Life is replete with alcohol addiction stories. On some level, whether through direct use, family history or the experiences of a friend, most people have been impacted in some way by the use or misuse of alcohol. As a legal substance, the consumption of alcohol is accepted, expected and people who don’t drink, even on occasion are often considered to be prudish or a religious fanatic.
According to Michelle’s alcohol addiction story, she grew up watching her mother make pitchers of long Island Ice tea and brew her own Kahlúa. Not surprisingly, she began drinking at an early age. She remembered that the first time she experienced inebriation and the hangover that followed, it was viewed lightly by her mother. In fact, her mother’s comedic rendition of her first experience with drunkenness to her friends communicated to Michele that it was something to be applauded rather than a concern. However, in the years that followed, addiction to alcohol made Michelle’s her life anything but humorous. In her own words Michelle said, “Through this progressive disease called alcoholism, I had become exactly who I didn’t want to be! My life had become unmanageable and this disease was killing me. I felt I had no reason to live, no purpose for life.”
Unfortunately, Michelle’s experience is not unique and the following statistics help to explain why:
Based on epidemiologic studies, drinking more than two alcoholic beverages daily with the standard drink consisting of 14 grams of pure alcohol increases the morbidity rate. The bottom line is potential danger exist at all stages of the game from the misuse of alcohol. This is clearly demonstrated through dependence from habituated drinking, binge drinking, the withdrawal symptoms that occur when trying to stop drinking, the myriad illnesses associated with alcohol consumption or the risky behavior that lead to alcohol related accidents and deaths.
The common theme running through most alcohol addiction story is that the desire and the need to drink trumps everything in the person’s life. Despite negative consequences that often compute into ill health, loss of financial stability and relationships with family and friends, people with a chronic drinking problem are disabled by the power of the disease of alcoholism.
Alcoholism as defined by the American Medical Association (AMA) is a “primary chronic disease with genetic, psychosocial and environmental factors that influence its development and manifestations.” It is characterized by prolonged periods of heavy drinking, the inability to control how much alcohol is consumed and potentially life-threatening withdrawal symptoms during periods of abstinence. Finding the way out of an alcoholic lifestyle can take various twist and turns for those individuals who do not seek immediate medical attention. Self-effort which often includes sudden cessation from regular drinking, is typically the first but most dangerous approach.
Physical and psychological dependence on alcohol can cause excessive cravings which too often cause people to start drinking again. When this occurs, most people consume alcohol in volumes that can be lethal. Other dangers associated with side-stepping medical help to overcome this brain altering disease are the withdrawal symptoms such as “delirium Tremens” which are a series of reactions that, without timely medical intervention can be fatal. Today, treatment for alcohol use disorders is based on evidence-based interventions that enable medically supervised detoxification; a safe alternative to the “cold turkey” method. Treatment programs are based on diagnostic test outcomes that identify and address issues such as underlying mental disorders and genetic predisposition to addiction.
The reality is until neurological damage caused by chronic use of alcohol is restored, the patient remains at risk of a relapse. As such, there is no one-time or one-size-fit all program for overcoming alcoholism. Recovery encompasses a comprehensive continuum of care in which the duration and treatment processes are specifically customized to address the patient’s unique set of symptoms and circumstances.
To read more about Michelle’s and other addicts stories visit us here.
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