In 2018, the research found over 55 percent of adults drink alcohol daily. This includes more than 118 million adults over 26 that consumed alcohol in the past month. While many people can have a drink in the evening without an issue, some people may find themselves drinking more.

Alcohol treatment centers and alcohol detox centers have varying intensities to meet the needs of their clients. Typically alcohol treatment centers offer programs such as:

  • Inpatient alcohol treatment
  • Outpatient alcohol treatment
  • Aftercare alcohol abuse treatment

What is Alcohol?

Alcohol is the main ingredient in beer, wine, and spirits. It is classified as a central nervous system(CNS) depressant, meaning it slows brain activity. Although one or two drinks may act as a stimulant causing euphoria and talkativeness, drinking too much can lead to drowsiness, respiratory depression, and even death.

There is a misconception that alcohol is safe. Why? Because alcohol is a legal substance for adults over 21 in most states. People often see alcohol as a social necessity. As a result, it is the most commonly abused substance.

What is Alcohol Abuse?

Alcohol abuse is an unhealthy pattern of drinking that causes harm to one’s health, relationships, and work performance. Also known as alcohol use disorder (AUD), alcohol abuse is a chronic brain disorder that includes binge drinking and alcohol dependence.

People struggling with AUD cannot control their drinking even though it damages their health, relationships, and careers. Furthermore, most people need help from alcohol treatment centers to detox, heal the underlying trauma, and build relapse prevention skills.

Why is Alcohol the Most Abused Substance?

Alcohol is seen as socially acceptable, and it is easier to obtain than drugs. As a result, alcohol is the most abused substance in the world.  Individuals drink for various reasons – for enjoyment, socialization, escape problems, increase power, or get drunk.

It is not fully understood why some people abuse alcohol, and others don’t. But, factors such as a family history of alcohol abuse puts a person at a higher risk. In fact, studies show children of alcoholics are four times more likely to abuse alcohol.

How Does Alcohol Affect the Body and Brain?

Alcohol starts affecting your body and brain from the first drink. Although an occasional drink with dinner is typically acceptable, drinking more and more over time has adverse effects. If you stop or cut back on your alcohol use and develop withdrawal symptoms, you need to contact alcohol detox centers to safely withdrawal from alcohol.

Short-Term Effects of Alcohol

Even a small amount of alcohol can cause the body to react in the following ways.

  • Alcohol slows down the brain, which alters mood, slows down reflexes, and affects balance. Additionally, it causes learning, memory, and sleep issues.
  • Alcohol increases the heart rate and causes blood vessels to expand. As more blood flows to the skin, it can make individuals feel warm.
  • Alcohol irritates the stomach and digestive system as it breaks down and absorbs. As a result, people may feel abdominal pain, bloating, and diarrhea.
  • Alcohol dehydrates the body. This can affect the kidneys and the ability to regulate electrolytes.
  • The liver filters and removes alcohol from the blood. While the liver can handle certain amounts of alcohol,  over time and large amounts can cause permanent damage.

Long-Term Effects of Alcohol

Excessive drinking and over long periods can damage vital body organ systems. Health risks include:

  • Cardiovascular – heart damage, increased cholesterol levels.
  • Brain – shrinkage, loss of grey matter, and loss of white matter
  • Liver – fatty liver, alcohols hepatitis, cirrhosis, and liver cancer
  • Pancreas – vitamin deficiency, inflammation, interfere with food digestion and absorption
  • Musculoskeletal – weak bones, increase levels of uric acid, gout

What Factors Lead to Alcohol Abuse?

Alcohol abuse is not caused by one factor. It is the result of multiple factors. Above all, how the person handles the risk factors determines if they abuse alcohol.

The risk factors of alcohol abuse are internal and external. Internal factors, for example, include genetics, mental health issues, personality, and drinking history. In comparison, external factors include family, environment, religion, age, education, cultural and social norms.

Because there are so many factors that influence alcohol abuse, it is impossible to predict future AUD. Ultimately, the choice to drink is up to the individual. But, once a person with a high risk of AUD drinks, stopping may be out of their control.

