Alcoholism is a craving to consume alcohol beyond the person’s capacity to control it, and the dependence can become severe and even life-threatening without treatment. Alcoholism is a widespread problem in the United States, as it is in many parts of the world.
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Alcoholism Treatment aims to help the addicted person to withdraw and rehabilitate so they can resume a normal life. Alcohol Treatment Centers or Rehab Centers offer a range of treatment options such as detox, inpatient rehabilitation, and outpatient therapies. Alcoholism Treatment can also include 12-step programs and other therapies that continue for life. Some centers also offer intervention, which is a face to face meeting of the alcoholic with affected family, friends or work colleagues.
It is possible to abuse alcohol without being addicted. Some people, for example, can take or leave alcohol most of the time, but on a night out with friends or at a party or nightclub, will binge drink.
The fact that binge drinkers can stop drinking for long periods shows they are not addicted. They may create problems for themselves and others if they drive while drunk. They may also suffer from blackouts in which they have no memory of the night or days before.
A moderate drinker drinks for the taste or enjoyment, such as wine selected to accompany a meal, or a cold beer on a hot afternoon. An alcohol abuser’s aim is often to get as drunk as possible.
Another form of alcohol abuse is habitual heavy drinking, especially drinking alone. Some people who have suffered trauma or abuse may use alcohol to self-medicate and dull emotional pain or drown unpleasant memories. This type of abuse, like binge drinking, can progress to become an addiction later on. It can also be a forerunner of late-onset alcoholism.
A family history of alcoholism increases the likelihood people will become alcoholics. In fact, the MacDonald Center for Student Well-being reports that tolerance to alcohol is 90 percent inherited. This is partly because of a genetic disposition towards the disease, but also because of behaviors learned from parents and other family members during childhood.
An alcoholic will continue to drink even when it becomes clear it is costing a great deal in relationships, health, money, and productivity in work or school. Most addicts try to give up alcohol numerous times, but with limited success because of the intense cravings.
As an alcoholic’s body becomes tolerant to alcohol, they need to consume more and more to get the same effect from the drug. They can also develop a physical dependence in which they do not feel normal or well unless they drink, and may tremble or shake after a few hours without a drink.
In later stages, a person with an addiction to alcohol may not be able to keep a job, and may lose contact with family and friends through spending more time, money and effort on maintaining their addiction than on their other responsibilities.
The first stage of treatment at an alcohol or drug treatment center is often a period of several days of detoxification during which the patient has no access to alcohol. Their body begins to detoxify, which can lead to severe withdrawal symptoms including tremors, hallucinations, seizures, and in serious cases even death. Medications are often prescribed to reduce the withdrawal symptoms.
Following detox, patients enter a rehabilitation facility for up to 90 days, receiving daily therapy and medical treatment to address the root causes of their addiction. After an inpatient rehab stay, patients are encouraged to seek out addiction aftercare, or relapse prevention programs. These can include organization meetings like Alcoholics Anonymous and sober living housing arrangements to continue a sober lifestyle.