Alcohol: A Dangerous Drug

Continuing to drink alcohol after negative consequences of drinking have occurred is alcohol abuse. A loss of control, an obsession with alcohol use, continuing to drink through further adverse consequences, denial of any problem with alcohol, and a return to alcohol after any length of abstinence indicate addiction to alcohol.

Although legal and socially accepted, alcohol is one of the most addictive and damaging drugs available. The substance is a downer, and is essentially poison to the human body. Ethyl alcohol, or ethanol, is the main psychoactive ingredient in alcohol that creates the drug’s effects.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that 51.3% of all adults in the United States are regular drinkers who consume at least one alcoholic beverage a month and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, a division of the National Institute of Health (NIH), found that 24.6% of all adults in the U.S. binge drink on at least a monthly basis. Binge drinking is defined as having five or more alcoholic beverages on the same occasion.

Additionally, 7.1% of all U.S. adults (over 22 million people) engage in heavy drinking each month, defined as having five or more drinks on one occasion on five or more days within the past 30. The NIH estimates that there are currently 17 million people with an Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD), who regularly drink alcohol, but have not yet developed physical or psychological dependence on the drug.

Since alcohol use is progressive, the continued consumption of the drug leads to dependence and addiction. When the body and brain become dependent upon alcohol, or any substance, for regular functioning, addiction has occurred. Alcoholism is an addiction to alcohol.

Alcohol Abuse

When someone continues to drink, even after majorly negative life consequences have occurred as a direct result of drinking, that person is abusing alcohol. Casual or recreational use of alcohol has progressed to abuse.

Adverse consequences can be social, financial, physical, mental, emotional, psychological, familial, relational, professional, or educational.

A 15-year-old high school dropout shares his experience while in treatment for alcohol and drug abuse:

I always got Bs, and then my grades dropped down to Ds, and then I started failing my classes, and I skipped school, and I got suspended all the time for that when I got caught. I’d skip school and I’d go get drunk, or we’d just skip school because we were always high.

The consequences of drinking did not stop his behavioral choices. He continued to drink, and use other drugs, even when his life suffered because of substance abuse.

Alcohol Addiction

When alcohol abuse continues to progress, meaning changes are not made, drinking will lead to addiction, or alcoholism.

A 35-year-old recovering alcoholic shares her story:

I would have the shakes, just really sick. I mean my body could not take alcohol at all. I would be sick in the morning for like days. It was hard to go to work and hard to take care of my children, hard to do my daily chores. It took me a long time to get well in the morning until I realized there was a magical cure. I could start drinking Bloody Marys.

Instead of facing the ramifications of alcohol abuse and making different choices, this woman began drinking more to “cure” the negative effects of alcohol abuse. She used alcohol to stop her body from withdrawing from alcohol. She needed to drink to function in her everyday life. She was addicted to alcohol.

Alcohol Effects & Withdrawal

Alcohol abuse effects range from depression and lethargy to cirrhosis of the liver and to complete organ failure. Symptoms of withdrawal, that begin within four to twelve hours after the last drink, indicate that a dependence on alcohol has in fact been formed.

While those who enjoy the “high” of alcohol experience the effects as pleasurable, the residual effects are dangerous and often fatal.

To illustrate the perceived positive effects of alcohol consumption, the words of a 42-year-old recovering alcoholic:

I started out drinking when I was about 15 out of peer pressure, but it made me forget about everything. It felt like a whole new way of life. I was happy, I was gregarious, I was outgoing - more extroverted I guess. I love dancing, and I thought I was Ginger Rogers in that I thought I could do anything.

For this individual, alcohol became the remedy for shyness, social anxiety, insecurity, and a desire to be liked. Intoxication seemed to be just what she needed to be the person she wanted to be. Instead of addressing her shy, anxious, insecure, and unlikeable tendencies, she self-medicated with alcohol. Later, she needed formal treatment to overcome the power alcohol had on her life, and to make different choices to stop the progression that inevitably leads to death.

Alcohol abuse effects range from depression and lethargy to cirrhosis of the liver and to complete organ failure. Short-term effects occur when drinking has been regular, but the impact can still be treated and healed. The long-term effects of regular alcohol abuse over an extended period of time are much more difficult to treat, and can be irreversible.

For drinkers who routinely drink to get drunk, blackouts occur often. These periods of time, where a person appears consciousness but then there is no memory of that time the next day, are extremely damaging to the brain. During these times of blackout, with zero recollection, individuals are exposed to high-risk physical and sexual behaviors.

