What is Alcoholism? The Side Effects to Know
What is alcoholism? What are alcoholism side effects? Read on to learn more about alcoholism and treatment at Essence Healthcare.
Alcoholism Side Effects: Introduction
Alcohol is a psychoactive substance often consumed for its effects on the body and mind. It is a central nervous system depressant, and alcoholism side effects include slowing the brain’s activity; it also influences the stomach, brain, heart, gallbladder, and liver. The active ingredient in alcoholic beverages is a simple molecule known as ethanol. It controls cholesterol, insulin levels, inflammation, and coagulation. It can alter mood and behavior. It also affects mood, concentration, and coordination.
Is Alcohol Addictive?
Yes, alcohol is addictive. Alcohol is a toxic substance with dependence-producing properties. When consumed, alcohol can activate the brain’s reward system. This produces feelings of pleasure and satisfaction. This pleasurable effect may motivate a person to keep drinking. It also makes them dependent on alcohol despite possible alcoholism side effects. It is also addictive for people with a family history of alcoholism.1
What is Alcoholism?
Alcoholism, also known as alcohol use disorder, is a chronic condition. It is the compulsive, uncontrolled, and excessive consumption of alcohol. It is the repetitive drinking of alcohol despite its negative consequences. Alcoholism is the consumption of alcohol to the extent that it harms the drinker.2
Individuals with alcoholism develop a physical and psychological dependence on alcohol. This can result in increasing doses to produce desired effects. Chronic alcohol use can change the body system. It causes increased tolerance and dependence on alcohol. The body experiences withdrawal symptoms when alcohol stops or reduces. According to WHO, alcohol consumption causes three million deaths each year and disabilities and poor health for millions.3
Types of Alcohol Use Disorder
There are two main types of alcohol use disorder (AUD). The severity of symptoms experienced defines these types:
- Alcohol Abuse: This is the less severe form of AUD. It is the persistent use of alcohol despite alcoholism’s side effects. Symptoms of alcohol abuse may include continued use of alcohol in unhealthy amounts.
- Alcohol Dependence: This is the more severe form of AUD. It is the physical and psychological dependence on alcohol. Symptoms of alcohol dependence may include high tolerance and reliance on alcohol. It also includes difficulty controlling or stopping alcohol use. Alcohol dependence increases the risk of health issues like liver or cardiovascular disease.
Signs and Symptoms of Alcoholism
Alcohol use disorder is a serious condition with physical, psychological, and social symptoms. Alcoholism side effects and symptoms may vary from person to person. Therefore, not everyone who experiences alcohol-related problems meets the diagnostic criteria for AUD. The signs and symptoms of alcoholism include:4
- Needing to drink increasing amounts of alcohol to achieve the desired effects.
- Experiencing tremors, sweating, nausea, and anxiety after withdrawal from alcohol use
- Drinking alcohol in large amounts
- Unsuccessful attempts to cut down or control drinking.
- Continuing to drink despite negative consequences on health, work, or relationships.
- Strong and persistent desires or urges to drink alcohol.
- Spending a lot of time thinking about alcohol or planning when and where to drink
- Using alcohol to cope with negative emotions like stress, anxiety, or depression.
Alcoholism Side Effects
There are different ranges of alcoholism side effects. These side effects vary depending on the severity of the disorder. Alcoholism’s side effects can be physical, social, and emotional. Some of the common alcoholism side effects will be detailed below.
Physical Side Effects
Physical alcoholism side effects include:
- Tremors and seizures
- Insomnia and sleep disturbances
- Sexual dysfunction
- Long-term health complications like cancer and liver diseases
Social Side Effects
Social alcoholism side effects include the following:5
- A dysfunctional relationship with family, friends, and romantic partners
- Low performance at school or work
- Absenteeism from social activities
- Incurred debts due to alcohol use.
- Legal problems related to alcohol use, like DUIs and public intoxication.
Emotional Side Effects
Emotional alcoholism side effects include the following:
- Anxiety and panic attacks
- Depression and extreme mood swing
- Irritability and agitation
- Poor concentration and memory loss
- Impaired thoughts and decision-making
- Psychosis and hallucinations
Treatment Opportunities for Alcoholism
At Essence Healthcare, we offer treatment for alcohol use disorder. Our treatment opportunities involve a combination of alcohol detox, behavioral therapies, and medications. We also have qualified healthcare professionals who provide the needed care and support. Here is a breakdown of some of our treatment options for alcoholism:
Alcohol detox is removing alcohol from the body. It is the first step in treating alcoholism. In addition, it helps to manage potential withdrawal symptoms and prevent complications. At Essence Healthcare, we offer detox programs. Our detox facility has state-of-the-art equipment and staff available 24/7.
Behavioral therapies help people change their attitudes and behaviors towards alcohol. It helps people with AUD identify their triggers and deal with cravings. Some examples of our behavioral therapies include cognitive-behavioral, motivational interviewing, and contingency management.
Professionals at Essence Healthcare recommend medications to help with AUD. Our patient’s needs determine their prescribed medication. Medications that can treat alcoholism include naltrexone, acamprosate, and disulfiram. These medications can help reduce withdrawal symptoms and cravings for alcohol.
Residential treatment programs provide a structured environment for people with alcoholism. It provides a medium to receive intensive treatment. We offer partial hospitalization, inpatient rehab, outpatient, and sober living. These programs also include individual and group therapy and medication management.
Benefits of Treating Alcoholism
There are many alcoholism side effects. Not treating alcoholism can lead to serious issues like death. However, treating alcohol use disorder has many benefits, including:
- It improves physical health and reduces the risk of liver diseases or cancer.
- It improves mental health and reduces the risk of anxiety and depression.
- It can help improve social relationships with family and friends.
- It can help increase productivity.
- It encourages better behavior and attitude.
- It may help curb unnecessary spending on alcohol and encourage saving habits.
Importance of Understanding Alcoholism
Understanding alcohol use disorder and alcoholism side effects is essential. It helps identify when there is an alcohol use problem. It reduces the stigma associated with alcoholism and promotes awareness. Understanding alcoholism also helps healthcare providers develop effective treatment methods. Family and friends also find it easy to support their loved ones with alcohol use disorder.
Alcoholism has many side effects on an individual’s physical and mental health. If left untreated, alcoholism can affect relationships and well-being. Alcoholism treatment involves a combination of therapy, medications, and support programs. Treatment is necessary to prevent relapse and worst situations like death.
Get Treatment for Alcoholism at Essence Healthcare Facility
Withdrawing from alcohol use is not easy, and it is not a shameful thing to ask for help. However, seeking professional help for alcohol use disorder can aid recovery and prevent relapse. If you or anyone is struggling with alcoholism, contact Essence Healthcare for help. Your recovery is our utmost priority.