Of all addictive drugs, few, if any, are more commonly consumed than alcohol. Every grocery store and restaurants serve it, bars promote it in every city and town, ads for it play during every sporting event. Few people correctly recognize alcohol as an addictive substance in the same league as cocaine and heroin. Detox from alcohol can be just as difficult an experience. This oversight is dangerous and can lead to disaster – Lexington, Kentucky.
It’s easy to forget alcohol’s addictive nature if you don’t see it often. Many drinkers consume alcohol socially and in responsible amounts. Seeing this behavior can lull a person into thinking alcohol isn’t dangerous—but this is not the case. People who regularly drink to relax after a hard day or to socialize with friends run the risk of becoming dependent on alcohol to do these things. The risks are hugely magnified if a person has a history of alcoholism in their family.
The first sign of a developing alcohol addiction is a growing tolerance to alcohol. If someone notices they need to drink significantly more alcohol to feel the same effects, this is a grim warning sign that one should take very seriously. Continuing to drink after noticing an increased tolerance will lead to the start of withdrawal symptoms. Going too long without a drink will make a user involuntarily shake, feel nauseous, and even have depressive episodes. As the person continues to drink, these symptoms will only intensify.
Like all addictions, eventually, alcoholism will take control of the user’s life. The main focus of their waking hours will be the acquisition and consumption of more alcohol, even if this means damaging their personal and professional lives. Alcohol, in particular, has a profound effect on a drinker’s behavior, making it especially likely to lead to a broken relationship and lost jobs, often causing irreversible trauma in those areas.
Excessive long-term drinking causes serious health damage. In addition to damaging the liver and brain, alcohol contributes to heart failure and the formation of some cancers. Alcohol causes insomnia, leading to chronic fatigue. As if that weren’t enough, alcoholic drinks are often extremely high in calories, so that excessive drinking will cause weight gain, further ruining the addict’s health.
Alcoholics trying to quit will have to contend with alcohol’s severe and dangerous withdrawal symptoms. A heavily addicted alcoholic can have symptoms like seizures and hallucinations if they stop drinking. There are cases where these symptoms have been dramatic enough to cause death. To make matters worse, there is a phenomenon associated with alcoholism called “kindling”—this means that withdrawal symptoms will become more serious and more painful for each withdrawal process, which makes relapse an especially dangerous proposition.
After detox from alcohol, the journey is not over. Consider the Ridge for residential outpatient treatment.
Since the withdrawal process of alcohol is so brutal, it’s a good idea to seek treatment for alcoholism rather than try to quit cold turkey. Alcoholism is a serious addiction like any other, but it takes extra vigilance to stay sober—after all, they don’t sell heroin or cocaine at the corner store! After detoxification, rehabilitation is necessary to get into recovery and learn how to live sober. After residential treatment from facilities like The Ridge, outpatient care and aftercare programs like AA offer continuing support to a recovering alcoholic, and will help them to stay on the path of health and sobriety. Alcoholism is a serious illness, but with commitment and education, a person can learn to live without drinking.