Alcohol also majorly affects the brain, killing large amounts of brain cells and forever impairing proper functioning. Short-term memory loss, and what is called "wet brain," eventually occur, in which an alcoholic can no longer put coherent sentences together or manage bowel or bladder control correctly. The ability to concentrate is also greatly affected by alcohol. An alcohol abuser gradually loses the ability to think clearly as thoughts constantly become more scattered. This is an indicator of short-term memory loss that can become permanent when not addressed.

Being that it is a poison, alcohol erodes the liver causing cirrhosis. Cirrhosis can then lead to liver failure, which will eventually result in death. While this may serve as the most widely known effect of alcoholism, damage to every other organ in the central nervous system is also occurring from repeated alcohol use.

Life consequences are also a part of alcohol abuse and addiction. Legal trouble, relationship problems, work issues, and health complications are the true effects of alcoholism. The unmanageability that addiction creates leads to loss of jobs, spouses or partners, family members, and all financial resources, which leads to further shame, and a desire to self-medicate with alcohol. Consequently, the cycle of addiction is extremely difficult to break.

To stop the the cycle, formal intervention, detoxification, and treatment are needed. Find out more by calling Recovery Now TV at 800-281-4731. Save your life, or the life of an alcohol abuser you love, now!

Alcohol withdrawal occurs when alcohol is no longer put into a system that developed dependence on the drug. Symptoms of withdrawal, that begin within four to twelve hours after the last drink, indicate that a dependence on alcohol has in fact been formed. The greater the dependence, the more severe the withdrawal symptoms when drinking stops.

Although alcohol withdrawal is uncomfortable and can even be fatal, the process of recovery must begin with complete withdrawal and detoxification.

Withdrawal from alcohol includes the following symptoms:

  • Rapid pulse
  • Sweating
  • Increased body temperature
  • Hand tremors
  • Dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Insomnia
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Tachycardia (irregular heartbeat)
  • Visual, auditory, or tactile hallucinations and illusions
  • Psychomotor agitation
  • Grand mal seizures
  • Delirium tremens (DTs, which can result in death)

Since withdrawal can be fatal, detox from alcohol needs to be conducted in a medically-monitored facility where a staff of trained professionals can administer proper care. If a client enters detox and seems fine, the body can still react to the lack of alcohol for several days, and even weeks. Every unique case of alcohol abuse leads to a different set of withdrawal symptoms when drinking has stopped. With personal attention and twenty-four-hour surveillance, each detoxing alcoholic can make it through with minimal discomfort.

When a treatment team observes a client’s daily progress, medications and other forms of assistance can ensure safety and comfort throughout the process. The body and brain can be be stabilized and when properly treated, withdrawal from alcohol can be completed and formal treatment can begin.

Recovery Now TV understands the importance of proper alcohol detoxification. By calling 800-281-4731 now, you can begin ridding the body and brain of the harmful drug that has been keeping you, or someone you love, very sick.

Treatment for Alcohol Abuse & Addiction

Alcohol is the primary substance of choice for 21.5% of all formal rehab admissions in the United States, and was a secondary drug for another 17.1% of all those admitting for treatment.

Years of alcohol abuse has created a great imbalance in brain and body chemistry. With detox and formal treatment, physical and psychological chemistry can recalibrate the imbalance, and healing can happen. Without proper care, however, the ability to successfully restore health is minimal.

Alcohol detox is the first step toward recovery. While the time spent detoxing from alcohol can be difficult, uncomfortable, and painful, those who have been abusing alcohol must stop drinking and let the body flush out all remaining harmful toxins to have a chance at sustained abstinence.

When alcohol is still present in the body, cravings will continue to occur. The mind has become so accustomed to having alcohol present that, with the drug still floating around, the system is not forced to move past the desire to drink.

There are many different aspects to alcohol detox: medical, physical, and emotional. To address the medical side of detox, including the possibility of death, each detoxification program has medical doctors and other personnel on staff to assist each alcoholic through the entire process. Years of the drug’s abuse has led the body and the brain to rely on having alcohol present, so with appropriate medical attention, safety is ensured and detoxification from alcohol can be completed smoothly.

One example, shared by a young bride following her wedding day, shows the dangers of stopping alcohol consumption without proper medical attention:

My mother swore off the gin and the Valium for my wedding. She was too good to her word. She started withdrawing and having convulsions at my receptions and almost died in the ambulance. It put somewhat of a damper on the honeymoon.

The physical aspect of detox comes from the great damage alcohol has done to the body of an alcoholic. Employing an in-house nutritionist, who creates a meal plan with each client, begins the process of physical recovery from alcohol addiction.

