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!

How Long Does Alcohol Stay in the Body?

How Long Does Alcohol Stay in the Body? | Recovery By The Sea

How Long Does Alcohol Stay in the Body? – On average, a normal liver can process about 10 grams of ethyl alcohol, or one drink per hour. Alcohol can be identified in urine for up to 80 hours after consumption, and on the breath and in saliva for as long as 24 hours after the last drink. It can also be found in hair follicles for up to three months.

Shortly after consuming a drink, around 20% of the alcohol travels into blood vessels that it comes in contact with on its way to the stomach and then goes straight to the brain. The remaining 80% travels into the small intestine, where it is absorbed into the bloodstream. This initial process occurs relatively quickly, but alcohol is then metabolized much more slowly by the liver.

The point in which blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is highest before it is broken down is called the peak BAC. The duration of this peak depends on the potency and amount of alcohol consumed.

How Long Does Alcohol Stay in the Body?

Although the rate at which a person becomes intoxicated depends on individual characteristics, alcohol is metabolized at about the same rate for everyone, assuming they have a normal liver. Other factors that may influence the rate of intoxication include the following:

  • Age and sex
  • Ethnicity
  • Body fat percentage
  • The rate of alcohol consumption
  • Amount of food and fat content of food in the stomach and intestines
  • Other over-the-counter, prescription, or illicit substances present in the body
NOTE: A standard drink of alcohol is defined as 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or one ounce of liquor/spirits.

Testing for Alcohol

Alcohol tests may be employed for a number of reasons, such as field sobriety testing (breathalyzer), pre-employment screening, routine workplace testing, and for probation or parole.

If a urine test is performed for alcohol detection, it can only reveal whether it is present, but not the person’s current BAC. Modern technology allows law enforcement to identify the presence of alcohol in the urine of an excessive drinker for up to 80 hours.

Blood testing for alcohol is considered to be the most reliable and accurate method available. Unlike urine tests, a blood test can reveal a person’s precise BAC at the time the test is administered.

The most common test for the presence of alcohol, however, is a breath test, commonly known as a breathalyzer. Although this method is not as reliable or accurate as a blood test, it is useful for determining whether a person has been drinking and can estimate BAC. The breathalyzer is the standard field sobriety test used by law enforcement in the U.S. because it is easily administered, less invasive than a urine or blood test, and results are immediate.

How Long Does Alcohol Stay in the Body? | Recovery By The Sea

Alcohol Addiction

The consumption of alcohol, even if it’s occasionally excessive, doesn’t necessarily indicate a person is an alcoholic. That said, if the use of alcohol consistently threatens to undermine everyday responsibilities, this may indicate the presence of an alcohol use disorder. The terms alcohol abuse and alcoholism (or being an “alcoholic”) are non-clinical terms that refer to varying degrees of alcohol use disorder (AUD), a diagnostic term used by medical and mental health professionals.

A diagnosis of AUD requires the presence of specific criteria and can include a wide range of cases, from someone who spends more money on alcohol than they can reasonably afford, to someone who regularly blacks out or commits violence while intoxicated. A hallmark indication of alcohol addiction is the inability to stop drinking despite the incurrence of adverse consequences.

Alcohol consumption lessens inhibitions and can lead a drinker to behave in ways they otherwise might not. Because drinking is socially acceptable, if not at times lauded, in many cultures alcohol addiction is a ubiquitous problem. Statistics routinely reveal the staggering association between alcohol use and crime rates.

Effects of Alcohol

The effects of alcohol often begin as pleasant, which is the main reason why people enjoy drinking. Nevertheless, there are many negative short- and long-term side effects and very few, if any, positive long-term effects of alcohol use. Alcohol’s short-term impact on the body is closely related to the person’s BAC.

Short-Term

Short-term effects include the following:

At 0.03–0.12% BAC:

  • Increased self-confidence
  • Reduced attention span
  • Flushed face or skin
  • Improved mood and reduced anxiety
  • Impaired motor coordination
  • Reduced ability to execute good judgment

At 0.09–0.25% BAC:

  • Sedation
  • Memory loss
  • Blurred vision
  • Impaired balance and equilibrium
  • Reduced comprehension and reaction speed
  • Sensory impairments

At 0.25–0.40% BAC:

  • Amnesia
  • Staggered movements
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Incontinence
  • Reduced heart rate
  • Transient consciousness or unconsciousness

At 0.35–0.8% BAC:

  • Absent pupillary light reflex
  • Respiratory depression
  • Stupor
  • Dangerously slow heart rate and weak pulse
  • Coma
  • Death

Alcohol Poisoning

How Long Does Alcohol Stay in the Body? | Recovery By The Sea

A BAC of 0.40% or above can prove life-threatening in many cases. Depending on tolerance, when a person reaches this level, coma or death may be imminent. If someone you know appears to be experiencing severe alcohol poisoning, please call 911 immediately. Do not let them “sleep it off” or leave them alone until help arrives.

Hallmark symptoms of alcohol poisoning include the following:

  • Confusion
  • Severely impaired coordination
  • Vomiting
  • Seizures (uncommon)
  • Reduced body temperature (hypothermia)
  • Paleness or bluing of the skin (cyanosis)
  • Loss of consciousness or passing out
  • Severely depressed breathing (less than eight breaths per minute)

Long-Term

Long-term effects of alcohol abuse include the following:

  • Destruction of brain cells
  • Cognitive impairments and reduced capacity for abstract reasoning
  • Memory loss and poor attention span
  • Reduced sperm count and sperm production
  • Liver diseases such as hepatitis B or C and cirrhosis

Moreover, long-term alcohol abuse increases the risk of heart attack and stroke, as well as that of mouth, larynx, pharynx, breast, esophageal, and gastrointestinal cancers.

