Is Alcohol a Depressant or Stimulant?

Is Alcohol a Depressant or Stimulant?

Is Alcohol a Depressant or Stimulant? – Alcohol is technically categorized as a central nervous system (CNS) depressant, but the answer is a little bit more complicated than that.

Alcohol, depending on the level consumed and a person’s individual reaction, can cause both sedating and stimulating effects. For example, increased heart rate and aggressive behavior are two effects associated with a stimulant, but motor skill and cognitive impairment are characteristics of a depressant.

Some researchers believe that persons who are at a heightened risk of developing an alcohol use disorder do not respond as dramatically to alcohol’s sedative effects as others do. In fact, alcoholism is more strongly associated with a greater stimulatory reaction to alcohol.

Alcohol impacts the brain in a variety of ways. For one, it binds to receptors for gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a neurotransmitter (brain chemical) responsible for producing feelings of calm, relaxation, and sedation, as well as the suppression of breathing and heart rate. It also inhibits glutamate, a neurotransmitter that excites the central nervous system.

Is Alcohol a Depressant or Stimulant? – The Deception

In addition to its effect on GABA and glutamate, alcohol also releases dopamine, a feel-good chemical responsible for feelings of reward.

As dopamine increases, good feelings continue to emerge, and those affected may continue to drink alcohol, more or less in an effort to “chase” the dopamine high. As more alcohol is consumed, however, more depressant effects will develop.

Moreover, alcohol does not excite the nervous system, but rather, it is the excessive release of dopamine that produces pleasurable, rewarding feelings that may sometimes resemble extra energy. But the overall effect is misleading – as the person continues to drink, the central nervous system also becomes increasingly depressed despite the presence of dopamine.

Mixing Alcohol With Drugs

Mixing Alcohol With Drugs

When alcohol is used in conjunction with another sedating drug, the risk of life-threatening CNS depression increases. When CNS activity begins to slow down to a crawl, the threat of coma and death becomes a very real and present danger.

On the other hand, stimulants increase activity in the central nervous system and include substances such as caffeine, amphetamines, and cocaine. Some people use stimulants when drinking to decrease alcohol’s depressant effect and counteract the adverse effects of stimulants, such as anxiety, nervousness, and agitation.

Using alcohol with stimulants, however, is equally dangerous. People may continue to drink alcohol while feeling energetic and elated from stimulants (the depressant effect is essentially masked) under the erroneous belief that they are unlikely to suffer any ill consequences.

However, using alcohol with short-acting stimulants such as cocaine is especially dangerous, because alcohol’s depressant impact can continue well after the effects of the stimulant have worn off. In fact, combining alcohol and cocaine makes the risk of sudden death 20 times greater than by either substance alone.

Mixing alcohol with other stimulants such as prescription amphetamines (e.g., Adderall, Ritalin, Concerta) increases the risk of seizures and heart-related problems such as arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat) and cardiac arrest.

Also, continued use of alcohol while intoxicated by stimulants increases the likelihood of alcohol poisoning, a condition that can occur and be fatal in persons who reach a blood alcohol concentration of .4 or higher.

Finally, both alcohol and other psychoactive substances can invoke serious psychological effects such as major depression and anxiety, suicidal thoughts, irritability, aggression, delusions, hallucinations, and even psychosis.

Alcohol Poisoning

Alcohol poisoning is a dangerous and potentially lethal consequence of drinking large amounts of alcohol in a brief period. Drinking to excess can adversely affect breathing, heart rate, body temperature, and gag reflex. In extreme cases, it can result in coma and death.

A person with alcohol poisoning requires immediate medical attention. If you suspect a person is suffering from an overdose, call 911 or visit the nearest emergency room right away.

Symptoms

Alcohol poisoning signs and symptoms may include the following:

  • Confusion
  • Vomiting
  • Seizures
  • Blue-tinged skin
  • Pale or clammy skin
  • Low body temperature
  • Slow or irregular breathing
  • Unresponsiveness/stupor
  • Unconsciousness

What to Do

It’s not necessary to witness all the above signs before seeking medical help. A person experiencing alcohol poisoning who is unconscious and can’t be awakened is at a high risk of dying.

Take care to do the following:

1) Call 911 immediately. Do not assume that the person will sleep it off.

2) Be prepared to provide whatever information you have. Tell the hospital or emergency personnel the type of alcohol the person drank, the approximate amounts, and when it was consumed.

3) Do not leave an unconscious person alone. Alcohol poisoning impairs the gag reflex, so a person suffering from alcohol poisoning may choke on his or her own vomit. Furthermore, while waiting for medical attention, do not try to induce vomiting for this same reason.

4) Help someone who is vomiting by keeping him or her sitting up. If the person must lie down, turn them to the side to help prevent choking. Try to keep the person awake, if possible, to avoid loss of consciousness.

Don’t Be Afraid to Seek Help

Is Alcohol a Depressant or Stimulant? | Recovery By The Sea

It can be difficult to determine if a person is drunk enough to justify medical intervention. However, it’s best to err on the side of caution. You may be concerned about the consequences for yourself or this person, especially if driving was involved or you are under the legal age. But keep in mind, the consequences of not getting help in time can be much more severe, and even lethal.

Causes

Alcohol in the form of ethanol can be found in alcoholic beverages, mouthwash, cooking extracts, some medications, and even household products. Ethyl alcohol poisoning generally results from drinking way too many alcoholic drinks, especially in a brief episode. This behavior is often referred to as binge drinking.

Binge Drinking

One of the leading causes of alcohol poisoning is binge drinking. Binge drinking is characterized by heavy drinking when a person consumes at least 4 or 5 drinks—for women and men, respectively—within two hours.

While just a few beers are unlikely to result in full-blown alcohol poisoning, often these binges can occur over hours and last for several days. Prolonged alcohol abuse will result in unpleasant and potentially life-threatening withdrawal symptoms. For this reason, many people on a binge will continue to drink rather than get help.

A person can consume a lethal amount of alcohol before becoming unconscious. Even after a person has stopped drinking, alcohol will continue to be released from the stomach and intestines into the bloodstream. For some time, the level of alcohol in the body will continue to increase.

How Much Alcohol Is Too Much?

Unlike food, which can take several hours to digest, alcohol is absorbed rapidly by the body, and long before most other nutrients. Also, it takes a lot more time for the body to eliminate the alcohol that was consumed.

Most alcohol is metabolized by the liver, which can only process roughly one standard drink of alcohol per hour. The more alcohol a person consumes, especially in a relatively short period, the higher his or her risk of encountering alcohol poisoning.

One standard drink is defined as:

  • 12 oz. (355 ml) of regular beer at about 5% ABV
  • 8-9 oz. (237 to 266 ml) of malt liquor at about 7% ABV
  • 5 oz. (148 ml) of wine at about 12% ABV
  • 1.5 oz. (44 ml) of 80-proof hard liquor at about 40% ABV

Note that some mixed drinks may contain multiple servings of alcohol and take even longer to be processed.

Risk Factors

Several factors can increase the risk of alcohol poisoning, including the following:

  • Height and weight
  • Sex (male or female)
  • Overall health status
  • Food content in the stomach
  • Use of other drugs
  • Rate of alcohol consumption
  • Amount of alcohol consumed
  • Tolerance level
  • Genetic factors

Complications of Alcohol Poisoning

Severe complications can arise from alcohol poisoning, including the following:

Choking

Excessive alcohol use frequently causes vomiting. Because it depresses the gag reflex, this increases the risk of choking on vomit if a person is unconscious.

Stopping Breathing

If a person accidentally inhales vomit into his or her lungs, this can result in a harmful and potentially deadly interruption of breathing (asphyxiation).

