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Ohio Alcohol Addiction

 

Ohio Alcohol Addiction is quickly becoming a public health problem. In 2014, there were more than 12,000 alcohol-related motor vehicle collisions across the state. It is estimated that Ohio alcohol addiction costs taxpayers more than $1.3 billion to subsidize the high cost of drunk driving deaths each year.

While most people can enjoy a drink on occasion without becoming addicted, drinking alcohol at irresponsible levels can increase the risk of developing an addiction to the substance.

 

What is Alcohol Addiction?

Most people do not understand how or why people become addicted to alcohol. It is a common belief that it should be possible for a person to stop drinking with just a little willpower. In reality, alcohol addiction is a chronic relapsing disease of the brain that requires intensive treatment in order to recover.

 

Statistics for Ohio Alcohol Addiction and Abuse

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism released figures indicating that nearly 17 million Americans had a drinking problem throughout 2012, and around 8.1 million are considered alcoholics. Several million more people also admitted to involvement in risky drinking behaviors that have a high risk of leading to more severe drinking problems.

Of the number of people with an alcohol abuse disorder, only 3.1 million of them received any type of professional treatment to deal with the problem.

It is estimated that around 88,000 deaths each year are caused by alcohol abuse, according to figures released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). One-third of those deaths are the result of alcohol-related accidents, such as motor vehicle crashes, drowning, head injuries, and suicides.

 

What Does Exposure to Alcohol Do to the Body?

Alcohol can have a negative effect on every major organ in the body. There are many studies that link heavy drinking with symptoms of depression, which is not surprising considering alcohol is a central nervous system depressant.

Abusing alcohol can speed up the rate at which certain areas in the brain shrink, which causes memory loss and dementia. Heavy drinking can also cause seizures in people who were not previously epileptic.

The heart is also negatively affected by alcohol. Heavy drinking puts the heart under a lot of stress, which increases the risk of developing an irregular heartbeat, causing damage to the heart muscle, and weakening of the heart muscle. People who abuse alcohol have a greater risk of heart attack, high blood pressure, and stroke.

Alcohol is toxic to liver cells, causing alcoholic hepatitis, inflammation of the liver, fatty liver, and cirrhosis. It is also a known cancer-causing carcinogen, capable of increasing the risk of developing some types of cancer, including cancer of the throat, esophagus, mouth, larynx, liver, colon, and breast.

 

How Does Alcohol Addiction Develop?

Alcohol is a depressant that acts directly on the central nervous system. The presence of alcohol in the system causes the brain to trigger stimulatory hormones called dopamine in an attempt to counteract the effects of the substance. Dopamine is the body’s natural ‘feel good’ chemical, and therefore drinking alcohol creates an artificial reward that the brain interprets as creating pleasure.

Over time, the brain becomes accustomed to functioning in the presence of alcohol and is eventually tricked into believing that it cannot produce dopamine on its own.

Tolerance to alcohol builds relatively quickly, therefore the person needs to consume increased amounts of alcohol in order to feel the same effects that used to take much smaller amounts.

If alcohol consumption is stopped suddenly, a person with an addiction may experience horrible withdrawal symptoms. The result shows as intense cravings to drink more alcohol in order to restore pleasurable feelings and to avoid the onset of withdrawal symptoms.

An alcohol abuser still has a level of ability to limit the amount they drink. By comparison, a person struggling with alcoholism no longer has any control over their drinking.

 

Signs and Symptoms of Alcohol Abuse

Common sign and symptoms of alcohol abuse include:

  • Drinking alone or hiding the true amount being consumed
  • Neglecting responsibilities at home or work due to drinking
  • Drinking in physically dangerous situations, such as driving, operating machinery, or combining alcohol with prescription medication
  • Using drinking as an excuse to relax or de-stress

 

Signs and Symptoms of Alcohol Addiction and Dependence

Abusing alcohol increases the risk of developing alcohol addiction or dependence. Symptoms of alcoholism include all of the previously mentioned symptoms of alcohol abuse, but also include the following:

  • Tolerance, or needing to drink increased amounts to feel the same effects
  • Withdrawal symptoms when intake of alcohol stops suddenly
  • Loss of control over drinking
  • Inability to stop drinking once they have started
  • Repeated failed attempts to give up drinking
  • Giving up other activities and hobbies in order to drink instead
  • Spending more time drinking or recovering from drinking bouts
  • Continuing to drink, despite negative consequences

 

Detoxing from Alcohol

Stopping alcohol intake suddenly can cause potentially life-threatening symptoms that could require emergency medical assistance. It is important not to detox from alcohol at home, but to instead seek professional treatment in a rehab facility.

Common withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Headaches (not associated with hangover)
  • Tremors and shakes
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Anxiety
  • Heavy sweating
  • Irritability
  • Confusion
  • Increased heart rate
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Insomnia
  • Nightmares and vivid dreams
  • Hallucinations
  • Seizures
  • Delirium Tremens (DTs)
  • Coma

 

Treatment Options

Treating alcoholism requires the right combination of professional rehab therapy and individual counseling to suit each person’s characteristics and the severity of the addiction. Treatment may also need to take into account whether the person also has any underlying mental health problems that need to be treated simultaneously.

It is important that the detox process is completed under medical supervision, as medical staff can administer prescription medications that could help to reduce the severity of any withdrawal symptoms that arise.

Detox is only the first stage of treatment. In order to treat alcoholism, it is also crucial to address the psychological side of the addiction. Individual behavioral counseling and therapy work to correct dysfunctional behaviors and replace them with healthier attitudes and positive coping skills for living a sober life.

People in recovery are also encouraged to participate in group meetings and therapy sessions to help reduce feelings of isolation. Group meetings are excellent for providing guidance and support, but also for providing valuable social networks among peers.

 

 

Why Is Professional Treatment Necessary to Overcome Alcohol Addiction?

Overcoming any addiction requires professional treatments and ongoing management, due to the significant changes caused in the brain as a result of alcohol abuse. The risk of relapsing back into a cycle of heavy drinking is also extremely high, unless the person has effective treatment and a strong support network of family and friends.

Recovering from alcohol addiction can be challenging, but it is possible to live a happy, healthy and sober life with the right treatments and support. Pick up the phone and speak to an addiction specialist when you are serious about your sobriety.