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Alcohol Addiction in North Carolina

 

Based on the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, North Carolina sees roughly 273,000 alcohol addictions in a year’s time. There is an estimated 906,000 people in North Carolina that binge drink within a month period, which can be just as dangerous to a person’s health as an alcohol addiction. Across America, the National institute on Alcohol Abuse reported that in 2013, 70.4% of people said that they had drank alcohol within the last year. While not all people become addicted to alcohol, various factors can increase the risk of becoming reliant on the substance. Rehab centers offer people a variety of treatment options that can help those suffering from an alcohol addiction in North Carolina.

What is alcohol dependence?

Alcohol dependence, referred to as alcoholism or alcohol use disorder, is a diagnosis given to a person who has become dependent on the use of alcohol, either psychologically or physically. It is a disease and requires treatment in order to break the cycle of addiction. A person is considered an alcoholic when they meet three or more of the following criteria over a year period:

  • The person is unable to stop the abuse of alcohol, even though they are aware of the negative effects it is having on their mental or physical health.
  • An alcoholic will spend the majority of their time consuming alcohol, and begins neglecting other activities that they used to enjoy.
  • Increased time is spent on finding alcohol and recovering from drinking.
  • A person with an alcohol dependence, often tried to stop or cut down unsuccessfully, which can lead them to feeling locked in a cycle of addiction.
  • A person can frequently drink more than they wanted to, as well as drink for more days than they intended to.
  • Alcohol withdrawal syndrome occurs when the person stops use of alcohol.
  • A tolerance has developed that forces the person to consume excessive amounts of alcohol in order to achieve the desired effect.

How does an addiction to alcohol begin?

If a person drinks frequently over an extended period of time, they are at risk of forming an addiction to alcohol. Certain factors can make someone more susceptible to forming a physical dependence to alcohol, such as genetics and environment, and alcoholism can form faster in some cases as a result of these factors. The presence of the alcohol in the body over long periods of time, with increasing quantitates due to a tolerance forming, can cause the body’s natural functions to become interrupted. The body adapts to the unnatural amounts of alcohol in the body, and when the person attempts to stop drinking, their body struggles to readjust to normal function. This is what causes many of the withdrawal symptoms that a person experiences.

A mental addiction to alcohol can form in people who seek to use the substance as a means of coping with various issues such as stress, or a mental disorder such as post-traumatic stress disorder. This occurs when a person lacks effective tools to cope with stressors of life. With this cycle of dealing with stress, among other situations associated with the use of alcohol, a mental addiction forms as the person becomes convinced that the only way to cope is with alcohol.

 

What affects does alcohol abuse have on the body?

Several areas of the body can be affected when a person abuses alcohol over a long period of time. Apart from an addiction forming, which can ruin many parts of a person’s life, alcoholism can cause the following damage to a person’s health:

  • Changes can occur in a person’s brain function as communication pathways are disrupted, which can change the way a person’s brain works. Mood and behavior can be altered, and person may find it harder to be coordinated.
  • The heart can also be affected by excessive drinking. Problems include high blood pressure, a risk of a stroke, irregular heartbeat, and cardiomyopathy, which is the drooping and stretching of the heart muscle.
  • The liver is another major organ affected by alcoholism. Liver inflammation can occur, as well as fat buildup on the liver, fibrosis, cirrhosis and alcoholic hepatitis.
  • The pancreas is also affected by excessive drinking, which causes the pancreas to produce toxic substances, ultimately leading to pancreatitis, which is the swelling of blood vessels in the area. This can prevent proper digestive function.
  • Drinking can cause cancer in the mouth, liver, breast, throat, and esophagus.
  • An alcoholic’s immune system is also usually weak, which can lead to many other infections and diseases.

Symptoms and Signs of Alcoholism

There are several rehab centers that deal with alcohol addiction in North Carolina. Depending on how severe the alcoholism is and what prior medical conditions are already present in the person, signs and symptoms may differ slightly. The most reported symptoms and signs of alcoholism are as follows:

  • Tolerance is a major sign of alcoholism. A person will feel as though they require increasing amounts of alcohol in order to get to a drunken or tipsy feeling. This is as a result of excessive, continued use of alcohol.
  • Withdrawal symptoms occur as early as 6 hours after the last consumption of alcohol. The withdrawal symptoms become progressively worse until delirium tremens begin, which is characterized by seizures, confusion, hallucinations, and fever. Further withdrawal symptoms include anxiety, sweating, insomnia, vomiting, nausea, irritability, fatigue, and headaches.
  • There is little to no control shown by the alcoholic over how much or how often they consume alcohol.
  • Other activities are neglected in favor of drinking more.
  • Previous efforts to quit have failed.
  • There are several problems that are directly caused by drinking, and though the user is aware of this, it does not stop their use.

Treatment Options

Through proper treatment, 50-60% of people remain sober after the first year of treatment, and most remain sober permanently after that, according to the Alcohol Abuse, Psychiatric Annuals. Detoxification is usually required, which is when a person gets through their withdrawal symptoms, and is usually medically supervised. Following detox, rehabilitation will begin, which involves behavioral therapies to help bring the person to a sober, happy state of being. Maintenance of sobriety is the next part of treatment. Here a patient will be given skills to prevent relapse from occurring.

Finding help for alcohol addiction in North Carolina is easier these days with the many channels, such as the internet, to rely on to find rehab centers. If you or a loved one suffers from alcoholism, reach out to alcohol rehabilitation centers in North Carolina today for more information about available treatment options.