Severe Dehydration

Vomiting can lead to severe dehydration, and result in dangerously low blood pressure and accelerated heart rate. Alcohol use itself contributes to dehydration.

Alcohol poisoning can also cause seizures, hypothermia, irregular heart rate, and permanent brain damage. Any of these problems can result in death.

Treatment for Alcohol Addiction

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Alcohol addiction treatment may begin at a medical detox center, where patients receive around-the-clock care and may be rendered medications to relieve highly unpleasant and possibly fatal alcohol withdrawal symptoms.

After detox, patients are encouraged to participate in one of our treatment programs and opt for either partial-hospitalization (PHP) or intensive outpatient treatment. PHP offers clients most of the same therapeutic components as a residential program while allowing them more flexibility to attend to outside activities. These programs can be just as effective as residential programs, however, as they offer similar treatments, including psychotherapy, counseling, group support, and aftercare planning. Conversely, outpatients enjoy even more scheduling flexibility while they meet for several therapy sessions at the center each week.

Why Seek Our Help?

Alcohol dependence is a grave and potentially life-threatening disease that requires long-term treatment and support. While there is no cures an alcohol use disorder, it can be effectively treated. Those who seek help and enter recovery can regain their lives and ultimately experience long-term sobriety and well-being.

Our center offers a secure, structured environment and professional medical personnel who are trained to identify and address the individual needs of each patient using an in-depth, customized approach to alcohol and addiction treatment.

Liver Healing

Liver Healing | How to Repair the Liver | Recovery By The Sea

Liver Healing: How to Repair the Liver from Alcohol Abuse – Depending on a person’s level of alcoholism, he or she may have caused damage to their liver. Fortunately, the liver is a regenerative organ, so in many cases, it’s possible to restore it’s prior condition before problematic drinking began.

Can the Liver Repair Itself?

The liver is the body’s only regenerative organ, not unlike how lizards have the ability to regrow tails. If you had as much as 75% of your liver removed, it could still grow back to its full size.

Part of the reason for this special ability is due to what the liver actually does for the body. Because it works as the body’s primary filtration organ, it comes in contact with many toxins and chemicals, some of which can cause severe damage when they are exposed to cells.

For this reason, the nature of the liver’s job requires it to be able to regenerate on its own. Otherwise, our bodies would be much more vulnerable to a variety of diseases.

Liver Healing and Alcoholism

When a person quits drinking, they are often focused on regaining physical health, and for a good reason. It’s a well-known fact that alcohol can completely destroy the liver. As the main organ responsible for clearing toxins from the body, the liver works hard to process alcoholic beverages.

Many alcoholics in recovery discover they have caused damage to their liver or have contracted liver disease during the course of their alcohol abuse. A damaged liver can result in many of the various health problems that alcoholics encounter due to their drinking. By avoiding alcohol use, staying hydrated, and eating a diet beneficial to liver functioning, a person can usually reverse some or all of the effects of alcoholism—even after years of drinking.

Liver Healing: The Liver’s Function

The liver is the largest internal organ in the body and weighs about three pounds. Its primary function is to detoxify blood from the digestive tract before it flows to the rest of the body.

The liver works to filter chemicals that are transferred throughout the body. It breaks down drugs and alcohol and secretes an enzyme called bile, which helps with digestion. Also, the liver produces protein, which is essential for blood clotting.

When this vital organ is not functioning properly, the rest of the body cannot either. It is critical for every person’s health and well-being. When the liver does not effectively eliminate toxins from the body and aid with digestion, a myriad of hazardous health problems will ultimately manifest.

Types of Liver Disease Caused by Alcoholism

There are many forms of liver disease:

  • Diseases caused by viruses, including hepatitis A, B, and C
  • Diseases caused by substances, such as fatty liver disease and cirrhosis
  • Liver cancer
  • Inherited diseases, including hemochromatosis and Wilson disease

Aside from cancer, cirrhosis is the most serious disease of the liver. Cirrhosis is an exacerbation of other, less severe diseases, such as fatty liver and hepatitis B and C. It involves the loss of cells and irreversible scarring of the liver. Cirrhosis develops in stages and can result in weakness, loss of appetite, easy bruising, jaundice, itching, fatigue, and, ultimately, organ failure.

Liver Healing | How to Repair the Liver | Recovery By The Sea

Liver Healing Treatment

According to the Mayo Clinic, treatment for liver disease depends on the diagnosis. Some problems can be resolved with lifestyle modifications, such as abstaining from alcohol use, often as part of a medical program that includes thorough monitoring of liver function.

Other liver problems can be treated with medications or may require surgery. Treatment for liver disease that causes or has led to liver failure may ultimately require a liver transplant.

Complications of Alcohol-Related Liver Disease

When an alcohol-related liver disease has advanced to more severe stages, it can lead to many complications, including the following:

  • Bleeding disorders
  • Kidney failure
  • Liver cancer
  • Coma
  • Buildup of fluid in the abdomen and infection of the fluid
  • Enlarged, bleeding veins in the esophagus, stomach, or intestines
  • Increased pressure in liver blood vessels of the liver
  • Mental confusion and change in the level of consciousness

Keep in mind that some types of liver damage can be permanent. Many people wait until it’s too late before they focus on liver healing. Long-term effects of drug abuse and alcoholism, liver diseases, and conditions like hepatitis C can leave our liver in a continually damaged condition.

Fortunately, however, this doesn’t mean by making better choices you cannot still live a long and healthy life. People can live with liver damage and once again experience fulfilling lives. But, they need to start taking care of their liver and the rest of their body, and this includes abstaining from drugs and alcohol.

Treatment for Alcoholism

Recovery By The Sea is a specialized addiction treatment facility that specializes in drug abuse and alcoholism. Those who suffer from these conditions often also need integrated treatment, such as care and support for health conditions and mental illness.

We can effectively address all concerns related to health and wellness—including liver healing—while you are in early recovery.

We offer a comprehensive approach to treatment, featuring services essential for the recovery process. These services include psychotherapy, counseling, aftercare planning, group support, medication-assisted treatment, and much more.

If you or someone you love has found themselves unable to quit drinking, contact us today! Discover how we help people liberate themselves from the chains of addiction for life!

How to Quit Drinking for Life

How to Quit Drinking for Life | Recovery By The Sea

How to Quit Drinking for Life – For millions of Americans, alcohol abuse is one of the most difficult habits to quit. Alcohol consumption is both legal and generally accepted as part of our culture. And yet, there remains a stigma associated with alcoholism—one that often discourages those who need professional treatment from seeking it.

Accepting that alcohol abuse is a problem, and creating a plan to do something about it is the first essential step toward breaking free from the cycle of addiction and fostering a new life for yourself.

How to Quit Drinking: Rules for Recovery

Recovery from alcoholism is best achieved using a clear, principled approach. Recovery entails much more than just a one-time decision to break the habit—its a long-term commitment that may require constant course correction to prevent relapse. The Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine has established five rules to follow for a successful, enduring recovery.

1. Change Your Lifestyle

Overcoming a drinking habit involves more than just not drinking. One of the most significant barriers to an alcoholic who is trying to recover is a deep-rooted, uneasy feeling that there is no real reason to quit. The fact that you have become an alcoholic indicates that your beliefs, values, and intentions must have gradually become conducive to substance abuse.

Recognizing this fact can be a tough pill to swallow. Nevertheless, you must acknowledge that alcoholism has become a way of life, not just a bad habit you have on the side. To decisively quit drinking once and for all, you must change your life entirely and replaced every activity associated with drinking with new activities that give you purpose and meaning.