Tolerance, Dependence, and Withdrawal

The more a person consumes alcohol, the higher their tolerance becomes. Tolerance is an altered state produced in response to excessive alcohol use that occurs because the body compensates for its presence by dedicating more enzymes to metabolize it more efficiently. This reaction results in a diminished response to alcohol as a result of repeated exposure.

Regarding tolerance, in essence, the body treats alcohol as a poison or toxin, which it is. The liver clears the blood of alcohol at a relatively constant speed. Intoxication occurs when alcohol is consumed at a rate that is faster than the liver can effectively process it. An extreme level of intoxication is also referred to as alcohol poisoning or an alcohol overdose, which occurs when a person consumes an excessive amount of alcohol in a relatively brief period of time.

Tolerance is a defense mechanism used by the body, and effectively reduces a person’s risk of alcohol poisoning. While tolerance does not always coexist with alcohol dependence, the development of a high tolerance is a tell-tale sign of severe alcohol abuse or addiction.

How Long Does Alcohol Stay in the Body? | Recovery By The Sea

Alcohol dependence is characterized by the brain’s need for alcohol to function normally and the onset of withdrawal symptoms when he or she tries to quit or drastically cut back. These symptoms can range in intensity from mild to severe, and, in extreme cases, result in life-threatening complications or even death.

Symptoms of alcohol withdrawal include the following:

  • Sweating
  • Headache
  • Loss of appetite
  • Restlessness
  • Insomnia or nightmares
  • Depression and/or anxiety
  • Shakiness and tremors
  • Irritability and moodiness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Confusion or mental fog
  • Fever
  • Racing heart or palpitations
  • High blood pressure
  • Impaired mental function
  • Hallucinations
  • Extreme disorientation
  • Seizures
  • Delirium tremens

Alcohol withdrawal can also induce severe blood pressure changes, which, in turn, can precipitate a heart attack or stroke.

Treatment for Alcoholism

Alcoholism is a serious and oftentimes devastating disease that can cause a myriad of health problems, financial and/or legal trouble, and put tremendous strain on interpersonal relationships. The longer that active alcoholism remains unaddressed, the greater the chance that these problems, as well as others, will occur.

Alcoholism is a chronic disease, and, unfortunately, there is no perfect cure. Almost no one who is an alcoholic can return to “normal” drinking or functioning, or fully recover their lives when they are engaging in any form of alcohol consumption.

Fortunately, alcoholism is very treatable. Modern treatment employs approaches that are clinically proven to be effective and heavily based in psychotherapy, counseling, group support, and medication-assisted treatment.

Recovery By The Sea offers these services in both partial-hospitalization and outpatient formats. We provide our clients with the tools and support they need to achieve sobriety, prevent relapse, and enjoy long-lasting wellness.

If you believe that you or someone you love is struggling with alcoholism, please contact us as soon as possible to discuss treatment options. We show clients how they can make their lives better and look forward to a fulfilling future free from drugs and alcohol!

Medication for Alcoholism

Medication for Alcoholism | Recovery By The Sea Addiction Treatment

Medication for Alcoholism – The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) states that three medications have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of alcohol use disorder. These medications include disulfiram, naltrexone, and acamprosate.

In addition to these medications, certain drugs such as barbiturates may also be used in a detox setting to prevent life-threatening seizures or other complications that can occur during withdrawal. Medications for alcohol addiction should only be used in accordance with a prescription since they are ineffective unless they are used as directed.

Medication for Alcoholism

1. Disulfiram

Disulfiram (Antabuse) is the earliest anti-alcoholism medication approved by the FDA. When a person uses Antabuse, the body no longer breaks down the toxic alcohol byproduct known as acetaldehyde, causing it to accumulate in the bodies of people who drink while using Antabuse. The presence of this toxin causes extremely unpleasant side effects such as nausea, vomiting, sweating, and headaches.

Ideally, Antabuse should cause a response to alcohol that is so vehemently unpleasant that the alcoholic will avoid drinking at all costs. Nevertheless, alcoholism has proved itself to be a chronic, stubborn disease, and many people in its grip continue to drink even after using Antabuse, or simply stop taking it.

Moreover, Antabuse has a high rate of non-compliance, so physicians are often hesitant to recommend the drug to patients, especially in primary care settings. Research has shown, however, that Antabuse can be an effective component in a comprehensive treatment program that also includes psychotherapy. Still, because it causes a buildup of toxins, drinking excessively while using Antabuse can result in more serious complications, including death.

2. Naltrexone

Naltrexone is commonly marketed under the brand names ReVia (oral tablets) and Vivitrol (monthly injections). This substance’s mechanism of action is as an opioid antagonist, meaning that it interferes with the way the brain responds to opioid exposure, and as a side effect, alcohol as well. Naltrexone blocks some of the receptors in the brain that react to alcohol, thus mitigating its pleasant effects.

When taken orally as a tablet, naltrexone must be used exactly as prescribed for the drug to be effective. When administered as an injection, however, the drug only needs to be used once a month. This ease of use may promote compliance because there is no need to take a daily pill, so the patient cannot offhandedly decide to just skip a dose in favor of relapse.

However, the injectable form can also cause problems of its own, including pain, infection, or tissue destruction at the injection site. Naltrexone in either form can induce side effects such as headaches, nausea, and fatigue. Using too much naltrexone can also lead to liver damage.

