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Alcohol Abuse Treatment at Into Action Recovery Centers

We offer effective, individualized alcohol treatment programs managed by our experienced staff. We work with each patient to identify the underlying causes of their alcohol dependence and provide them with the resources and tools to detox and overcome their addiction. At our alcohol treatment center, we offer a range of treatment programs, from long-term residential programs and detoxification to outpatient treatment and support programs. Into Action can get you started on the path toward freedom from addiction so you can live your life to the fullest.

How Does Alcohol Addiction Start

Alcohol addiction or alcoholism is a common and chronic illness that can develop over many years of drinking. Alcoholics develop a tolerance for alcohol over time, resulting in increased use of alcohol to obtain the same effects as when they first started drinking. While many alcoholics can maintain their lifestyle for years even while drinking, eventually, their overwhelming need for alcohol takes over their lives, and they can no longer function normally.

Signs and Symptoms of Alcohol Addiction

Although alcohol is legal, many people find themselves struggling to maintain a healthy balance with this popular depressant. Often, people who think they’re managing their alcohol consumption ultimately find out they have been misusing alcohol. In fact, according to the 2018 National Survey on Drug Use & Health, 14.4 million adults ages 18 and older qualified for an alcohol use disorder (AUD) in 2017. The survey also revealed that 401,000 adolescents ages 12 to 17 had AUD.

Alcoholics exhibit different types of drinking behavior. Some alcoholics are binge drinkers who can go for many days or weeks without drinking. However, they go on “benders,” where they drink uncontrollably for days, sometimes weeks. Others drink after work or socially but find themselves consuming more and more alcohol over time. Some alcoholics drink steadily throughout the day, even waking up during the night for a drink.

The negative effects of alcoholism are physical, emotional, and behavioral. As the disease takes over the addicted person’s life, they can lose their family, home, and job while suffering blackouts, cognitive impairment, and liver disease.

Common physical signs of alcohol addiction include:

  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Lack of coordination (falls, dizziness, or poor balance)
  • Slurred speech
  • Glassy or blank stares
  • Rambling or repetitive statements
  • Headaches
  • Insomnia
  • Blackouts
  • Gastrointestinal problems (upset stomach, diarrhea, abdominal pain, bloating, nausea, vomiting or vomiting blood)
  • Appetite changes
  • Burning, tingling, or numbness in the arms, legs, and feet

Emotional signs of alcohol use disorder include:

  • Mood swings
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Panic attacks
  • Becoming distressed by the thought of not having access to alcohol
  • Anger and irritability

Behavior patterns to look out for include:

  • Wanting to stop drinking but not being able to do so
  • Diverting energy from work and family in favor of drinking
  • Being secretive about the amount of alcohol consumed and how often
  • Denying the possibility of a problem when confronted
  • Having problems at work, school, or with family because of alcohol
  • Obsessive thinking about alcohol
  • Emotional outbursts when not drinking
  • Drinking more, or longer, than intended
  • Relying on alcohol to help deal with uncomfortable or difficult moments and thoughts
  • Waking up in the middle of the night for a drink

Often, people with AUD will exhibit physical, emotional, and behavioral signs simultaneously. Should you notice any combination of these signs in your own life or the life of a loved one or friend, don’t hesitate to call our offices at 844-303-3969 for a confidential conversation. We can help you begin your recovery through alcohol detox followed by residential or outpatient treatment.

Is Alcohol Dangerous?

It’s no secret that American society enjoys and prioritizes alcohol. It’s a part of weddings, birthday celebrations, team events, holidays, and vacations. But that doesn’t mean we’re allowed to overlook the dangers of excessive drinking. Whether it’s one too many drinks at a team event, relying on alcohol to get through a difficult day, drinking to cope with painful trauma, or binge drinking for fun, developing an alcohol dependence is dangerous.

How Does Alcohol Abuse Affect the Body?

When misused, alcohol negatively affects both the body and the brain. While most people understand that alcohol affects the liver, consuming too much alcohol also slows down the immune system and makes it difficult for the intestines to control bacteria and absorb nutrients.

