If you are struggling to stop drinking alcohol, you may have a drinking problem. You are among millions of other people across the country who also face difficulty reducing or quitting their drinking habits.
Almost one-third of US adults drink excessively, 10 percent of whom are addicted to alcohol. An estimated 15 million people are considered alcoholics.
If you can’t stop drinking, you, too, might have alcohol use disorder (AUD), which encompasses the conditions that some people refer to as alcohol abuse, alcohol dependence, alcohol addiction, and alcoholism. Binge drinkers, alcohol misusers, and alcoholics are not the same, but one can lead to the next as drinking patterns escalate.
If you’re binging or misusing alcohol, it may be to cope with depression or anxiety, or to tune out reality. Many heavy drinkers have trouble stopping when they’re treating alcohol as medication or escapism.
If you are beyond binging and misusing alcohol and, instead, have developed a dependence on alcohol, you may have trouble stopping because you’re addicted. Alcoholism creates a chemical change in your brain that causes you to rely on alcohol not only for pleasure but also to avoid withdrawal symptoms. The symptoms of alcohol withdrawal that you may experience when you try to stop drinking can be uncomfortable, scary, and even dangerous if you go cold turkey.
If you are having trouble detoxing from alcohol, it’s important to reach out for professional help. Treatment is available to help bingers and abusers change poor patterns and aid in recovery.
Quitting drinking — or any substance use — isn’t necessarily as easy as it sounds. But if you or a loved one is trying to stop drinking, here are some tips to help you:
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The number of alcoholic beverages you consume, your weight, how much you eat, your hydration level, your overall health, and other elements all factor into how alcohol affects your body.
If you have a night of heavy drinking, chances are that you’ll experience the symptoms of an unpleasant hangover. These could include the following:
However, if you abuse alcohol or have an addiction to alcohol, the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal will be much worse than a hangover. On top of the above symptoms, withdrawal symptoms can also include the following:
Professional help can assist your journey to stop drinking in a safe manner, while managing withdrawal symptoms. Even if you successfully stop drinking altogether, some of the alcohol-related damage may be irreversible.
Alcohol changes three main chemical processes of the brain: gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), glutamate, and dopamine. While the brain can form new cells with healthy habits through a process called neurogenesis, some brain damage cannot be reversed.
Likewise, while research has found that sustained sobriety, regular exercise, a healthy diet, and mental stimulation can all improve your health again, it may be a little too late for parts of your liver, pancreas, and heart.
If detoxing from alcohol were easy, alcoholism wouldn’t exist. Unfortunately, when you become addicted to alcohol, cutting it out can take a toll on your body. The symptoms of alcohol withdrawal can be debilitating.
Seeking supervised treatment, managing your symptoms, and taking medications can all assist in the process. Treatment may include:
An inpatient treatment facility is a live-in center where you receive medical support from trusted healthcare providers. You are under supervision during your withdrawal journey and recovery phase to ensure your safety. This treatment helps provide a smoother experience with fewer chances of relapsing.
Alcohol withdrawal symptoms can range from uncomfortable to fatal. This is why it’s important to work with trained medical professionals who can help you navigate the detox process in the safest possible way. You can also practice some general self-care to better manage some symptoms like anxiety, such as by doing breathing exercises, meditating, exercising, and more.
Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is the use of medications in combination with counseling and behavioral therapies. For example, medications such as Naltrexone, Naltrexone for Extended-Release Injectable Suspension, Disulfiram, and Acamprosate Calcium have been effective in treating patients with AUD.
Talk to your healthcare provider and reach out for professional help to find a treatment option that is best for you.
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You don’t have to overcome your addiction alone. Professional guidance and support is available. Begin a life of recovery by reaching out to a specialist today.
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Staff, Written by Casa Palmera. “The Mental Effects of Alcoholism.” Casa Palmera, 6 Sept. 2018, casapalmera.com/blog/the-mental-effects-of-alcoholism/.