Is Alcoholism A Chronic Disease
Not only is alcoholism classified as a mental health issue it is also considered a disease. Fitting the criteria required by disease theory, alcoholism includes the following qualifying characteristics:
- Biological in nature with a predictable timeline of both development and recovery.
- There are observable signs and commonly shared symptoms among sufferers.
- It does not go away or heal on its own without intervention.
- A progressive illness that could get worse over time.
- If left untreated, it can be fatal.
Is alcoholism a chronic disease, though? Chronic diseases are conditions that require ongoing medical attention, limit daily activities, and subside for a year or longer. Due to AUDs progressive nature that requires treatment, and how it interferes with the users daily life, the answer to this question is yes.
Alcoholism is considered a disease that progresses in three stages, starting with problematic drinking and ending in obsessive alcohol abuse.
The first stage of AUD begins with problematic drinking. In this stage, the physical and psychologicalotherwise known as chemicaldependence begins. Drinking for pleasure or socially ends long before this stage. When the user isnt drinking, withdrawal begins to manifest. This leads to more frequent alcohol abuse to abate the uncomfortable symptoms associated with withdrawing from a substance.
Severe Alcohol Abuse
Obsessive Alcohol Abuse
Addictions Alcohol And Other Substances
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Addiction to alcohol and other drugs, or the overuse of alcohol and other drugs, is called a substance use problem. Alcohol or other drug use becomes a problem when it causes harm to you or others. Non-drug addictions, such as gambling, can likewise cause harm.
It is important to know that no matter how you are feeling, you are not alone. Whether you are looking for information and support for yourself or for a loved one, help is available. Keep reading for an overview of how to find information and get the support you need.
What If I Am Drinking Too Much19
- Set yourself a target to reduce the amount of alcohol you drink.
- Avoid high-risk drinking situations .
- Drink lower-strength, though full-taste, drinks, like 4% beers or 10% wines.
- Work out other things you can do instead of drinking.
- Involve your partner or a friend. They can help to agree a goal and keep track of your progress.
- Talk it over with your GP. For many people this simple step helps them to cut down their drinking.
- Caution: if you are drinking heavily, do not stop suddenly consult your GP.
Some people can stop suddenly without any problems. Others may have withdrawal symptoms craving, shakiness and restlessness. If this happens, ask your GP for help.
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“I have tried many groups, AA meetings, psychologists, doctors and addiction counselors for the past year. The Monument group is the best I have experienced. I am so excited to be part of this treatment program! Thank you very much.”
Find Healthy Ways To Relax
Many people drink alcohol to relax and find relief from their mental health symptoms. Instead of drinking, look for healthier ways to relax. You can start practicing yoga, meditating, engaging in physical activity, cooking or taking a calming bath. Activities like these can help take your mind off stressful situations and provide you with an outlet to release tension rather than choosing to drink.
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Tip : Find New Meaning In Life
To stay alcohol- or drug-free for the long term, youll need to build a new, meaningful life where substance abuse no longer has a place.
Develop new activities and interests. Find new hobbies, volunteer activities, or work that gives you a sense of meaning and purpose. When youre doing things you find fulfilling, youll feel better about yourself and substance use will hold less appeal.
Avoid the things that trigger your urge to use. If certain people, places, or activities trigger a craving for drugs or alcohol, try to avoid them. This may mean making major changes to your social life, such as finding new things to do with your old buddiesor even giving up those friends and making new connections.
What Are The Stages Of Alcohol Use Disorder
Alcohol use that turns into a use disorder 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 . 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.
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The Relationship Between Alcohol And Self
Alcohol and self-esteem mutually impact one another. Alcohol use can temporarily raise or lower self-esteem, but it typically creates lower self-esteem in the long-term. Low or high self-esteem can be a contributing factor to alcohol abuse and dependence, but an appropriate level of self-esteem is a powerful tool in the battle against alcoholism.
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Establish A Support Network
Having a robust support network in your personal life can help you with alcohol addiction. Fill your support network with people who encourage your sobriety and hold you accountable through every step of the recovery process. You can rely on your friends or family members when you feel the urge to drink and reach out when youre struggling or experiencing one of your triggers.
