When it comes to addictive substances, alcohol is one of the most well-known, dangerous addictions. As a chronic disease, alcoholism can have destructive effects on the person addicted over time and negatively affect the people associated with them.
To combat alcohol addiction, it is extremely important that you find an alcohol rehab that will best treat the specific needs of someone going through alcoholism.
At Maryland House Detox, we offer specialized treatment that is not only effective in clearing the body of any toxins or residue, but is also effective in long-term sobriety.
When someone starts drinking, it is usually because either they are looking for a way to cope with the stress of everyday life, or they simply want to do it for fun.
However, the recreational consumption of alcohol can quickly and easily develop into severe physical and psychological addiction.
Someone who is dependent on alcohol cannot control their alcohol consumption, and the chronic use and abuse of alcohol will make it so going even a few hours without drinking can cause withdrawal. The possible dangers and severe withdrawal symptoms cause alcoholism to be one of the most dangerous addictions, and it is recommended that you or someone you know that struggles with addiction find treatment immediately.
Here at Maryland House Detox, we have an experienced and credentialed staff that is more than happy to assist patients in their addiction treatment. The goal of treatment is to stay sober and to avoid relapse, and our experienced and highly credentialed staff is ready to help anyone who may need it.
What is Alcoholism?
The first step in treating alcoholism is simply having the most applicable and useful knowledge about alcoholism.
With the 18 million people suffering from alcoholism, alcohol is the most common addictive substance in the United States. Technically and medically referred to as Alcohol Use Disorder, alcohol addiction affects one in every 12 American adults. Alcohol Use Disorder is a chronic (long-term) brain disease defined by compulsive alcohol intake and a negative mental state while not drinking. People suffering from alcohol addiction have little to no control over their intake, and thus alcohol rehab should be the immediate course of action once diagnosed with Alcohol Use Disorder.
The factors that come into play when determining the cause of alcoholism may vary greatly, and realizing what the roots of your alcohol addiction actually are can benefit you while you engage in alcohol rehab. A victim’s environment, mental disorders, and even genetics can act as a variable as to whether or not some people are at a higher risk of addiction.
Some of these factors can pose as more influential than others, with the environment being the most prevalent. For example, someone’s risk of becoming addicted to alcohol is as much as four times greater if a parent also suffers from alcoholism.
How Addiction Develops
Speaking of parents being addicted to alcohol, alcohol addiction in many people can be traced back to childhood. It is an alarming fact that those who begin drinking before the age of 15 are six times more likely to become addicted to alcohol than those that begin drinking at the legal age of 21. Seeing as more than 40 percent of all tenth graders drink alcohol, the susceptibility of the entire youth population as a whole to alcoholism is terrifying. Because a child is more likely to give in to peer pressure at a party or around friends and family, they are at a generally much higher risk than adults.
Children are not the only ones that are at risk of alcoholism; college students are susceptible as well. As a matter of fact, studies show that some of the highest rates of student substance abuse on campus come from freshman students alone. Although it is commonly associated with middle-aged adults, the main demographic of alcoholism is comprised of the “Young Adult” age. With 32 percent of all alcoholics being classified as young adults, they are actually the largest subtype of alcoholics in the United States.
Regarding mental disorders being causes of addiction, illnesses such as depression or anxiety have been known to affect someone’s alcohol intake. In an attempt at self-medication or to ease their mind, someone with a mental health disease or disorder are likely to abuse a substance. This can be especially dangerous when the effects of the mental condition are intensified by the substance, as in the case of alcohol and depression.
While it may seem like it helps short-term, alcohol has many negative long-term effects that will snowball on top of each other, getting exponentially worse over time. Chronic alcohol abuse can lead to dependency and addiction, and will ultimately intensify the mental disorder that the person is attempting to treat with alcohol.
Although no specific gene has been identified as a “susceptibility to alcohol” gene, there are some that we do know that can contribute to the development of alcoholism. For example, there are genes that can reduce the negative effects of hangovers as well as boost the intoxicating effects of alcohol intoxication. With these genes, people are at a much higher risk of developing an addiction.
