Treatment for Alcoholism
Alcoholism is responsible for around 88,000 people dying each year in the United States. Additionally, the National Institute on Health reported that 14.5 million people over the age of 12 had an Alcohol Use Disorder in 2019. At Emerge Healing Center we’re dedicated to helping individuals with Alcoholism through effective and compassionate treatment.
Mental Effects of Alcoholism
Alcoholism is defined as a chronic, progressive, potentially fatal disorder marked by excessive and usually compulsive drinking of alcohol leading to psychological and physical dependence or addiction. This definition is essential when understanding the effect alcoholism has on the brain. It’s not simply a choice to drink or not to drink for the alcoholic – it is a physical dependence on the brain.
Society has unfortunately taught many people that Alcoholism is a choice. They don’t understand why a person can’t or won’t “just stop” drinking, especially when it is causing harm to themselves and others. Essentially an alcoholic is physiologically dependent on alcohol – if they were to “just stop,” they would experience severe physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms.
Regarding the brain, alcohol has varying effects depending on the individual. In the short term, it influences the brain’s communication and information-processing pathways. This can lead to confusion, slow or impaired decision-making, declined motor coordination, and more. Long-term effects are more serious – heart problems, liver failure, weakened immune systems, and likely other mental health problems are just the beginning. Additionally, studies have shown that excessive alcohol consumption can shrink the hippocampus, a region of the brain in the temporal lobe that plays a major role in memory and learning.
Physical Effects of Alcoholism
In addition to the mental effects of Alcoholism, there are countless common physical symptoms. Additionally, alcohol causes more complex effects on different parts of the body.
Common physical symptoms can include:
- Muscle spasms
- Weight gain
- Unhealthy skin
- Mood swings
- Appetite changes
- Vision changes
More severe cases of Alcoholism can affect systems of the body like the heart, the lungs, the gastrointestinal tract, and reproductive systems.
Alcohol does a few note-worthy things regarding the heart. It causes blood vessels to relax, allowing more blood to reach the skin (faces flushing when drinking), lowers blood pressure making the heart work harder to circulate blood, and increases the heart rate causing an increased risk of stroke. Additionally, overconsumption of alcohol can lead to damaged blood vessels and other organs by toxic byproducts being filtered.
As the heart rate increases, the body needs more oxygen to function, causing an Alcoholic’s breathing rate to increase. Alcohol also makes the lungs more susceptible to infection by changing their actual structure – and overall reduces lung efficiency. In severe cases, lung disease is present in individuals with AUD.
As alcohol metabolizes through the body it turns into acetaldehyde, a toxic carcinogen (cancer-causing agent). As if that’s not enough danger, stomach ulcers and esophageal issues are more likely with AUD as the alcohol interacts with the protective materials of the stomach. In addition, it stops the normal absorption of fats, proteins, and vitamins in the body and prioritizes alcohol metabolism over food metabolism.
Fertility issues are also common with AUD. While drinking when pregnant is a known danger, alcohol consumption can also affect the quality of sperm in men and hormones needed for conception in women.
While there are over 14,000 treatment centers in the United States, and an estimated 15 million people struggle with AUD in the US, less than 10% receive treatment. Below are some sobering facts on Alcoholism:
- Alcohol is the most widely abused substance in the US
- An estimated 300 million people in the world suffer from AUD
- 7% of American adults with AUD ever get treatment
- Individuals with AUD are more likely to get medical help from a primary care physician rather than targeted treatment
- Alcohol is the third-leading preventable cause of death in the US
Emerge Healing Center Services for Alcoholism
At Emerge Healing Center, we treat Alcoholism at all levels. Our trained professionals know that at the beginning of treatment, the detox phase, managing cravings is essential to preventing relapse. Our doctors and medical staff are trained and ready to prescribe a variety of safe medications to help individuals get through the detox phase and into their treatment program. These medications are all FDA-approved and monitored with the goal being to reduce cravings for alcohol.
Following the detox phase, our licensed team of therapists will walk each client through their treatment plan. Everyone’s situation is different and treatment plans are influenced by things like how long/much a person drank, the severity of withdrawal symptoms, dual mental health issues, other health complications, and more. No matter the plan, the goal at Emerge Healing Center in Atlanta is to help walk each individual into a life of recovery.
If you relate to any of the above, it may be time to seek treatment. Reaching out for help can be the hardest part for many with an AUD but the good news is that you’re not alone.
Choosing a treatment facility for your alcohol addiction is the first step on what may be a long road to total recovery. With the help of Emerge Healing Center, you will get the help you need with effective, scientifically-backed treatment options. Contact us today to learn more about our programs and how we can help you take back control of your life.