Alcohol Addiction

Definition

Alcohol is misleadingly one of the most dangerous and widely used substances being abused today. Some of the main reasons this is true is because alcohol in our society is glamorized on TV and in the movies with minimal to no portrayal of any negative consequences. Another reason is that alcohol is legal and readily available at any gas station or grocery store. Another strong reason for alcohol abuse is that it is extremely hard to categorize all addicts the same when it comes to diagnosing alcoholism. This is where the term “functioning alcoholic” comes into play as far as those that obviously have a drinking problem but are somehow able to still work and maintain a job, etc. Their tolerance is much higher than it would be for the occasional drinker. These type of drinkers are considered alcohol dependent and may undergo severe health symptoms (usually for one week) which if bad enough can actually kill the alcoholic from seizures (delirium tremens) associated with withdrawaling. 

alcohol abuse and alcohol detox center in Utah

Unfortunately, alcoholism is a progressive disease and only gets worse. The common drinker goes unnoticed sometimes for years until their disease of alcoholism has completely taken over their entire life and in most cases…ends up taking their life by destroying the drinker’s major organs including the brain, or the innocent lives of others from driving drunk, etc. It is best to assume that moderate to severe alcohol consumption is potentially life threatening and dangerous to the self and to others. 

Drinkers can be solely addicted to alcohol physically, emotionally, psychologically, or all of them simultaneously. Alcohol is a depressant and effects the central nervous system once absorbed through the bloodstream. Once reaching the brain (intoxication), normal functions are now slowed which causes distorted vision, delayed thinking, poor impulsive decisions, memory lapses (blackouts), loss of balance and extremity control, and slurred speech. Alcohol becomes extremely lethal when mixed with prescriptions or other illicit drugs. The alcoholic will often experience a “hangover” from the night before due to dehydration and irritation to their nervous system and will resort to drinking as the first thing to do in the morning. This is where the endless cycle of alcoholism starts and usually cannot be broken unless the alcoholic seeks after professional treatment help. 

Alcohol is produced from a process involving fermentation of various grains, fruits and vegetables through yeasts which convert the sugars (carbohydrates) into an ethyl alcohol liquid. Alcohol abuse severely damages the relationships of the family. Alcoholism is strongly correlated with genetics and therefore has been passed down from generations for hundreds of years. Alcoholism can be passed down traditionally and kept hidden from the common eye through the social aspect of it being culturally acceptable for certain families or even with different major religions. Some of the more known issues associated with alcohol are: Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, Depression and other mental health disorders, Financial/employment issues and Adult Children of Alcoholics (ACOA). 

The economic impact alcohol has on America is close to $185 billion dollars annually in regards to health costs, crime, law enforcement, and productivity loss (NIDA, 2010). The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has recently claimed that 38 million Americans drink too much alcohol and may have a problem with alcoholism. The CDC feels this is primarily due to the ongoing issue associated with doctors not being very involved with their patient’s personal life by asking questions relating to their alcohol consumption. The CDC says an adult female should only drink one time per day, while an adult male should only drink two times per day. The CDC defines a drink as either a 5 ounce glass of wine or a 12 ounce glass of beer. The CDC also said that you do not have to be an alcoholic to have a drinking problem (Center for Disease Control, 2014). One way to see if you or a loved one has a problem with alcoholism is if you answer “YES” to any of these four (4) questions.

  1. Have you ever felt you needed to cut down your drinking?
  2. Has anybody annoyed you by criticizing your drinking?
  3. Have you ever felt guilty about your drinking?
  4. Have you ever felt you needed to drink first thing in the morning to steady your nerves or to rid a hangover?

BAC Level Expected Behavioral Effects

Here is a comprehensive intoxication table of the varying blood alcohol concentration (BAC) one can expect to experience upon consumption of alcohol. The following list is taken from Dr. William R. Miller which displays how increasing amounts of alcohol affects behavioral patterns.

BAC Levels

0.02 – 0.04 = Relaxation, mild euphoria and relaxed social behaviors

0.055 = Any positive (socially acceptable) behaviors occur below this limit. Judgment is altered, driving and motor abilities impaired, lack of coordination and information processing impaired.

0.06 – 0.08 = Loss of restraint, fantasies and motivation change.

0.10 = Legally intoxicated in all states; reaction time slowed, memory impaired, 10x higher risk of fatal car crash.

0.12 = Vomiting may occur unless tolerance established.

0.15 = Balance impaired, slurring of speech, fatal crash increases to 25x at this BAC; Major memory impairment “blackout” normally occurs in this range (complete memory loss).

0.20 = Memory does not transfer from short-term to long-term storage.

0.30 = Double vision may occur; most drinkers become unconscious or fall asleep.

0.45 or higher = Lethal dose for 50% of adults; death occurs by alcohol poisoning; central nervous system inhibition of heart and breathing.


Signs and Symptoms of Use

Common signs of an alcohol addiction are:

