Alcohol affects individuals differently: It can be either perfectly healthy or lethally dangerous, simply depending on the level of moderation you use in your consumption. Consumed in temperate amounts, alcohol is considered by some as relaxing and even offers minor health benefits. Consumed in excess, though, alcohol is more than unhealthy: It’s a poison and a dangerous drug, one that kills more than 100,000 each year. Understanding alcoholism requires us to understand not just its lethalness, though, but also its cause—and its potential treatments.
How Addictive is Alcohol?
The preliminary effects of alcohol are fairly mild, and might include impaired coordination, vision, balance and judgment. Larger quantities of alcohol can cause higher levels of impairment, and even lead to unconsciousness or, for cases of full alcohol poisoning, death.
But what about actual alcoholism? This disease is progressive and life-threatening. It is characterized by:
- An increased, constant craving for alcohol;
- An increased tolerance for alcohol;
- Physical dependence on alcohol; and
- Inability to control one’s alcohol consumption.
Alcoholism can also lead to a number of other serious maladies—including brain damage, heart damage, liver damage, high blood pressure, pneumonia, tuberculosis, enlarged blood vessels and more.
What Are the Causes of Alcoholism?
One of the troubling things about alcoholism is how insidious it is—how covert. Often, the signs and symptoms of alcoholism are completely unnoticed even by close friends and loved ones. Alcoholics tend to be quite secretive about their disease, which can make it all the harder to spot.
Compounding matters is the fact that alcoholism does not seem to have any one root cause. Rather, it results from a combination of factors, which might be genetic, environmental, psychological and social. Genetic factors are seen by scientists as especially crucial, but really, the cause of alcoholism varies from one person to the next, and sometimes cannot be fully identified.
For those worried that their friend or loved one is an alcoholic, however, there are some telltale signs to watch out for. Some of them include:
- Repeated neglect of family, social or professional obligations;
- Drinking in dangerous and inappropriate situations, like while operating a vehicle;
- Extreme secrecy;
- Legal problems on account of drinking;
- Relationships that become strained or ruined because of drinking; and
- Spending copious amounts of money on alcohol.
Obviously, if you witness these behaviors in others, it is critically important to urge treatment in a professional facility.
Consider some alcoholism statistics. Alcoholism—a disease that entails the chronic abuse of alcohol—is something that impacts roughly one in 12 adults in the United States. For those who struggle with alcoholism, there is hope for healing and wholeness—but recovery almost never happens on one’s own. Almost always, clinical detox and treatment are necessary to begin the lifelong recovery process.
Excessive Alcohol Consumption
Alcohol is more than unhealthy: It is a poison and a dangerous drug, one that kills more than 100,000 each year
Alcohol abuse is generally very common, and alcoholism affects roughly one in 12 adults in the United States
Affecting College Students
1,825 college students between the ages of 18 and 24 die from alcohol-related incidents
Treatment for Alcoholism
Several factors complicate treatment. One is that alcoholism is never truly cured; recovery is an ongoing, lifelong process. Another is that the goal of treatment is abstinence from drink, which is challenging. Finally, most alcoholics employ denial about the nature and extent of their disease.
Yet recovery is possible—particularly for those who seek professional care. The first step is to detox, allowing the body to be rid of harmful toxins. From there, recovery in an inpatient facility or perhaps through an outpatient program is urged, as is ongoing aftercare and involvement in support groups.
Detox is that first step. For those looking for a new start—and a chance at real, lasting recovery—finding a professional detox center is urged. New Start is proud to offer a variety of alcohol detox services. Contact us today to learn more about these important first steps toward alcohol recovery.