Category Archives: Alcohol Addiction

How to Support Someone with an Alcohol Problem

Alcoholic drink

Helping someone with an alcohol problem may sound good on paper, but it’s not exactly easy to do. Most of the time, alcoholics will deny that they have a problem. It’s common to hear: “I can quit whenever I want.” Or, “Everyone does it. I’m just having fun.”

Even though you may not be able to force someone to stop drinking, ignoring it is not the right thing to do. There are ways you can support a person with an alcohol problem, and we’ll show you how.

Get Educated on Alcoholism

The first thing to do is research alcoholism. What are the signs? How is alcoholism different from alcohol abuse? Why might your friend or family member be at risk?

Understanding addiction is important for a couple of reasons. First, you must know what you are dealing with. It’s possible that the problem is more out of hand than you realize. The consequences that may be close to following need to be understood. Second, education leads to compassion. Rather than making things worse by blaming or shaming, you can practice true tough love.

Realize Your Role in the Process

The next step is to acknowledge your role in this process. You cannot stop someone from drinking. You cannot save them from their addiction. What you can do is help. No two situations are the same, so it’s best to work with a counselor or addiction specialist to determine the right approach.

You may have to financially cut off a loved one or stop enabling them by making excuses for missed work and family obligations. We realize this is one of the most difficult things to do, but without consequences, problem drinkers will not see the full extent of their problem.

Offer to Attend Support Meetings

Whether your loved one agrees to attend a support group now or after treatment, offer to go with them. This way, they will feel less afraid and alone. Listening to the experiences of others can help you gain a new perspective on dealing with addiction. Also, check out Al Anon meetings in your area. These support groups are for the friends and family of alcoholics.

Research Treatment Options

In many cases, problem drinkers need structured treatment in an inpatient or outpatient facility. An addiction specialist can help determine the right course of treatment, but it’s important to do some research as well. Detox, inpatient/outpatient treatment, counseling and support groups are all part of a healthy and complete recovery. Know what options are available, and where to find additional support in your community.  

Alcoholism is a progressive disease that will get worse. Turning the other cheek may only lead to more serious consequences later on. If you are worried about someone you love, call The River Source to learn about our programs and the best ways to start the healing process.

Healing the Liver After Alcohol Addiction

Green leafy smoothie

One of the most severe side effects of alcoholism is liver damage. The link between liver damage and heavy alcohol use has been known for more than 200 years. The liver suffers the most damage because it is responsible for alcohol metabolism.

If you have made the courageous decision to get sober, you may be wondering how long it will take your liver to recover. The good news: the liver is a regenerative organ. It can repair itself over time. The sooner you stop drinking, the quicker you can start this process.

Let’s learn more about how alcohol affects the liver, the damage that can be done and the steps you can take to heal this regenerative organ.

How Does Alcohol Affect the Liver?

The liver has many roles, and one of them is removing toxins from the body. The liver also stores vitamins and iron, breaks down hemoglobin, destroys old blood cells and converts stored sugar into functional sugar. When the liver is healthy, it works hard to carry out its jobs. Unfortunately, when you introduce alcohol into the body, the liver has to work harder.

Alcohol dehydrates the body, forcing the liver to pull water from other sources to function properly. Also, the liver produces a toxin called acetaldehyde, which is created when alcohol is broken down in the liver. This toxin can damage liver cells and cause scarring. Continued stress on the organ can also lead to fatty liver disease, alcoholic hepatitis or cirrhosis of the liver.

Tips for Healing the Liver

As soon as you stop drinking, your liver can begin recovering. How long this process takes is different for everyone. It could take a few months or a few years. Fortunately, your liver is always in a state of regeneration. Here are the best things you can do – aside from not drinking – to continue the healing process.  

  • Quit smoking

  • Eat a healthy diet (plant-based is preferable)

  • Drink a lot of water

  • Exercise regularly

  • Lose weight if you are overweight

  • Avoid processed foods, sugars and saturated fats

  • Pay attention to your medications

  • Limit contact with other toxins (i.e., spray paints, insecticides)

Some liver damage is permanent, but that doesn’t mean you can’t restore yourself back to good health. Work with your doctor, who will measure your liver enzymes and ensure that you are moving in the right direction.

Are you ready to get clean and sober? Call The River Source to start an integrative treatment program that addresses an alcohol addiction as well as any co-occurring conditions.