Although several people are aware that they are addicted to alcohol, not even 10 percent of them seek professional help. This raises the question of “What happens to the other 90 percent that doesn’t seek treatment?” Well, one of two things could happen. The first thing that could happen is that they don’t attempt to quit and will continue to abuse and stay addicted. The other option for someone would be to attempt self-treatment, usually in the form of going “cold turkey.”
The act of quitting a substance cold turkey involves immediately quitting all intake of that substance in attempt to self-detox. While it sounds good on paper, you should never quit cold turkey, and doing so will lead to intense and uncomfortable symptoms. Instead of trying to self-treat your alcohol addiction, you should make an attempt to seek professional drug rehab, as treatment centers have the resources to ensure your detox is an easy one. By quitting cold turkey without any medical supervision, one runs the risk of severe and potentially fatal withdrawal symptoms.
As a depressant, alcohol slows body and brain function, and the way that information travels through the body is changed. By constantly abusing alcohol, someone forces their central nervous system to rewrite its blueprints. Because it is under constant fire from the sedative effects of alcohol, the body will overclock itself in an attempt to stay awake. If you quit cold turkey, your body alcohol level drops to zero. To properly adjust from working overtime to being completely sober, the body needs time to slowly revert. Quitting cold turkey allows your body no time to readjust, causing severe withdrawal symptoms.
Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms
Depending on the intensity of the alcohol abuse as well as duration of abuse, alcohol withdrawal symptoms can range from moderate to severe/fatal.
Common Alcohol Withdrawal Symtoms
- Shaky hands
- Trouble sleeping
While the above list contains some of the more common side effects, they are rarely fatal. The more dangerous and death-related symptoms are called Delirium tremens (DT), which are more rare and severe than the other symptoms and only occur in roughly five percent of people suffering from alcoholism. Along with hypertension and hypotension, seizures are the main DTs that can cause death.
Other Side Effects of DTs
- Fast heart rate
- High blood pressure
- High body temperature
- Excessive sweating
Although it can be much more severe than other addictions, alcohol rehab generally follows the same path as other substances. A patient will start with medical detox and then move into residential (inpatient) or outpatient treatment.
As the first step in alcohol rehab, medical detoxification (or detox) is highly influential when it comes to determining whether or not treatment is successful or not. Because it is the first step that needs to be taken, detox can also be the most difficult for many.
The point of detox is, over the course of five to seven days, to remove all substance residue and toxins from the patient’s body. Through the use of gradual tapering off of alcohol as well as professionally administered medications, medical detox can effectively cleanse the body of any alcohol and prepare it for the next level of treatment.
Inpatient and Residential
For more severe and long-term addictions, the next step in treatment after detox would be inpatient treatment. Inpatient simply refers to when a patient lives on-site and participates in addiction therapy daily. If you are finding it hard to live in your current environment while staying sober, we understand. Even the sight of a bottle of alcohol can be triggers to many people, so avoiding those situations would be easiest in an inpatient program.
Residential treatment is a different type of inpatient treatment. Rather than focus on physical dependence and medications like intensive inpatient, residential treatment explores psychological dependence and reasons behind a patient’s addiction.
Though usually longer than intensive inpatient, residential treatment differs from regular inpatient due to its more laidback, hotel-like atmosphere. There are fewer doctors supervising you, and the amount of time required per week dedicated to therapy is also much less.
More suited for severe addictions, outpatient treatment programs are quick, clean, and effective. If a patient finds that they have a steady living environment at home but also struggle with severe addiction, outpatient treatment would be perfect. Working around the patient’s responsibilities, like work and school, outpatient treatment creates a set schedule for a patient to undergo treatment at a facility. After the few hours each day of treatment, the patient will simply return home.
Outpatient care gives the patient greater freedom and access to support from friends and family, which can easily tip the scales to favor the success of sobriety rather than relapse. Participating in outpatient care also teaches the patient how to practice relapse prevention so that after treatment, the patient will continue to stay sober.