Medication for Alcoholism | Recovery By The Sea Addiction Treatment

 

3. Acamprosate

Acamprosate (Campral) is the latest drug to be approved for the treatment of alcoholism. Like naltrexone, acamprosate works on the brain by altering it’s reaction to alcohol so that the person using it is less likely to encounter cravings. Acamprosate may also relieve some of the chronic physical effects of alcohol withdrawal, such as depression, edginess, and sleep disturbances.

Research has shown that alcoholics who used acamprosate had reduced relapse rates and a greater number of sober days than those who didn’t use it. Naltrexone and acamprosate are commonly prescribed in conjunction and make treatment even more effective.

Use of Medication for Alcoholism in a Recovery Program

In addition to self-help groups, counseling and behavioral therapies such as those provided by Recovery By The Sea have historically been the first-line strategies for helping alcoholics achieve sobriety and prevent relapse. While these psychosocial techniques still play a vital role in the treatment of drug and alcohol addiction, the use of medication has also become increasingly important.

A person can benefit from medication-assisted treatment for alcoholism in the following ways:

1. Curb Cravings

Every alcoholic who is in recovery, regardless of how long, faces the risk of relapse. As a person is doing challenging work during recovery from this disease, pharmaceutical drugs such as ReVia and Campral can assist him or her to combat the urge to drink by rendering alcohol less desirable. Ondansetron and topiramate have also been used off-label and may make it easier to sustain abstinence.

2. Provide Greater Incentives

While Antabuse does not have a remarkable compliance rate, this medication has helped many alcoholics resist relapse by making the experience of drinking extraordinarily unpleasant and even dangerous.

3. Psychological Support

Alcohol addiction is a chronic and sometimes unyielding condition, and individuals in recovery usually need far more than one support tool in their arsenal to maintain long-term sobriety. When a person is working his or her way through recovery, the use of medication may provide them with a sense of increased confidence, in that they are actively employing all the resources they have at their disposal.

If you or a loved one is struggling with alcoholism, please contact Recovery By The Sea today and discover how we can help you free yourself from the grips of substance abuse and reclaim the fulfilling life you deserve.

Binge Drinking Effects: 5 Unwanted Problems

Binge Drinking Effects: 5 Unwanted Problems | Recovery By The Sea

Binge Drinking Effects: 5 Unwanted Problems – Binge drinking is among the most common patterns of alcohol abuse in the U.S. Like alcoholism, binge drinking is preventable and treatable if it does occur. And, like full-blown alcohol addiction, it is still a very destructive habit, and the effects can be serious.

Binge drinking is defined as the consumption of alcohol in excessive amounts within a finite period, which could be anywhere from hours to days. People who binge drink also go for extended periods between drinking episodes, ranging from days to weeks. Binge drinking is comparable to social drinking, except people consume much more alcohol, so the consequences tend to be more severe.

Binge drinking not only affects the individual but also affects those around them. Those who binge drink, particularly for a prolonged period, face a higher risk of developing side effects and incurring social, legal, and financial troubles as a result.

Binge Drinking Effects

Binge drinking effects are numerous, but aside from the classic hangover and regrets the next day, the most common and undesirable effects include the following:

1. Drinking and Driving

Operating a vehicle, such as a car, truck, motorcycle or boat after consuming too much alcohol is a serious crime. Driving under the influence (DUI), driving while intoxicated (DWI), or Operating While Impaired (OWI) involves operating a motorized vehicle with a blood alcohol content (BAC) level of 0.08% or higher.

The group most at risk for drinking and driving are those who binge drink or are suffering from an alcohol use disorder (AUD). It takes around 30 minutes to two hours for alcohol to be absorbed into the bloodstream. During this time, breathing may be reduced, cognitive skills may be delayed, and motor skills may become impaired, thus making the choice to drive a dangerous one.

2. Accidental Injuries

By definition, binge drinkers drink a large amount of alcohol during each session. During abstinence, their level of tolerance decreases again, and this results in a higher chance of getting more intoxicating than if they were to drink consistently.

Because it is a central nervous system depressant, as a person consumes more and more alcohol, their vision becomes distorted, thought processes become skewed, decision-making skills go out the window, and ability to function correctly diminishes. Globally, there are more than five million deaths from alcohol-related injuries reported each year.

The most common alcohol-related causes of death include the following:

  • Falls
  • Drowning
  • Alcohol Poisoning
  • Drunk driving-related injuries
  • Acts of violence against oneself or others

Because alcohol impacts the brain and motor functions quickly and negatively, anyone who drinks in excess – be it chronically or occasionally – is at significant risk for experiencing these consequences.

3. Alcohol Poisoning

Binge Drinking Effects: 5 Unwanted Problems | Recovery By The Sea

Alcohol poisoning is always caused by some form of excessive drinking and is one of the most dangerous side effects of heavy alcohol consumption. As the amount of ingested alcohol increases, the more likely it becomes that a person will experience symptoms of alcohol poisoning. Essential bodily functions begin to decline rapidly when alcohol is abundant in the system.

Alcohol poisoning can be quite severe, depending on the amount of alcohol consumed. An overdose of this nature is more common among drinkers with a lower tolerance to alcohol, such as binge drinkers.

Because alcohol enters the bloodstream and courses throughout the whole body, regions of the brain that control basic but critical bodily functions such as breathing, heart rate, and temperature begin to shut down. Alcohol poisoning can result in unresponsiveness, coma, and, if left untreated, death.

4. Memory Blackouts

A blackout is characterized by memory loss due to alcohol or drug abuse. It is most common among those who have drunk too much alcohol. Blacking out from drinking can occur when a person’s blood alcohol content (BAC) reaches 0.15 or higher.