 

10 Motivating Reasons to Quit Drinking

Glass of Brandy

Quitting drinking offers many benefits that you may not be aware of. If you’re ready to stop drinking, help is available. The River Source provides inpatient and outpatient treatment to help you heal from your addiction and enjoy all 10 of these benefits.

1. You can look younger. Drinking in excess is hard on your skin because alcohol breaks down natural collagen production. This speeds up the aging process, causing premature wrinkles and lines. Too much alcohol can also lead to jaundice.

2. You can save money. Imagine not having to be short on money all the time. Alcohol is expensive, and so is the lifestyle that goes with it (bars, nightclubs, DUIs, legal problems). You can put this money toward something else, such as a new car or family vacation

3. You can lose weight. Alcohol is high in empty calories. These calories come from sugar, which turns into fat. By stopping drinking, you can shed unwanted pounds and lose weight. It’s also easier to make healthy meal choices when you’re not under the influence.

4. You can start something new. Wouldn’t it be fun to pursue a new hobby or venture? There is a whole world out there for you to discover! The happiness you can get from these activities is much more fulfilling than drinking booze.

5. You can heal your liver. To lead a healthy life, you need a liver that functions properly. Fortunately, your liver is a regenerative organ that can heal over time.

6. You can sleep better. Passing out from being drunk does not lead to better sleep. In fact, it often leads to sleep disturbances and nightmares. Sleeping sober gives your brain the chance to restore itself. This leads to improved sleep and increased energy and focus the next day.

7. You can feel better. Are you tired of not feeling well? Do you get every bug that comes your way? Alcohol wears on the body and the immune system. Once you get through withdrawal, you can rebuild your body – and your spirit.

8. You can form real relationships. Ready to build satisfying relationships? Addiction is an isolating disease, but recovery can change this. You can strengthen ties with friends and family, work toward entering a new relationship and truly connect with those around you.

9. You can reduce your risk of heart attack. Drinking alcohol is hard on the heart. Cutting out alcohol allows your heart to repair itself and lowers your risk for high blood pressure, heart attack and heart failure.

10. You can move forward. Alcohol does not have to define you. With treatment, you can stop drinking and regain your life. Working through the 12 Steps helps create a life that isn’t just free from addiction but also fulfilling.

There are so many great reasons to quit drinking, what are you waiting for? To learn more about your options for treating an alcohol addiction, call The River Source. Imagine starting the New Year clean and sober!

 

At What Point Does Drinking Become a Problem?

Unlike illegal substances such as cocaine or heroin, alcohol becomes legal at the age of 21. Alcohol is also prevalent in our society. It shows up as an invited guest to weddings, formal dinners, birthday parties, concerts and sports games. In a society where alcohol and social gatherings often come in pairs, how do you know when your drinking has become a problem?

Alcohol’s Effects on the Body

Drinking too much alcohol, even on a single occasion, can take a serious toll on your body. It affects the brain by interfering with the communication pathways. This is what leads to changes in mood, behavior and coordination.

Alcohol can cause heart problems such as high blood pressure and an irregular heartbeat. Drinking also takes a toll on the liver, leading to inflammation, fibrosis or cirrhosis. Research also shows a link between alcohol and an increase in certain cancers.

Each drink you take affects the body negatively. Still, people choose to drink because they feel that it helps them relax, unwind and have more fun. However, drinking on occasion can sneak up on you. No one intends to be an alcoholic, after all. So how can you tell when you’ve crossed the line?

Understanding Your Risk

First, it’s important to understand your personal risk factors. Of course, just because you are at risk does not mean you will develop alcoholism. Likewise if you are not at risk. You can still become addicted.

Below are the factors that may increase a person’s risk for alcoholism.

  • Genetics. People with a sibling, parent or child who abuses alcohol have 3-4 times the average risk of developing a drinking problem.

  • Mental Health. By some estimates, 37% of people with a drinking problem also have a mental health condition such as anxiety, depression or a personality disorder.

  • Age. In young people, alcohol use can lead to car crashes, suicides and homicide. People who start drinking at an early age are 4 times more likely to develop alcoholism than those who start drinking at 21 or over.

  • Gender. Drinking can affect both genders, but problem drinking is more common in men than women, especially in the 18-25 year age group.

