ASAM defines addiction as a “primary, chronic disease of [the] brain … [with] characteristic biological, psychological, social and spiritual manifestations.” It isn’t just a social or criminal justice problem—it’s a medical and public health problem. Medical diagnosis and treatment are appropriate responses to addiction; ASAM’s definition points out that “without treatment or engagement in recovery activities, addiction is progressive and can result in disability or premature death.” So it is a serious, potentially fatal illness, but it is treatable: recovery is possible, and happens for millions of individuals with this disease every year.
To start with, getting sober and drug-free requires the desire and determination to get clean, and having both of these is crucial. If you’re looking for help for a loved one or a friend, know that they’ll need to be “on board" with the idea of recovery if they are going to have a solid chance of getting clean. If they have not yet recognized their own problem, an addiction intervention may be necessary. During the beginning phases of recovery, an alcohol and drug detox is always necessary to remove any unwanted chemicals from the body, followed by intensive addiction recovery therapy. The latter may take 28-90 days (sometimes more), but completing the program provides all the tools needed to stay substance-free. It is highly beneficial for those leaving rehab to join a recovery support group and even consider spending time in a recovery home.
Excessive alcohol consumption is correlated with increased risk of stroke, liver disease, and decreased life expectancy. In fact, binge drinking during only the weekends is still enough to damage the liver, studies show, and moderate drinking interferes with sleep quality by interrupting circadian rhythms and REM sleep. However, a number of different treatment options are available to address alcoholic dysfunction.
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Occasionally this message will pop up while running a scan. The scan will show progress up to a certain percentage and then appear to “hang”, at which point the message appears. If you preview the scan, there will be no files. This issue has been fixed in the latest version for Windows 188.8.131.52 and for Mac 184.108.40.206. Please make sure you are running the most up to date version of SFRS.
Functional subtype: Representing about 19 percent of those struggling with AUD in the study, this group is typically middle aged and, on the surface, appears to have their lives together. They have higher income, more education, and stable relationships compared to other adults struggling with AUD. They drink, on average, every other day, and tend to binge drink on those days.
Environmental factors and genetics are two components associated with alcoholism, with about half the risk attributed to each. Someone with a parent or sibling with alcoholism is three to four times more likely to become an alcoholic themselves. Environmental factors include social, cultural and behavioral influences. High stress levels and anxiety, as well as alcohol's inexpensive cost and easy accessibility, increase the risk. People may continue to drink partly to prevent or improve symptoms of withdrawal. After a person stops drinking alcohol, they may experience a low level of withdrawal lasting for months. Medically, alcoholism is considered both a physical and mental illness. Questionnaires and certain blood tests may both detect people with possible alcoholism. Further information is then collected to confirm the diagnosis.
Heart. Small amounts of alcohol cause a drop in blood pressure, but with increased consumption, alcohol raises blood pressure into a dangerous range (hypertension). High levels of fats circulating in the bloodstream increase the risk of heart disease. Heavy drinking results in an increase in heart size, weakening of the heart muscle, abnormal heart rhythms, a risk of blood clots forming within the chambers of the heart, and a greatly increased risk of stroke due to a blood clot entering the circulatory system and blocking a brain blood vessel.
Alcohol intoxication results as the amount of alcohol in your bloodstream increases. The higher the blood alcohol concentration is, the more impaired you become. Alcohol intoxication causes behavior problems and mental changes. These may include inappropriate behavior, unstable moods, impaired judgment, slurred speech, impaired attention or memory, and poor coordination. You can also have periods called "blackouts," where you don't remember events. Very high blood alcohol levels can lead to coma or even death.
I agree with Jann B.'s earlier comments that the resistance of some AA members to pharmacological assistance has helped to create the divide between 12 Step recovery and academic addiction medicine. In fact, resistance by active alcoholics to psychological assisstance - mostly by withholding the true nature of their addiction - was addressed in AA's original publication in 1939 of the text Alcoholilcs Anonymous. It acknowledged that the alcoholic him/herself was in part responsible for the skepticism many professionals felt when treating alcoholics. However, AA literature also is quite clear (in the text and via subsequent pamphlets) about the importance of seeking outside help and being open-minded to the advice of a helping professional.
That said, I believe the divide between 12 Step recovery and academic addiction medicine is largely a result of AA's non-scientific approach. The nature of addiction and subsequent recovery through 12 Step work is not easily measurable or definable. Academia can measure length of sobriety and certain facts, but is not able to tell us why this occurs...at least not in a quantitative way. As a result, tends to avoid embracing 12 Step recovery because they cannot define it measurable scientific methods.
Fortunately to the suffering alchoholic who desires escape from the hell of alchoholism, 12 Step recovery doesn't necessitate understanding the process, it requires doing the process.
Secular Organizations for Sobriety (SOS). SOS is presented as a secular alternative to the more spiritual 12-step addiction recovery programs (such as AA and NA) that encourage people to reach out to a higher power. The program targets substance abusers who would like to separate sobriety from spirituality and religion. The organization credits the individual for maintaining sobriety as opposed to crediting a higher power. SOS is comprised of a network of autonomous local groups that help individuals achieve and maintain sobriety. The organization has meetings in many cities across the United States. In SOS, sobriety is presented as the number one priority for individuals suffering from alcoholism or addiction. It emphasizes the use of clear communication and scientific knowledge in choosing the most rational approach to living a sober and rewarding life.
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.
Many people use alcohol as a de-stressor. While some beer may be a temporarily relief from the stress of the day, ultimately alcohol is stressing you out even more. Research shows that long-term drinking can increase perceived stress in the brain. For example, a stressful situation would be handled worse by an alcoholic than by a non-alcoholic. Many other factors play into how we handle such situations, but without a doubt drinking alcohol will not help.
Though it can feel as if you are hiding a unique or embarrassing problem, the fact is that families across the country are experiencing the exact same thing you are. You are not alone with the disease, and you will not be alone as you seek the treatment necessary to begin to heal and start a new life in recovery. Alcohol.org is available to provide education and support all along the way.
The 12-step approach to rehabilitation treatment is embraced throughout the world, so it’s always easy to find support where you are or wherever you go. Accordingly, we advise patients to keep in contact with ‘sober supports’ they make during treatment at one of our locations. We also encourage them to continue attending 12-step groups on a regular basis after discharge. Being able to discuss mistakes or relapses, as needed, in a supportive environment helps to keep patients accountable for their actions.
Sponsors share their experience, strength, and hope with their sponsees... A sponsor's role is not that of a legal adviser, a banker, a parent, a marriage counselor, or a social worker. Nor is a sponsor a therapist offering some sort of professional advice. A sponsor is simply another addict in recovery who is willing to share his or her journey through the Twelve Steps.