Alcoholism is a chronic, progressive disease that is characterized by a preoccupation with alcohol and an inability to control drinking behavior. People with alcoholism have a physical and psychological dependence on alcohol, and they require alcoholism treatment to overcome the addiction. Without the help of alcoholism treatment, alcoholics will continue to drink regardless of the consequences to their health or personal lives. It can be dangerous to quit drinking abruptly; the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal can be debilitating and even fatal.
At Saint Paul Alcoholism Treatment Centers, inpatient program begins with medically-supervised detoxification, where patients can safely withdraw from the substance. Once withdrawal is complete, the course of alcoholism treatment continues with rehabilitation therapy, relapse prevention, and aftercare services. To learn more about how to begin treatment, call at (612) 643-5043.
The exact cause of alcoholism is unknown. An addiction to alcohol forms when continued alcohol abuse causes a series of chemical changes in the brain. These changes highlight the pleasurable feelings associated with alcohol use, and they cause a strong urge to drink. Not everyone who misuses alcohol will develop alcoholism, but several factors can increase an individual's risk of the disease. Certain behaviors are known risk factors, such as consuming more than 15 drinks a week for males and 12 drinks a week for females. Binge drinking, which is defined as the consumption of more than five drinks in a session, can also increase the risk of alcoholism.
In addition to these behaviors, other circumstances can leave an individual susceptible to alcohol addiction. People who have a parent with alcoholism have an increased risk of the disease; individuals who grew up in a family where heavy drinking was common are also at risk. Many mental health problems, including anxiety, depression and schizophrenia, are also risk factors.
Not everybody who abuses alcohol suffers from the chemical and psychological dependence that characterizes alcoholism. Certain hallmark symptoms can help identify a case of alcohol dependence, including intense alcohol cravings, alcohol-induced memory lapses and withdrawal symptoms if alcohol is not available. Alcoholics may also suffer from liver conditions such as cirrhosis or alcoholic ketoacidosis.
People with alcoholism tend to display behaviors that result from their alcohol addiction. They're more likely to drink alone, and they may need to drink larger amounts to feel the desired effects. An alcoholic may miss work or school because of their drinking, and they will continue drinking even if financial, social or health problems result from their behavior. These signs indicate that a casual drinking habit has turned into an alcohol addiction, and professional help is necessary to conquer the condition.
It can be hard for individuals with alcoholism to recognize their addiction and seek treatment. In some cases, an intervention by friends and family members may be necessary to convince their loved one to get help. An intervention is a structured, face-to-face meeting between an alcoholic and their loved ones. Although an intervention can be arranged with no outside help, the assistance of a professional interventionist can make the meeting go much more smoothly.
There are many ways to handle an intervention, but a common model involves the use of letters written by the friends and family members of the alcoholic. These letters are written in advance, and they detail the ways that the alcoholic's behavior is hurting others. Many interventions are held in the alcoholic's family home, but a neutral location such as an office space may be preferred in some situations. An intervention can be a powerful tool to convince an alcoholic to get help before they lose their job, their family or their health.