Signs to Look For

Alcoholism does not show up overnight. It is a progressive disease that happens over time. If you feel that you are at risk for becoming addicted, get help. With so many options available these days, including convenient outpatient programs, you can easily and discreetly get the support you need to avoid a lifelong addiction.

Here are some signs that you may have a drinking problem.

  • Lying about or hiding your drinking

  • Drinking to relax or feel better

  • Not being able to stop once you start

  • Blacking out while drinking

  • Drinking in dangerous situations

  • Neglecting your responsibilities

  • Experiencing trouble in relationships

  • Building tolerance

  • Experiencing withdrawal

  • Trying to quit but cannot

If you are concerned about yourself or a loved one, call The River Source today. We have a number of programs to treat alcoholism and higher-than-average success rates. Plus, our rates are affordable and our programs are on the cutting-edge of integrative care.

Understanding the Most Common Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms

For centuries, alcohol has been a part of celebrations and social situations. Since it’s legal for individuals over the age of 21 to drink alcohol, many people think this feel-good substance is relatively harmless. However, it can be just as addictive as any other drug, which is why understanding alcohol withdrawal symptoms is so important.

Alcohol contains a water-soluble substance known as ethanol. When you consume alcohol, the ethanol enters your digestive system. From there, it travels to your bloodstream where it passes through your cells and makes its way to your organs. Once it reaches your brain, it acts as a central nervous system depressant. At this point, your brain releases dopamine, while the ethanol deactivates glutamate (which slows the brain’s response to stimuli) and binds to gamma aminobutyric acid or GABA (which makes people feel calm and sleepy).

Most people can enjoy alcohol without becoming addicted to the substance. However, not everyone is so fortunate. When your alcohol consumption is excessive, you may receive a diagnosis of alcohol use disorder (AUD).

The current version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) states that you can be diagnosed with an AUD if you meet two out of 11 criteria within a 12-month period. The diagnostic criteria include the following questions:

  •       Have you ended up drinking more or longer than you intended?
  •       More than once, have you unsuccessfully tried to reduce or stop drinking?
  •       Have you spent a lot of time drinking or recovering from its aftereffects?
  •       Have you experienced a strong urge to drink?
  •       Does drinking or its aftereffects often interfere with your responsibilities?
  •       Have you continued to drink even though it causes problems?
  •       Have you given up on activities you enjoy in order to drink?
  •       More than once, have you gotten into a dangerous situation as a result of drinking?
  •       Have you continued to drink after experiencing health problems or a blackout?
  •       Do you need to drink more than you used to in order to get the same effect?
  •       Have you experienced withdrawal symptoms when you stop drinking?

In 2012, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) released informative statistics about the number of Americans with an AUD.

  •       In the United States, 7.2% or 17 million adults (ages 18 and older) had an AUD. Of this number, 11.2 million were men and 5.7 million were women.
  •       855,000 teens between the ages of 12 and 17 had an AUD.

One of the most startling statistics is how few people seek treatment. In 2012, only 1.4 million out of the 17 million adults with an AUD received treatment at a specialized facility.

With the right treatment and support in place sobriety is not out of reach for most people.

Having medical support is especially important during the detox process when withdrawal symptoms can derail your entire recovery process.

Alcohol Addiction – Tolerance and Dependence

Alcohol can be addictive with excessive and extended use. When you consume large quantities of alcohol for a prolonged period of time you can develop serious and long-lasting changes in the brain and body. One of the changes that people with an AUD notice is an increased tolerance. This means that you need to consume more alcohol over time to achieve the same effect.

Another change that alcohol addiction triggers is physical dependence, which means that you need to keep using alcohol to prevent the onset of withdrawal symptoms. These unpleasant symptoms can occur within two hours of the last drink and they can persist for weeks.

The Symptoms of Alcohol Withdrawal – Mild to Severe

When a person with an alcohol use disorder cuts back or stops drinking, they will experience withdrawal symptoms. The severity of the symptoms varies from mild to potentially life-threatening.

The severity, length, and type of symptoms vary from person to person based on several factors:

  •       How long a person has been drinking
  •       How much a person has been drinking
  •       Age and overall health of the person
  •       Whether the person has experienced withdrawal symptoms before

Since withdrawal symptoms can be very unpleasant, some people give up on trying to get sober in an effort to avoid feeling the effects of withdrawal. By understanding alcohol withdrawal symptoms and seeking appropriate medical treatment, you are more likely to make it through the first hours, days, and weeks of alcohol detox and recovery.

