To understand what alcohol addiction treatment is, we must first look at alcohol addiction and how it occurs. The reason for this is that most people are unable to comprehend the fact that alcohol is an addictive substance. This is mainly because it is legal and is widely available. To most, alcohol is a substance to be enjoyed; it is certainly not harmful or addictive. But the reality is that alcohol can be dangerous and it is certainly addictive. Those who are living under the weight of alcohol addiction every single day will testify to that.
How Does Alcohol Addiction Occur?
Alcohol addiction does not occur overnight. You do not go to bed one night feeling fine and then wake up the next morning as an alcoholic. Most of those affected by this illness do not even realise they are in trouble until their addiction is at a late stage.
It is usually the case that the loved ones of the affected person will spot the signs and symptoms of addiction before the addict does. The alcoholic often believes that concerned family members are worrying unnecessarily.
For most people, alcohol addiction begins with experimentation. They will make a choice to drink alcohol for the first time and, if they enjoy it, will drink it again. It must be said here that just because a person chooses to drink alcohol does not mean he or she is going to develop an addiction. Most individuals that drink alcohol never have a problem with it and only drink in moderation. However, there are some for whom this chemical substance becomes a weight that drags them down.
The Government has issued guidelines on the safe level of alcohol that should be consumed on a weekly basis by UK adults. These guidelines say that adults should drink no more than fourteen units of alcohol each week, with the allowance spread across a number of days. For safe alcohol consumption, a few days each week should be kept alcohol-free. Those who regularly drink more than this amount are putting their health at risk and are in danger of developing an addiction.
What Is Tolerance?
Drinking below the government’s alcohol guideline amounts is considered relatively safe in terms of avoiding various alcohol-related illnesses. Nevertheless, the only way to guarantee these health problems do not occur is to avoid alcohol completely.
Alcohol is a socially acceptable substance in Western society, and many people enjoy a glass of wine or a couple of beers at the weekend with family or friends. There are others who like to have a glass of wine every evening with their meal. But when that one glass of wine becomes two glasses and then progresses to a full bottle, the person is in dangerous territory.
What often happens with mood-altering substances such as alcohol is that the person builds up a tolerance to it. This means that his or her body adapts to the presence of this substance and stops producing the same number of dopamine (feel-good) chemicals that it once did in response to it. When this happens, the individual feels as if he or she is not getting the same effects they once did and subsequently respond by increasing their level of alcohol consumption. He/she needs to drink more alcohol to get the same pleasure as before.
Nonetheless, the downside to increasing alcohol consumption is that he or she is putting their health at risk and is increasing the likelihood that he/she will become physically dependent on alcohol. The more alcohol put into the body, the more the body will come to expect it and will start to crave it. An increased tolerance to alcohol can lead to addiction if the individual continues to increase their alcohol consumption.
How Alcohol Affects the Individual?
It is difficult for most affected people to believe that they could have an alcohol addiction. Some will find it hard to accept that a substance they have enjoyed for so long could actually be the cause of all their problems. Many alcoholics will cling to their belief that the alcohol is the only thing that is providing any relief in their life. The idea that they might have to quit drinking is one that is hard to accept.
Alcohol and other mood-altering substances can profoundly affect the brain and how it functions. Continued abuse of alcohol can lead the person to the point where he or she is unable to think clearly or make logical decisions. As difficult as it may be for loved ones to believe, an addicted individual will continue to drink even though doing so will have a negative impact on themselves and those around them.
Alcoholism is a deadly disease that will progress without treatment. In the early days, the alcoholic may not notice any major problems, but as time goes by, he or she will eventually suffer with poor health. As alcohol affects almost every single cell in the body, it is impossible to continue abusing it without any negative consequences.
Illnesses such as high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, liver disease, kidney disease, heart disease, and cancer are all linked to alcohol abuse, and the damage does not stop there. Those who find themselves in the grip of an alcohol addiction are commonly affected by mental health problems too. Anxiety, depression, and dementia have all been linked to alcoholism.
The Effect on the Family
To continue drinking alcohol on a regular basis requires additional funds that many families cannot afford. The alcoholic will be desperate for alcohol and will usually spend all available funds on their habit. When the illness progresses and their desperation increases, the affected person might begin spending money that was meant for paying bills such as rent, utilities, and even food.
As you might imagine, the cost of funding an alcohol addiction can have deep implications for the family. The alcoholic may leave the family in dire financial straits; even if the alcoholic is still capable of going to work and earning an income, he or she may be a poor provider for the family.
The effect on the family is not just monetary; living with an alcoholic can be devastating in terms of the emotional and psychological impact it has on the entire family. Children in particular are intensely affected by a parent’s addiction. They may be left feeling upset, lonely, frightened, and confused by their parent’s erratic behaviour.
What Makes People Prone to Alcoholism?
It is true that not everyone who drinks alcohol or even abuses it will become alcoholics. If scientists knew what makes individuals become addicted to mood-altering substances then it is unlikely that anyone would ever suffer with illnesses such as alcoholism again. While there is no single cause of addiction, there are several factors that make it more likely for a person to develop the illness. That being said, it should be remembered that even those who have every single risk factor are not guaranteed to be affected.
