Alcoholism is an addiction to alcohol that has very destructive consequences. Alcoholics find that they are unable to stop drinking no matter how bad the consequences become.
They spiral into a cycle of self-destructive behaviours. Unfortunately even after they stop drinking alcohol there can be damage and effects that are persistent for many years. Alcohol rehabilitation is the first step in ending the damaging behaviours and making changes to start repairing the problem. We Do Recover understands alcoholism as a disease that affects individuals in many areas of their lives.
We can help you to find an alcohol rehab that will address the emotional, psychological, physical, and other aspects of this disease in a comprehensive and integrative manner.
The Three Stages of Alcoholism
The early stage of alcoholism is usually quite easy to conceal from other people. There are very few dramatic consequences of drinking. During this stage the alcoholic’s brain and body adapt to alcohol and develop a tolerance. This means that the alcoholics needs more alcohol in order to get drunk. The first stages of alcoholism are easily confused with being a “heavy drinker”.
The middle stage of alcoholism is characterised by the development of dependence. The brain and body have become so accustomed to the presence of alcohol that they are unable to function normally without it. If the alcoholic stops drinking then he/she will have intense cravings for alcohol and will develop withdrawal symptoms. The drinking may progress to the point where the alcoholic is experiencing blackouts or short-term memory loss.
The final stage of alcoholism is hard to miss. The alcoholic is drinking nearly all the time by now and is manifesting a range of physical and cognitive deficits. Persistent mental confusion, poor memory, shaking, peripheral nerve damage, poor nutrition, infections, and organ damage are hallmarks of this stage of illness. The alcoholic will not be able to work or function in any sphere of life. Despite this the alcoholic is most likely to deny the problem and continue to compulsively drink. Admission to an alcohol rehabilitation center is nealy certainly going to be the only way to interrupt the progression of this disease. Stopping drinking independently is likely to be dangerous.
The Physical Effects on the Body of Alcoholism
Alcohol has a wide range of effects on the human body. It negatively affects a number of organs such as the heart, kidneys, and liver. People who abuse alcohol will experience hypertension and be at an increased risk for cardiovascular disease. The liver is only able to remove a certain amount of toxins from the blood and will become inflamed and very painful as a result of chronic alcohol abuse. If left untreated alcoholism will lead to cirrhosis of the liver. Chronic alcohol abuse is associated with a higher risk of certain cancers, particularly of the throat and liver. The glands of the body which are also involved in filtering toxins from the body all become swollen and inflamed.
The brain is badly affected by the toxins in alcohol. Long term abuse of alcohol will cause brain damage. Although staying sober can repair some of the damage there are cases where brain damage is not ever expected to improve. Alcoholics can expect to have coordination problems which leads to a shuffling gait and generally impaired motor skills. They will develop cognitive deficits and feel confused and hallucinate. If the damage continues dementia will set in. The entire personality of the alcoholic changes – usually leaving the alcoholic as an irritable and depressed person.
Gender specific effects of Alcohol
In general the more body weight somebody has the less effect alcohol has. Women are more affected than men even if differences in size and weight are accounted for. This is because they have less of the enzyme in the liver that is responsible for breaking down alcohol. Medications that contain estrogen as well as premenstrual hormonal changes also slow the process of eliminating alcohol.
How Alcoholism Affects a Fetus
There are a number of problems that can occur if a pregnant woman drinks alcohol. One of these problems, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS), results in permanent impairment of the child. Children with this syndrome are born severely underweight and will experience cognitive deficits for their whole life. FAS children are more likely to have learning and attention deficits, struggle with concentration, and have seizures. A pregnant woman who finds herself unable to stop drinking should immediately consult with a specialist to find an appropriate treatment plan. Admission to an alcohol rehab center in South Africa may be a very good idea.
Healing the Effects of Alcohol
Some of the damages that alcohol causes will remain with the alcoholic for the rest of her life. However through proper alcohol rehabilitation many of the damages can be treated and managed. A program that is designed to address the many facets of alcoholism will examine the emotional and psychological consequences of alcoholism and make appropriate recommendations as to how these can be managed.
Generally speaking the longer you abstain from alcohol the more likely a complete recovery becomes. By attending aftercare programs at the alcohol rehab center you will receive ongoing support to help you stay sober.
An integrative approach is used to address co-occurring disorders (“dual diagnosis”) like depression and anxiety. This helps the alcoholic to cope better and improves the likelihood of remaining symptom free from either disorder.
An alcohol rehabilitation (rehab) center in South Africa will provide a nutritional program based on the needs of the recovering alcoholic. Where neccessary dietary supplements (like Folic Acid) may be given to ensure that the body has the required resources to start the healing process.