Alcoholism is a disease that affects millions of Americans and results in many deaths every year. Marked by a preoccupation with alcohol and the inability to control drinking, alcoholism has a number of long-term health effects, and it can cause serious social problems including family dysfunction, unemployment, and financial troubles.
The Difference between Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism
Alcohol abuse and alcoholism are different terms often used interchangeably. You can abuse alcohol without becoming an alcoholic yet one of the major risks of alcohol abuse is becoming addicted. The symptoms of alcohol abuse may include:
. Intense cravings for alcohol.
. Developing a tolerance that requires more alcohol to get the same effect.
. Engaging in self-destructive behaviors due to drinking.
Those who abuse alcohol still have the ability to control their drinking and are able to maintain employment and have healthy family and social relationships. By contrast, the symptoms of alcohol addiction may include:
. The inability to control the amount of alcohol consumed.
. A strong compulsion to drink.
. Developing a high tolerance that requires larger doses to feel the same effects.
. Drinking alone or hiding your drinking from others.
. Physical withdrawal symptoms that occur within 8 to 10 hours of not drinking.
. Black outs
. Forgetting what you did while drinking, including conversations you had.
. Missing work or abandoning responsibilities due to alcohol abuse.
. Making a ritual out of drinking and becoming anxious or angry when the routine is disrupted.
. Keeping alcohol hidden around the house, workplace, or car.
. Consuming large amounts of alcohol quickly in order to feel “normal.”
. Getting into legal problems due to drinking.
. Relationship problems.
. Getting into financial straits due to drinking alcohol.
Tests for Alcoholism
There are no medical tests that can be administered to determine whether a person is an alcoholic. However, Johns Hopkins University developed a questionnaire that, when answered honestly, can help determine whether you or a loved one is suffering from alcohol abuse or going through the early or later stages of alcoholism. Additionally, the American Psychiatric Association has a list of criteria that must be met in order for a diagnosis of alcohol addiction to be made.
Getting help for an alcohol problem at an alcoholism rehab centers can lead to recovery and allow those who suffer from alcohol abuse or addiction to reclaim their lives and repair relationships harmed by problems with alcohol. Dial 585-371-5288 if you or a loved one is struggling with an addiction.
Alcohol Addiction and Alcohol Abuse Treatment
Detoxing the body is the first stage of any addiction treatment, including heroin addiction and dependence on prescription drugs. However, alcohol detox can be extremely dangerous if it’s not done under the supervision of medical personnel at a drug rehab center.
While not everyone will suffer all of the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal and the symptoms can range from mild to severe, the withdrawal process usually follows a predictable pattern and occurs in four stages:
. The initial stage typically occurs between eight and 10 hours after the last drink and includes tremors, a rapid pulse and breathing rate, increased blood pressure, anxiety, nightmares, insomnia, and nausea and vomiting.
. The seconds stage usually starts within 12 to 24 hours after the last drink. This stage is marked by hallucinations, both visual and auditory. During this stage, the symptoms of stage one may worsen.
. The third stage usually occurs within six to 48 hours after the last drink and is marked by seizures. It’s common for the patient to experience multiple seizures over the course of a few hours.
. Stage four may bring symptoms such as delirium tremens, which usually begins within a few days after the last drink and is the most dangerous time for those withdrawing from alcohol. Delirium tremens causes extreme shifts in body functions like core temperature control, breathing, and circulation. There may be a temporary reduction of blood flow to the brain, and the patient may be confused, disoriented, or lose consciousness.
Drug detox centers can help patients through the alcohol withdrawal process which may involve administering medications to help alleviate the discomfort of withdrawal symptoms, prevent seizures, control cravings, and help ensure the safety of the patient. For more information about the types of treatment available to treat your addiction to drugs or alcohol, contact a substance abuse center at 585-371-5288.