July 15

Examining Various Types of Addiction – Part I: Alcohol Addiction

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Knowing the various kinds of addiction is very useful when it comes to handling persons hooked on drugs or alcohol. If you suspect someone you know has an addiction to drugs or alcohol, you may find yourself playing a very important role in that person’s life. If you feel overwhelmed by this responsibility, it behooves you to search for an intervention specialist who will help organize and carry out a drug intervention.

Odds are good that this person either doesn’t know they have a drug or alcohol problem, or they are in denial about their addiction. When someone reaches the addiction phase, they no longer listen to reason or abide by the rules that society (or you), set for them. The addiction is the ruler, and you must operate within the confines of its parameters.

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Dealing with an addict can often feel hopeless: it’s important to understand the nature of addiction, how it works, and how the various types of addictions differ from one another. Remember, nobody sets out to become an addict: at some point, experimentation and curiosity give way to something darker. If you can understand why this happens, you’ll be of a much better help to the person in need, and you will also be able to manage your frustrations throughout your efforts to help.

Alcohol Addiction

Alcohol addiction, aka alcoholism, is thought to affect almost 100+ million people worldwide. It is by no means an isolated problem, although it can feel that way when you know someone who suffers from alcoholism. Research indicates that alcohol would be directly responsible for over 3% of all deaths. How can you tell when someone is merely enjoying a few drinks after a long day at work, or when that person’s drinking is a sign of a deeper problem?

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Why People Drink

In popular culture, alcohol is associated with “letting off some steam”, “loosening up”, “forgetting about one’s inhibitions”. It is widely portrayed in movies and television (especially older movies and shows) as a way for someone to become a different person, overcome their fears, become more confident around people to which they are attracted.

Strong reinforcement through aggressive glamorization targeting young people has definitely contributed to increase the number of teens attracted to alcohol.

When people drink to excess, they may enjoy the feeling of having no control and no reservations about themselves. This is the point when drinking becomes dangerous for those at risk for alcoholism. Drinking often turns from “casual fun” to a “quick method for loosening up and quelling concerns”. At this latter stage, that person has already become a “user”; when that abuse becomes a regular occurrence, the person is an alcoholic.

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Origins of Alcoholism

All alcoholics begin their descent to hell in the same way as anyone else who drinks. However, despite extensive research done on the subject, no one can definitively say what makes one person more prone to alcoholism than any other person. Research has shown however that those with alcoholics in their family are far more inclined to become alcoholics – or at least exposed to the risk of alcoholism. Since there is no way to tell if a person can become an alcoholic, it is only after a person becomes a full-blown alcoholic that their proclivity reveals itself.

Research done at the University of North Carolina suggests that as much as 20 percent of the population has what is called the “tipsy gene” – that is, a genetic propensity for getting drunk after just one to two drinks. The presence of this gene is a great deterrent from developing alcoholism because the person in question is physically incapable of drinking enough to become an alcoholic. Of course, since this is a genetic development, it is limited to those born with the gene, but some scientists think it could form the basis of future treatment protocols.

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Signs of Alcoholism

Many alcoholics drink in private, minimizing the chances of anyone else finding out about their addiction. If you look closely enough however, you can spot clues that show whether or not the person is an alcoholic.

The most obvious sign of a drinking problem is the lack of ability of the person to stop drinking when the situation calls for it. If someone you know gets drunk at work functions when it is customary to only have one drink, that’s a significant red flag. the same goes for someone frequently hungover, or otherwise sick in the morning.

Such behaviors reflect an inability to curtail the consumption of alcohol, and these are the things you need to look at when evaluating a person’s behavior.

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Another red flag of alcoholism is when drinking gets in the way of regular activity. When people miss work or social functions and can’t explain their absence, it could be a sign that they’re hiding their alcoholism.

The person may also have difficulties as a result of their drinking: such as an angry spouse, or financial problems. When these issues are associated with drinking, you are observing a clear example of addiction taking over the individual, leaving that person without the ability to think clearly and rationally.

Treatment of Alcoholism

Many alcoholics suspect they have a problem, but are afraid to act on it or tell anyone else about their concerns. This is because the treatment of alcoholism is extremely difficult and usually requires professional help.

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Alcoholics who try to recover on their own should be commended for their desire to help themselves, but they face a long, hard road. Recovering from alcoholism requires a period of detoxification, during which the alcoholic must manage withdrawal symptoms that come from ceasing drinking. Such symptoms include sweating, shaking, and serious physical illness. Without the help of medical personnel, this period of breaking the physical addiction to alcohol is so taxing that it is practically impossible for the individual to overcome it.

Rehabilitation centers help recovering from alcohol addiction by seeing people through this process, both in the form of emotional support and the provision of physical assistance through the withdrawal process. Treatment professionals have seen countless alcoholics go through these symptoms and they know exactly what to do in order to keep patients safe and moving toward their goal of sobriety.

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When the alcoholic is through with withdrawal, the real work can begin.

Virtually all alcoholics have deep-seated emotional reasons why they succumbed to alcoholism. Without dealing with these issues, relapse is inevitable. Rehab centers employ psychologists and licensed therapists that are experts in helping recovering alcoholics resolve these issues. As recovery continues, patients learn healthy ways to deal with their triggers and troubles.

It is only after months of this treatment that recovering alcoholics can truly be considered to be sober and symptom-free.

Recovering alcoholics are strongly encouraged to continue with therapy after they have been given a clean bill of health. Alcoholics Anonymous meetings are very popular among those who have kicked the addiction, as they help them remember how far gone they once were and how far they have come. These meetings also give recovering alcoholics a chance to give back and help those who are currently struggling. In this way, they atone for their missteps of the past and pass their knowledge on to future generations.

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