Psychological or Mental Health Factors

Certain mental health disorders significantly impact whether a person abuses alcohol. Depression, bipolar disorder, and anxiety, for example, often lead to alcohol abuse.

To illustrate, over 40 percent of people with bipolar disorder abuse alcohol, while almost 20 percent of those with depression have an AUD. For this reason, inpatient alcohol treatment that focuses on co-occurring disorders is crucial.

Personality Factors

Some personalities are a higher risk factor for alcohol abuse. Risk-taking individuals are more likely to drink heavily. In addition, people who are the “life of the party” are typically heavy social drinkers because they believe it makes them more likable. Compared to a shy person who may drink heavily to reduce their discomfort.

Personal Choice

Individuals who decide never to drink typically do not ever abuse alcohol. Furthermore, those who choose to avoid social gatherings that include alcohol likely will not develop AUD. But, once a person starts drinking, other factors may prevent them from stopping.

Genetic Factors

The most significant factor in the development of alcohol abuse is genetics. When parents struggle with alcohol abuse, their children are at a higher risk of abusing alcohol. This is true even when the parents don’t raise the children.

There isn’t just one alcoholism gene; there are at least 51. Genes influence how alcohol breaks down, how severe hangovers are, and if a person will continue drinking or quit.

Environmental Factors

It is well known that a person’s environment significantly impacts their risk of alcohol abuse. Typically, environmental factors such as home and social environment affect children’s risk the most.

For example, children look up to their parents and want to model their behaviors. When children are in homes with drug and alcohol use, they are likely to drink at a young age. Furthermore, peer pressure often leads to drinking to be cool or fit in.

Is Binge Drinking Alcohol Abuse?

Binge drinking is the most common and dangerous form of alcohol abuse. Binge drinking is when a person drinks excessively to bring their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to 0.08 g/dl or above.

Typically this means drinking five or more drinks for men and four or more drinks for women in 2 hours or less. While this is a form of alcohol abuse, binge drinkers generally do not struggle with severe AUD.

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Alcohol Abuse?

To obtain a diagnosis of an alcohol use disorder, a person must see a mental health professional and meet specific criteria. The American Pediatric Association (APA) Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) has a criteria list to evaluate if a person has mild, moderate, or severe AUD.

Mild AUD includes 2-3 signs, 4-5 for moderate AUD, and 6 or more for severe AUD. The signs and symptoms include:

  • Using alcohol more often and in higher quantities than intended
  • Inability to stop drinking or control your drinking
  • Spending most of your time obtaining alcohol, drinking, and recovering from drinking
  • Cravings
  • Not fulfilling responsibilities at work and home
  • Continuing to drink despite it destroying your relationship
  • Giving up habits and activities you enjoy
  • Continuing to drink despite health problems
  • Developing a tolerance
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when you reduce or stop drinking

What is Alcohol Withdrawal?

Alcohol withdrawal refers to a set of symptoms that occur when a person dependent on alcohol suddenly reduces or stops alcohol. When a person is dependent on alcohol, the body doesn’t know how to function without it. So, withdrawal symptoms are the body’s way of trying to find balance.

While alcohol withdrawal varies depending on the length of addiction, the severity, and the individual, generally, withdrawal symptoms last up to 72 hours after the last drink. However, severe AUD can cause delirium tremens or DTs, which can last up to a week.

Because some alcohol withdrawal symptoms, such as fevers, dehydration, and cardiac arrhythmias, can be life-threatening, seeking help from alcohol detox centers is beneficial.

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Alcohol Withdrawal?

Signs and symptoms of alcohol withdrawal can begin within six hours of the last drink and include:

  • Anxiety
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Tremors
  • Headache
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Irritability
  • Confusion
  • Insomnia
  • Nightmares
  • High blood pressure

Severe symptoms may include:

  • Fever
  • Seizures
  • Extreme confusion and agitation
  • Visual and audio hallucinations

What is Alcohol Abuse Treatment?

Although there isn’t a cure for AUD, there are various treatment options. For instance, most alcohol treatment centers offer inpatient alcohol treatment and outpatient alcohol treatment. However, some alcohol treatment centers want clients to begin treatment in alcohol detox centers.