Blacking out does not mean that a drinker becomes unconscious, passes out, or falls asleep. Rather, people continue to interact with others, engage in regular or potentially hazardous behaviors, and even continue to drink more. People who blackout may drive themselves home, participate in a sexual encounter, spend too much money, physically injure themselves or others, or engage in other risky behaviors.

5. Liver Disease

Among the most severe consequences of long-term alcohol abuse are chronic conditions such as liver disease. There are three types of liver disease associated with alcohol consumption: fatty liver, alcoholic hepatitis, and cirrhosis.

Fatty liver disease can occur after acute alcohol ingestion (such as binge drinking) and is generally reversible with abstinence. A fatty liver does not appear to predispose a patient to any chronic form of liver disease if abstinence or moderation is maintained after the initial condition has improved.

Alcoholic hepatitis is another acute form of alcohol-related liver injury that occurs with the consumption of a large amount of alcohol over an extended period. Alcoholic hepatitis effects can be asymptomatic, ultimately lead to liver failure and death, or fall anywhere in between.

Cirrhosis is a chronic disease that involves the replacement of normal liver cells with extensive, thick bands of fibrous scar tissue, which can eventually lead to portal hypertension and liver failure.

Getting Treatment for Binge Drinking

Binge drinking can damage one’s life, health, and relationships. Fortunately, alcohol use disorders are treatable, and it’s never to late ask for help and begin the journey to recovery.

Recovery By The Sea can help you or some close to you regain control of life. If you or someone you know is actively engaging in binge drinking or suffering from alcoholism, contact us today to discuss treatment options. Our trained professional staff can help you find the right treatment program to suit your personal needs and provide you with the tools you need to achieve long-lasting wellness and sobriety!

Physical Signs of Alcoholism

Physical Signs of Alcoholism | Recovery by the Sea

Alcoholism is a disease that is commonly stigmatized by society, and for this reason, many people who abuse alcohol and those close to them deny or overlook overt signs of abuse. This is a destructive and potentially life-threatening approach, however, as abuse can rapidly turn into an addiction, and devastating health, legal, social, and financial consequences can occur at any time.

Physical signs of alcoholism include, but are not limited to the following:

  • The smell of alcohol on the breath
  • Noticeable weight loss or gain
  • Flushing appearance and broken capillaries on the face
  • Brittle hair and fingernails
  • Dry skin
  • Lack of personal hygiene
  • Premature aging such as wrinkles and age spots
  • Intoxication-related bruises due to accidents or violence
  • Jaundice (yellowing of skin and eyes) indicating liver dysfunction

If you or someone you are close to is exhibiting these signs, an addiction to alcohol may be developing or full-blown. It’s critical that alcohol abusers and their loved ones identify the warning signs of alcoholism and seek help before it’s too late.

Hiding or Lying About Drinking Habits

People who have a drinking problem tend to conceal and be deceptive about their habit, expecting that others might not notice or those who are suspicious will not garner enough evidence to be convinced that a severe problem is ensuing.

Moreover, those with a drinking problem tend to engage in the following behavior:

  • Drinking alone or hiding in their room or somewhere locked away to drink.
  • Lying about drinking habits.
  • Go to great lengths to be secretive, such as buying alcohol from different stores to avoid making people around them suspicious.

Not Being Able to Stop Binge Drinking and Experiencing Blackouts

Physical Signs of Alcoholism | Recovery by the Sea

If a person regularly finds that he can’t stop drinking until alcohol is depleted, a blackout occurs, or he passes out, the person likely has a severe drinking problem. Not being able to regulate how much one drinks is a clear indicator of alcohol abuse.

If drinking results in a blackout and the person emerges from the episode with little or no memory of it, this indicates that he or she has drunk way too much. If these episodes are frequent, they point to a drinking problem.

Drinking in Risky Situations, Inviting Trouble, and Being Impulsive

If someone has an alcohol use disorder, she will drink despite knowing about (and even having experienced) the adverse consequences in which these actions may result. A person will often exhibit the following behavior:

  • Drinking despite a doctor’s warnings.
  • Consuming alcohol despite awareness of an underlying health condition – such as heart disease or liver cirrhosis – that the use of alcohol will exacerbate.
  • Drinking and driving a motor vehicle or operating machinery, sometimes even after being charged with a DUI or other crime involving alcohol use.
  • Drinking alcohol before going to work or school.
  • Stealing money or other items to obtain alcohol.

Such risky behavior reveals that the person is intoxicated to the point that he is less capable of understanding the consequences of his actions and prioritizes alcohol over personal well-being or the safety of others.

Denial

Hiding a drinking problem often goes far beyond deception and into straight denial. It’s extremely common for people who abuse alcohol to deny they have a problem or minimize it. They do so to justify their actions or to assure others that their habits are not concerning.

The following are common characteristics of denial:

  • Understating how much alcohol one consumes
  • Disregarding or minimizing negative consequences of drinking
  • Asserting that people who voice concern are exaggerating
  • Blaming drinking habits on other people, such as a spouse, or circumstances beyond one’s control
  • Believing that a drinking habit is not a problem because one is functioning in the workplace or at school
  • Contending that the habits of “real” alcoholics are worse than oneself (e.g., drinking liquor versus beer or drinking every day)

Alcohol Has Become the Focus of Life

The person who has a drinking problem has few things in mind besides alcohol and when she can have the next drink. These are signs that a person is becoming preoccupied with alcohol:

  • Spending excessive amounts of time seeking, obtaining, and consuming alcohol as well as recovering from the effects of drinking
  • Spending money on alcohol to the point of financial distress
  • Seeking out and attending only activities where alcohol is being served and consumed
  • Preferring to hang out with people who have a drinking or drug problem than family or loved ones who do not drink

Giving up Hobbies and Activities Once Enjoyed

Physical Signs of Alcoholism | Recovery by the Sea

People who have an alcohol use disorder tend to forgo hobbies and activities they once considered enjoyable. These choices can be the result of physical symptoms, and it is also likely that after engaging in alcohol-related activities, these persons have no time or energy left for activities they once relished.

