What is alcohol addiction?
Alcohol is one of the most commonly used (and misused) substances in the U.S. In 2019, 25.8% of people aged 18 and older reported binge drinking in the past month, 85.6% of people reported drinking alcohol at some point in their lives, and 14.5 million people aged 12 and older had an alcohol use disorder (AUD), the clinical term for alcoholism or alcohol addiction, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA).
Alcohol addiction or alcohol use disorder (AUD) is a chronic medical condition that affects the brain and body. It occurs when an individual cannot cut back their alcohol intake or quit drinking despite the negative consequences on their lives and others around them. Alcohol use disorder affects every aspect of an individual’s life, including social life, personal life, and professional life. It can often result in legal troubles, broken relationships, job loss, financial hardships, and emotional and mental turmoil. Akua Mind & Body works with individual clients and their families to help them overcome their struggle with alcohol addiction in hopes of guiding them on the road to recovery so they can live healthy and fulfilling life.
Signs and symptoms of alcohol addiction
If you or a loved one is possibly struggling with an alcohol use disorder, below are the warning signs to look out for:
- The inability to control your alcohol consumption
- The desire to quit drinking but unsuccessful attempts to do so
- Failing to fulfill major obligations at work, school, home, and in your personal life.
- Drinking alcohol while in dangerous situations such as operating a motor vehicle.
- No longer engaging in hobbies and interests because of alcohol consumption.
- Experiencing withdrawal symptoms.
- Developing a tolerance to alcohol.
- Urges to cravings to drink alcohol.
What is alcohol intoxication?
Alcohol intoxication occurs when the individual consumes enough alcohol to raise their blood alcohol concentration (BAC). The higher your BAC, the more intoxicated you become and the more likely you will develop symptoms such as poor decision making, slower reaction times, disorganized speech, loss of impulse control, and slowed motor skills. It is possible to experience “blackouts”, where you do not remember any events when intoxicated if you consume enough alcohol.
What is alcohol tolerance?
Alcohol tolerance is different from addiction, but people who have an alcohol addiction will often develop a tolerance to alcohol. Tolerance is the need for more alcohol (a higher dosage) to produce the same intoxicated feelings. Tolerance occurs over time; the longer you consume alcohol and the more you drink, the more likely you will develop a tolerance.
What is alcohol dependence?
Alcohol dependence is different from tolerance and addiction but often occurs in the presence of addiction. Dependence occurs when the body and brain are “physically dependent” on alcohol due to fundamental changes in the brain’s reward system to function. As a result, In the absence of alcohol, the body will most likely experience signs and symptoms of alcohol withdrawal.
Signs and symptoms alcohol withdrawal
- Rapid heart rate
Treatment for alcohol withdrawal
Alcohol withdrawal symptoms are often very uncomfortable and can be deadly, and therefore withdrawing from alcohol should always be done under medical supervision in alcohol detox centers in Newport Beach. Detoxification or “detox” means ridding the body of any toxins, in this case, alcohol. Alcohol detox is the first step in alcohol treatment as the individual must be free of withdrawal symptoms before entering into formal alcohol abuse treatment in Newport Beach. Treatment for alcohol withdrawal often includes prescription medications administered by medical staff to ease alcohol withdrawal symptoms and prevent seizures. Outpatient alcohol detox in Newport Beach provides a safe and secure environment for clients to withdraw from alcohol under medical supervision.
Treatment for alcohol use disorder
Alcohol abuse treatment in Newport Beach encompasses a wide range of treatment modalities that are tailored to the individual client. Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is a common treatment approach for alcohol use disorder. MAT uses prescription medications to help alleviate withdrawal symptoms in the detox phase and is also used in long-term treatment to help prevent urges and cravings in hopes of reducing relapse rates. Common medication used in MAT for alcohol use disorder include the following:
- Acamprosate: prescription medication for individuals who completed detoxification and are in recovery. It helps to prevent urges and cravings, but it does not prevent withdrawal symptoms and, therefore, should only be taken when the individual is no longer drinking alcohol.
- Disulfiram: Most effective for individuals who have completed detoxification or are in the initial stage of abstinence. Disulfiram should never be taken while intoxicated and should not be taken for at least 12 hours after drinking alcohol. The individual will experience unpleasant withdrawal side effects as soon as ten minutes after drinking alcohol.
- Naltrexone: blocks the euphoric effects and feelings associated with alcohol and allows individuals with alcohol use disorders to reduce alcohol use and to remain motivated to stay in treatment and avoid relapses.
MAT is combined with psychotherapy approaches such as cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectical behavior therapy, motivational interviewing, and contingency management. This combination of MAT and psychotherapy has been shown to reduce relapse rates and provide long-term coping skills that can help an individual succeed in lifelong recovery.
AKUA Mind and Body is a full-service addiction and mental health treatment center with locations across California. We specialize in treating individuals who are struggling with alcohol use disorder and co-occurring disorders. We offer MAT combined with psychotherapy approaches in all levels of care, ranging from residential settings to outpatient treatment. We pride ourselves on having a compassionate and knowledgeable treatment staff who cares about each client and their family.
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