2. Be Completely Honest With Yourself and Others

Being an alcoholic often means having to compartmentalize your conflicting lifestyles. In the short-term, alcoholics tend to be deceptive and tell half-truths to conceal the severity of their problem from those who are closest to them. Tragically, this pattern of behavior almost always causes the drinker to embrace a toxic, self-directed shame, which further motivates them to escape their negative feelings through the use of alcohol.

During recovery, complete honesty is always the best policy, whether you are sharing at a support group, having a conversation with close friends or family, or, most critically, with yourself.

How to Quit Drinking for Life | Recovery By The Sea

3. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask For Help

Having a drinking problem can be cause for embarrassment. After all, if we reach out to others, this entails openly admitting to both the other person and ourselves that we might not be able to quit on our own. Our egos recoil at the thought of this.

Yet, research has consistently shown that the chances for lasting recovery are substantially increased if we reach out for help. Peer support groups, medical detox, and substance abuse programs are proven avenues for the maintenance of long-term sobriety.

4. Practice Self-Care

Self-care is not mere selfishness. Selfishness is about sacrificing the needs of other people to satisfy your own. Self-care is about giving yourself whatever you need, only not at the expense of others.

Practicing self-care also means that loved ones are no longer forced to sacrifice their needs to ensure yours are met. Relapse is easier to prevent when you give yourself the wellness and sobriety you genuinely deserve.

Recovery is not about pleasing your loved ones or about society’s best interests—it’s about you.

5. Don’t Bend Rules

The final rule is here to protect yourself from possible corruption. You may get to a point in your recovery where the first four rules begin to seem excessive or no longer necessary. It is in these moments, however, that you must knuckle down and bolster your resolve.

Remember, these aren’t just rules for addiction recovery, but principles you must always observe to have a healthy life in general.

How to Quit Drinking: The Recovery Process

Professional addiction treatment is a process that can last anywhere from several weeks to several months. There is no immediate cure for addiction—it requires the patient to unlearn certain behaviors and replace them with new coping skills.

Recovery often begins with a medication-assisted detox program, progresses into a residential or partial-hospitalization program, and, eventually, outpatient treatment. Following formal treatment, close adherence to an aftercare plan will ensure the patient continues to receive the necessary medical and mental health support they need for the sustainment of long-term sobriety.

Intensive Treatment

How to Quit Drinking for Life | Recovery By The Sea

Following detox, many patients opt for a residential treatment or partial-hospitalization program. During residential treatment, the patient resides at the center for several weeks while receiving therapeutic services. They will also participate in 12-step meetings as well as physically and emotionally healthy activities.

A partial-hospitalization program offers intense and comprehensive treatment comparable to a residential program. It takes place in a comfortable clinical office setting during the day, with an optional safe and supervised home-like residence in the evenings.

Outpatients live in a private resident or sober living environment and visit the center several times per week for therapy and support. Many people who complete residential or partial-hospitalization treatment opt for outpatient treatment after discharge to continue the recovery process while they readjust to life in the outside world.

Other Long-term Recovery Techniques

Recovery doesn’t end after professional treatment—it’s a lifelong process that continues in stages. The following tips can help you to sustain long-term sobriety and well-being.

1. Eliminate triggers and temptations in your home environment. These include any type of alcohol or drinking paraphernalia, such as beer bottles or any references to addictive substances.

2. Express yourself and lean on family and friends for support. You can expect that those who genuinely care about you and your sobriety will join in your fight and support your efforts.

3. Avoid environments that are conducive to relapse. You might not be able to avoid parties and places where people are drinking forever, but during the early stages of recovery, many people find it challenging to be around alcohol and other people who are drinking. Never underestimate your capacity for relapse and remember that it’s better to be safe than sorry.

4. Write in a journal. It may be beneficial to write down your thoughts and feelings during your recovery journey and reflect on them later to obtain additional insight into the motivations that were driving your addictive behaviors.

5. Exercise and eat healthy. Living a well-balanced life is one of the keys to maintaining long-lasting recovery. Start a new exercise regime if you haven’t done so already. It’s okay to challenge yourself and also okay to merely just get started on a new routine, such as taking long walks. It’s best to avoid simple sugars/carbohydrates and processed foods. In their place, opt for more whole grains and foods high in protein.

Getting Professional Treatment

The best way to kickstart the recovery process is to enroll in a comprehensive addiction treatment program—if you really want to know how to quit drinking for good, research has shown that this is the best way. Recovery By The Sea is a specialized treatment facility that offers evidence-based services vital to the process of recovery, including psychotherapy, counseling, group support, medication-assisted treatment, and more.

If you are struggling with alcohol abuse, you have likely tried quitting on your own and failed. If you are ready to try again, contact us as soon as possible. Discover how we can help you break free from the chains of alcoholism and begin to experience the healthy and satisfying life you deserve!

Long-Term Effects of Alcohol on the Kidneys

Alcohol and Kidneys | Recovery By The Sea Addiction Treatment

Long-Term Effects of Alcohol on the Kidneys – Kidneys are vital organs that filter toxins from the blood and play other important roles, and generally, require little attention until they begin to fail. But every time a person consumes alcohol, he or she is putting our kidneys, liver, pancreas, and other parts of the body in jeopardy.

The Role of Kidneys

According to the National Kidney Foundation, kidneys have several essential responsibilities and functions, such as the following:

  • Filter blood to remove wastes and toxins
  • Keep blood pressure balanced and under control
  • Release a hormone that governs the body’s production of red blood cells
  • Regulate the volume and concentration of bodily fluids
  • Activate vitamin D, which is vital for healthy bones
  • Maintain a balance of blood minerals, such as potassium, sodium, and phosphorus

Each person is born with two kidneys, but most people can survive with only one.

How Alcohol Affects Kidneys

Alcohol is one of the toxins that kidneys filter from the blood. While a drink or two on occasion is not going to be problematic, binge drinking and excessive, chronic drinking is likely to wreak havoc on the kidneys. Alcohol interferes with the kidneys’ toxin-filtering capability, thereby setting the stage for damage and an increased risk of health complications.

In addition to the kidneys’ ability to filter toxins, they also help maintain the right amount of fluid in the body. Alcohol has a dehydrating effect, one that markedly impairs the kidneys’ capacity to maintain fluid balance.

Another adverse effect of alcohol consumption on the kidneys is related to blood pressure. Drinking alcohol in excess can result in an increase in blood pressure both temporarily and over time. Alcoholics are more likely to have hypertension than those who drink moderately or not at all. Eventually, this can lead to chronically elevated blood pressure and is one of the most common causes of kidney disease.

It’s well-known that there’s also a risk of developing liver disease as a result of chronic drinking. The kidneys need adequate blood flow maintained at a certain level to filter the blood properly. Among alcoholics and persons with liver disease, the delicate balance of blood flow and blood filtering by the kidneys is disturbed.

Alcohol and Kidneys | Recovery By The Sea Addiction Treatment

Kidney Disease

While there are several other possible causes of chronic kidney disease, including diabetes, infections, inflammation, etc., damage to kidneys from and chronic alcohol use has been known to contribute to a considerable decline in overall health and quality of life. A five-year study of Australian adults self-reported as moderate or heavy drinkers concluded that, in particular, excessive drinking was “a significant modifiable risk factor for the development of albuminuria.”

Albumin is a protein commonly found in the blood and is an essential nutrient that helps build muscle, repair tissue, and resist infection. When a person has albumin in their urine, it is called “albuminuria” or sometimes “proteinuria.” When kidneys are healthy, there should be very little to no protein in the urine.