Drinking as an Escape from Life’s Stresses

Many people who begin drinking do so as a way to escape stressful conditions in their environment or to self-medicate away negative feelings such as depression, anger, frustration, resentment, or sadness.

These are common signs of a drinking problem:

  • Drinking due to stress or to ignore problems
  • Believing that just one drink can help one manage stress and feel better
  • Consuming alcohol to feel “normal” or to relax

Performance at the Workplace or School is Suffering

Chronic alcoholism takes over the life of the user. Focusing on and spending time on obtaining/using alcohol and battling the physical and emotional effects of alcohol use render a person far less capable of performing up to par in other areas of life.

The following consequences may indicate a drinking problem:

  • Falling or failing grades in school
  • Absenteeism at work or school
  • Worsening performance at the workplace

Neglecting Duties and Obligations

Those who abuse alcohol often neglect their personal and professional duties and responsibilities for the following reasons:

  • They are intoxicated or recovering from intoxication, they are physically incapable of completing the tasks required of them.
  • They are mentally incapable of concentrating on duties and carrying them out competently.
  • They would rather dedicate their time, physical energy, and focus on activities associated with alcohol use.

Maintaining Relationships is Challenging

People who abuse alcohol often find it difficult to form and maintain healthy relationships. Moreover, they may exhibit the following behavior that is detrimental to relationships:

  • They are deceptive about their drinking habits.
  • They are irritated, aggressive or violent with others who confront them with concerns.
  • They sometimes blame loved ones for their drinking habits.
  • They isolate themselves from others to hide their drinking habit or to avoid questions and accusations.
  • They voluntarily break ties with loved ones when they feel they are trying to interfere.
  • They neglect responsibilities, which puts a physical or financial burden on loved ones.
  • They may find themselves in legal trouble due to alcohol-related crimes.

Finally, covering up for the transgressions of a loved one or misleading others about a friend or family member’s alcoholism tends to strain relationships, especially over a long period.

Physical Signs of Alcoholism – Developing a Tolerance

Chronic alcohol use almost always results in the building of a tolerance, meaning that the person progressively needs more drinks to achieve the same level of intoxication. Increasing tolerance should serve as a clear signal that abuse is developing into an addiction.

Physical Signs of Alcoholism – Experiencing Withdrawal Symptoms

The presence of withdrawal symptoms is another indisputable sign of alcoholism. The occurrence of these symptoms indicates that the body has gotten so accustomed to having alcohol in the system that it responds violently when drinking is discontinued.

The following are classic alcohol withdrawal symptoms:

  • Anxiety and irritability
  • Tremors
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Depression
  • Insomnia and sleep disturbances.
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Loss of appetite

Not Being Able to Quit Despite Numerous Attempts

Physical Signs of Alcoholism | Recovery by the Sea

The physical and emotional damage that alcoholism can cause is well documented and backed up by a tremendous amount of evidence. Many people who have a drinking problem are informed about these potential consequences and as a result, genuinely want to quit.

Others wish to reclaim their lives, professional careers, or relationships that alcohol use has destroyed. Having the desire to stop drinking and failing/relapsing is a definite sign of alcoholism.

Treatment for Alcohol Addiction

People who experience alcoholism or drug addiction are encouraged to undergo a medical detox followed closely by a transition to long-term addiction treatment, which should include evidence-based approaches such as behavioral therapy and group counseling.

Treatment is offered by our center on an inpatient (residential) or outpatient basis. Regardless of format, our services are delivered by caring medical and mental health professionals who provide our clients with the skills they need to fully recover and experience happiness and sobriety for the rest of their lives.

You can reclaim your life and the wellness and harmony you deserve! Please contact us now!

Alcohol and Diabetes

Alcohol and Diabetes | Recovery by the Sea

Alcohol and Diabetes – Substance use disorders are characterized by the abuse of alcohol or drugs that causes multiple physical and mental impairments in addition to a loss of social, academic, and professional functions. An otherwise healthy individual may experience a reversal of many of these problems if he or she receives substance abuse treatment and quits drinking.

However, this may not hold true for persons with diabetes – substance abuse can be immediately life-threatening in ways that would not affect others.

Types of Diabetes

Diabetes, also referred to as diabetes mellitus, is a condition in which the body is unable to regulate blood sugar levels properly. There are two forms known as type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

Type 1 diabetes, also known as insulin-dependent or juvenile diabetes, develops as a result of a loss of cells in the pancreas responsible for making insulin, and therefore, leads to a lack of production of insulin. Type 1 diabetes is often diagnosed in childhood.

Type 2 diabetes, which is more common, is caused by the body’s inability to use insulin properly and is referred to as insulin resistance. At the onset, the pancreas starts to make extra insulin in an effort to override the body’s resistance, but eventually, the pancreas cannot produce the amount of insulin needed to maintain blood sugar levels.

