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What is alcohol addiction?

Alcohol is present in most of the events on our tables; celebrations, commemorations, ceremonies and is part of our eating and living habits. However, its ubiquity and high social acceptance makes it extremely easy to obtain an alcoholic beverage and for anyone who has developed a problem with alcohol that can be extremely difficult to overcome.

Alcohol dependence is a medical and psychiatric term that refers to a condition in which an affected person has become physically and/or psychologically dependent on alcohol.

Addiction is a condition in which a person’s brain and body have become accustomed to the presence of a certain substance – in this case, alcohol – that they have consumed repeatedly over a long period of time and require a certain level of that substance to function normally. If that level is not maintained. For example, if the person in question suddenly stops drinking alcohol, the system may respond by functioning abnormally until it is able to re-stabilize over time. This abnormal function manifests itself in potentially unpleasant and even dangerous effects that are known as withdrawal syndrome.

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Causes and types of addiction:

Each case of addiction is unique, and the factors that cause it are not fully understood, although it is known that environmental and genetic factors may be responsible.

Alcohol dependence is the result of regular alcohol consumption over time. A person who abstains from drinking alcohol will not develop alcohol dependence.

Besides the physical and psychological effects of alcohol dependence, there are various forms of alcohol addiction, varying from occasional excessive drinking to alcoholism with both types of addiction. Certain individuals are in a position to carry on a normal, productive life while suffering from serious alcohol abuse (these people are known as functional alcoholics), while other people are unable to behave normally and their entire life is consumed by alcoholism.

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    Stages of Alcohol Dependence:

    Many health professionals have put a tremendous amount of effort into understanding alcohol dependence. Different classification factors have emerged to assess the development of alcohol dependence. Partly because of the variety of these factors and partly because each case is unique, there is no universally accepted classification; however, alcohol dependence can be divided into several stages.

    • Pre-Alcohol Phase
    • Early phase
    • Critical phase
    • Chronic phase

    Long-term health effects of alcohol dependence : 

    The abuse of alcohol over the years can have drastic impacts on the drinker’s mental and physical health, including some which can lead to death. The following are among the most frequent outcomes:

    • Heart disease
    • Stroke
    • Liver disease (including cirrhosis)
    • Liver cancer
    • Colon cancer
    • Oral cancer
    • Breast cancer
    • Pancreatitis

    Diagnosing alcohol dependence

    Diagnosing alcohol dependence can be difficult, especially when the patient is uncooperative (perhaps trying to hide their condition). In our detoxification center, various screening questionnaires have been developed to identify and classify an alcohol use disorder. Two of the most common tests are the Alcohol Use Disorder Identification Test and the Rapid Alcohol Screening Test, both of which can be administered by our practitioners.  Blood tests can also be performed to identify long-term alcohol abuse and the damage it may have done. Tests that can be performed include GGT, bilirubin, ALT (alanine aminotransferase) and MCV.

    Treatment for alcohol dependence: 

    Treatment begins after a period of reduction in consumption, which may be assisted by the prescription of certain medications. This protocol usually has two phases: detoxification and withdrawal.

    Getting help for alcohol addiction

    Are you suffering from alcohol addiction? Don’t despair, there is help for. If you are willing to recognize your condition and seek help, you could soon be on the road to recovery. Contact our addiction specialists today to speak candidly about your situation and learn about the treatment options you may have access to.

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