Alcoholism is a chronic common medical condition. For those suffering from alcohol addiction, alcoholism treatment is available.
Alcohol Use Disorder definition described as when a person abuses alcohol and experiences negative consequences from it. If you or someone you know is struggling with alcoholism, consider contacting NYC Addiction Resources. They can help with alcohol treatment information, referrals, and additional resources to help people work toward recovery.
What Causes Alcohol Addiction?
The consumption of alcohol triggers your brain to release dopamine. Dopamine is a pleasure chemical released by your body’s reward system. Over time, this can cause the brain to link positive feelings with drinking. This can cause a person to crave more and lead to heavy drinking. This alcohol abuse also affects your serotonin system, which plays a crucial role in your mood and sleep cycles.
As alcohol addiction takes hold and you consume more alcohol, you will eventually need more alcohol to get the same relative level of intoxication. It’s known as developing tolerance. This heavier drinking can eventually lead to symptoms of alcohol withdrawal over time. Heavier drinkers may begin drinking more frequently to stave off these side effects.
The Cycle of Alcohol Addiction
Alcohol addiction is a chronic relapsing disorder. As mentioned, alcoholism directly affects the body’s reward system, ultimately triggering a compulsive need to drink. You can frame this alcohol addiction as a repeating cycle broken into three distinct stages. Each stage is linked to and builds upon the others.
During this stage of addiction, the person experiences the rewarding effects of alcohol consumption. These effects could be eased social interactions, stress reduction, and euphoria. However, by repeatedly engaging the brain’s reward system, the person is more likely to repeat consumption and develop a habit.
Once the alcohol-addicted person stops consuming, they will experience withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms can range from physical pain and sleep disturbances to emotional irritability and anxiety.
After a period of abstinence from alcohol, the person begins to seek alcohol again. They become preoccupied with alcohol and how to get more of it. Even looking forward to the next time they get to consume it.
What are Treatment Options for Alcoholism?
There are several treatment options available for treating alcoholism. Seeking help from an alcohol addiction treatment center is one of the most common treatment options for alcoholism that’s available today. There are four basic levels of care for alcohol treatment, which include:
- Medically-Assisted Detox
- Residential or Inpatient Rehab
- Intensive Outpatient Programs
- Outpatient Treatment
- Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)
Another common option for treating alcoholism is talk therapy. This type of therapy can help those struggling develop coping skills and strategies to help them reduce or stop drinking. Common talk therapy treatment options include:
- One-on-one direct counseling with a licensed therapist.
- Family sessions with relatives.
- Group sessions with strangers.
Outside of treatment centers and therapy, available treatment options can be limited. For instance, since 1949, the FDA has only approved three medications to treat heavy drinking, none of which are commonly used.
Statistics of Alcohol Abuse and Addiction in the United States
In 2019, 85.6% of US poll respondents 18 and older stated they consumed alcohol at some point in their lifetime. 69.5% of respondents reported having consumed alcohol within the past year. About 54.9% said they had drunk alcohol in the past month. Furthermore, about a quarter of those 18 or older who responded to the survey stated they had partaken in binge drinking within the last month.
Despite these statistics about alcohol consumption in the United States and its prevalence, most Americans would not qualify as alcoholics or alcohol addicts. Approximately 90% of individuals who engage in excessive drinking are unlikely to be diagnosed with a severe alcohol use disorder.
Some of the signs and symptoms of the disease of alcoholism or a severe alcohol use disorder could include the following:
- Drinking more, or longer, than initially intended
- Trying to cut down or stop drinking multiple times and failing
- Wanting to drink so badly that it’s the only thing you can think about
- Finding that your drinking or side effects of drinking interfered with your home, professional, or academic life
- Continuing to drink despite noticing personal or professional problems
- Reduced or stopped participating in activities that you enjoyed or were interested in to drink
- Repeatedly finding yourself in potentially harmful situations while intoxicated, such as using machinery, driving, walking in unsafe areas, or having unprotected sex
- Continuing to drink despite it causing feelings of depression, anxiety, or otherwise impacting your health or life
- Finding yourself having to consume more alcohol to achieve similar effects as before
- Finding that you experience withdrawal symptoms when the effects of alcohol wear off, such as shakiness, restlessness, and potential seizures
First Steps in Getting Help for Alcohol Addiction
Struggling with alcoholism is exceptionally challenging for those dealing with alcohol addiction and those around them. Thankfully, treatments for alcohol use disorder (AUD) are out there. Getting help starts with the drive to reach out for it.
If you live in the New York City area and are looking for help for alcohol addiction for you or someone you know, the experts at NYC Addiction Resources are available. They can help connect you to an appropriate alcoholism treatment center and help you get started on the journey to recovery.