Uncontrolled Diabetes – Medical Problems

Alcohol and Diabetes | Recovery by the Sea

Uncontrolled diabetes may lead to dangerous conditions such as hyperglycemia or hypoglycemia. Hyperglycemia is described as abnormally high blood sugar levels, which happens when insulin in the body is insufficient. Hypoglycemia, conversely, refers to abnormally low blood sugar levels and occurs when there is a surplus of insulin in the body and inadequate sugar in the blood as glucose.

Both of these complications can result in dangerous health problems such as the following:

  • Organ damage if hyperglycemia develops
  • Increased vulnerability to high blood pressure
  • Damage to blood vessels in the eyes, which can result in blindness
  • Nerve damage (diabetic neuropathy) which can cause skin ulcers and other injuries that heal inadequately
  • Paralysis and the amputation of limbs as a result of nerve damage or other injuries
  • Blood vessel damage in the heart, which raises the risk of atherosclerosis, strokes, and cardiac arrest
  • Coma or death due to either hyperglycemia or hypoglycemia

Also, when insulin levels are insufficient, the body may begin to break down fat to use as energy, but this, in turn, causes acids called ketones to accumulate in the bloodstream. This condition is known as diabetic ketoacidosis and is a medical emergency. Complications such as these are exacerbated by alcohol or drug abuse. Finally, alcohol abuse in conjunction with a poor diet has been identified as possible causes for type 2 diabetes.

Alcohol and Diabetes: The Impact

If a person with diabetes already experiences high blood pressure, nerve damage, or eye problems, the use of alcohol is not recommended. This is because, at least in part, wine and beer contain carbohydrates that can be transformed into glucose (sugar) and therefore, drinking alcohol may cause blood sugar levels to increase rapidly.

Alcohol Impairs the Liver

Drinking alcohol also prevents the liver from releasing stored glucose, which can result in dangerously low blood sugar levels. It takes approximately two hours for the liver to break down the alcohol that is contained in just a single drink. This energy spent could be otherwise used for the regular release of stored glucose.

Overall, alcohol reduces the body’s reaction time, interrupts the liver’s ability to release glucose, and may cause individuals with diabetes to develop hypoglycemia gradually.

For people with Type 1 diabetes, even a small amount of alcohol can lead to the onset of hypoglycemia hours later. These types of problems can worsen substantially for individuals with diabetes who drink heavily.

And terrifyingly, the symptoms of intoxication and hypoglycemia can be similar. Failure to identify a hypoglycemic episode (versus alcohol intoxication) can result in the diabetic person not receiving appropriate care.

Alcohol Exacerbates Nerve Damage

Alcohol and Diabetes | Recovery by the Sea

Among the complications of unmanaged diabetes is nerve damage, and excessive alcohol use can make the symptoms worse. When diabetic nerve damage develops, it can impact both sensory and motor function.

Alcohol abuse can also result in hyperalgesia, a condition in which damaged nerves become more sensitive to pain. Moreover, if a person with diabetes is already encountering pain from nerve damage, heavy alcohol use can significantly intensify the amount of pain experienced.

Also, alcohol abuse can cause the perpetual release of certain hormones that function to control pain and limit additional damage to the body. What occurs, however, is a continued increase in central nervous system activity, which will actually serve to increase pain signaling.

Ultimately, excessive alcohol intake makes it much more difficult for the body to manage pain developed from diabetic nerve damage, and in doing so, causes the person’s condition to worsen dramatically.

Alcohol Abuse and Eye Problems

Alcohol abuse can exacerbate any eye disease that is due to diabetes. Alcohol decreases brain activity, which causes pupils to respond slower and thus hinders their ability to widen or constrict correctly.

Over time, this can also permanently weaken the eye muscles, and as a result, heavy alcohol use can result in blurry vision permanent double vision – especially in diabetics who already have existing vision problems.

Alcohol consumption also prompts blood vessels in the eyes to swell, and this causes the characteristic red, bloodshot appearance.

Other Problems Associated with Alcohol and Diabetes – Food and Medication

Alcohol and Diabetes | Recovery by the Sea

Alcohol also diminishes the effectiveness of insulin injections/pumps that many type 1 diabetics use, as well as certain medications that foster insulin activity in type 2 diabetics. Some diabetes drugs (such as sulfonylureas and meglitinides) also lower blood glucose levels by stimulating the pancreas to make more insulin. Combining the blood-sugar-reducing effects of the medication with alcohol can result in hypoglycemia.

Drinking alcohol can dramatically increase hunger in many people, and intoxicated persons often make unfortunate food choices, overeat, forget to eat, and sometimes eat but then forget just a short time later that they consumed food. The combination of overeating in addition to alcohol’s potential to reduce the effectiveness of medication can easily lead to high blood sugar levels (hyperglycemia).

Finally, alcohol has a lot of calories and doesn’t do great things for the body’s metabolic rate. For people who are overweight, which is common among those with type 2 diabetes, drinking alcohol will only add empty calories and make it very difficult, if not impossible to lose weight.

Treatment for Alcoholism

Alcoholism is a devastating disease regardless of the individual’s physical or mental well-being, but people with diabetes are at a much higher risk of life-threatening problems and irreversible damage to one’s health.

Alcohol addiction is most effectively treated with a comprehensive approaching that includes detox, therapy, counseling, group support, and long-term aftercare. Our center offers 24/7 supervision on an inpatient basis, as well as intensive outpatient treatment for those who have completed an inpatient stay or require a more flexible schedule for treatment.

If you or someone you love has an alcohol use disorder, please contact us as soon as possible. You CAN regain your life and experience the happiness and wellness you deserve!