More minor alcoholism withdrawal symptoms usually start five to 10 hours after a person’s last drink, and they usually peak at 24 to 48 hours. These symptoms can include:

  •       Anxiety
  •       Headache
  •       Insomnia
  •       Irritability
  •       Nausea and vomiting
  •       Nightmares or vivid dreams
  •       Rapid breathing and pulse
  •       Sweating
  •       Tremors

Approximately 12 to 24 hours after your last drink, you may begin to experience moderate symptoms of alcohol withdrawal, including auditory, tactile, or visual hallucinations. Some of the most common visual hallucinations include seeing multiple, small moving objects, such as insects or coins. While most patients realize that their hallucinations are not real, the experience is vivid and it can be very distressing. Within 48 hours, these hallucinations often cease.

A more serious symptom is withdrawal seizures. Patients who experience this symptom often do so six to 48 hours after they stop drinking, with the risk peaking at 24 hours. However, withdrawal seizures can occur as soon as two hours after the last drink. You have an increased risk of experiencing withdrawal seizures if you have undergone multiple rounds of detox.

The most severe symptom of alcohol withdrawal is delirium tremens (DTs), which has a 1% to 5% death rate. This symptom strikes 48 to 72 hours after the last drink, and it typically peaks at Day 4 or Day 5. Some patients may have delayed onset of symptoms and experience DTs more than a week after their last drink. The symptoms of DTs include:

  •       Confusion, disorientation, and severe anxiety caused by a lack of blood flow to the brain
  •       Dehydration
  •       Fever
  •       Hallucinations that cannot be distinguished from reality
  •       High blood pressure
  •       Profuse sweating
  •       Racing and irregular heartbeat
  •       Seizures
  •       Severe tremors

Alcohol withdrawal symptoms can worsen quickly, so it’s important to seek medical attention even for mild symptoms. Receiving appropriate treatment early in the detox process can reduce the risk of developing more severe symptoms like withdrawal seizures and DTs.

It’s also important to consult with a doctor if you’ve previously experienced alcohol withdrawal symptoms or if you have certain health conditions such as heart disease, infections, lung disease, or a medical history of seizures.

Treatment Time Frame for Alcohol Use Disorder – It Takes Time

Each person is different, but both the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) state that patients who enroll in a detox and treatment program that’s at least 90 days in length have greater success rates than patients who participate in programs of shorter durations.

While three months might seem like a long time, this time is necessary to manage withdrawal symptoms and address the changes that an AUD causes in your brain and body. Patients did not acquire an AUD overnight, so alcohol addiction cannot be properly treated in just a few days. Each person needs time to recover from the mental and physical effects of alcohol addiction.

Recovering from any type of addiction, whether it is to drugs or alcohol, is a long process, and it is one that requires counseling, medication, and support. For the best results, you should take time to discuss your treatment goals with your doctor. This simple step can help the doctor create the right treatment and care plan for your situation. Finding the right treatment is the first step on the road to recovery and long-term sobriety.

Treatment Settings for Alcohol Withdrawal – Several Options

There are multiple locations where you can detox from alcohol. The best location will depend on the severity of your withdrawal symptoms. If you have more minor symptoms, it may be possible to manage withdrawal symptoms and complete the detox process at home. However, if you have more severe symptoms you should only attempt detox under direct medical supervision in a hospital or alcohol and drug treatment center.

You should talk to your doctor about your health history, home situation, and symptoms to find the best treatment setting.

  •       Home – If you are dealing with milder symptoms of alcohol withdrawals, the detox process can occur at home. However, patients who select in-home detox need to find the right medications and support in order to find success with in-home detox. We do not recommend this method as it can be dangerous to your health and increase the risk of relapse.
  •       Alcohol and Drug Treatment Centers – A great place for you to undergo detox is a treatment facility like The River Source. Our team of medical professionals follows an approach that utilizes behavioral and pharmacological therapies to help patients get through the symptoms of withdrawal and find long-term sobriety.
  •       Hospitals – With more intense alcohol withdrawal symptoms like DTs, severe vomiting, and withdrawal seizures, you should go to a hospital’s intensive care unit (ICU). In this location, doctors can monitor your blood pressure, breathing, and heart rate. They can also provide emergency life-support if your condition deteriorates.