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What Does It Do
As a general rule, alcohol can make you feel more confident and relaxed, slow down your reflexes and affect your balance and coordination.
Drinking too much can cause headaches, dizziness, nausea and vomiting. In some cases, people can even pass out and may not remember what happened. They may do risky things that they wouldnt do while sober.
How alcohol makes you feel depends on lots of things, like:
how much you weigh
the strength of the drink
how regularly you drink
what kind of mood youre in when you drink
who youre drinking with.
The effects of alcohol can last for hours, even over night, especially if you have drunk a lot. When it wears off you may feel tired, thirsty, headachy and sick. This usually wont last longer than a day.
Alcohol And Personality Changes
Alcoholic behavior often turns to actions that are selfish, angry or self-centered. Thus, friends and family may notice that normal personality traits disappear when their loved one becomes intoxicated.
Alcohol slows your brains synapses and chemically alters your body by affecting serotonin levels, the chemical responsible for transmitting signals of mood to your brain. Consequently, these physical changes cause your emotions to get out of control and cause you to say and do things you normally wouldnt do. Aggression, egotistical behavior, and mood swings are very common in people who abuse alcohol.
In addition, alcohol affects sleep patterns and may alter personality traits. Our bodies and brains need to rest. Its a myth that alcohol helps you sleep. Alcohol actually can disrupt the bodys ability to rest and upset the cycle of restorative sleep.
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The Mix Of Alcohol And Bipolar Disorder
Studies have shown that people with bipolar disorder have a 60 percent chance of developing a drinking problem at some point in their lives.
Alcohol is known to intensify bipolar disorder due to its sedating effects. It acts similarly to some medications, risking feelings of depression with each swig of alcohol. Alcohol also greatly increases the severity of mania, which many who suffer from bipolar find extremely pleasurable. Although, alcohol can increase the negative effects of bipolar disorder in either direction, flaming the fire with each sip.
Drinking on bipolar medication can turn one drink into several, especially drinking on an empty stomach. Alcohol can also destabilize bipolar disorder, giving up your control of emotions to an empty glass.
Alcohol And Mental Health
Alcohol and mental health are closely linked. Drinking too much can affect your wellbeing. Some people may drink to try to relieve the symptoms of mental ill-health.
People drink for a wide range of reasons: to celebrate, socialise, commiserate or drown our sorrows. We may drink to try and change our mood: to feel more relaxed, courageous or confident. However, the effect of alcohol is only temporary. As it wears off, we often feel worse because of how alcohol withdrawal affects our brain and body.
You may feel like alcohol is your coping mechanism: a way to deal with depression, stress, anxiety or other difficult feelings. You might be nervous about what life would be like if you stopped drinking or cut back. But relying on alcohol to manage your mental wellbeing can become a problem in itself. Theres no shame in asking for help and exploring what a new relationship with alcohol could look like.
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How Does Alcohol Affect Brain Chemistry
It is a largely accepted fact that addiction affects brain chemistry. The way that the brain normally functions is altered to the point where someone suffering from AUD is unable to control their drinking.
The changes in brain chemistry are linked to the brains reward system and how alcohol consumption influences the production of the brains feel-good chemical, dopamine. When someone does something that they find pleasurable, such as eating delicious food or hearing a song they love, dopamine is produced in the brain.
The production of this chemical often reinforces behaviors, both healthy and unhealthy. If the result of a particular behavior is a rush of dopamine, the person exhibiting the behavior is likely to repeat it to feel that rush. With AUD the brain loses the ability to distinguish between dopamine rewards for healthy behavior and rewards for drug or alcohol use, leading to increased substance abuse.
Start Alcohol Treatment Today
As we mentioned, health insurance plans are legally required to cover substance abuse and mental health disorders, so theres a good chance your policy includes alcohol rehab. Northbound Treatment is in-network for most major insurance carriers, and we can help you determine the types of care covered under your plan. As for any remaining out-of-pocket costs for treatment, we offer flexible payment options.
If you or someone close to you is suffering from alcoholism, dont delay getting treatment. Northbound welcomes new clients every day, and wed love to hear from you. Fill out our admissions form or call us at 978-8649.
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Overdose Prevention And Response In Bc
Overdose Prevention and Response in B.C. provides information on what you need to know about drug-related overdoses, how to respond to an overdose , and tips to prevent an overdose.