Alcohol Detox at Home

Alcohol Detox at Home | Recovery by the Sea

For those with an alcohol addiction, quitting for good can seem like an impossibility. Alcohol dependency results in highly unpleasant withdrawal symptoms and cravings upon cessation, and it is these effects that often compel would-be recoverers to relapse.

While staging an alcohol detox at home without medical supervision is not advised and in rare cases can be fatal, people do frequently choose this method. Those who, for whatever reason, must forego a clinical detox should be aware of the risks involved and under no circumstances should do it without someone else there in case of a medical emergency.

The Risks

Some people opt for an alcohol detox at home for comfort reasons. Keep in mind, however, that this “comfort” is often more psychological than physical. Moreover, physical comfort and safety are often better achieved with a clinical detox, as medications can be administered that alleviate many of the worst – and possibly life-threating – symptoms of withdrawal.

Unfortunately, there is much uncertainty associated with detox from alcohol. Relapse aside, there is also a very real possibility of severe depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideations. Finally, a condition known as Delirium Tremens (DTs) can occur. Symptoms include confusion, hallucinations, and seizures, and complications can ultimately result in death.

Preparation

If you do decide that detoxing at home is right for you, it’s critical that you do it safely. Here are some things to consider when undergoing an alcohol detox at home:

  • Remove all alcoholic beverages from your home – this may sound obvious, but it’s an essential first step when self-detoxing. Moreover, when you first begin experiencing withdrawal symptoms, you may not be able to control your cravings. It’s far better to avoid the temptation altogether.
  • Free up your schedule – For some, clearing one’s schedule for days or weeks may seem implausible, but it’s necessary for a detox to be successful. There will likely be benefits from taking time off work or school and relinquishing some responsibilities – at least temporarily – to focus on recovery.
  • Find support – Just because you’re undergoing an alcohol detox at home doesn’t mean you should suffer through it alone. Find a friend or family member who can keep you safe during the process and who can get help if withdrawal symptoms get too serious.

Nutrition and Hydration During Alcohol Detox

Alcohol Detox at Home | Recovery by the Sea

When your body is going through withdrawals, food will probably be the last thing on your mind. Alcohol withdrawal causes a wide variety of symptoms including fatigue, anxiety, depression, loss of appetite, nausea, and vomiting.

These symptoms typically last between 24-72 hours and may significantly curb your appetite.

Remember that these symptoms are normal, but make sure you drink plenty of fluids and stay hydrated during this time as it will help rid your body of toxins.

Water, juice, and broth are healthy choices during the early stages of withdrawal. Don’t forget, however, that eating healthy is an important part of your recovery because alcohol alters how your body breaks down and uses nutrients.

Once you can start eating again, it’s crucial to focus on consuming a healthy, balanced diet. Eat foods from all food groups in sufficient amounts to help meet your caloric needs. Eat as many fruits and vegetables as you can stand, but don’t neglect whole grains and lean protein.

Take Vitamin and Mineral Supplements

If you’ detox at a hospital or inpatient or outpatient addiction treatment center, you will usually be prescribed medications to help relieve withdrawal symptoms. At home, you won’t have that luxury. But there are vitamins and mineral supplements you can take, however, that can be beneficial and help remove toxins. Some of these include B vitamins, vitamin C, vitamin E, calcium, magnesium, and multivitamins.

Pros and Cons

Alcohol Detox at Home | Recovery by the Sea

Alcohol detox can be a hazardous process, which is why most medical professionals and addiction experts believe it is best handled in a reputable clinical environment.

Alcohol detoxification causes physical and emotional symptoms that can be severe, and in many cases, very challenging to suffer through without medical assistance.

While detoxing at home may seem like the best method financially, it’s also very risky. While an alcohol detox at home is most often discouraged by medical professionals, it can be done. If you opt to detox from alcohol at home, make sure you’re in a safe, alcohol-free environment and have access to support from family and/or friends who can help you get through it.

Please remember, if at any point the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal are too painful or severe, you should seek help from a medical professional immediately.

Treatment for Alcohol or Drug Addiction

If you are able to undergo a medical detox, this will be the first step in treatment for addiction. Those who detox at home should also strongly consider professional treatment following this process. Once the body has rid itself of toxins, those seeking a full recovery should seek participation in either an inpatient or outpatient environment that includes evidence-based approaches such as behavioral therapy, counseling, and group support.

Our programs are comprehensive, customized, and include medical and mental health staff who specialize in addiction. We can provide you with the tools and support you need to regain your life and enjoy longstanding sobriety, happiness, and wellness.

How Does Alcohol Affect the Brain?

How Does Alcohol Affect the Brain? | Recovery by the Sea

Short-term effects of alcohol use on the brain are evident – impaired people exhibit difficulty walking, slower reaction times, blurred vision, slurred speech, and memory problems. Some of these effects are identifiable after only a drink or two and rapidly abates once the drinking stops. But alcohol’s effect on the brain goes far beyond short-term manifestations.

Moreover, an individual who consumes an excessive amount of alcohol over an extended period of time may develop brain deficits that continue long after he or she becomes sober.

Researchers now know that heavy drinking can have extensive and longstanding effects on the brain, ranging from memory lapses to a permanent, debilitation condition that requires custodial or palliative care. In fact, even moderate drinking can result in temporary impairment.

Several factors influence how and to what degree alcohol impacts the brain, including the following:

  • How frequently and how much an individual drinks
  • The age that a person begins drinking, and the duration of regular drinking
  • The individual’s age, education level, gender, genetic profile, and family history of alcohol and drug use
  • If the person is at risk due to exposure to alcohol in utero
  • General health status and overall wellness

The following describes some common disorders associated with alcohol-related brain damage and the individuals at a heightened risk for impairment.

