What is Alcohol Addiction?
Alcohol addiction is when you constantly depend on the consumption of alcohol. Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol can lead to serious health problems. People with alcohol addiction face daily challenges in battling their urge to consume alcohol.
In severe cases, a person may experience alcohol withdrawal symptoms when he or she stops consuming alcohol.
Some health problems that may arise due to alcohol addiction include:
- Digestive problems: inflammation of the lining of the esophagus, poor nutrient absorption, and damage to the pancreas.
- Liver disease: hepatic steatosis or fat buildup in the liver, alcoholic hepatitis or liver inflammation, to cirrhosis.
- Heart and blood vessel disease: high blood pressure, stroke, heart rhythm problems, and increased risk of heart failure.
- Vision problems: difficult eye movements (nystagmus) and paralysis.
- Diabetes complications: Alcohol may affect the release process of glucose from the liver, particularly in diabetics who use insulin to control blood sugar. This may lead to the risk of hypoglycemia.
- Bone damage: production of new bone cells is inhibited, which may potentially lead to bone loss or osteoporosis. Bone marrow can also be damaged and affect blood cell production.
- Susceptible to infection: Weak immune system and increased risk of infections such as pneumonia and tuberculosis.
- Pregnancy problems: Alcohol addiction runs the risk of causing birth defects or miscarriage.
- Brain and nerve disorders: Disorders that may arise are tingling hands and feet, difficulty thinking, and short-term memory loss and dementia.
- Menstrual disorders and sexual dysfunction
- Liver, mouth, colon, throat and breast cancer
Causes of Alcohol Addiction
Alcohol addiction is caused by several factors–factors can be psychological, social, and genetic.
Psychological factors include the urge to drink alcohol when you are stressed out. Social factors include availability or easy access to alcohol and encouragement from others to consume alcohol.
Genetic factors include families who also experience alcohol addiction. This addiction is not inherited, but family factors may expose you to consume alcohol.
When driven by one or all three of these factors, alcohol can generate chemical changes in your brain. The effect of alcohol consumption is a sensation of satisfaction. If you cannot control it, you will deal with addiction sooner or later.
When to See a Doctor for Alcohol Addiction
To identify alcohol addiction, your doctor may require some information regarding your thoughts, feelings, and behaviours. Apart from asking questions, your doctor may ask you to fill out a questionnaire.
Symptoms of Alcohol Addiction
Symptoms or signs of alcohol addiction may include difficulty controlling the strong urge to consume alcohol constantly.
In extreme cases, people who deal with alcohol addiction may experience withdrawal symptoms when they stop consuming alcohol. Alcohol withdrawal may include tremors, anxieties, nausea, persistent sweating, palpitations, sleep disorders, hallucinations, and seizures.
Alcohol tolerance may rise as you regularly drink alcohol. Tolerance level is an indicator of the body’s resistance to alcohol. Your body will need higher quantities of alcohol to be consumed when your tolerance level increases.
Over time, increased alcohol tolerance can lead to an impulse to consume more alcohol to achieve the same pre-tolerance effects. You should try to maintain your alcohol tolerance level to prevent you from alcohol addiction.
Treatment for Alcohol Addiction
There are several ways to deal with alcohol addiction depending on the severity, including:
- Detoxification. This procedure is usually required for cases of severe addiction. Severe addiction resulting in withdrawal symptoms will be intense for the first 48 hours. However, you should avoid consuming alcohol for 48 hours. Your body will gradually detoxify the alcohol approximately in the span of 3-7 days. During the detoxification, you should make sure to stay hydrated by drinking at least 3 litres of water a day and avoiding caffeine.
- Medications. If it is deemed necessary, your doctor may prescribe certain medications that can help the recovery process of your addiction, such as naltrexone, acamprosate or disulfiram.
- Counselling. During the counselling session, you will be given an understanding of your addiction problem. Your counsellor will explain the risks of alcohol addiction and provide practical suggestions and solutions such as keeping track of your alcohol consumption for a week or replacing alcoholic beverages with soft drinks as a first step.
Treatment Cost for Alcohol Addiction
Treatment cost for alcohol addiction may vary depending on its severity and the treatment method given. For more details regarding calculating cost estimation for treating alcohol addiction, finding hospital recommendations, or making doctor appointments at home and abroad, contact Smarter Health.
Prevention of Alcohol Addiction
Alcohol addiction can be prevented by consuming alcohol in reasonable limits. The following is recommended safe intake of alcohol, based on the percentage of its content:
|Alcohol Contents||Daily Amounts|
|5%||Maximum 350 ml|
|7%||Maximum 250 ml|
|12%||Maximum 150 ml|
|40%||Maximum 50 ml|
Apart from paying attention to the recommended safe intake, you should also pay attention to how often you consume alcohol. Avoid drinking too much and take a break to reset your tolerance.
Home Remedies for Alcohol Addiction
There are several ways you can do to overcome alcohol addiction without involving medical care, such as:
- Get family support. Tell your family or closest relatives about your intention to reduce or even stop drinking alcohol. If necessary, take a break from spending time with friends or avoiding situations that could trigger alcohol consumption.
- Implement a healthy lifestyle. Getting regular exercise, setting healthy sleep patterns, and eating healthy foods can help you feel better and reduce your desire to consume alcohol.
- Engage in positive activities. Be involved in as many activities as possible as this may help take away your attention from alcohol.
- Manage stress. Stress management may include doing yoga and meditation exercises. Both can help relax your body and reduce levels of anxiety leading to stress or depression