Alcohol addiction, or alcoholism, is defined as the inability to manage the consumption of alcoholic beverages, resulting in physical dependence and/or mental health problems. An individual suffering from alcohol use disorder will drink large amounts, will have difficulty reducing the quantity and will encounter a host of problems, both in their personal and professional life.
A rehab specialist may identify that a patient has a dual diagnosis when the substance user is struggling with both alcohol addiction and a mental health disorder. Alcoholism is a disease of the brain that often is associated with other mental health disorders (depression or anxiety). A dual diagnosis requires professional treatment in an addiction centre equipped to offer medication and support for both disorders at the same time. Treating just one condition may not be enough to sustain long-term recovery for the patient. It is therefore essential that a dual diagnosis is properly identified and treated.
Alcoholism can be associated with both environmental and genetic factors. It is more likely for individuals who have had alcoholic parents to suffer from alcoholism themselves. Social and behavioural backgrounds that favour alcohol consumption, especially at a young age, as well as relying on substance abuse as a coping mechanism, can all increase the risk of developing alcohol dependence. Moreover, the low cost and easy accessibility of many drinking products make alcoholism an equal risk across all social classes.
Identifying the early signs of alcoholism, as well as understanding the health risks associated with addiction are two important steps when discussing this type of dependency. Choosing to seek professional help for coping with the problem is often the most difficult step for individuals suffering from alcohol addiction. Detoxification and the subsequent rehabilitation will depend on the severity of the addiction and how the patient responds to treatment.
Health Risks of Alcohol Abuse
The prolonged consumption of large quantities of alcohol affects physical health; many body organs are affected, with a particular emphasis on the liver, pancreas, brain and heart, along with the immune system. Alcoholism can lead to liver cirrhosis and increases the risk of cancer. Women who drink while pregnant expose the fetus to many disorders.
Some of the most common health risks of alcohol abuse are the following:
- Chronic liver disease: this can include fatty liver, hepatitis, and cirrhosis (an irreversible type of liver disease, occurring in up to 30% of heavy drinkers).
- Infertility: men and women alike are at risk of infertility problems.
- Cancer: alcohol can directly favour the development of certain types of cancers, such as liver, mouth and throat cancers, among others.
- Gastrointestinal conditions: gastritis can occur as a result of prolonged alcohol consumption.
- Heart problems: hypertension, as well as an increased risk of heart failure and stroke, are associated with high alcohol consumption.
Consuming large levels of alcohol affects the mental health of the substance user:
- Memory loss (blackouts caused by drinking heavily are common among individuals suffering from alcoholism).
- Brain damage (heavy drinkers are at risk of developing permanent damage to their central nervous system, resulting in cognitive impairment).
- Prolonged alcohol consumption can also be associated with anxiety and depression.
It is useful to note that alcoholism is not only damaging to a person’s health, it also has a tremendous impact on the quality of the individual’s relationships and the ability to develop on a professional level.
Alcohol Addiction Signs and Symptoms
Understanding the signs and symptoms of alcohol addiction is important to identify the problem and, as needed, encourage an individual to seek professional treatment, such as the personalised treatment plans offered by Castle Health.
People suffering from alcohol dependency will often find it very difficult to stop drinking even if he or she has already realized that it has become a problem. Some of the signs and symptoms of alcohol addiction are the following:
- Drinking as a coping mechanism or to suppress emotions;
- Drinking alone or hiding their alcohol consumption and drinking in the morning;
- An inability to limit to small quantities of alcohol or to cut down on the quantity;
- Frequent blackouts or memory loss after episodes of heavy drinking;
- Spending time either recovering from the hangover or planning the next drinking session;
- Increased tolerance to the effects of alcohol (fewer hangovers, for example);
- Developing withdrawal symptoms such as tremors, insomnia; the quantity may be increased to combat these symptoms;
- Social absence: the person may withdraw from social or recreational activities;
- Personal problems: family and work-related problems or even legal issues that can be associated with prolonged alcohol consumption.
More than one of these criteria needs to have manifested within the last twelve months.
The most common methods to test alcoholism are blood tests along with questionnaires.
Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms
Alcohol withdrawal symptoms can be mild or severe and depend on the period the patient has been drinking for and the quantity he/she has been consuming. The symptoms include:
- Mood disturbances such as anxiety, irritability or even depression;
- Fatigue, lethargy;
- Confusion, disorientation;
- Shaking hands, dilated pupils, sweating, pale skin;
- Nausea and vomiting;
- Increased heart rate.
Serious symptoms can also include hallucinations or seizures, within the first days after ceasing consumption.
Our medical specialists at Castle Health perform a personalised medical examination before confirming the specialised residential treatment plan for each individual. Abstinence is at the core of our treatment and it is the stepping stone for achieving long-term recovery.
Getting help for alcohol addiction
The first step in treating alcohol addiction is for users to accept they have a problem. Most people with alcohol dependence have a hard time accepting drinking is harming their life. But this is a necessary step on the path to sobriety.
Overcoming addiction can be a life-long process that needs both personal commitment and various treatments or therapies. An alcohol user’s treatment plan depends on their circumstances:
- The level of support and implication from family and friends
- The personal history of alcohol addiction
- The personal dedication to overcoming dependence and remaining sober
- The financial situation
If you or a loved one lost the ability to control the use of alcohol, then there is a clear sign of alcohol addiction or alcoholism. At this point, it is important to quit drinking and avoid alcohol entirely. Our professionals at Castle Health can help you make this change. They will likely ask you various questions to identify the level of addiction. These questions can also help them create the treatment option best suited to your needs. Our experts will also want to talk with some of your friends or with your family to fully understand your symptoms, dependence, and treatment opportunities.
After completing the medical assessment, the specialists at Castle Health will be prepared to tailor for you a personalized treatment plan that includes detoxification, counselling, medication, or other treatment options.
About Detox and Personalised Treatment at Castle Health Treatment Centres
The personalised alcohol rehab detoxification programme at Castle Health is supervised by a medical team of professionals who are trained to make the detox a safe and comfortable process. They understand that this is an extremely difficult time for patients and provide 24/7 compassionate care, encouragement, and support.
All patients are closely monitored throughout detox until they are stable. At Castle Health, patients get the right care and treatment; a specialist doctor is available on-site, 24 hours a day, seven days a week in case an emergency occurs.
Detoxification becomes more supportive and efficient when patients share a bedroom during detoxification. At Castle Health we also have available single and single en-suite accommodation.
There is no “one size fits all” approach when it comes to treating addiction. Each patient has unique life experiences that lead to addiction. When forming their alcohol rehab treatment plan, doctors consider the individual needs of each patient.
Castle Health has a team of psychiatrists, doctors, therapists, and nurses that regularly organize meetings to discuss each patient’s progress and update their treatment plan. At Castle Health clinic, patients can benefit from both residential and outpatient treatment, located in beautiful natural surroundings. Patients can attend daily individual counselling and group therapy, and they can participate in various creative and relaxing activities that help and support the recovery process.