Alcohol Detox Centers

Alcohol detox centers such as Makana Path Detox and Spiritual Program aim to help you recover from alcohol abuse and heal underlying issues and traumas through holistic and traditional therapies.

Detox combines multiple interventions to ease the discomfort and safely withdrawal from alcohol. Detox is not a treatment for alcohol abuse, but it is the first step to living a life free of alcohol’s hold on your life.

Depending on the severity of alcohol abuse and withdrawal symptoms, clients in detox may be given medications to help. These medications may include:

 

  • Benzodiazepines – when used in early withdrawal, medications such as diazepam and lorazepam may prevent serious complications.
  • Anticonvulsants – reduce drinking behaviors while easing moderate withdrawal symptoms.
  • Antipsychotics – can reduce agitation, hallucinations, and delusions during alcohol withdrawal.

Once detox is complete, clients typically transition from alcohol detox centers into alcohol treatment centers. Although inpatient alcohol treatment is recommended, clients with a healthy home environment and a support system may choose to enter outpatient alcohol treatment.

Residential or Inpatient Alcohol Treatment

Inpatient alcohol treatment is an intense program where clients live in the facility 24/7. Typically inpatient programs last 30 days. However, they can last 60, 90, or 120 days. Which program is best for you depends on the severity of alcohol abuse and other personal factors.

All programs have unique benefits. Inpatient alcohol treatment centers focus on psychotherapy or individual therapy. Addiction is so much deeper than consuming alcohol or drugs. Individual therapy focuses on you and the underlying issues that lead to alcohol abuse.

The benefit of inpatient alcohol treatment is it removes all outside distractions. This includes people, places, and situations that can trigger a relapse. Clients are monitored and supported around the clock offering the best chance at lifelong recovery,

Outpatient Alcohol Treatment

Outpatient alcohol treatment centers offer programs of varying intensities. When part of a continuum of care program treatment program, clients leave inpatient alcohol treatment and go into outpatient alcohol treatment.

Furthermore, clients who can’t commit to inpatient treatment due to personal reasons find the flexibility of outpatient alcohol treatment beneficial. Depending on treatment needs and outside responsibilities such as family and work, clients may go to treatment a few hours a week up to 10 hours a day.

Outpatient alcohol treatment centers include:

  • Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP) is the most intensive outpatient program. Clients live at home but attend treatment up to 10 hours a day, sometimes 7 days a week. Clients who cannot commit to inpatient alcohol treatment may find the structure and support of PHP beneficial in treating alcohol abuse.
  • Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) is the next step down in outpatient alcohol treatment. Typically, clients spend a few hours a day 5 days a week in group therapy and relapse prevention programs.
  • Outpatient Program (OP) offers various intensities depending on the client’s needs. For example, a client how is attending treatment twice a week starts struggling with triggers and cravings. As a result, they need more time in therapy. Once the client is back in control of their thoughts and behaviors, they can again reduce time in treatment.

Aftercare Alcohol Abuse Treatment

Alcohol abuse recovery does not end once the treatment program is complete. Many clients often choose to continue treatment in aftercare programs. Aftercare means long-term ongoing treatment which focuses on relapse prevention and building healthy life skills.

Facilities such as Segue Recovery Support help clients succeed by guiding them through the first year of recovery. Typically aftercare programs offer case management, recovery therapy, monitoring, and family therapy.

It can be overwhelming entering life free of alcohol, but with the skills built in holistic therapies and support from therapists and peers, you too can live a life free of alcohol.

Have You Tried Recovery and Continue to Relapse?

At BRC Healthcare, we provide a continuum of care treatment for chronic relapsers and treatment-resistant clients. Alcohol and drug abuse is a chronic disease that requires psychological treatment, new life skills, and spiritual practices to overcome.

Contact us today and find out how our comprehensive alcohol abuse treatment programs can help you reclaim your life.

References:

https://medlineplus.gov/alcohol.html

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17347351/

https://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/fact-sheets/binge-drinking.htm