If you suspect an overdose, call right away and follow SAVE ME protocol while waiting for first responders. If you or someone you know has a history of using substances, consider carrying a naloxone kit.
How To Identify A Co
Co-occurring disorders can occur for a number of reasons, such as:1, 3, 11
- Common risk factors. Certain factors, such as genetics or environmental issues like stress and trauma, can play a role in the development of addiction and mental health disorders.
- Mental disorders can impact addiction. As mentioned above, people who have mental illnesses may rely on substances to self-medicate, or ease, their symptoms. Brain changes that occur in certain mental illnesses may increase the rewarding feelings associated with substance use.
- Substance use and addiction can impact mental disorders. People who abuse substances can suffer from brain changes that may increase their chances of developing a mental disorder.
- Biological factors. Underlying medical problems or certain chemical imbalances in the brain can affect the development of addiction or mental illness.
Addiction isnt always easy to spot, but there are certain behavioral, physical, and social changes that can indicate the presence of a problem. Signs of substance abuse can vary by substance and the individual. Common signs and symptoms can include:12
All mental illnesses have their own set of symptoms and diagnostic criteria. Signs and symptoms can vary by individual and condition. However, some of the more common signs and symptoms that could indicate a possible mental illness can include:13
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Is There Treatment For Alcohol Addiction And Mood Disorders
The limited evidence on treatment approaches to co-occurring alcohol dependence and mood disorders support the role of integrated treatment.
A systematic review of psychosocial treatment strategies for co-occurring alcohol addiction and depression reported integrated treatment to be better for alcohol and depression.
Research on the effectiveness of pharmacotherapy is also limited and the findings are conflicting.
- While some studies support the role of antidepressants, others have failed to demonstrate its effectiveness.
- In a recent meta-analysis, nefazodone, desipramine, and imipramine were found to have the most robust effects.
- Use of naltrexone in combination with Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors has been associated with higher abstinence rates from alcohol.
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Treatment For Alcohol And Self
If ones already fallen victim to alcoholism and requires treatment, that doesnt make the issues of self-esteem secondary. Recognition of the underlying issues that damage self-esteem can be the first step to a better life. Otherwise, it is likely for the individual to relapse. Any issues that deal with someones self-esteem should be considered at the initial assessment. Dealing with how the afflicted sees themselves is an invaluable step on the road to recovery.
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Battles with self-esteem can begin at a young age and, with the stigma that comes with mental health, many are hesitant to talk about it. Know that you are not alone. If you, or someone you know, suffer from alcoholism, issues with self-esteem could be a substantial factor. Only looking at the addiction can be setting yourself or your loved one up for relapse. If you dont know what to do about your issues with alcohol and self-esteem, contact a treatment provider. They discuss available treatment options with you.
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Healthier Ways To Cope With Stress
No one knows what youre going through and how tough it is. You may feel desperate and alone. You turn to alcohol because of the temporary relief that it offers. However, once the effects of alcohol wear off, youre back to reality and you still have to face your problems.
There are baby steps that you can take so that you can cope with the stressors in your life. Some of these steps may sound strange or you may easily dismiss them as something that wont work for you. But you have to try something else other than consuming alcohol. There are healthier ways to cope that can actually help you move forward. Lets take a look at some of them.
What Effect Can Alcohol Have On My Mental Health
People may experience improved social interaction or general feelings of well-being with moderate alcohol consumption. But its important to understand that alcohol use can pose a risk to someones mental health, overall mood, and daily cognitive functioning due to its impact on brain chemicals. Alcohol use especially excessive alcohol use can exacerbate pre-existing comorbid psychiatric disorders, such as depression and anxiety. In others, alcohol may induce depression and anxiety.13
Cognitive effects of alcohol use may include memory loss, problems with learning, dementia, and severely hindered mental functioning in most severe cases.10 Seeking alcohol addiction treatment is the first step in preventing or reducing the negative effects of alcohol on the brain.
Its never too late to turn your life around, no matter how dire your situation may feel in the moment. Reach out for help today and get the care you need. By seeking addiction treatment, you can take back your life and prevent or reduce many of the risks associated with alcohol abuse.
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