But if kidneys are damaged, protein can “leak” out of the kidneys into the urine and can be an early indicator of kidney disease. However, researchers also noted that the biological mechanism by which alcohol causes kidney damage is not clearly understood and warrants further research. Once chronic kidney disease develops, it can impact nearly every part of the body.

Potential complications from chronic kidney disease include the following:

  • Anemia
  • Bone weakness and fractures
  • Central nervous system damage, which can cause breathing problems, changes in personality, and seizures
  • Heart and cardiovascular disease
  • End-stage kidney disease, requiring either dialysis or transplant
  • Immune response decrease, increasing the risk of infection
  • Retention of fluid, which can lead to edema in feet, legs, and arms, hypertension, or fluid buildup in the lungs
  • Hyperkalemia, or high blood potassium levels, which can impair the heart’s ability to function and is life-threatening
  • Pericarditis, an inflammation of two thin layers of a tissue that surround the heart
  • Sexual problems, including decreased libido, reduced fertility, and erectile dysfunction

Getting Treatment for Alcoholism

The simple solution to protect kidneys and other organs from the damaging effect of chronic alcohol consumption is to stop drinking. Excessive drinkers and those who have been diagnosed as having an alcohol use disorder are encouraged to change their lifestyle by seeking professional treatment and learn to live alcohol-free.

Recovery By The Sea offers comprehensive treatment for alcoholism in both partial-hospitalization and outpatient formats. The cornerstones of our program are psychotherapy and counseling, two services that are clinically proven to be essential to the process of recovery.

We employ highly-specialized addiction professionals who deliver services to our clients with skill and compassion. We are dedicated to providing clients with the knowledge and support they need to achieve a full recovery and enjoy long-lasting wellness.

If you or someone you know is suffering from alcohol abuse, contact us today. Discover how we help people free themselves from the chains of addiction so they can foster happy and fulfilling lives!

How to Deal With an Alcoholic

How to Deal With an Alcoholic | Recovery By The Sea

How to Deal With an Alcoholic – If you love someone dependent on alcohol, you are likely well-acquainted with mood swings and unpredictable behavior. You may have tried everything you can think of to help them stop drinking—including emptying their stash of alcohol or threatening to leave if they don’t do something about the problem. But nothing has worked, at least not for any length of time.

So what options do you have? How do you stay in this relationship, despite feeling helpless, emotionally drained, and frustrated?

First off, remember that it’s not your fault—in fact, it’s not even theirs. No one is to blame for addiction. It’s the result of many factors that include genetics, individuals circumstances, and emotional well-being. If they are ever to get any better, they’ll probably require professional help.

What Is Alcohol Use Disorder?

According to the National Institute on Alcohol and Alcoholism (NIAAA), alcohol use disorder (AUD) is “a chronic relapsing brain disease characterized by compulsive alcohol use, loss of control over alcohol intake, and a negative emotional state when not using.” Although alcohol may not lead to significant harm when consumed in moderation, many people who suffer from with AUD routinely drink much more than the recommended limit of 7 standard drinks per week for a woman or 14 drinks per week for a man.

High-functioning alcoholics may consume alcohol in secret and do their best to conceal the severity of their disorder from co-workers and acquaintances. But it’s improbable that a person can hide it from close family and close friends, especially those who reside within the same household. Because only about 1 in 10 alcohol-dependent people seeks treatment for their disorder, many families are forced to suffer along with their loved one.

During their lifetime, an alcoholic may experience a myriad of health conditions ranging from digestive problems to hypertension and stroke. People who suffer from an AUD often have strong cravings when they aren’t consuming alcohol, and find it very difficult to stop after they’ve started. Over time, they will eventually develop a tolerance to alcohol, which requires them to drink even more to continue experiencing the same results.

In addition to the above, alcoholics may:

  • Drink by themselves to hide their addiction
  • Experience blackouts (memory lapses)
  • Drink at scheduled times and become irritated if they can’t have access to alcohol when they want it
  • Hide alcohol in unusual, secretive places, such as a vehicle or in closets
  • Drink primarily to get drunk
  • Experience relationship, employment, legal, and financial troubles
  • Experience a loss of interest in other activities once regarded as important or enjoyable

How AUD Can Ruin a Relationship

While a spouse or loved one may be a kind and thoughtful person when sober, drinking may transform them into a completely different person. Unfortunately, uncharacteristic emotional or physical abuse can be inflicted on those around a person who is intoxicated. In fact, of all the reported alcohol-related occurrences of violence, two-thirds happen among close relationships.

This fact means that partners and children are at an increased risk of witnessing or becoming victims of a violent crime, such as physical abuse or assault. If a loved one is not abusive when intoxicated, he or she may still cause harm in other ways, such as spending way too much free time at bars or frequently missing work or school.

You should become able to identify the signs of a potentially dangerous living situation if it occurs. If you are living in the same residence as an alcoholic, ensure that you and all others in the house are safe, and never permit verbal, emotional, or physical abuse. If this occurs, either you and the rest of the family or the alcoholic needs to leave the situation.

How to Deal With an Alcoholic: Taking Care of Yourself and Other Family Members

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Remind yourself that you are not to blame for your loved one’s problems and behavior. Go easy on yourself, as you are probably hurting and have a lot of anger and bitterness as a result of years of frustration and unkept promises.

Once you ensure that you and other family members are safe when your loved one is drinking, consider seeking support in the form of therapy, counseling, or peer group support. If you have children or adolescents, make sure they have a trusted person outside the family to confide in, such as a counselor, therapist, or clergy. And, because the other parent isn’t able to meet their emotional needs, it’s vital that you are willing to listen to them without judgment.

Stop enabling and set boundaries. Enabling is a common occurrence among family members and friends of those who are dependent on drugs or alcohol. Enabling activities include providing the alcoholic with booze, giving them money to purchase it, supporting them by allowing them to live with you if they are abusive, and letting them drink to dangerous levels while they are in your presence.

Unconditional love is a wonderful thing, but if you cater to their appetites by purchasing alcohol or not addressing the issue, you aren’t helping anyone, and certainly not helping them to get better. Instead of enabling, you should resolutely set boundaries and adhere to them. You don’t have to be callous or give ultimatums, but you do have to do what’s right for both you and everyone involved and let the person know that the reason you are going to stop enabling them is born out of love, not for punishment.

Finally, do not allow the person who has an addiction to blame you for their problems and the things they have done. Maybe you need to get away from them to avoid a confrontation, or perhaps you have a trusted friend on the ready to take your loved one to a safe place. It may all be trial and error, but eventually, you will find out what works best. Be vigilant and consistent.

How to Deal With an Alcoholic: Intervention

How to Deal With an Alcoholic | Recovery By The Sea

If you plan on confronting an alcoholic or staging an intervention, choose a time when they are sober and do not threaten them. Focus on your own feelings and concerns and express them in a manner that is compassionate and without judgment.

Most often, alcoholics will initially deny their problem and resist attempts to discuss their condition, and may even try to change the focus of the conversation to you. Be prepared for this to happen and remain calm. Remember that, at that moment, you are planting the seeds of change, and you may have to allow an indefinite amount of time for them to take root.

When planning an intervention, it is best to have a bag packed for the person one and a rehab facility in mind. This way, they may be less likely to back out after agreeing to treatment conditions. It’s also beneficial to have a professional therapist or counselor present who are trained to run interventions, as well as family members and maybe a few close friends who will not overwhelm, antagonize, or judge them.

During the conversation, be concise in your statements and don’t offer them a lecture. Do your homework beforehand and be prepared to field questions about the treatment process. If they are unwilling to go, you can’t force them. Treatment is more effective when the person agrees to go voluntarily. You can always try again in time.