The third aspect of alcohol detox is emotional. With years of alcohol abuse, the ability to regulate one’s own emotions is instable. When unable to cope with painful and difficult emotions, people turned to alcohol. Now, without the drug, emotions feel overwhelming. A highly-trained team of counselors, assisting each client on a daily and weekly basis, provides continuous support as a detoxing client experiences a wide range of emotions. When the emotional aspect of alcohol detox is properly treated, the need to return to alcohol is diminished. The need to self-medicate, or escape from painful emotions with alcohol, has been eliminated.

Without the detox process, an alcoholic’s likelihood of returning to regular drinking is extremely high, and there is no way to treat the symptoms of withdrawal.

Creating a healthy balance of attention and healing for each of these three aspects is gained by the detox programs Recovery Now TV utilizes to help each alcoholic recover. By calling 800-281-4731 now, you can find the program that is best for you, or for someone you love.

Detox is the first step toward formal treatment a new life of recovery. Call now!

Treatment for the disease of addiction, and more specifically for alcoholism, requires a commitment to recovery. After the individual has successfully completed detoxification, and the body is now functioning without the presence of alcohol, the real work can begin.

Vernon E. Johnson, founder of the Johnson Institute, says that, “Intervention is a process by which the harmful, progressive, and destructive effects of chemical dependency are interrupted and the chemically dependent person is helped to stop using mood-altering chemicals and to develop new, healthier ways of coping with his or her needs and problems. It implies that the person need not be an emotional or physical wreck (or hit rock bottom) before such help can be given.”

Formal rehabilitation from alcohol abuse and addiction is a systematic approach. When a person enters rehab, there is usually a state of denial to some extent. Whether the client completely denies a problem with alcohol altogether, or is in denial that formal treatment is truly necessary to stop drinking, each level of denial needs to be addressed immediately. An effective treatment team will use various therapeutic interventions and techniques to assist in the release of denial.

Since breaking through denial can take time, a client’s ability to show up to each individual and group therapy session, to each Twelve Step meeting, and to each psychiatrist appointment gives him or her a great chance at success.

Formal treatment for alcoholism comes in various forms. After detox, clients can enroll in an inpatient or outpatient level of care. Generally, detox is followed by inpatient care, also called residential treatment, that requires clients to live on-site and remain completely abstinent from all mind-altering substances. At this level of care, facilities are staffed twenty-four hours a day, and clients are accounted for around the clock for 30, 60, 90, or even 180 days. Clients attend all therapy and holistic programs, and live, at the same place, without the ability to leave the facility.

After successful completion of residential, inpatient treatment, clients are often recommended to an outpatient program. At this level of care, clients usually do not live on-site, although there are programs that offer on-site living without twenty-four hour care. In an outpatient program, clients are required to stay completely abstinent, and to attend program days, or evenings, for several hours, but they are free to come and go. While individual and peer process groups tend to remain the same (often with the same group of people if attending outpatient treatment at the same facility as inpatient), the level of accountability has lowered and each client must choose to attend and to stay committed to recovery.

Physical wellness, emotional restoration, and spiritual connection are addressed in each level of care. With nutrition, exercise, yoga, meditation, and the creation of a support system inside and outside the treatment group (through Twelve Step involvement and family therapy), every client is treated as a whole person. When the mind, body, and soul connection begins in formal rehab, the established patterns and behavioral choices can continue after formal treatment.

When a person can cope with difficult times and painful emotions without the use of alcohol, the destructive life of alcoholism, that leads to jail or death, has been stopped. Newly established resources give each recovering alcoholic a support system to reach out to, and stay connected with, throughout the years following formal rehab. These relationships help alcoholics through the first year, which is most difficult and most often leads to a relapse, or a return to alcohol.

Recovery is a lifelong process of choices, each day, to stay sober. Choosing to call a sober peer or a sponsor when a craving or alcohol arises, or attending an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting on a tough day, will keep a recovering alcoholic on the right path.

Recovery Now TV has been helping alcoholics for years. We have found treatments centers that use methods and therapeutic techniques that help alcoholics recover. With an understanding of alcoholism as a disease, and of evidence-based practices that prove effective, these treatment centers successfully assist clients in stopping alcohol’s control over their lives so that a new life, without alcohol, can begin.

By contacting Recovery Now TV at 800-281-4731, you can find the best collection of detoxification and formal rehab programs for you, or for someone you love. Call now!

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)
Uppers, Downers, All Arounder by Darryl S. Inaba & William E. Cohen