Counseling, Medication, and Support – A Mix of Treatments

The best way to ensure treatment success is to utilize a holistic treatment approach that incorporates a mix of counseling, medication, and support. This combination has been proven to help patients manage the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal and recover from alcohol addiction.

Most alcohol treatment programs will include several steps including detox, medication, counseling, and support.

You stop drinking alcohol during the detox process. During this time, you may experience alcohol withdrawal symptoms as all traces of the substance leave the body. To help deal with the symptoms of withdrawal doctors may prescribe medication or supplements.

  •       Librium and Ativan are sometimes prescribed to patients to help reduce the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal, as both medications can be helpful for anxiety.
  •       Supplements, especially those that contain folate, magnesium, phosphate, thiamine, and zinc, can replenish the minerals and vitamins that alcohol withdrawal symptoms deplete.

After undergoing the detox process, it is the ideal time to start focusing on the long-term treatment of alcohol addiction. This time should be filled with a combination of counseling, treatment of other mental disorders, and support.

  •       Counseling is a necessary component of treatment for an alcohol addiction. It can be performed on an inpatient or outpatient basis, and it can be completed alone, with your family members, or in a group setting. Counseling is designed to identify and modify the behaviors, relationships, and thought patterns that contributed to your alcohol addiction.
  •       Treatment of other mental disorders may also be performed during the recovery process. It’s common for patients with a substance abuse disorder to have another untreated mental disorder like anxiety or depression. Diagnosing and treating these disorders reduces the risk of a relapse and improves your quality of life.
  •       Support from loved ones, medical professionals, and support groups can do wonders for your recovery. A strong support system can help you stay on track, while support groups can show you that you aren’t alone in the recovery process.

The symptoms of withdrawal can make the process of recovering from alcohol addiction feel like an insurmountable task. However, sobriety is possible and worth the time and effort. It’s important to remember that alcoholism is a disease and should be treated as such.

The River Source offers a holistic approach to addiction recovery. By providing behavioral and pharmacological therapies in a supportive and professional environment, we help patients detox from alcohol and explore the reasons for their addiction. After inpatient treatment, patients leave with a long-term care plan to help them stay sober.

If you or someone you love is suffering from an addiction to alcohol, the River Source can help. Please contact us to learn more about our approach to treating alcohol addiction and how our team of trained professionals helps patients overcome the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal.

Alcohol Awareness Month 2017

Every April, the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD) sponsors Alcohol Awareness Month. Founded and sponsored by NCADD, the month of April is dedicated to increase public awareness and understanding of alcoholism. Specifically, the stigma that prevents some people from getting the help they need.

Providing Education on Alcoholism

During Alcohol Awareness Month, NCADD, NCADD National Network of Affiliates and many other organizations educate people in local communities on the dangers of heavy drinking and alcoholism. Some of the information that the organizations want to get across include:

  • Alcoholism is a progressive, chronic disease that can be fatal if not treated.

  • Alcoholism can be successfully treated with the right balance of detox, counseling and continuing care.

  • Addiction is not a character flaw or moral weakness.

  • Alcoholism does run in families, and some people are more genetically predisposed than others.

  • What signs and symptoms may indicate a drinking problem.

  • Recognizing when it’s time to seek help, and knowing where to get help.

How to Participate in Alcohol Awareness Month

Whether you’re a recovering alcoholic or a friend/family member to a recovering alcoholic, you can do your part in participating in NCADD Alcohol Awareness Month 2017. On the website, the following materials are available for downloading:

  • 2017 Organizer’s Guide

  • Poster

  • Logo (to be used on your website or electronic materials)

There are also other ways you can contribute to this important mission:

If you are a recovering alcoholic, share your story with others. Take the next step in your support groups by becoming a mentor. Volunteer your time with others and give back to those in need, just as people donated their time to help you in early recovery. Encourage alcohol-free outings with your friends. Be a Big Brother or Big Sister and make a difference in a young person’s life.

If you are family to a recovering alcoholic, it’s just as important that you share your story. You are a testament to other families just starting their journeys. You can offer hope, inspiration and practical advice to those in need. Volunteer your time to help others, attend a support group with your loved one and continue to be a positive role model.

Alcoholism is a frightening disease, and many addicts and their families don’t know how to respond. By dispelling the myths and bringing to light the true nature of addiction and the treatment options available, we can work together to erase the stigma of alcoholism and encourage all people to get the help they need to be sober.