This is the rarest group, accounting for 9% of American alcoholics, and the most severe. Most people in this subtype are usually men, and are associated with a high rate of divorce, financial problems, clinical depression, and the use of other drugs. These are people whose lives have been all but completely taken over by booze. Alcoholism truly is a sad disease.
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Topiramate, a derivative of the naturally occurring sugar monosaccharide D-fructose, has been found effective in helping alcoholics quit or cut back on the amount they drink. Evidence suggests that topiramate antagonizes excitatory glutamate receptors, inhibits dopamine release, and enhances inhibitory gamma-aminobutyric acid function. A 2008 review of the effectiveness of topiramate concluded that the results of published trials are promising, however, as of 2008, data was insufficient to support using topiramate in conjunction with brief weekly compliance counseling as a first-line agent for alcohol dependence. A 2010 review found that topiramate may be superior to existing alcohol pharmacotherapeutic options. Topiramate effectively reduces craving and alcohol withdrawal severity as well as improving quality-of-life-ratings.
The alcoholic's continual craving for alcohol makes abstinence -- an important goal of treatment -- extremely difficult. The condition is also complicated by denial: Alcoholics might be reluctant to admit their excess drinking either because of denial or guilt. Another barrier to receiving care is that physicians screen only about 15% of their primary care patients for alcohol disorders.
"I discovered how good relationships get better and how unhealthy relationships get exposed when you work your program," said Cathy. "I've been friends with Hannah for years, but we had been partying friends. So when I entered recovery, we were really careful around each other. Then we began talking—really talking. Now our friendship is deeper and more honest. Recovery has been good for both of us."
Schuckit, M. A., Smith, T. L., Danko, G. P., Trim, R., Bucholz, K. K., Edenberg, H. J., ... & Dick, D. M. (2009, May). An evaluation of the full level of response to alcohol model of heavy drinking and problems in COGA offspring. Journal of studies on alcohol and drugs, 70(3), 436-445. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2670749/
In the case of expectant mothers who drink, future healthcare costs double, now including both the mother and child. For example, a child born with fetal alcohol syndrome could require special schooling. Not only is this a personal and unnecessary family tragedy but also it stands to impact the social system financially in the form of healthcare and education for years.
In 1939, Alcoholics Anonymous published its original 12-step method of recovery from alcoholism in the book Alcoholics Anonymous: The Story of How More Than One Hundred Men Have Recovered from Alcoholism. Many programs have started as offshoots of the original Alcoholics Anonymous program. Likewise, these problems include drug addiction, compulsion, and depression.
AA is a spiritual organization that calls for people to believe in a higher power and to accept God as they understand him to be. God, or a higher power, can come in many forms and does not have to be taken in the traditional sense. What Step 2 calls for is faith that a higher power exists and that this power is necessary to restore sanity. For those who don’t believe in God per se, this higher power can represent any number of other things, like the stark reality that recreational drug use is unrealistic.
While both alcohol abuse and alcoholism are included in the alcohol use disorder diagnosis and involve engaging in maladaptive behaviors in the use of alcohol, abuse of this substance does not include the person having withdrawal symptoms or needing more and more amounts to achieve intoxication (tolerance) unless the person has developed alcoholism.
Blood. Alcohol may cause changes to all the types of blood cells. Red blood cells become abnormally large. White blood cells (important for fighting infections) decrease in number, resulting in a weakened immune system. This places alcohol-dependent individuals at increased risk for infections and may account in part for the increased risk of cancer faced by people with alcoholism. Platelets and blood clotting factors are affected, causing an increased risk of bleeding.
Withdrawal symptoms can range from mild to life threatening. Mild withdrawal symptoms include nausea, achiness, diarrhea, difficulty sleeping, sweatiness, anxiety, and trembling. This phase usually lasts no more than three to five days. More severe effects of withdrawal can include hallucinations in which a patient sees, hears, or feels something that is not actually present, seizures, an unbearable craving for more alcohol, confusion, fever, fast heart rate (tachycardia), high blood pressure (hypertension), and delirium (a fluctuating level of consciousness). Patients at highest risk for the most severe symptoms of withdrawal are those with other medical problems, including malnutrition, liver disease, or Wernicke's syndrome. Severe withdrawal symptoms usually begin about three days after the individual's last drink, and may last a variable number of days.