Treatment for Alcoholism

Recovery By The Sea is a specialized addiction treatment center that employs addiction specialists who provide clients with the knowledge and support they need to achieve sobriety and enjoy long-lasting wellness and recovery from alcoholism. Our comprehensive approach includes evidence-based services, such as behavioral therapy, counseling, medication-assisted therapy, and group support.

Addiction is a disease that can last a lifetime, but no one should have to suffer in silence or battle it alone. Contact us today—we can help!

What Is the Lethal Blood Alcohol Level?

Lethal Blood Alcohol Level | Recovery By The Sea

What Is the Lethal Blood Alcohol Level? – According to the University of Notre Dame, a blood alcohol concentration of 0.250-0.399% is considered to be alcohol poisoning, and a loss of consciousness can be expected. At .40%, coma and death due to respiratory arrest are possible.

However, a study from 1990 that examined 175 fatal cases of alcohol poisoning, the mean blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of the decedents was 355 mg/100ml or .355%. Researchers noted that this finding was “less than that quoted in many standard textbooks on forensic medicine.” Moreover, .40% is the figure that is widely considered to be the lethal blood alcohol level.

A more recent study (2015) found that, in 2012, of 1191 emergency department patients on whom BAC testing was performed, a small number (37) had a BAC higher than the allegedly lethal level of 400 mg/100 mL. This number included three patients above 500 mg/100 mL. Of note, no deaths or transfers to ICU were recorded for anyone in this group.

The highest BAC ever recorded was of a Polish man was involved in a car crash—his BAC was measured at 1.48%. Doctors stated he somehow survived this level of intoxication but later died due to his injuries from the car crash.

Another man, from Bulgaria, was taken to the hospital in 2004 following a car accident in which he sustained minor injuries. According to reports, the man, who had a BAC of .914%, appeared to be “fine” and had communicated coherently with doctors.

Indeed, there have been many more reports of people surviving remarkably high blood alcohol levels that would have presumably killed most others. And still, according to the previously mentioned 1990 study, a significant amount of deaths have occurred in the .30% range. This wide range of possibilities is related to the fact that there are a variety of determinants in addition to the sheer volume consumed that influence the outcome of a person who has been drinking excessively.

What influences BAC levels?

1. How Rapidly Alcohol Is Consumed

The faster a person drinks, the more rapidly their peak BAC will increase, and the more quickly he or she will become intoxicated. The liver breaks down alcohol at a rate of around one standard drink per hour (as noted below). When more than one drink per hour is ingested, the liver is unable to keep up, and more alcohol will begin to circulate in the blood until the liver can catch up.

Here is one tragic example: At midnight on November 4, 1998, Bradley McCue’s 21st went with a group of friends to a bar in East Lansing, Michigan to celebrate his 21st birthday the next day. While there, he drank 24 shots of liquor in about 1.5 hours. He made it home alive as his BAC continued to steadily rise, but according to the coroner, he died shortly thereafter at approximately 4:30 a.m. on his birthday with a BAC of .440%

2. Body Weight and Sex (Male or Female)

On average, males have 76 c.c. of blood /kg body weight versus 66 c.c. in females. Males have more blood in which to dilute alcohol due to their larger size, but even males of roughly the same weight as women have slightly more blood because muscle contains more water than fat. Moreover, men have more muscle and less fat on average than women, and will, therefore, have about 10% more water in their bodies.

3. Food Content in Stomach

About 20% of alcohol is absorbed into the bloodstream through the walls of the stomach, while 80% is absorbed through the small intestine. If there is food in the stomach, however, alcohol is absorbed more slowly into the bloodstream. Food in the stomach impedes the absorption of alcohol by preventing it from moving directly to the small intestine, where the majority of alcohol enters the bloodstream.

Fatty foods hinder alcohol absorption moreso than some others because they are more difficult to digest. Carbohydrates are passed through the stomach more rapidly, which causes both the food and alcohol to enter the small intestines faster than high-fat content foods.

4. The Alcohol Content of a Drink

Generally, the higher the alcohol content of a drink, the faster the alcohol will be absorbed into the bloodstream. While one standard drink of hard liquor has about the same alcohol content as a regular beer, when taken as a “shot,” liquor is less diluted and therefore the effects will onset more rapidly.

What Is a Standard Drink?

A standard drink in the USA is equivalent to the following:

  • One 12 fl oz. (355 mL) bottle of beer, wine cooler, hard seltzer, etc. at about 5% alcohol content
  • One 5 fl oz. (148 mL) glass of wine at about 12% alcohol content
  • One shot or one mixed drink containing 1.5 fl. oz. (44 mL) of 80-proof liquor, such as whiskey, vodka, or rum

Nonetheless, the concept of a standard drink is not, by any means, an ideal guideline for estimating an individual’s BAC. This is partly because bartenders sometimes estimate and pour varying amounts of alcohol, and party-goers may be treated to elaborate mixed drinks such as “jungle juice” that contain multiple shots of different types of alcohol. In other words, what appears to be one standard drink may have the alcohol equivalent of more.

Also, some beers and wines have higher alcohol percentages than average. It’s not uncommon to find craft beers well above the 4-5% range, and wine can be found at up to 18%.

5. The Type of Mixer Used

Water and fruit juices combined with alcohol slow the absorption process, while carbonated beverages accelerate it. Carbonated drinks expedite alcohol through the stomach and intestine into the bloodstream, producing a faster rise in BAC.

Signs and Complications of Alcohol Intoxication

Warning signs and complications of acute alcohol intoxication include the following:

  • Bluish or pale skin color
  • Coma
  • Dilation of blood vessels
  • Hypertension
  • Hypotension
  • Hypothermia
  • Increased risk of stroke
  • Irregular breathing
  • Impaired motor skills
  • Confusion
  • Poor judgment
  • Profoundly slow reaction time
  • Seizures
  • Slurred speech
  • Vomiting
  • Stupor
  • Unresponsiveness
  • Coma

It is not necessary for someone to exhibit all the above signs or symptoms before medical help should be sought. A person with alcohol intoxication who is unconscious and cannot be awakened is at risk of dying. Someone who consumes a lethal dose of alcohol will eventually stop breathing, and even if revived, he or she can incur irreversible hypoxic brain damage.

What You Need to Do

If you suspect that someone is experiencing severe alcohol intoxication or poisoning, do not assume they will “sleep it off”—seek medical assistance by calling 911 immediately.

While waiting for help to arrive, do not leave the person alone, and do not attempt to feed them or make them vomit. Alcohol impedes the gag reflex, so someone who is highly intoxicated may choke on their own vomit and die.

If a person is vomiting, try to keep him or her sitting up. If the person must lie down, turn his or her head to the side to help prevent choking. If the person is responsive, try to keep him or her awake to prevent a loss of consciousness.

Treatment for Alcoholism

According to statistics, around 2200 people in the U.S. die from alcohol poisoning each year—that’s about six per day. Compared to deaths by illicit drugs such as heroin, this number is relatively small. However, those who drink to excessive levels are a very high risk of developing an alcohol use disorder (AUD).

AUD (sometimes also referred to as alcoholism or alcohol addiction) is a chronic disease that tends to result in a myriad of other adverse consequences surrounding one’s health and well-being and also dramatically impacts the lives of loved ones.

Recovery By The Sea offers an integrated approach to addiction treatment that includes services essential to the process of recovery, such as psychotherapy, counseling, and group support. We employ caring addiction specialists who provide clients with the knowledge, tools, and support they need to achieve a full recovery and learn to lead more happy and fulfilling lives.

If you or someone you love is suffering from an alcohol use disorder, contact us today to discover how we help individuals free themselves from the chains of addiction!

