bottles of alcohol

Alcohol Abuse and Addiction: Side Effects, Detox, Withdrawal, and Treatment

bottles of alcohol

About Alcohol

Alcohol is a chemical compound found in beverages such as wine, beer, and spirits. It is created when yeast ferments or breaks down the sugars in various food products, such as grapes, apples, and grains.

In lower doses, alcohol acts as a stimulant drug, increasing sociability and feelings of euphoria. In larger doses, it acts as a central nervous system depressant, impairing coordination, slowing reflexes and breathing, distorting vision, impairing judgment, and causing memory lapses or blackouts.

Alcohol is a commonly used drug and can be found in grocery stores, pharmacies, bars, and liquor stores all across the country. In America, it is common for alcohol to be present at celebratory events, formal occasions, parties, and other social gatherings.

What Are Street Names for Alcohol?

  • Booze
  • Liquid courage
  • Sauce
  • Vino
  • Hard stuff

What Is Alcohol Abuse?

Having an alcoholic beverage every once in awhile is very unlikely to cause addiction or have severe physical effects, but many people engage in unhealthy drinking behaviors such as binge drinking and consistent heavy drinking. Drinking too much alcohol can have negative health effects and lead to addiction.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides the following definitions and guidelines for healthy and unhealthy drinking behaviors.

  • A standard drink: A standard drink in the United States contains 0.6 ounces of pure alcohol.
  • Moderate drinking: One drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men is considered moderate drinking.
  • Excessive drinking: This type of behavior is defined by any type of inappropriate drinking habits, including heavy drinking, binge drinking, or drinking by underage individuals or pregnant women.
  • Binge drinking: A woman who drinks four or more drinks during a single occasion or a man who drinks five or more drinks during a single occasion is binge drinking.
  • Heavy drinking: Women who have more than eight drinks per week and men who have more than 15 drinks per week are considered heavy drinkers.

Unhealthy drinking habits that become severe are diagnosed as Alcohol Use Disorder or AUD. This disorder is characterized by chronic, uncontrollable abuse of alcohol and is defined as a chronic relapsing brain disease.

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), millions of adult Americans suffer from AUD and more than 600,000 adolescent Americans have it as well. Although alcohol abuse is an extremely common disorder in the United States, less than 10 percent of affected individuals actually receive treatment for it.

The impact of alcohol addiction is felt in every state in America, leaving no city or community completely untouched. Recovery Austin Texas programs have seen an increase in admissions throughout the past couple of years. According to research, the national rates of alcohol use are mirrored for Texas, revealing that alcohol addiction is a major challenge for the state. Alcohol rehab in Texas is a needed offering due to the many individuals struggling with this form of substance abuse.

The University of Texas at Austin published a report that revealed the following statistics related to alcohol use in Texas:

  • In 2014, 25 percent of Texas secondary school students in grades 7–12 had consumed alcohol in the last month.
  • In 2014, 9 percent of all secondary students said that when they drank, they usually drank five or more beers at one time, and 9 percent reported binge drinking liquor.
  • In 2013, the Youth Risk Behavior Survey reported that 36 percent of Texas high school students in grades 9–12 had drunk alcohol in the past month and 21 percent had drunk five or more drinks in a row in the last month.
  • In 2013, 22 percent of females and 25 percent of males reported binge drinking.
  • The 2012–2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health estimated that 46.7 percent of all Texans age 12 and older had drunk alcohol in the past month.
  • In 2012–2013, 6.7 percent of Texans ages 12 and older were estimated to be alcohol dependent or abusers in the past year.
  • In 2014, 27 percent of all clients admitted to publicly funded treatment programs in Texas had a primary problem with alcohol addiction.
  • The characteristics of alcohol admissions have changed over the years. In 1988, 82 percent of the clients were male, compared with 68 percent in 2013.

In 2015, federal officials reported a decline in teen and adult binge drinking between 2002 and 2013. However, reports of heavy drinking are on the rise in certain Texas counties. For example, between 2005 and 2012, the number of heavy-drinking women in Collin County increased from 4.4 to 6.5 percent. There is also an increase from 7.8 to 8.9 percent in heavy-drinking among men in Dallas County.

