Thursday, April 10, 2008

Alcohol Addiction

What does addiction mean?
When a person has lost control over the drug or drinks he or she uses, then it is called as addiction. Besides alcohol or some illegal drugs, people get addicted to cigarettes, medications and even glue. Addiction can often be psychological, physical or both. The need to have the specific substance or drug is the most significant sign of an addiction.

Addiction to Alcohol – Alcoholism
The persistent use of alcoholic beverages despite health problems and negative effects is generally known as alcoholism. Medically, alcoholism can be described as a disease that results in continued use of alcohol despite negative consequences. It is basically the inability to understand the negative consequences of alcohol consumption. Alcoholism, as per the American Medical Association is the primary chronic disease that is characterized by loss of control over drinking, use of alcohol despite negative effects and even distortions in thinking.
What are the primary and secondary effects of alcoholism?

It induces the sufferer to drink at times and in damaging amounts. This is perhaps the primary effect of alcoholism. The impaired ability to have control over drinking is the secondary damage due to alcoholism.
Even after the health problems start, it is common for an alcohol addict to drink well. The health problems that are related to excessive alcohol consumption are pancreatitis, increased chance of cancer, liver cirrhosis, polyneuropathy, heart diseases epilepsy, alcoholic dementia, sexual dysfunction, nutritional deficiencies and also death from all kind of sources.
How does alcoholism affect socially?
The consumption of alcohol during duty hours can lead to loss of employment and thus creating financial problems. The intake of alcohol at inappropriate times can cause legal consequences, which includes criminal charges for tortuous behavior, public disorder, and drunk driving. The behavior due to reduced judgment of a drunken person can lead to the imposition of civil penalties on that person. The impact caused by an alcoholic’s behavior can be significant. The mental impairment of a drunken person due to increased consumption of alcohol can affect the surrounding family and friends. This could lead to domestic violence, divorce and marital conflict. As a result, the emotional development of the alcoholic’s children can be drastically affected.

What are the issues related to alcohol withdrawal?
When an alcohol addict stops drinking, he may find very difficult without alcohol. The person may feel very uneasy. This is known as withdrawal. The withdrawal from alcohol differs very much from that of other types of drugs due to the fact that it could be fatal directly. If mismanaged, a healthy alcoholic could die due to the direct withdrawal effects. The production of a neuroinhibitor known as GABA could be very much reduced due to heavy consumption of alcohol. When the consumption of alcohol is stopped abruptly, it leads to a condition where both GABA and alcohol to be in inadequate quantities in the system as a result causes the firing of the synapses in uncontrolled manner. This manifests as convulsions, hallucinations, seizures, shakes and even heart failure. These are together referred as delirium tremens. A medically directed detox can be used to control all these withdrawal problems.

What impact does alcoholism have on society?
The general perception of the health problems related to long-term alcoholism is that it is detrimental to the society. The most important factor for causing vehicle accidents, head injuries, assaults and violence is the use of alcohol. It causes pain induces suffering and causes money problems to alcoholic affected and others around the person. Fetal alcohol syndrome is an incurable condition caused by consumption of alcohol by a pregnant woman. Due to its wide impact on the society parliaments and governments have formulated alcohol policies to control the problems of alcoholism.

How to treat Alcoholism?
Since there are many perspectives for alcoholism, treating an alcohol addict is quite varied. Persons approaching alcoholism as a disease or medical condition suggest differing treatments than those who approach it as one of social option. The main focus of treatment is on aiding people to stop their alcohol consumption. It is then followed up with life training and social supporting so as to help them withstand a return to use of alcohol. Alcoholism treatment should prevent a relapse since alcoholism encourages a person to continue consumption of alcoholism. Detoxification is an example of this kind of treatment. It is then followed by combination of providing support through introducing to the self-help groups. The treatment to alcoholism is based on zero tolerance approach and harm reduction approach.

How effective is the treatments?
As far as the effectiveness of the treatment is concerned, it varies widely. When the effectiveness of alcoholism treatment is taken into account, the rate of success should be based on those who enter the program, but not on those who complete the program. Qualification of success is the completion of the program. So the success rate among the persons who complete the program is nearly 100%. It is vital to consider not just the success rate, but also the relapsing rate. A year after the completion of the rehabilitation program the results show that roughly a third of the alcohol addicts are sober, 40% of alcoholics have improved substantially but still consume occasionally, and a quarter of the persons have totally relapsed.

Rehabilitation Program – A Good Treatment
The integral part of the rehabilitation program is the detoxification, which is abrupt stopping of alcohol consumption coupled with replacing drugs having same effects in order to prevent alcohol withdrawal. The detoxification is followed by group therapy and psychotherapy. Detoxification treats physical effects and psychotherapy deals with psychological issues related addiction to alcohol. The next step is rationing and moderation programs. Then, providing the medication, which is the vital part of the rehabilitation program. It is considered as part of the treatment for alcoholism. The medication includes medications for withdrawal and detoxification known as Delirium treatments, and medications for long – term usage.


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