Alcohol Treatment in Dallas, TX

Alcohol Abuse: Facts, Statistics, and Treatment

Although highly available in grocery stores, convenience stores, restaurants, bars, and more, alcohol has killed more teenagers than every other drug combined. Today, it’s considered the third leading cause of preventable deaths in the United States, accounting for 88,000 fatalities in a year. This persistent problem costs the country upwards of $249 billion annually.

Contributing to the development of 200 different health conditions, alcohol consumption also plays a role in violent crimes and domestic abuse. No doubt, the use of alcohol has become a global problem that penetrates not only personal lives, but also homes and families. Presently, it’s considered a major threat to the health and safety of individuals around the globe, and alcohol abuse remains a serious global burden.

The History of Alcohol

Alcohol has its roots in early civilizations, like Egypt where they fermented fruits as early as 7000 BC. In early India, rice was fermented into an alcoholic drink called sura which was widely popular in the country from 3000 to 2000 BC. Wine was also particularly well-known throughout early history, consumed in Babylon, Greece, and other early settlements.

In pre-Colombian times, Native American tribes fermented combinations of fruit and corn to create an alcoholic beverage they called ‘chicha’. Later on, in the 16th century, alcohol was incorporated into tonics and spirits, which were at the time used mainly for medical purposes.

During the 18th century, British lawmakers passed a law that encouraged alcohol manufacturers to use grain in the distillation of spirits. This pulled the cost of alcohol down, making it accessible and affordable to almost everyone. Widespread alcoholism became a problem, and gin consumption reached 18 million gallons in Britain.

With the temperance movement in the 19th century, the government tried to put a lid on the import of alcoholic beverages from other countries. As they attempted a total prohibition of alcohol, the illegal alcohol trade went on the rise, easily bypassing whatever laws and bans that the government tried to impose.

Ultimately, the efforts to control alcohol use were tossed out the window, and instead, governments have placed a limit on the age that people can buy and drink alcohol. But even with these limits in place, teenagers and minors are able to access alcohol through fake IDs and various other illegal methods that go unchecked.

Fast Facts: Alcohol Abuse in Numbers

  • In 2005, 2.5 million of the 3.9 million Americans who received treatment for substance abuse struggled with alcohol abuse
  • The US records 1.4 million drunk driving arrests annually
  • Alcohol plays a role in 40% of all violent crimes
  • 32% of heavy alcohol abusers over the age of 12 were also abusers of other illicit drugs
  • Youth who engage in alcohol use are 7.5 times more likely to use various other drugs
  • In 2005, 39% of all road accident fatalities included the involvement of alcohol
  • An estimated 20% of all college students meet the requirements for alcohol use dependence
  • 8% of all liver disease deaths in 2018 were exacerbated or caused by alcohol
  • In 2010, alcohol misuse and abuse were the leading causes of premature death and disability across the globe

What Happens When You Use Alcohol?

Alcohol is a depressant, which means it slows down the system and brings its user a feeling of euphoria, but that’s not all the substance delivers. The drink is known for its ability to give its user a feeling that’s similar to a ‘high’, which many use as an escape from the realities and troubles of everyday life.

Short Terms Effects of Alcohol

Some of the short term effects of alcohol use include:

  • Drowsiness, sleepiness, or loss of consciousness
  • Loss of memory
  • Loss of coordination and balance
  • Poor judgement and decision making skills
  • Blurred or double vision
  • Loss of inhibitions
  • Talkativeness
  • Risky behaviour
  • Slower motor responses and temporary loss of reflexes
  • Short attention span
  • Vomiting and nausea
  • Headaches and dizziness

Many of those who drink alcohol do so in an attempt to get away from their stresses and anxieties. The short-term effects of drinking can temporarily erase problematic thoughts, thus making alcohol an easy and accessible escape for those who deal with various issues.

Long Term Effects of Alcohol

But over time, the constant use of alcohol can have severe effects on the system. These long term effects of alcohol can include:

  • Liver disease
  • Nerve damage
  • Stroke
  • Hypertension
  • Heart disease
  • Impotence
  • Vitamin B1 deficiency
  • Malnutrition
  • Gastritis
  • Cancers
  • Permanent brain damage
  • Increased risk of injuries and accidents
  • Poor family relationships
  • Increased likelihood of domestic violence
  • Increased tendency to commit crimes

The Progression of Alcohol Addiction

Most people start out as experimental drinkers. These people will drink occasionally at parties, but will typically take more alcohol than their bodies can handle. Binge drinking is common among first timers, especially under the pressure from their peers and friends.

Once a person moves on from being an experimental drinker, they move on to occasional drinking. These people will drink once a week, particularly on weekends and use family gatherings or friends getting together as an excuse to drink alcohol. In some cases, alcohol might be used to combat loneliness, sadness, stress, or even boredom.