A family history of addiction can make it more likely that a person will be affected by addiction themselves. You might think that children of addicts would be the ones who would never touch mood-altering substances themselves having seen the damage that these can cause, but this is not the case.
In fact, children of alcoholics are four times more likely to suffer with alcoholism themselves than children of non-alcoholic parents. Maybe it is the familiarity of the substance or the fact that they have been around the alcoholic parent for so long that it seems almost normal to use alcohol as a coping mechanism.
Some experts believe it is all in the genes. However, there is no single gene that is responsible for alcoholism. There are many genes that are involved when it comes to a person’s risk for alcoholism. Even so, just having these genes does not mean the person will become an alcoholic; for most people, these genes would have to be activated by external influences. Scientists believe that genes are responsible for around fifty per cent of a person’s risk for alcoholism.
It is not just family history of addiction and genes that can be classed as risk factors for addiction though. Traumatic events also make an individual’s risk for addiction higher. Those who have suffered trauma such as abuse, being bullied, the loss of a loved one, or domestic violence are more likely to self-medicate with substances such as alcohol. Their risk is even higher if they have suffered more than one traumatic event.
Mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety are also considered risk factors for addiction, with those affected using these substances as a way to make themselves feel better. Nevertheless, although alcohol or drugs can provide temporary relief from mental health conditions, abuse of these substances often leads to addiction, leaving the affected person with mental health problems and an addiction that requires treatment.
So, Can Alcohol Addiction Be Treated?
It is important to be aware of how alcohol addiction occurs and the damage it can cause before looking at ways in which it can be treated. The impact of alcohol addiction on the individual as well as the fact that it changes the structure of the brain will all have implications on the type of treatment that is provided.
It is not just a simple case of quitting alcohol and hoping for the best. Alcoholics are typically unable to quit even when wanting to. Their body crave alcohol and the person might experience a variety of withdrawal symptoms should he/she stop drinking for any length of time. Most alcoholics quickly learn that to ease these symptoms all that is needed is another drink.
For those with a physical addiction to alcohol and who want to get better, a detox is required. Detox programmes aim to separate the individual from alcohol for good. Alcohol detoxification can be a complicated process, particularly in the case of those who have been drinking heavily for a long time.
When alcohol is suddenly stopped, the body will react quickly as it tries to get back to normal. The affected individual can expect to go through various withdrawal symptoms as the detox progresses. These symptoms could be mild in severity and include headaches, sweating, shaking, and nausea, or they can be severe, with the patient experiencing things such as paranoid delusions, convulsions, and seizures.
As there is no way to predict the type and severity of the withdrawal symptoms that a person will experience before the detox begins, it is always best to detox in a supervised facility. It is possible to detox at home, but because of the risk of complications, it is far safer and much more comfortable to completed the process under the careful supervision of fully qualified medical professionals with experience of detox.
What Is Alcohol Rehab Like?
The temptation to quit the recovery process after detox is often high among alcoholics. Many believe they are cured because they have managed to stay clean for a period of seven to ten days, something which they have not managed for a long time.
What these individuals fail to realise is that detox is never enough when it comes to long-term successful recovery from addiction. What they also fail to realise is that there is actually no cure for addiction. Illnesses like alcoholism can be treated and maintained but never cured – at least not at the moment.
Those who want to enjoy long-term sobriety will not only have to address the physical side of their illness with a detoxification but they will also have to work with professional counsellors and therapists to tackle any emotional issues relating to their addiction.
Rehab programmes are either inpatient or outpatient based and are provided by various organisations across the UK. These can include private clinics, which tend to provide the bulk of inpatient programmes, and the NHS, charities, and local support groups, whose main remit is the outpatient programme.
In general, an inpatient programme will last for around six to eight weeks, during which time the patient will stay in the clinic and receive a structured and intensive treatment programme. Patients who are classified as having a dual diagnosis (addiction and mental health problems) may require a longer stay, often up to twelve weeks.
Inpatient programmes have many advantages including the fact that the environment in which the patient recovers is distraction- and temptation-free. Quick admission times, a multi-disciplined team, and around-the-clock care are also major benefits for those who choose this type of care.
An outpatient programme is different to an inpatient programme in that the patient does not have to stay in the clinic. He or she will regularly attend counselling sessions as dictated by the programme and the provider. When treatment is completed, the patient returns home to his or her daily life.
Choosing a Rehab Programme
Patients can choose between an inpatient or outpatient programme. There are many circumstances that will influence a person’s decision such as their immediate need for treatment, their budget, family and work commitments, and their risk for relapse should they try to recover while also dealing with daily life.
Here at Addiction Helper, we work with various organisations around the United Kingdom. We can help clients to find the most suitable rehab programme for their requirements based on a fully comprehensive assessment that we carry out for them. This assessment is free of charge and totally confidential.
If you require help for anything related to the question of what is alcohol addiction treatment, or else anything generally to do with alcohol addiction or are wondering how to access treatment, contact us today. We can match you to a rehab provider that meets your needs in a matter of minutes. All you have to do is make the call right now.
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