Fact: Alcohol is a drug, and alcoholism is every bit as damaging as drug addiction. Alcohol addiction causes changes in the body and brain, and long-term alcohol abuse can have devastating effects on your health, your career, and your relationships. Alcoholics go through physical withdrawal when they stop drinking, just like drug users do when they quit.
AA sprang from The Oxford Group, a non-denominational movement modeled after first-century Christianity. Some members founded the Group to help in maintaining sobriety. "Grouper" Ebby Thacher was Wilson's former drinking buddy who approached Wilson saying that he had "got religion", was sober, and that Wilson could do the same if he set aside objections to religion and instead formed a personal idea of God, "another power" or "higher power".
Luckily, if the 12-Step program has proven itself ineffective for you and your recovery needs, there are many alternatives to choose from. Even if they are not physically available to you, the majority of them have a strong Internet presence and can provide support with online forums for members to share their experiences in, which for some who are uncomfortable sharing in person may even find to be a preferable option.
Alcoholism formerly called alcohol dependence or alcohol addiction, is the more severe end of the alcohol use disorder spectrum. It is a destructive pattern of alcohol use that includes tolerance to or withdrawal from the substance, using more alcohol or using it for longer than planned, and trouble reducing its use or inability to use it in moderation. Other potential symptoms include spending an inordinate amount of time getting, using, or recovering from the use of alcohol, compromised functioning, and/or continuing to use alcohol despite an awareness of the detrimental effects it is having on one's life.
The endpoint of “recovery” from addiction, if there is an endpoint, is to change one’s life for the better, to gain stability in one’s life, and to become more functional in one’s family and in one’s community. Being responsible, being reliable, being interested in others and not just in oneself, and being a loving being who cares about and is helpful to others, are all part of recovery.
Start there. Afterward, check into a facility regardless. If you are on the fence about doing so, then outpatient is for you. If you know you have a problem that needs curing, check into an inpatient facility. Both are facilities that focus on helping people who are currently abusing alcohol and/or drugs. Also, more intensive options exist, such as partial hospitalization.
With regard to pregnancy, fetal alcohol syndrome is the leading known cause of mental retardation (1 in 1000 births). More than 2000 infants annually are born with this condition in the United States. Alcohol-related birth defects and neurodevelopmental problems are estimated to be 3 times higher. Even small amounts of alcohol consumption may be risky in pregnancy. A 2001 study by Sood et al reported that children aged 6–7 years whose mothers consumed alcohol even in small amounts had more behavioral problems.  In a study from 2003, Baer et al showed that moderate alcohol consumption while pregnant resulted in a higher incidence of offspring problem drinking at age 21 years, even after controlling for family history and other environmental factors.  All women who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant should avoid alcohol.
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Alcoholism is appropriately considered a disease rather than a weakness of character or chosen pattern of bad behavior. It is the third most common mental illness, affecting more than 14 million people in the United States. Other facts and statistics about alcohol dependence include its pattern of afflicting about 4% of women and 10% of men. It costs more than $200 billion per year in lower productivity, early death, and costs for treatment. Worldwide, alcohol is thought to contribute to more than 200 illnesses and injuries, like liver disease, heart disease, and neurological problems. Alcohol-related deaths number more than 3 million per year, nearly 6% of all deaths worldwide. For adults between 20-40 years of age, that percentage rises to about 25% of deaths due to alcohol.
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A twelve-step program is a set of guiding principles outlining a course of action for recovery from addiction, compulsion, or other behavioral problems. Originally proposed by Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) as a method of recovery from alcoholism, the Twelve Steps were first published in the 1939 book Alcoholics Anonymous: The Story of How More Than One Hundred Men Have Recovered from Alcoholism. The method was adapted and became the foundation of other twelve-step programs.