Alcohol Addiction

Alcohol Addiction

Alcohol addiction is a condition when a person is addicted to alcohol and it is difficult to control his consumption. There are several other terms used for this condition, namely alcoholism and alcohol use disorder .

The pattern of excessive alcohol consumption can cause serious problems in one's health and social life. However, a person who is addicted to alcohol cannot stop consuming alcohol, even though he is aware that this habit has caused problems for him.

Causes of Alcohol Addiction

Alcohol addiction results from consuming too much alcohol so that the level is sufficient to cause chemical changes in the brain. These chemical changes increase the feeling of satisfaction when drinking alcohol, thus triggering sufferers to drink it more often.

Over time, the feeling of satisfaction you get from drinking alcohol will wear off. Therefore, sufferers will continue to drink alcohol to prevent withdrawal symptoms that can appear when sufferers do not drink alcohol.

Many factors can influence a person to experience alcohol addiction, including:

  • Psychological factors, such as stress , depression, and difficulty adapting
  • Social factors, such as encouragement from others to drink alcohol, as well as the availability of alcohol around
  • Environmental factors, for example being in an environment where excessive alcohol consumption is considered normal
  • Genetic factors, such as having parents with alcohol addiction problems

Symptoms of Alcohol Addiction

Alcohol is a strong chemical that can cause a variety of effects on the body. The effects caused can be mild, moderate, or severe, and can occur for a short time or long term.

The following are some of the symptoms that indicate someone is addicted to alcohol:

  • Unable to limit the amount of alcohol consumed
  • Want to limit alcohol consumption but to no avail
  • Most of the time is spent drinking alcohol or recovering from the effects of alcohol
  • Have a very strong desire to drink alcohol
  • Inability to complete obligations at school, work, or home due to alcohol consumption
  • Continuing to consume alcohol even if this habit has caused health or social problems
  • Stopping or limiting social, work, or hobbies activities, because it prioritizes time to drink alcohol
  • Consuming alcohol in conditions known to be harmful to oneself, such as while driving or swimming
  • Have increased alcohol tolerance, so you need to consume more alcohol to feel the same effects as before
  • Experiencing alcohol withdrawal symptoms, such as nausea, sweating, and shaking, when not consuming alcohol, so you feel the need to consume it continuously and in large quantities to avoid these symptoms

In certain cases, people with alcohol addiction can experience symptoms of alcohol poisoning. Alcohol poisoning occurs as a result of increased levels of alcohol in the blood. The higher the alcohol level in the blood, the more severe the conditions that can be experienced.

Alcohol poisoning can cause behavioral and mental disturbances, which include mood swings, slurred speech, inappropriate behavior, difficulty concentrating and judging, and poor body coordination.

Alcohol poisoning can also cause sufferers to be unable to remember the events they experienced, or it is called a blackout . Very high blood alcohol levels can also lead to coma or even death.

When to See a Doctor

Check with your doctor or psychiatrist if you feel you are drinking too much alcohol, even if only occasionally. You also need to see a doctor if your drinking habits are causing problems, or if your family and friends are bothered by your drinking habits.

For parents, it is very important to always be aware of the symptoms that might indicate alcohol addiction in children, such as:

  • Not interested in doing daily activities or hobbies, and not paying attention to appearance
  • Red eyes, difficulty speaking clearly , impaired movement coordination, and forgetfulness
  • Having problems with friends or suddenly having a different group of friends than usual
  • Experiencing a decline in academic performance and having problems at school
  • Have frequent mood swings
  • Have many reasons or often lie to cover something up

In this case, early prevention is very important to do so that children can avoid various problems that can arise due to alcohol addiction.

Diagnosis of Alcohol Addiction

The process of diagnosing alcohol addiction will begin by conducting questions and answers regarding the patient's drinking habits. The doctor may also ask the patient's family and relatives.

Alcohol addiction can have an impact on the patient's body. Therefore, the doctor will also ask about any complaints that may be felt and the patient's medical history, then proceed with a physical examination.

To confirm the diagnosis, the doctor will also carry out a series of supporting examinations, such as:

  • Laboratory tests and scans to see if there are health problems, such as organ damage
  • Psychological examination by providing a series of questions about the patient's symptoms, feelings, mindset, and behavior

Alcohol Addiction Treatment

There are several methods that can be done to overcome alcohol addiction. The method used will be adjusted to the level of addiction and therapeutic goals. These methods include:

1. Counseling

Counseling, both in person and by joining a counseling group, can help patients understand their addiction problems.

One of the counseling methods that can be used is cognitive behavioral therapy . In this therapy, patients will be informed about the dangers of alcohol to health and social life. After that, the patient will be assisted to correct his wrong mindset about alcohol consumption.

Patients will also be given advice regarding things that can be done to reduce alcohol consumption, for example by recording the amount of alcohol consumption for 1 week, or replacing alcohol with soft drinks.

