ALCOHOLISM SIGNSAlcoholism has many symptoms, but an unfortunate few are visible to anyone other than the alcoholic. Alcoholics spend a great deal of time lying, sneaking, and hording alcohol. It is not uncommon for an alcoholic to drink during working hours, to heavily socially, to miss appointments, be late for work, miss important family events, and find themselves incapable of remembering promises. Alcoholics may also drink alone, make excuses to drink, display shakes in the morning, complain of abdominal cramps, forget to eat, forget their physical appearance, complain of numbness, tingling, or appear confused, drink daily, hide behaviors associated with drinking, have explosive episodes, exhibits nausea, vomiting, and hostility when confronted about the possibility of having a drinking problem.
ALCOHOLISM RISK FACTORRisk factors for alcoholism include depression, a history of heavy drinking, some argue a genetic predisposition, and the ability to drink heavily without any immediately noticeable consequences. Not all heavy drinkers will become alcoholics and not all alcoholics start off as heavy drinkers. What is the most determining factor of becoming an alcoholic is the drinker begins to feel in control of his or her life only when drinking. Children who begin drinking heavily before the age of eighteen have a 50% higher chance of developing alcoholism later in life.
ALCOHOLISM DIAGNOSISDiagnosis of a drinking problem involves a little honesty on the part of the drinker. A series of questions asked by the physician can determine alcoholism. Legal problems can open the eyes of the alcoholic or those around them may contribute to a diagnosis. Multiple visits to the Emergency Room can determine alcoholism. Alcoholics tend to develop physical problems if their drinking goes on over a period of years. Liver problems, heart problems, and sexual problems can often be traced back to alcoholism. Women may lose their menstruation and the improper absorption of vitamins may lead to malnutrition. A toxicology screen may be taken in order to rule out alcohol in the system when the patient visits the doctor for other illnesses if alcoholism is suspected. Other blood tests such as liver function tests, CBC tests, and Serum Magnesium tests may detect the chronic abuse of alcohol.
Alcoholism can lead to serious health complication not limited to heart, liver, kidney, and stomach problems. Withdrawal symptoms from the absence of alcohol can be equally as dangerous in a long term chronic alcoholic, leading to problems of the heart, liver, depression, anxiety, panic, psychosis, and in rare cases, death. Severe alcoholism can also lead to death.
ALCOHOLISM TREATMENTAlcohol treatment can range from in patient intervention to long term outpatient counseling. Alcoholic treatment begins in three steps. Confrontation or realization, although confrontation typically doesn’t work, detoxification, and rehabilitation. Detoxification is the physical withdrawal of alcohol, which is often punctuated by tremors, depression, anxiety, nausea, vomiting, and fatigue.
ALCOHOLISM PREVENTIONAlcoholics eventually need to decide for themselves that they need help to control or to stop drinking. Binge drinkers are more likely to seek help than chronic, functioning alcoholics. Once an alcoholic seeks help, it is imperative that he or she has support. The alcoholic must create their own support system, which is why weekly meetings are almost always part of the alcoholic’s treatment plan. The alcoholic will eventually have to make a choice between taking a drink and calling for help. The alcoholic may have to face financial, legal, and interpersonal problems when returning to life without alcohol, but continuing to drink alcohol will more than likely end up killing the alcoholic.