How Do You Know If You Have Alcohol Poisoning?

How Do You Know If You Have Alcohol Poisoning? | Recovery By The Sea

How Do You Know If You Have Alcohol Poisoning? – Many Americans consume alcohol every day or drink too much in general. And because few people understand the limitations of alcohol tolerance in the body, poisoning can occur rapidly and with little warning.

Alcohol Poisoning Symptoms

Symptoms of alcohol poisoning include the following:

  • Confusion and disorientation
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Hypothermia
  • Stupor or unresponsiveness
  • Cold, clammy skin
  • Very poor coordination
  • Irregular pulse/heart rate
  • Depressed/labored breathing
  • Choking
  • Seizures
  • Loss of bowel/bladder control
  • Bluish-color skin (cyanosis)

Alcohol Poisoning Statistics

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) around 2,200 alcohol poisoning fatalities occur each year, which is about six each day. This might sound rare in comparison to, say, deaths related to opioids and some other substances, but the crazy thing about these fatalities is the amount of alcohol a person has to consume to reach this point.

In the U.S., one standard drink contains about 14 grams of pure alcohol, which is found in 12 ounces of beer (about 5% alcohol), 5 ounces of wine (about 12%), and 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits (about 40%). A lethal dose of alcohol for an adult is considered to be 5-8g per kilogram of weight.

Moreover, if a person who weighs about 60kg (132 pounds) consumes 300g of alcohol, this can prove fatal. When doing the math, this means that a person who has 300g of alcohol in their system has consumed at least 21 standard drinks. The standard drink is based on the liver’s ability to process alcohol in one hour—that is, the liver can process one beer, one glass of wine, or one 1.5 ounce shot of liquor.

Who Experiences Alcohol Poisoning?

How Do You Know If You Have Alcohol Poisoning? | Recovery By The Sea

Binge drinking is a major cause of alcohol poisoning in the U.S. “Binge drinking” is actually a technical term that is defined as the consumption of four or more drinks in a two-hour period for women, and five or more drinks in the same period for men.

Historically, binge drinking has been associated with college students, but in recent years the CDC has found that the group who suffers from alcohol poisoning most often is middle-aged adults. In fact, people aged 35-64 now experience alcohol poisoning more often than young adults.

This trend could be due, in part, to changes in body chemistry as people get older, prescription drugs that interact with or compound the effects of alcohol, and differences/changes in drinking preferences between the two demographics. Also, older adults may have more disposable income to buy alcohol. According to Smart Asset, the average 20-24 year old earns less than $30,000 per year, while the average person aged 35-44 earns more than $51,000 per year.

White, middle-aged men are the most likely to fall fatally ill from alcohol poisoning when compared to other groups. Surprisingly, 90% of binge drinkers who experience alcohol poisoning were not reported as being alcohol-dependent.

Effects of Alcohol Poisoning

Because the human liver can process only about one standard alcoholic drink per hour, if a person consumes two drinks or more, there will be one or more additional units in the person’s body which will take a longer time to process. When a person has consumed way too much alcohol, it builds up in the bloodstream and rapidly begins to affect regions of the brain that regulate vital bodily functions such as respiration and heart rate. Depressed, infrequent, or labored breathing, severely reduced body temperature, and seizures are all possible signs of alcohol poisoning.

Alcohol is almost always consumed as a liquid, so it is through digestion in the stomach and intestines that it enters the bloodstream and reaches the brain. Oral ingestion is one of the slower processes for administering an intoxicant, meaning that alcohol a person has consumed may not have fully reached the bloodstream when he or she starts to exhibit symptoms of extreme intoxication or alcohol poisoning.

Alcohol poisoning affects the body in the following ways:

  • Impairing brain function, beginning with balance and coordination and eventually impacting other systems in the body
  • Irritating the stomach and producing nausea and vomiting
  • Hindering the gag reflex as muscles lose sensitivity and coordination, which can result in vomit aspiration
  • Interfering with nerves that control breathing and heart rate, which can, in turn, cause these functions to decelerate, become irregular, or stop entirely
  • Drastically reducing blood sugar, which can lead to seizures
  • Decreasing body temperature, which can cause hypothermia
  • Dehydration, which can cause brain damage
How to Help Someone With Alcohol Poisoning

If someone appears to be experiencing alcohol poisoning, call 911 immediately and remain in close proximity to the person to prevent accidental self-harm or choking. It is vitally important to seek emergency medical help as soon as possible, even if the person is conscious. There is likely to be even more alcohol in the person’s stomach yet to be processed that will further increase alcohol levels in the bloodstream.

There are several myths surrounding do-it-yourself treatment for alcohol poisoning that people erroneously believe may be helpful when in reality, may be harmful. Moreover, do not do any of the following:

DO NOT encourage the person to drink coffee. Caffeine is unlikely to help a person become more alert in this state and may lead to further dehydration.

DO NOT encourage the person to eat, as their gag reflex may be impaired and they may choke. For this same reason, do not try to make the person vomit to clear alcohol from the stomach.

DO NOT attempt to get the person to “walk it off,” because impaired physical coordination can lead to falls or other accidents.

DO NOT attempt to put the person in a cold shower, because this action may increase the risk of hypothermia.

DO NOT allow the person to just “sleep it off” because alcohol is probably still digesting into their bloodstream and symptoms could get much worse.

When emergency help arrives, the person will begin receiving medical treatment and be monitored until doctors are sure the alcohol has been eliminated from their system and no remaining damage is present that should be addressed.

How to Avoid Alcohol Poisoning

How Do You Know If You Have Alcohol Poisoning? | Recovery By The Sea

As noted above, it’s not exactly easy to die from alcohol poisoning in and of itself. However, even if the level of intoxication is not fatal, drinking to a point in which this is even a concern is extremely dangerous and can result in injury, car accidents, unsafe sex, and assaults, or any number of disastrous consequences.

There are several measures that everyone can take to prevent alcohol poisoning, including the following:

  • Drink in moderation and limit yourself to one drink per hour.
  • Drink water or other hydrating fluids after or with every drink, if possible.
  • Do not drink on an empty stomach—food helps absorb alcohol, meaning that less alcohol will reach the bloodstream.
  • Avoid drinking games or circumstances in which you may be encouraged to binge drink.
  • Do not drink alcohol in combination with other substances, including both prescription medications and illegal drugs.

Get Help After Alcohol Poisoning

If a person is experiencing alcohol poisoning, it does not necessarily indicate that an alcohol use disorder is present. However, people who struggle with alcoholism do have an increased risk of alcohol poisoning. Anyone who drinks to this extent should be very concerned about the health risks involved and consider seeking treatment.

Rehab programs, such as those offered by Recovery By The Sea, can help those in need to recover from alcohol abuse. We use an integrated approach to the treatment of addiction that includes evidence-based services vital to recovery, such as psychotherapy, counseling, group support, and more.

We can help you reclaim the healthy and fulfilling life you deserve! Contact us today to find out how!

Alternatives to Alcohol Use

Alternatives to Alcohol Use | Recovery By The Sea

Alternatives to Alcohol Use: Methods to Help With Recovery – Alcoholism is a very common addiction that can have negative effects on the abuser themselves as well as their loved ones. Alcoholism is a potentially life-threatening disease that can tear families and relationships apart and also result in a myriad of health-related conditions, including mental illness and liver disease.

Fortunately, in addition to professional treatment, people have access to a variety of alternatives to alcohol to help promote recovery. Some of these include the following:

  • Meditation
  • Yoga
  • Acupuncture
  • Nutritional counseling
  • Light therapy

Alternatives to Alcohol Use

Meditation

Detox and recovery from alcohol require a tremendous amount of self-control and discipline. Because people often perceive alcohol as a means to escape from daily stresses, they are forced to find other coping mechanisms to occupy their time. One of the possible tools is meditation.