Alcohol abuse can also cause erectile dysfunction, prevent new bone production, and increase the risk of bone fractures and osteoporosis. Other effects on the body include gum disease, tooth decay, esophageal ulcers, stomach ulcers, and hemorrhoids. When people continue to drink large amounts of alcohol, they may experience a long-term risk of jaundice, cirrhosis, hepatitis, or even the breakdown of the pancreas.

Short-term effects of alcohol on the body include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Vomiting and diarrhea
  • Distorted vision and hearing
  • Decreased perception and coordination
  • Anemia or loss of red blood cells
  • Impaired judgment

Long-term effects of alcohol on the body include:

  • Alcohol poisoning
  • Nerve damage
  • Sexual problems
  • Cancer of the mouth and throat
  • Liver disease
  • Unintentional injuries like car crashes, falls, and burns
  • High blood pressure, stroke, heart disease, and other cardiovascular problems

How Does Alcohol Abuse Affect the Brain?

Misusing alcohol also affects the brain. As a depressant, alcohol slows down the neurotransmitter GABA. This causes sluggish movement, memory loss, and slowed reflexes. Binge drinking can affect the cerebellum, which regulates balance. That’s why alcoholics often have poor coordination.
Binge drinking also affects the cerebral cortex, which processes new information. When these brain regions slow down unnaturally, the body reacts physically, including dizziness, poor coordination, and blurred and double vision.

Alcohol also affects the hippocampus in the brain, which can lead to blackouts and short-term memory loss. Over time, chronic alcohol use can cause brain volume to decrease. A 2008 study revealed that people who had more than 14 drinks a week over a 20-year timeframe had 1.6% smaller brains than non-drinkers. AUD has also been linked to cognitive decline and memory loss in the early stages of old age.

Other long-term effects of chronic drinking on the brain include:

  • “Wet Brain,” or Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome, is a type of dementia caused by a deficiency of thiamine, or vitamin B1, in the brain
  • Diminished gray matter, which includes nerve cells that control muscles and sensory perception
  • Loss of visuospatial abilities

Signs and Symptoms of Alcohol Withdrawal

Quitting alcohol isn’t easy. In fact, quitting alcohol is especially difficult due to its legality and availability. Withdrawal can also be highly dangerous, with some symptoms beginning hours after the last drink. This is why we strongly recommend that anyone who is considering quitting habitual drinking attend a medically supervised alcohol detox program.

Most times, the withdrawal symptoms are mild at first. They often include:

  • Anxiety
  • Headache
  • Insomnia
  • Tremors
  • Gastrointestinal disturbances

More moderate withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Hyperthermia
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Excessive sweating
  • Palpitations and rapid heartbeat
  • Elevated body temperature
  • Rapid, shallow breathing

The most severe withdrawal symptoms, also known as delirium tremens, include:

  • Severe confusion along with disorientation
  • Impaired attention
  • Visual and auditory hallucinations
  • Seizures
  • Fever
  • Agitation
  • Risk of death

If you or someone you know wants to stop drinking, they must speak with an addiction treatment professional to find medically supervised alcohol detox and withdrawal care.

Alcohol Detox and Addiction Treatment

Typically, treatment for alcohol abuse takes place within an outpatient or inpatient program, depending on the severity of the addiction. 

At Into Action Recovery, we provide both outpatient and long-term residential treatment programs.

  • Outpatient treatment allows the client to receive treatment while continuing to live at home. It is commonly recommended for patients with mild to moderate AUD.
  • Inpatient treatment requires clients to live onsite at the rehabilitation center. It is often recommended for clients with more severe forms of AUD.

Generally, treatment occurs in three distinct phases: alcohol detox, psychotherapy, and peer support.

During detox, alcohol is completely removed from the client’s system. Our on-site medical detox program offers 24/7 monitoring. We also provide individualized detox plans. This process is critical because individuals need a “clean slate” to begin further addiction treatment.

Once their body is free of alcohol, clients work with licensed therapists to better understand the behavior patterns that lead to addiction. Therapy also helps clients develop healthier coping strategies and skills, reducing their dependence on alcohol. 