These statistics are an important reminder of how important recovery Austin texas is needed for people struggling with addiction.

Texas Drunk Driving Incidents

According to information provided by Mothers Against Drunk Driving, drunk driving is a serious problem in Texas.

  • Texas has the highest rate of drunk driving deaths in the nation.
  • Driving fatalities resulting from alcohol reached 1,449 in 2015, which accounted for 40.9% of all percent traffic deaths.
  • For the same year, the total number of alcohol-related crashes and injuries was over 40,000.
  • Car accidents involving alcohol resulted in 99,195 arrests and 71,030 DUI convictions.

To combat these devastating statistics, Texas passed an all-offender ignition interlock bill in 2015. This bill mandates the use of technology to prevent convicted drunk drivers from operating a vehicle. The ignition interlock is a device about the size of a cell phone that is wired into the ignition system of a vehicle. The driver must blow into the device to start their vehicle. If they have a measurable amount of alcohol in their system, the vehicle will not start.

What Is the Economic Impact of Alcohol Addiction?

The U. S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that excessive alcohol use cost the nation over $250 billion in 2010. That suggests a huge drain on the American economy. Additionally, Texans paid approximately $26.5 billion—$703 for every resident—in 2013 for public healthcare costs, lost productivity, and other fallout resulting from excessive alcohol use.

What Are the Side Effects of Alcoholism?

Alcohol impacts just about every organ in the human body. It has a wide range of short-term and long-term effects and ongoing alcohol abuse can lead to severe and even life-threatening medical conditions.

Immediate short-term alcohol abuse effects include:

  • Impaired judgment
  • Lack of coordination
  • Slurred speech
  • Distorted vision
  • Memory loss
  • Flushed skin
  • Loss of physical balance
  • Mood swings
  • Loss of consciousness

Long-term alcohol abuse effects include:

  • High blood pressure
  • Heart disease
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Stroke
  • Liver disease
  • Pancreatitis
  • Cancer
  • Weakened immune system
  • Malnourishment
  • Birth defects
  • Physical dependence
  • Addiction

Alcohol abuse also increases the risk of violence, physical injuries, risky sexual behaviors, and miscarriages.

What Are the Signs of Alcohol Addiction?

Some individuals may have a higher risk of developing alcohol addiction than others, but there are many different factors that play a role in this, including:

  • Genetics – Individuals who have a parent or other close relative who suffers from alcohol addiction has a higher risk of developing alcohol addiction themselves. Research has shown that this may be influenced by genetic factors.
  • Environment – Certain factors put children and adolescents at greater risk for developing an addiction later in life. These factors include a lack of parental supervision, poverty, peer substance abuse, aggressive behavior early in life, and easy access to addictive substances.
  • Age – Individuals who begin drinking at a younger age are more likely to develop alcohol use disorder.
  • Excessive drinking habits – People who binge drink or drink excessively on a regular basis have a higher risk of developing a tolerance, physical dependence, or alcohol use disorder.
  • Mental health problems – Individuals with anxiety, depression or other mental health problems also frequently struggle with substance abuse issues.

Signs and symptoms of alcohol addiction may vary from person to person, but most often, individuals who are addicted to alcohol will experience the following symptoms:

  1. Experiencing strong cravings or urges to drink alcohol.
  2. Being unable to limit alcohol consumption.
  3. Neglecting other obligations at home or work as a result of unhealthy drinking habits.
  4. Getting into dangerous or life-threatening situations while under the influence of alcohol.
  5. Continuing to drink despite the harmful consequences it is causing.
  6. Needing more alcohol to achieve the desired effect.
  7. Having withdrawal symptoms when the effects of alcohol begin to wear off.

If you or a loved one has experienced one or more of the above symptoms, your drinking habits are a cause for concern and you should seek help.

Alcohol Detox and Withdrawal

Alcohol addiction and AUD is a life-threatening condition that should be taken very seriously. Although it may seem impossible, alcohol addiction can be overcome with a comprehensive addiction treatment program and continued care.