Meditation can be an effective way to free oneself from anxiety and stressors that negatively impact life. A meditation session can be as short as ten minutes or up to an hour. Essentially, meditation helps people manage alcohol cravings and focus on positive or neutral thoughts.

One helpful form of meditation is called visualization and involves thinking about how one will feel, look, and behave once goals have been achieved. There are several specific books on alcohol addiction that provide detailed guides on appropriate meditation techniques.

Yoga

Alcohol dependence causes people to feel out of balance, and for this reason, yoga is one of the most popular alternatives to alcohol use. Yoga helps people take their mind off drinking and instead makes them feel more relaxed and centered.

There are various types of Yoga, including the slower-paced Hatha yoga and Power yoga. These forms of exercise have been designed to promote the mind-body connection and enhance both mental and physical awareness. Yoga routines are easily accessible online, at most gyms, and many addiction treatment centers.

Acupuncture

Although acupuncture’s therapeutic effects have not yet been scientifically proven to be effective in the treatment of alcoholism, some people swear by it. By inserting small needles into certain parts of the body, acupuncture is said to help restore balance and also allows the person to take his/her focus off of alcohol. This ancient Chinese practice can purportedly help to detoxify the liver, but further scientific evidence is needed to support this claim.

Alternatives to Alcohol Use | Recovery By The Sea

Nutritional Counseling

Nutritional counseling can help people put their health back on the right track. Many alcoholics suffer from dehydration and malnutrition, especially those consuming high-alcohol drinks such as liquor. This state causes them to feel weak and unable to perform various physical and mental tasks.

Proper nutrition is one of the vital components in a person’s ability to withstand alcohol use triggers. Doctors and nutritionists can help patients design a healthy diet plan that can restore energy levels and help those who are struggling during recovery to resist the urge to revert to alcohol use.

Light Therapy

Light therapy exposes people to bright artificial lights during their waking hours. The primary benefits of light exposure are reduced levels of depression and improved sleep. Many alcoholics suffer from insomnia and end up drinking in an effort to help them fall asleep. Moreover, light therapy can be effective to prevent alcoholics from taking a nightly visit to the bar and instead experience quality sleep without the use of substances.

In 2013, a study found that light therapy, specifically optogenetics (a technique that utilizes light to stimulate certain neurons), had profound and enduring effects in lab rats. When researchers stimulated dopamine neurons in specific patterns, rats trained to behave like binge-drinking humans simply quit drinking. Even after the treatments were stopped, the rats continued to avoid accessible alcohol.

Treatment for Alcoholism

Many people have found that alternatives to alcohol can be very effective at helping those suffering to overcome their addiction. Medical experts do, however, often caution their patients that there is no conclusive scientific evidence that proves that these alternative methods will be helpful, for whom they would be beneficial for, and to what extent.

Instead, many health and addiction professionals recognize that these various practices can supplement recovery when used in conjunction with a specialized treatment program that also includes psychotherapy, individual and group counseling, group support, and aftercare planning. Recovery By The Sea offers an integrated approach to addiction treatment that includes these services as rendered in partial-hospitalization and outpatient formats.

Therefore, with this in mind, some alternatives to alcohol may be great additions to one’s recovery and journey towards a better, healthier life.

If you or someone you love is struggling with an addiction to alcohol or other substances, please contact us today. Discover how we help people free themselves from the grip of alcoholism so they can finally experience the healthy and fulfilling lives they deserve!

Long-Term Effects of Alcohol on the Body

Long-Term Effects of Alcohol on the Body | Recovery By The Sea

Long-Term Effects of Alcohol on the Body – Alcohol’s effect on the body starts from the moment you take the first drink. While the occasional glass of wine or two with dinner isn’t a cause for concern, the aggregate effects of drinking too much wine, beer, or spirits can eventually take a toll on one’s health.

The Long-Term Effects of Alcohol on the Body

Digestive and Endocrine Glands

Excessive alcohol intake can result in the abnormal activation of digestive enzymes produced by the pancreas. An accumulation of these enzymes can cause inflammation known as pancreatitis. Pancreatitis can become a chronic condition and lead to severe complications.

Inflammatory Damage

The liver is an organ that is integral in the breakdown and removal of harmful substances from the body, including alcohol. Prolonged alcohol use interferes with this process, and also increases one’s risk for chronic inflammation and liver disease. Scarring caused by this inflammation is called cirrhosis. The accumulation of scar tissue damages the liver, and as this occurs, it becomes less efficient at removing toxic substances from the body.

Liver disease is life-threatening and causes toxins and waste to buildup in the body. Women are at heightened risk for developing alcoholic liver disease because the female body is able to absorb more alcohol and usually requires a longer period of time to process it. Women generally exhibit liver damage more rapidly than men.

Sugar Levels

The pancreas plays a role in regulating the body’s insulin use and response to glucose. When the pancreas and liver aren’t functioning properly, this can result in low blood sugar, also known as hypoglycemia. A damaged pancreas may also hinder the body from producing enough insulin—this can lead to too much sugar in the bloodstream (hyperglycemia).

If a person’s body can’t regulate and balance blood sugar levels, he or she may encounter increased complications and side effects related to diabetes. For this reason, it’s vital that people with diabetes or hypoglycemia avoid excessive alcohol consumption.

Central Nervous System

Long-Term Effects of Alcohol on the Body | Recovery By The Sea

One of the best ways to grasp the overall long-term effects of alcohol on the body is to understand how it impacts the central nervous system (CNS). Slurred speech is often among the first signs of too much alcohol. Alcohol can impede communication between the brain and body, making coordination and balance more difficult. This effect is why drinking and driving is illegal and can result in deadly outcomes.

Drinking excessively also makes it more difficult for the brain to create long-term memories, and reduces one’s ability to think coherently and make rational decisions. Over time, frontal lobe damage can occur—this is a region of the brain responsible for emotional regulation, short-term memory, and judgment, in addition to other essential roles.

Long-term, excessive alcohol abuse can also result in permanent brain damage, such as Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome, a brain disorder that affects memory and other important functions.

Physiological Dependence

Many people who drink heavily develop a dependence on alcohol, a condition that causes unpleasant withdrawal symptoms upon cessation. Alcohol withdrawal can be extremely challenging to endure and even life-threatening. For this reason, people who become dependent often need a medical detox, followed by professional help, to break free from alcohol addiction.

Symptoms of alcohol withdrawal include:

  • Anxiety
  • Nervousness
  • Shakiness
  • Trembling
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • High blood pressure
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Excessive sweating

Seizures, hallucinations, and confusion (delirium tremens) can manifest in severe cases of withdrawal.

Digestive System

The correlation between drinking alcohol and the digestive system might not immediately be apparent. Side effects often only emerge after there has been damage—the more a person drinks, the more damage the system will incur. Drinking can damage tissues in the digestive tract and impede the intestines from digesting food and absorbing key vitamins and nutrients, an effect that can result in malnutrition.

Heavy drinking can also cause gassiness, bloating, stomach pain, and diarrhea or painful bowel movements. People who drink excessively can develop ulcers or hemorrhoids (due to dehydration and constipation). In turn, ulcers can cause dangerous internal bleeding and can be fatal if not diagnosed and treated early.

People who drink too much alcohol are also at an increased risk for several forms of cancer. People who frequently consume alcohol are more likely to develop cancer in the mouth, throat, esophagus, breast, liver, or colon. Also, people who regularly drink and use tobacco together compound their risk for these cancers.

