Treatment For An Alcoholic: The chemistry of alcohol allows it to affect nearly every type of cell in the body, including those in the central nervous system. In the brain, alcohol interacts with centres responsible for pleasure. After prolonged exposure to alcohol, the brain adapts to the changes alcohol causes and becomes dependent on it.
What is Alcoholism?
Alcoholism is a chronic, progressive and often fatal disease; it is a primary disorder and not a symptom of other diseases or emotional problems.
For people with alcoholism, drinking becomes the primary means through which they can deal with people, work and life. Alcohol dominates their thinking, emotions and actions. The severity of this disease is influenced by factors such as genetics, psychology, culture and response to physical pain. Often there is no clear line between problem drinking and alcoholism.
Alcoholics have little or no control over the quantity they drink or the duration or frequency of their drinking. They are preoccupied with drinking, deny their own addiction, and continue to drink even though they are aware of the dangers. Over time, some people become tolerant of the effects of drinking and require more alcohol to become intoxicated, creating the illusion that they can ‘hold their liquor’.
Alcoholics have blackouts after drinking and frequent hangovers that cause them to miss work and other normal activities. Alcoholics might drink alone and start early in the day. They periodically quit drinking or switch from hard liquor to beer or wine, but these periods rarely last.
Severe alcoholics often have a history of accidents, marital and work instability, and alcohol-related health problems. Episodic violent and abusive incidents involving spouses and children and a history of unexplained or frequent accidents are often signs of drug or alcohol abuse.
Genetics play a major role in Alcoholism
Even if genetic factors can be identified, however, they are unlikely to explain all cases of alcoholism. It is important to understand that, whether they inherit the disorder or not, people with alcoholism are still legally responsible for their actions. And inheriting genetic traits does not doom a child to an alcoholic future. Environment, personality, and emotional factors also play a strong role.
People with a family history of alcoholism are more likely to begin drinking before the age of 20 and become alcoholics. Such adolescent drinkers are also more apt to underestimate the effects of drinking and make judgement errors, such as going on binges and driving after drinking, than young drinkers without a family history of alcoholism. But anyone who begins drinking in adolescence is at risk of developing alcoholism.
Severely depressed or anxious people are at high risk for alcoholism, smoking, and other forms of addiction. Major depression, in fact, accompanies about one-third of all cases of alcoholism.
Even the elderly can suddenly turn alcoholic
Depression and anxiety may also play a major role in the development of alcoholism in the elderly, who are often subject to dramatic life changes, such as retirement, the loss of a spouse or friends, and medical problems.
Is there any treatment for an alcoholic?
People with mild to moderate withdrawal symptoms are usually treated as outpatients and assigned to support groups, counselling or both. Inpatient treatment can be performed in a general or psychiatric hospital or in a centre dedicated to treating alcoholics. But there is no guarantee that the patient will be cured in one stroke.
What are the withdrawal symptoms?
When a person with alcoholism stops drinking, withdrawal symptoms begin within six to 48 hours and peak about 24 to 35 hours after the last drink. During this period the inhibition of brain activity caused by alcohol is abruptly reversed. Stress hormones are over-produced and the central nervous system becomes over-excited. Seizures occur in about 10% of adults during the period of withdrawal, and in about 60% of these patients, the seizures are multiple. The time between the first and last seizure is usually six hours or less. About 5% of alcoholic patients experience delirium tremors, which usually develop two to four days after the last drink. Symptoms include fever, rapid heartbeat, either high or low blood pressure, extremely aggressive behaviour, hallucinations and other mental disturbances.