For most individuals, the first step in a comprehensive alcohol addiction treatment program is an alcohol detox program. Some individuals may be tempted to detox at home, but this is never a good idea as alcohol withdrawal can be extremely dangerous and unpredictable. Additionally, individuals who attempt to complete alcohol detoxification at home are much less likely to do so successfully, especially if alcoholic beverages are easily accessible.

What Are Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms?

Withdrawal can be extremely uncomfortable and typically produces some of the following physical symptoms:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Insomnia
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Irritability
  • Headache
  • Loss of appetite
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Severe cravings

The safest and most comfortable way to detox from alcohol is by enrolling in a medically assisted alcohol detox program. Medically assisted detox programs provide clients with 24/7 monitoring and treatment to reduce or eliminate any uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms they experience throughout the detox experience.

Alcohol Withdrawal Timeline

8 hours after the last drink: Symptoms of withdrawal begin to appear. Early symptoms typically include nausea, insomnia, abdominal pain, and anxiety.

1 to 3 days after the last drink: Confusion is common during this time, as well as high blood pressure, irregular heartbeat and increased body temperature.

4+ days after the last drink: Agitation, hallucinations, seizures, and fever may occur at this stage.

5-7 days after the last drink: Most withdrawal symptoms decrease and taper off at this time. In some cases, some symptoms may persist for weeks if they are left untreated.

Long-Term Rehab for Alcohol Addiction

According to the NIDA, long-term rehab of 90 days or longer is associated with more positive treatment outcomes. For those who are addicted to alcohol, a 90-day inpatient rehab program will provide adequate time to adjust to a new sober lifestyle, learn and practice the essential coping strategies they will need to maintain their sobriety after rehab, and provide opportunities to establish a strong recovery support network.

In inpatient alcohol rehab, clients participate in a rehabilitation program that blends behavioral therapy, 12-step program interventions, chemical dependency education, and other evidence-based treatments to identify and correct negative behaviors, address other related problems and trauma that has contributed to the substance abuse, and apply skills to stop current substance abuse and prevent it in the future.

Throughout inpatient rehab, clients live in a comfortable addiction treatment center for an extended period of time where they work with addiction counselors, therapists, recovery specialists, and their peers in recovery to overcome their alcohol addiction. This time in treatment also provides an opportunity for them to heal physically, as the body needs time to recover from the abuse and neglect it suffered in the midst of addiction. To encourage physical healing, nutritious meals are served daily and clients are required to participate in a physical fitness regimen on a daily basis.

The cost for long-term inpatient alcohol rehab will vary based on the rehab center. Many alcohol rehab centers will work with a client’s insurance provider to lower the cost of rehab. Other payment options may include third-party healthcare loans, Employee Assistance Programs (EAP), or reduced out-of-pocket payments.

Continued Care Options for Alcohol Addiction Treatment

Sober Living

After spending 90 days in alcohol rehab, an individual may choose to continue treatment by enrolling in a sober living program. Gender-specific transitional housing programs are designed to help clients adjust to independent sober life with recovery support services such as peer AA, NA, or 12-step meetings, personal monitoring programs, education and employment assistance, and regular drug and alcohol testing.

These recovery support services can also be combined with intensive outpatient programs to maximize the benefits of each. While enrolled in a sober living program, clients live in a clean, safe, and sober transitional living home with other peers in recovery. This type of structured group home environment serves as a safe, sober place where individuals can practice the life skills and coping strategies they learned in rehab while also learning to maintain their sobriety on a long-term basis.

Payment for sober living houses is due on a monthly basis (similar to rent) and the cost of the program will vary based on the additional recovery services provided, whether the client is also enrolled in IOP, and the type of sober living home he or she is living in.

Aftercare Programs

Many individuals who have been sober for months and have completed detox, inpatient alcohol rehab, IOP, and a sober living program may continue their care by enrolling in an aftercare program. These programs are designed for rehab graduates who use regular meetings with their peers as sobriety check-ins.

These meetings (typically held weekly) are extremely beneficial for those who need continued support and accountability to face the struggles and challenges of sober life. Alcohol addiction is a chronic disease that individuals in recovery will need to face daily. Recovery is a lifelong process and although there is no simple “cure” for addiction, aftercare programs, and peer support are essential to maintaining long-term or lifelong sobriety.








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