is sometimes used for alcohol withdrawal and cravings. It seemed to relieve anxiety.
• Milk thistle
Milk thistle (Silybum marianum) is an herb rich in the antioxidant silymarin. It is often touted as a means of restoring liver health and protecting against liver damage from too much alcohol.
• Take juice of pomegranate, grapes, watermelon etc.
• Avoid excess non vegetarian food. Excess non veg food would increase Rajas and Tamas, which may influence you to indulge in alcohol.
• Do not move out of home with empty stomach.
• Do not move out of home at night time.
• Do not join parties with alcoholic friends.
• Stay in contact with sober persons.
• Take plenty of sugar water with little salt day time.
• Always be engaged in productive work.
• Think positively, avoid negative thinking.
• Think only for today, do not take tension for tomorrow.
• Keep away from first drop, it may activate receptor cells.
• Worship off your favorite good may provide you mental support.
• Oil Massage.It helps to strengthen nervous system, muscles, mental balance. It reduces stress.
• Exercise. Just warm up avoiding much stress.
• Yoga. Improves memory, concentration, relieves tremors.
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