Blackouts and Memory Loss

How Does Alcohol Affect the Brain? | Recovery by the Sea

Alcohol use can lead to identifiable memory impairments after just a few drinks, and the extent of the impairment increases in correspondence with alcohol consumption. Large amounts of alcohol, particularly when drank rapidly and/or without food can result in a “blackout” – a period of time in which an intoxicated individual later cannot remember some of all events that transpired.

Blackouts are more common among social drinkers than once thought and can be a result of acute intoxication regardless of whether the consumer is dependent upon (or addicted to) alcohol.

In one study, nearly 800 college undergraduates were surveyed about their experiences with blackouts after a night of drinking. Of those who had ever drunk alcohol, more than half (51%) reported blacking out at some time in their lives, and 40% reported experiencing a blackout in the past year.

Among those who reported consuming alcohol in the two weeks before the survey, 9.4% stated they had a blackout during that time. The students said they learned later than they had engaged in potentially hazardous activities they could not remember including unprotected sex and drinking and driving.

Binge Drinking

Drinkers who experience blackouts generally consume too much alcohol too quickly, causing their blood alcohol concentration to increase rapidly. College students may be at an especially high risk for blackouts, considering a large number engage in binge drinking (defined as consuming four to five or more drinks in two hours for women and men, respectively.)

An equal number of women and men report experiencing blackouts, despite the fact that men tend to drink more often and more heavily. This fact implies that regardless of the amount consumed, women may be at a greater risk than men for experiencing blackouts.

A female’s propensity to black out more easily likely results from variations in how women and men metabolize alcohol. Women may also be more vulnerable than men to lesser forms of alcohol-related memory lapses or impairments, even when both sexes drink similar amounts of alcohol.

Are Women More Vulnerable?

How Does Alcohol Affect the Brain | Recovery by the Sea

Women are more susceptible to many of the physical and mental consequences of alcohol abuse. For example, women with alcoholism develop liver cirrhosis, alcohol-related heart disease, and nerve damage after fewer years of heavy alcohol consumption than do male drinkers. But what about brain damage?

In two studies, brain shrinkage (a common indicator of brain damage) was compared between alcoholic men and women and control subjects, and both revealed that drinkers had significantly greater shrinkage. Research has also shown that both women and men have comparable learning and memory impairments as a consequence of heavy alcohol consumption.

The main difference was that alcoholic females reported that they have been using alcohol excessively for only around half the time of the alcoholic males – suggesting that women’s brains, similar to other organs, may be more susceptible to alcohol-related damage than men’s.

Brain Damage via Other Causes

Individuals who have been consuming excessive amounts of alcohol for long intervals face the risk of developing severe and persistent brain changes – damage may be a consequence of alcohol’s direct effects or may result indirectly from poor health or liver disease.

Moreover, a deficiency in thiamine is a common result for individuals with alcoholism and results from poor nutrition. Thiamine (B1) is a key nutrient needed by all tissues, and the brain is no exception. Thiamine can be found in foods such as meat, whole grains, nuts, beans, and peas. In fact, many foods in the U.S. are often fortified with thiamine, such as bread and cereals. As a result, most people ingest a sufficient amount of thiamine.

Wernicke–Korsakoff Syndrome (WKS)

As many as 4 in 5 alcoholics, however, experience a thiamine deficiency, and some of these will eventually develop brain disorders such as Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome (WKS.) WKS is a condition that includes two separate syndromes, a brief but severe disease known as Wernicke’s encephalopathy and a longstanding and debilitation conditions referred to as Korsakoff’s psychosis.

Wernicke’s encephalopathy symptoms include confusion, oculomotor disturbances (nerve paralysis of the eyes) and poor muscle coordination. For example, people with Wernicke’s may be too confused to navigate out of a room or may not even be able to walk.

A large percentage – around 80-90% – of alcoholics with Wernicke’s also develop Korsakoff’s psychosis, a long-term syndrome characterized by learning and memory impairments. People with Korsakoff’s are forgetful, easily frustrated, and have difficulty with coordination.

While these patients have trouble recalling old information, it is their difficulty in obtaining new information that is the most prominent. For example, these people may be able to discuss, in detail, an event earlier in their lives, but an hour later may not remember engaging in the conversation.

Liver Disease

How Does Alcohol Affect the Brain? | Recovery by the Sea

A relatively unknown consequence of liver dysfunction (e.g., cirrhosis) is damage to the brain. This damage can result in a severe and potentially fatal brain disorder referred to as hepatic encephalopathy, a condition that can cause altered sleep patterns, mood, and personality, in addition to anxiety and depression, shortened attention plan, and problems with coordination.

Researchers have studied the brain regions of patients with alcoholic liver disease and found that at least two toxic byproducts, manganese and ammonia, play a role in the development of hepatic encephalopathy. Liver cells damaged by alcohol use permit an excessive amount of these harmful substances to enter the brain and damage brain cells.

Treatment for Alcoholism

The best way to prevent alcohol-related brain damage, whether short- or long-term, is to stop drinking and participate in our evidence-based treatment program. Our center offers comprehensive, evidence-based therapies and counseling in both inpatient and outpatient formats.

Our professional staff specialize in addiction and can provide our patients with the tools they need to succeed at recovery and sustain long standing wellness and sobriety. Recovery from addiction is a lifelong process, but you don’t have to do it alone. With our help, you regain your sanity and enjoy the happy and fulfilling life you deserve.

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