Clients may also undergo family and group therapy around this time, as well as a variety of recovery activities, including:

  • Life skills training
  • Meditation and mindfulness
  • Coping skills education
  • Relationship counseling
  • Peer support and 12-step groups
  • Relapse prevention education and counseling

When it’s time for Into Action Recovery clients to leave recovery, we invite our clients to join our alumni program and supply a customized discharge plan to assist with their long-term recovery.

How Does Alcohol Detox Work?

If you’re thinking about getting sober because of problematic drinking, you should enroll in a medically supervised alcohol detox program first. These programs can help you safely remove alcohol from your brain and body so you can begin treatment. Here are the typical stages you’ll encounter in an alcohol detox program.

The Initial Intake Exam

Undergoing detox from alcohol is one of the first steps you can take toward long-term sobriety and addiction recovery. This process begins with an intake exam. This assessment aims to gather information that will help the detox team understand your unique needs and determine the kind of support you’ll need. Questions typically consist of inquiries about your medical and substance use history, physical health, and treatment goals, but you might also get blood work done or have a psychological exam. After that, the alcohol detoxification process can begin.

Early Stage: Symptoms and Medical Check-Ups

Not long after your last drink, you may experience the first symptoms of alcohol withdrawal. During this early stage of withdrawal, the symptoms are generally mild and don’t require medication. As the first 6 to 12 hours pass, you might have a headache, feel nauseous, and be irritable. You might also have some anxiety and experience muscle shakes in your hands and feet. As the withdrawal symptoms begin, the detox team will regularly check your temperature, blood pressure, heart rate, and breathing. The symptoms may become more severe as you approach the end of the first day.

Peak Stage: More Severe Symptoms and Medication

In addition to the symptoms you’re already experiencing, you may experience disorientation, hand tremors, and seizures starting 24 to 48 hours into alcohol detoxification. By the second day of detox, you may experience panic attacks or hallucinations. Even though nearly all the alcohol has left the body, this stage can be incredibly challenging and can increase your risk of relapse. You may also be at risk for delirium tremens, the most severe form of alcohol withdrawal. This condition leads to severe confusion, delirium, a fast heart rate, seizures, and difficulty breathing. To help ease withdrawal symptoms and prevent relapse, the detox team may provide you with medication.

These medications can help reduce uncomfortable symptoms, lower the risk of serious complications, and stabilize the body. They can include:

  • Benzodiazepines calm the central nervous system and treat insomnia, anxiety, and muscle spasms. These medications are used sparingly because they can be habit-forming.
  • Naltrexone helps reduce cravings by preventing the euphoric effects of alcohol from occurring in the brain.
  • Acamprosate helps the brain function normally after quitting alcohol. This medication can also help reduce insomnia, anxiety, restlessness, and cravings.
  • Disulfiram produces severe reactions if you consume alcohol. If you drink while taking this medication, you’ll experience nausea, headaches, muscle weakness, and low blood pressure.

Weakening Stage: Symptoms Subside

After about a week of detox, many symptoms of withdrawal will begin to subside because the body is better able to function without alcohol. At this point, the detox team may wean you off any medication you’re taking and introduce you to different types of behavioral therapy. If any symptoms persist, they will most likely be minor and can be treated with an extended period of low-dose medication.

Some people experience post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS) at this stage. These prolonged symptoms of detox can include depression, anxiety, low energy, insomnia, mood swings, brain fog, and chronic pain. Your detox team can help develop a treatment plan should this occur.

Final Stage: Alcohol Detox Ends and Treatment Begins

Detoxification typically concludes after 5 to 14 days. After checking your vitals, blood, heart rate, breathing, and blood pressure, the detox team will help you get into a treatment program so you can learn how to break the cycle of addiction effectively.

Begin Your Recovery Today

Alcohol addiction is a chronic disease, but with treatment and rehab, you and your loved one can overcome this challenge. 

Our recovery centers offer:

If you or someone you love is living with alcohol addiction, Don’t hesitate to call our offices today at 844-303-3969. 

We’re available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

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