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Alcohol Abuse Disorder
AKUA Mind & Body is more than just a treatment center or a residential facility; it’s a revitalizing retreat that provides holistic treatment programs for those who are in need of substance use and mental health treatment. Our integrative approach combines Eastern traditions with Western science to provide the highest quality of care.
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Alcohol Abuse Disorder
Alcoholism, alcohol abuse, and alcohol use disorders are defined by alcohol dependence, which is the body’s physical inability to stop drinking. Alcohol consumption increases the release of “feel good” neurotransmitters in the brain, resulting in euphoria and decreased inhibition. Over time, more alcohol is needed to produce the same effects in the brain. In other words, individuals must drink more and more alcohol to experience the same effects. This leads to a cycle of increased drinking and an increased tolerance that eventually leads to dependence and addiction. When someone develops alcohol dependence, their body will go through a state of withdrawal in the absence of alcohol. Withdrawal symptoms include tremors, hallucinations, and convulsions.
Essential Facts About Alcohol Abuse
- Alcohol, formally known as ethanol or ethyl alcohol, is the active ingredient in beer, wine, and liquor.
- Alcohol is classified as a “sedative hypnotic” drug, meaning it can act as a depressant on the central nervous system at high doses.
- Sugars forms alcohol through fermentation in the presence of yeast. Alcohol can be produced from grapes, barley, potatoes, apples, and other plants that have high sugar content.
- Alcohol abuse is the fourth leading cause of preventable death in the United States.
- Alcohol addiction costs the United States $249 billion per year.
- There are approximately 88,000 alcohol-related deaths per year in the United States, and 3.3 million worldwide.
The following medications are used to treat alcohol disorder:
- Acamprosate (Campral): Decreases cravings associated with alcohol and reduces alcohol related withdrawal symptoms.
- Disulfuram (Antabuse): Discourages alcohol use by causing severe, uncomfortable side effects when alcohol is consumed after taking this medication.
- Naltrexone: An opioid antagonist that works to prevent alcohol consumption by blocking the positive effects of alcohol.
Psychotherapy approaches for alcohol abuse treatment include:
- Family therapy
- Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
- Dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT
Treatment for Alcohol Abuse, how we can help
Seeking professional treatment for an alcohol use disorder (alcohol addiction, alcohol abuse) is the best way to stop drinking. Many individuals turn to alcohol (and other substances) as a coping strategy to deal with stress, negative feelings, boredom, and past traumas with no intention of becoming a heavy drinker. However, alcohol is very addictive. Over time, the individual will experience physical withdrawals after abstaining from chronic alcohol use.
AKUA Mind & Body’s Alcohol Rehabilitation Facilities initially aims to ease the withdrawal symptoms by close monitoring and prescribing a slow taper of benzodiazepines. Benzodiazepines work on the same receptors as alcohol in the brain and can help prevent and worsen the deadly withdrawal effects associated with alcohol. If an individual is experiencing withdrawal symptoms, they will need to be closely monitored in a hospital or residential treatment for approximately 72 hours. Once the acute withdrawal phase is over, our highly trained clinicians aim to identify the underlying triggers resulting in the alcohol abuse behavior.
The goal of treatment is to replace negative coping skills and patterns with positive cognitive behavioral skills. Alcohol treatment includes both a pharmacological approach and a psychotherapy approach. Medications are used to prevent cravings associated with alcohol, to lessen or prevent withdrawal effects.
AKUA Mind & Body Treatment Program
AKUA Mind and Body is a full-service treatment program that offers a wide range of “east meets west” treatment modalities for many different populations struggling with substance use and mental health disorders. We offer both intensive inpatient programs as well as outpatient treatment. AKUA Mind & Body works diligently with each client and their family to ensure that their treatment plan is specifically tailored to their needs, and not just their disorder.
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition (DSM-V), defines alcohol use disorder as having two or more of the following in a 12-month period
- Alcohol is often taken in larger amounts or over a longer period than was intended.
- There is a persistent desire or unsuccessful efforts to cut down or control alcohol use.
- A great deal of time is spent in activities necessary to obtain alcohol, use alcohol, or recover from its effects.
- Craving, or a strong desire or urge to use alcohol.
- Recurrent alcohol use resulting in a failure to fulfill major role obligations at work, school, or home.
- Continued alcohol use despite having persistent or recurrent social or interpersonal problems caused or exacerbated by the effects of alcohol.
- Important social, occupational, or recreational activities are given up or reduced because of alcohol use.
- Recurrent alcohol use in situations in which it is physically hazardous.
- Alcohol use is continued despite knowledge of having a persistent or recurrent physical or psychological problem that is likely to have been caused or exacerbated by alcohol.
Effects of alcohol abuse on family and friends
As an individual sinks deeper into an alcohol addiction, they may begin to stray away from social interactions, distancing themselves from family and friends. They may even lash out at loved ones, and resort to telling lies in order to cover up their drinking habits. Financial problems are likely to arise due to not only the costs of supporting an alcohol addiction, but also the loss of productivity and regular work hours due to increased illness, hangovers, and other adverse effects.
Individuals who abuse alcohol will often find themselves in stormy romantic relationships. Alcoholism is strongly linked to codependency, verbal abuse, and physical abuse. Deterioration within a couple often stems from arguments, financial troubles, and acts of infidelity or, worse, domestic violence.
Alcoholism also decreases sex drive, which can bring even more problems into an already strained relationship.
How does alcohol affect the brain?
Once alcohol is absorbed in the bloodstream, it travels to the brain resulting in an immediate firing of neurotransmitters. Chronic alcohol use changes the brain chemistry and communication systems by rewiring the reward and pleasure pathways in the brain creating more intense cravings for alcohol rather than for natural rewards.
Addiction results in compulsive and harmful behaviors. Depending on the amount of alcohol consumed, and the extent of alcohol abuse over time, alcohol can have devastating effects on the brain:
- Impaired high executive functioning, including reaction time
- Long- and short-term memory impairments which may become permanent
- Fine motor skills impairments which may become permanent
- Balance impairments which may become permanent
- Violent or aggressive behavior
- Personality changes
- Seizures and loss of consciousness
- Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome, which is an irreversible neurological disorder causing memory impairment, ataxia (loss of coordination), and nystagmus (repetitive uncontrolled eye movements)