The Definition of Alcohol
Alcohol is a highly addictive substance that has been consumed by humans throughout history. Alcohol has played a large role in religious, hygienic, dietary, medicinal, recreational areas of the lives of nearly all people throughout history. Alcohol itself is known as ethyl alcohol and commonly called ethanol. It can be consumed in its pure state as a liquor or it is mixed with a variety of other substances for taste, transforming it into an alcoholic beverage such as beer, spirits and wines.
Alcohol causes intoxicating effects that impairs the users motor skills, depth perception, thought process and behavior. Alcohol is a depressant that enters into the pleasure center of the brain causing the user to feel “good”. The effects of alcohol can easily become addictive to some. Prolong use of alcohol causes the user to develop a tolerance where they require larger portions of alcohol to achieve the desired effects. With regular use of alcohol in high doses a physical and psychological dependency can occur where the user is unable to stop its use without experiencing symptoms of withdrawal.
Legalization of Alcohol and Regulation Laws
Over 100 countries have laws regulating the production and sales of alcohol. While it is legal to consume alcohol in these countries the laws are in place to protect the citizens from the negative effects alcohol can have. The most common law within most countries is the minimum drinking age, this varies between 16 and 25 years of age with most countries averaging 18 years of age. Other laws are in place to regulate the amount of alcohol in alcoholic beverages and where alcohol can be sold.
Uses for Alcohol
Alcohol has been used throughout history for religious, hygienic, dietary, medicinal, recreational purposes. Today alcohol is primarily used for recreational purposes. When alcohol is consumed for recreational purposes the user is doing so with the intentions to become intoxicated. Occasional use of alcohol in this manor can be safe, however when the individual consumes to much alcohol they are putting themselves at risk of alcohol poisoning.
Regular use of alcohol often results in a tolerance to the substance. As a tolerance develops the user must drink more alcohol to achieve the desired effects. The more often alcohol is consume and increasing amounts of it can lead to a physical and psychological dependency to alcohol. Most who are dependent on alcohol require medical treatment to stop its use due to the withdrawal symptoms than can become painful and often result in the user returning to alcohol for comfort.
Alcoholism is the physical and psychological dependency to alcohol. The alcoholics thoughts and actions are consumed by the need to drink more alcohol. When stopping its use they will experience withdrawal symptoms that vary in severity and can become unbearably painful. The user is out of control with their alcohol use, and lack the ability to stop its use despite the knowledge of what it is doing to their life, health and the negative effects it is having on their friends and family as a result of their use. Alcoholism is classified as a treatable yet incurable disease. This means that those with alcoholism, regardless to if they have received treatment or not, will never be able to drink alcohol without loosing control but will be able to recovery and maintain their sobriety if that is what they choose.
Signs of Alcoholism
- Thoughts and actions consumed by alcohol
- Lack of interest in regular responsibilities
- Work and school production is negatively effected, possible loss of employment
- Legal repercussions to actions while intoxicated
- Issues within relationships with friends and family due to your drinking
- Health issues
- Inability to stop drinking on your own
- Financial difficulties due to drinking alcohol
Symptoms of Alcohol Withdrawal
- Easily excited
- Rapid emotional changes
- Unclear thoughts
- Bad dreams
- Loss of appetite
- Heart palpitations
- Enlarged, dilated pupils
- Abnormal movements
Alcohol Addiction Treatment
The severity of the addiction to alcohol determines the course of treatment the individual will receive. Those with mild to moderate alcohol addictions can receive treatment either in an inpatient or out patient facility. Severe alcoholics are advised to seek an inpatient treatment program to avoid any dangers that may be involved with the withdrawal process and to help ensure their success in recovery and prevent future relapse.
Those with mild to moderate alcohol addictions may be able to recover in the comfort of their own home through an outpatient treatment program that offers pharmaceutical treatment for alcohol. The individual will receive and benzodiazepine medication to ease symptom of withdrawal, allowing them to detox safely and more comfortably. The individual will be weaned from this medication and then placed onto a medication that will help control and cravings for alcohol such as; Disulfiram, Naltrexone and Acamprosate, all of which work in similar ways to prevent relapse. The individual will return to the outpatient treatment facility dor regular assessments and medication adjustments as well as therapy and counseling. The addiction to alcohol is not purely physical making therapy and counseling just as important for the recovery process and to prevent relapse.
Severe alcoholics require an inpatient treatment program where they will receive 24-7 medical care. The treatment process is similar to that of the outpatient treatment with the major exception being the patient is recovering in a controlled environment with medical care that will ensure their health an safety during the treatment process. Under direct supervision of a medical doctor the patient will go through detox where they will work through the withdrawal period with a benzodiazepine medication to relieve any pain or discomfort. Upon completion of the detox process the patient will continue on with various counseling and therapy sessions that are tailored to their individual recovery needs.