Circulatory System

Alcohol can significantly impact the health of one’s heart and lungs. People who are long-term drinkers face a more heightened risk of heart-related problems than people who do not drink, and women have a higher risk than men.

Circulatory system complications may include the following:

  • High blood pressure
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Poor blood circulation
  • Stroke
  • Heart disease
  • Heart attack or failure

Additionally, difficulty absorbing vitamins and minerals from food can lead to anemia, a condition characterized by low red blood cell count and related fatigue.

Long-Term Effects of Alcohol on the Body | Recovery By The Sea

Sexual and Reproductive Health

Drinking alcohol can initially reduce inhibitions and lead to more intense, albeit sometimes risky sexual encounters. Men who drink excessively are more likely to experience erectile dysfunction. Drinking can also hinder sex hormone production and over time, decrease libido.

Women who drink heavily may stop menstruating, which puts them at a higher risk for infertility. Women who drink alcohol while pregnant have an increased risk of premature delivery, miscarriage, and stillbirth. Moreover, women who consume alcohol while pregnant also put their unborn child at risk for fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD).

Other complications may include:

  • Learning impairments
  • Chronic health problems
  • Increased emotional problems
  • Abnormalities in physical development

Musculoskeletal Health

Prolonged alcohol consumption decreases the formation of bone cells, and may cause thinner bones and increase the risk of fractures related to falls or injuries. Weak bones also heal more slowly after injury. Bones require new cell production and good blood circulation to stay healthy and strong.

When the bones do not get adequate nutritional support, they become fragile and develop osteoporosis. Alcohol also hinders the body’s absorption of calcium, a mineral that is essential for good bone health. Drinking too much alcohol can also result in muscle weakness, cramping, and eventually atrophy (wasting away or degeneration).

Immune System

Drinking to excess can impair the body’s natural immune system, making it more difficult for the body to fight off invading bacteria and viruses. People who drink excessively over a prolonged period of time are also more likely to contract pneumonia or tuberculosis than the rest of the population. In fact, about 10% of tuberculosis cases worldwide may be linked to alcohol consumption.

Treatment for Alcoholism

Effective treatment for drug addiction requires a comprehensive, integrated approach. To maximize the likelihood of an effective recovery, treatment should include therapeutic services essential to recovery, such as behavioral therapy, individual, group, and family counseling, education, medication-assisted treatment, group support, health and wellness programs, and aftercare planning services.

Recovery By The Sea employs caring addiction professionals who deliver these services to clients in partial-hospitalization and outpatient formats. Our goal is to provide all clients with the resources and support they desperately need to achieve a full recovery and enjoy long-lasting sobriety and well-being.

Contact us today to discuss treatment options. Discover how we can help you begin your journey to recovery and reclaim the happy and fulfilling life you deserve!

Chronic Alcohol Abuse

Chronic Alcoholism | Subtypes and Symptoms | Recovery By The Sea

Chronic Alcohol Abuse: Subtypes and Symptoms – To help others obtain a better understanding of alcoholism, experts at the National Institute on Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse (NIAAA) have identified five different subtypes of alcoholics. These include the following:

  • Young adult subtype
  • Young antisocial subtype
  • Functional subtype
  • Intermediate familial subtype
  • Chronic severe subtype

Chronic Alcoholism Statistics

Chronic alcohol abuse, also known as the chronic severe subtype, is the rarest but most potentially devastating form of alcoholism. It represents more than 9% of alcoholics who are an average of 38 years of age. These individuals began drinking early in life (around 16) and later developed an addiction at an average age of 29. The majority are men (nearly two-thirds or 65%).

Tragically, this group has the highest drinking rates and consume alcohol about 247 days per year on average. They also engage in binge drinking on 69% of these days, during which time they may consume as many as 15 drinks.

Chronic alcoholics tend to have the highest rate of divorce, and less than 29% have ever been married. Only about 9% have a college degree, and they also have the highest rate of unemployment. Less than half (43%) are employed full-time.

They are also the most likely to suffer from mental health problems such as the following:

  • Depression (55%)
  • Antisocial personality disorder (47%)
  • Bipolar disorder (34%)
  • Social phobia (26%)
  • Dysthymia (persistent depressive disorder) (25%)
  • Generalized anxiety disorder (24%)
  • Panic disorder (17%)

Chronic alcoholics also tend to engage in other substance use, including cigarette smoking and using marijuana, opioids, or stimulants. They commonly encounter the most enduring, far-reaching symptoms and effects, such as the following:

  • The highest rate of emergency room visits related to excessive drinking.
  • 94% consume larger amounts for a longer period than initially intended.
  • 92% continue to drink despite incurring problems related to alcohol use, such as strained
  • relationships or drunk driving convictions.
  • 88% experience withdrawal symptoms during breaks from drinking.
  • 83% have repeatedly tried to reduce the amount they drink.
  • 64% spend considerable time recovering from drinking.
  • About two-thirds (66%) have previously sought professional help for their alcoholism.

About Chronic Alcohol Abuse

Chronic Alcohol Abuse | Subtypes and Symptoms | Recovery By The Sea

A person suffering from chronic alcohol abuse is probably close to what the average person pictures when the term “alcoholic” is used. Although, as noted, this designation only accounts for about 9% of the U.S. alcohol-dependent population.

A chronic severe alcoholic probably started drinking and struggling with issues related to alcohol use at a young age and is now currently middle-aged. This subtype also has antisocial personality disorder at a disproportionately high rate and is more likely to encounter legal troubles.

Chronic severe alcoholics also experience other psychiatric disorders more often than other subtypes, including depression, bipolar disorder, and anxiety disorders. Nearly 80% of chronic severe alcoholics have a familial tie to alcoholism, meaning that an immediate family member, such as a parent or sibling, once experienced or currently suffers from alcoholism.

Often, people who are chronic alcoholics encounter adverse life consequences caused by their drinking, such as homelessness, unemployment, relationship conflicts, legal issues, and health problems. They also experience behavioral, social, and emotional problems that make them more likely to seek out professional help.

In fact, these individuals are the most prevalent type of alcoholic in treatment programs. About two-thirds of chronic severe alcoholics seek out help for their drinking problem.

Are You a Chronic Alcoholic?

If you or someone you know can answer yes to a majority of the following questions, chronic alcoholism is likely present:

1. Are you middle-aged, and began drinking and engaging in problematic habits associated with drinking early in life?
2. Were you raised in a family environment where a close family member was an alcoholic?
3. Do you find it challenging to maintain employment, a home, or relationships?
4. Have you had legal issues related to alcohol use and engaged in criminal behavior?
5. Have you been diagnosed with antisocial personality disorder or other psychiatric conditions, such as depression, anxiety disorder, or bipolar disorder?
6. Do you also use tobacco and marijuana, or engage in the misuse of prescription drugs or the abuse of illegal drugs such as cocaine?
7. Have you already tried to get help for your drinking and/or at some time already participated in a treatment program?

Treatment for Alcoholism

Chronic, severe alcoholism is a devastating disease that can emotionally, physically, and socially cripple those who suffer, as well as significantly affect their loved ones. Seeking treatment for alcohol abuse is the first step toward a new, more satisfying life.

Recovery By The Sea offers an integrated, evidence-based approach to alcoholism that includes essential therapeutic services, such as psychotherapy, individual, group, and family counseling, group support, aftercare planning, and more.

Our center employs compassionate medical professionals who specialize in addiction and deliver services with care and expertise. We provide clients with the tools and support they need to achieve abstinence, prevent relapse, and begin to experience long-lasting wellness and sobriety.

You can restore sanity and harmony to your life. Call us today to find out how we can help!

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