As the use progresses, people will likely move on to being problematic drinkers. These individuals feel far more confident and accustomed to their alcohol use, so they find the will to drive and engage in other hazardous activities while under the influence. These people are also more likely to encounter legal problems as a result of their drinking habit.

With frequent, constant alcohol intake, the body becomes accustomed to the presence of alcohol in the system. This is the time when they develop what’s called dependence. Individuals with alcohol dependence have a much tolerance than problematic drinkers, and might have to take copious amounts of alcohol to feel drunk. When there’s no alcohol in their system, they’re also likely to experience the symptoms of withdrawal.

The final stage of alcohol abuse is addiction. By this time, an individual will be so used to drinking, that the habit becomes a necessity. There will be physical cravings and a persistent psychological urge to consume alcohol. As they reach this phase, an individual might be completely consumed by the need to drink, which will be the main focus of their everyday existence.

How Does Alcohol Affect the Brain?

According to studies, up to 20% of alcohol is infused into the blood through the stomach. If there isn’t any food in the stomach, then the substance is absorbed much faster, manifesting its effects much more rapidly. The rest of the alcohol is processed in the small intestine where it passes into the bloodstream.

As the substance is absorbed into the blood, it circulates the system and makes its way to the brain where it dulls down the interactions between neurons. This is what causes the effects that alcohol brings, such as slurred speech, lack of coordination, memory loss, and impaired reflexes.

When the brain becomes accustomed to the consistent presence of alcohol, it fights back by trying to regulate the suppressed brain function. So, it compensates by firing neurotransmitters at much higher levels than normal in order to maintain functioning despite the depressant effects of alcohol.

The substance then wanes and concentrations decrease as it leaves your system. But even then, the brain maintains its heightened activity which is why people tend to feel the symptoms of withdrawal as alcohol is taken out of the system. This then causes the user to want to continue drinking in order to avoid the unpleasant feeling of being without alcohol.

Alcohol Addiction Treatment

Alcohol consumption should be ceased as soon as possible. While occasional drinking might not seem to be a problem, every addiction starts somewhere. And with alcohol use being one of the contributing factors to over 200 different health conditions, it’s always ideal to simply avoid it all together.

However, for those who struggle with dependence, it’s necessary to get assisted treatment especially if the addiction has progressed into more serious phases. For alcohol abuse, the main treatment plan includes behavioral therapies, medications, and support groups.

Presently, there are three different medications that are used in the treatment of alcohol addiction and the prevention of relapse. These are provided under the guidance of medical professionals. The detox process also occurs under strict observance especially if the abuse has extended for too long. This helps prevent the pains of alcohol withdrawal and minimize the risk of seizures, coma, and other fatal complications.

Behavioral therapies focus on a person’s coping mechanisms and aims to understand the underlying cause for abuse. Individuals are also provided practical skills that can help them identify situations that could cause them to relapse and how to avoid them. Any faulty relationships are addressed during therapies, and individuals who struggle with other facets of life like livelihood and employment are also provided necessary counseling.

Finally, support groups have been proven to be one of the most effective treatment methods for alcoholism. Alcoholics Anonymous is a well-known treatment setting that brings recovering alcoholics together to create an atmosphere of mutual support. Knowing that they aren’t alone and that there are others going through the same process reduces the shame of the treatment process and makes individuals more willing to cooperate with the program.

Alcoholism Relapse Rates

While it comes as no surprise, individuals who don’t see their drinking habit as a problem are more likely to relapse. This means that insight plays a major role in recovery, as patients need to be willing to overcome the abuse in order to successfully complete treatment.

Relapse rates range from 50% to 90%, which means that it’s common for people to fall back into the problem after having gone through rehabilitation. Some of the most common reasons for relapse include lack of aftercare, insufficient preparation to transition from rehab to their home and society, and the inability to identify the true root of the abuse problem, among many other reasons.

All that said, it’s important for alcohol treatments to focus on all the areas of a person’s social, mental, and physical health in order to completely prepare them for life without abuse. This is exactly what Lighthouse Recovery does.

Alcohol Abuse is Treatable

Although alcohol abuse is a rampant problem, it’s also one of the addictions that are easiest to treat. What’s truly necessary in the successful treatment of alcoholism is an acceptance of the problem. As an individual acknowledges the problematic habit, they become more willing to work with a professional to curb the abuse and experience happier, fuller lives without the need for alcohol.

Don’t let your alcohol addiction take over your life. Lighthouse Recovery offers outpatient alcohol rehab in Dallas, TX. Discover how the right alcohol treatment program can make all the difference in your fight against addiction. Contact us today or give us a call at (214) 396-0259 to learn more.

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