2. Detoxification

Alcoholic patients are generally advised to stop consuming alcohol gradually. However, there are several conditions that make it necessary for patients to stop consuming alcohol completely or immediately, namely:

  • Suffering from disorders of the liver, such as cirrhosis, hepatitis, liver cancer , and other liver diseases
  • Suffering from heart disease
  • Pregnant or planning a pregnancy
  • Taking drugs that interact with alcohol, such as antipsychotic drugs

In cases of severe addiction, the patient needs to be hospitalized to stop consuming alcohol. This is because withdrawal symptoms are usually severe and require medical treatment.

Withdrawal symptoms can be severe during the first 48 hours, and then improve as the alcohol level in the body decreases. This whole process generally lasts 3–7 days since the last time the patient consumed alcohol.

If alcohol addiction is mild or moderate, the detoxification process can be carried out at home under the direction and supervision of a doctor. If the alcohol withdrawal symptoms are severe enough, the doctor can prescribe medication for consumption at home.

3. Drug therapy

If needed, the doctor will prescribe drugs, such as naltrexone, acamprosate, or disulfiram , to help the recovery process from alcohol addiction.

4. Lifestyle changes

Lifestyle changes are an important step in overcoming alcohol addiction. In this case, patients need to start adopting a healthy lifestyle , such as by getting enough rest and exercising regularly.

Old activities related to alcohol need to be shunned and replaced with new, more positive activities, such as building spiritual activity by worshiping more regularly. In addition, patients also need to stay away from friends and situations that do not support the recovery process.

Several alternative therapies can be combined as additional therapy during the recovery period, such as yoga , meditation and acupuncture, as long as they are under the supervision of a doctor.

Alcohol Addiction Complications

A number of diseases and health problems that can occur due to alcohol addiction are:

  • Brain and nervous disorders
    Dementia and Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome are disorders of the nerves that can occur as a result of long-term alcohol consumption. Symptoms that can be caused include confusion, loss of balance, and loss of vision.
  • Liver disease
    Consuming large amounts of alcohol can cause fatty liver (hepatic steatosis), inflammation of the liver (alcoholic hepatitis), and cirrhosis .
  • Heart and blood vessel disease
    Excessive alcohol consumption can trigger high blood pressure, which can increase the risk of stroke and heart failure. Heart rhythm disturbances ( atrial fibrillation ) can also occur due to excessive alcohol consumption.
  • Digestive problems
    Alcohol addiction can cause inflammation of the stomach lining ( gastritis ). This can interfere with the absorption of B vitamins and other nutrients, causing the body to lack nutrients. In addition, damage to the pancreas that leads to pancreatitis can also occur due to alcohol addiction.
  • Disorders of menstruation and sexual function
    Alcohol addiction can cause impotence in men and cessation of menstruation in women.
  • Pregnancy problems
    Consuming alcohol during pregnancy has the risk of causing miscarriage or fetal alcohol syndrome which affects the birth defects of the child.
  • Impaired vision
    Long-term alcohol consumption can cause uncontrolled movement of the eyeballs (nystagmus) and paralysis of the eye muscles due to a lack of vitamin B1.
  • Hypoglycemia
    Alcohol can interfere with the release of sugar (glucose) from the liver, so there is a risk of causing hypoglycemia , especially in diabetics who use insulin.
  • Bone damage
    Alcohol can inhibit the production of new bone cells, thus potentially causing bone loss or osteoporosis . In addition to bones, bone marrow can also be damaged by alcohol, so that the production of blood cells is disrupted.
  • Cancer
    Long-term alcohol consumption can increase the risk of developing liver cancer, oral cancer, colon cancer, throat cancer, and breast cancer.
  • Susceptible to infection
    Consumption of alcohol can make the immune system decrease, thus increasing the risk of infection, especially lung infection ( pneumonia ).
  • Alcohol and drug
    interactions Alcohol can interact with some drugs. This interaction can make the drug harmful to the body.
  • Alcoholic
    ketoacidosis Alcoholic ketoacidosis is a frequent complication in malnourished patients who are addicted to alcohol. These complications can be fatal.

In addition, keep in mind that consuming alcohol or being under the effects of alcohol in certain conditions, such as driving or operating heavy machinery, carries a high risk of causing an accident that can be fatal.

Alcohol Addiction Prevention

Alcohol addiction can be prevented by avoiding alcohol consumption or at least limiting the amount of alcohol consumed per day. The following is a measure of alcohol consumption that is still relatively safe for health:

alcohol level _ The rate per day
5% (beer) Maximum 350 milliliters
7% ( malt liquor ) Maximum 250 milliliters
12% ( wine ) Maximum 150 milliliters
40% ( gin, rum, tequila, vodka, whiskey ) Maximum 50 milliliters
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