  • Anxiety (Panic attacks)
  • Desire to drink to relieve anxiety symptoms
  • Depression (Speaks of worthlessness, hopelessness, etc.)
  • Low self-esteem
  • Self-conscious and overly concerned about what others are saying/thinking about them
  • Suicide attempts
  • Manipulative behaviors
  • Intermittent and explosive violence towards their partner or children (Domestic violence)
  • Physical shakiness of hands and limbs
  • Red flushed face and nose
  • Slow and relaxed with minimal expressions in isolated situations
  • Excessively hyper and talkative in social settings
  • Increased self-confidence
  • Loss of self-restraint and composure 
  • Frequent isolation from others
  • Lowered inhibitions
  • Displayed behaviors of being unruly, loud and obnoxious
  • Focused on having more fun and freedom
  • Loss of employment
  • Financial problems (Majority of money is spent at bars or on bottles of alcohol)
  • Struggles with personal relationships constantly making the immediate family suffer
  • Going against own moral values
  • Bitterness (Chip on their shoulder like the world owes them something)
  • Resentments (Anger towards relatives and others feeling life is unfair)
  • Displays socially dangerous behaviors (operating dangerous equipment or machinery while intoxicated, etc.)
  • Legal complications (DUI, alcohol tickets, public intoxication, etc.)
  • Self-destructive behaviors (Fighting, increasingly aggressive, sabotage, public embarrassment, etc.)
  • Sexual promiscuity
  • Often falling and injuring self or others
  • History of “blacking out” and not remembering anything
  • Ornery and belligerent often saying mean and hurtful things to others
  • Spending a lot of time in thinking about or actually drinking, or recovering from the effects of drinking.
  • Increased tolerance for drinking and usually drinks larger amounts than everyone else
  • Has a strong difficulty in stopping their drinking even after expressing a desire to do so
  • Withdrawal symptoms are present when the drinking stops (For more on withdrawal symptoms, read below)
  • Work, family and other important areas of life take a back seat to the importance of drinking

Common symptoms of an alcohol addiction are:

  • Death (From the body’s organs shutting down, DUI, etc.)
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Brain damage
  • Cell damage
  • Brain shrinkage
  • Thiamine deficiency
  • Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome
  • Mental confusion
  • Lack of balance
  • Infections and Diseases
  • Heart disease
  • Hypertension
  • Poor heart muscle tone (Cardiomyopathy)
  • Strokes from heart muscle damage
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Arrhythmia
  • Liver diseaseUnfiltered toxins travel to the brainAcetaldehyde
  • Hepatic encephalopathyAnxietyDecreased attention spanShakiness in hands
  • Coma and/or death
  • Depression
  • Mood/personality/behavior changes
  • Damages cells and causes abnormal cellular growth
  • Promotes the growth of cancerous cells
  • Fatty liver
  • Cirrhosis
  • Fibrosis
  • Hepatitis
  • PancreasDigestive enzymes
  • Inflammation (Pancreatitis)Diabetes
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Kidney Disease
  • Immune systemTuberculosis
  • Pneumonia
  • CancerMouth EsophagusThroatLiver
  • Breast
    • Withdrawal Symptoms
      • Delirium Tremens (Alcoholic seizures)
        • Shakiness/tremors
        • Hallucinations
        • Convulsions
        • Body goes into shock
      • Anxiety
      • Depression
      • Heart attack
      • Stroke
      • Jumpiness
      • Sleepiness
      • Sweating
      • Poor eating habits/appetite
      • High blood pressure
      • Suicide
      • Death
    • Overdose/Alcohol Poisoning
      • Overdose with too high of a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) (0.45% or higher)
      • Vomiting
      • Seizures
      • Breathing slowed to eight (8) or fewer breaths per minute
      • Long intervals between breaths
      • Blueish tinge of color to skin from slowly asphyxiating 
      • Pale skin/face
      • Clammy/sweaty skin
      • Lowered body temperature
      • Loss of consciousness
      • Coma and/or death

 Treatment for Alcohol Addiction

It is really easy to see after reading all of this information that alcoholism is extremely life threatening and one of the most difficult addictions to stop. It is extremely crucial if you or a loved one is suffering from an alcohol addiction that you immediately seek competent professional treatment. Do not skip the steps when it comes to quitting alcohol, especially if you are a heavy/daily drinker. It is in your best interest to first attend a qualified detoxification facility. This way you are able to ease the pains and limit the symptoms that are associated with withdrawaling from an alcohol addiction through a monitored management of prescribed medications or through a social detoxification center which is not recommended if avoidable. Whichever route you choose, it is important to not skip the detoxification process as the withdrawal symptoms are potentially life threatening. 

When shopping for the right detoxification facility, you will want to make sure they are able to provide some certain medications for the duration of your stay and for the time after your discharge. One particular non-narcotic medication is Naltrexone. This medication blocks off your alcohol receptors and therefore helps curb your cravings and in some cases actually raises your dopamine levels which helps fight the current depression symptoms you may be experiencing. Zion Recovery Center can help you locate the right detox facility before you start your residential inpatient treatment episode with them. 

Once the body is successfully weened from the alcohol, you must create a physical separation between you and drinking. This is most easily done through checking yourself into a residential inpatient alcohol rehab utah center. You will also want to enter into such a program to become more fully aware of your negative thinking, behaviors, and common triggers which continue to drive your addiction(s). Zion Recovery Center is fully competent and willing and able to help you through this process. We will provide you the necessary skills and tools needed to learn all of the important material to live a clean and sober life. Zion Recovery Center provides the best and most luxurious and exclusive treatment available to Utah. We provide rapid healing in both our individual and group treatment sessions on a regular basis. This is why our clients are able to successfully complete our program within the first 60 days. We provide continual outdoor adventures and only allow a small group size of five (5) clients at any given time. So call now and begin the most amazing treatment experience possible.

Once you complete Zion Recovery Center’s inpatient residential program, you will then want to refine your skills and keep your alcohol addiction in check by continuing the treatment process through attending our outpatient aftercare program. During this time you will start to develop a stronger social network of support. One way this is accomplished is through regular weekly attendance of the 12-step program introduced by Alcoholics Anonymous. If you are really worried about your alcohol addiction, you may want to consider moving into a sober living home prior to finishing our inpatient residential treatment. You also will want to commit yourself to attending our outpatient after-care program for longer term care. Either way, Zion Recovery Center is waiting and ready to fulfill all of your individual and specific treatment needs. Please do not hesitate to call any longer. Pick up the phone and call now! 385-207-2029