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Alcoholism: causes, treatment, and support

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alcoholis, causes, treatment, and support at New Horizons Medical

Stress can push you to your limits, especially in a demanding job. Often, the first thing you might reach for is a drink—a quick way to unwind. But when does this habit become something more serious? Alcohol use disorder, historically known as alcohol abuse, alcoholism, or alcohol dependence, is now the term used to describe this challenge.

People with alcohol use disorder continue drinking despite the adverse effects it has on their lives, such as job loss or strained relationships. Even when they recognize the damage their drinking causes, stopping can be overwhelmingly difficult. 

Vivitrol for Alcohol Use Disorder at New Horizons Medical. Stop drinking today!

Causes of Alcohol Use Disorder

The exact cause of alcohol use disorder is not fully known, but it involves a combination of physical and environmental factors. The condition often starts with frequent drinking that leads to changes in the brain’s chemistry. These changes boost the good feelings you experience when you consume alcohol. This can make you want to drink more frequently despite the negative outcomes it may bring.

Over time, the initial pleasurable effects of alcohol diminish, and individuals may find themselves drinking not for enjoyment but to avoid withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms can range from mild to severe and are often uncomfortable and potentially dangerous.

Also, there is a genetic aspect to consider, as it tends to run in families. This familial tendency suggests that genetic factors could contribute to the risk of developing this disorder.

What are the Risk Factors?

Several factors can increase the risk of developing an alcohol use disorder. Understanding these can help identify vulnerabilities and inform prevention strategies. Here are some of the primary risk factors:

Recognizing these risk factors, individuals and healthcare providers can work together to develop strategies to mitigate these risks, especially in vulnerable populations.

How Do You Know If You Misuse Alcohol?

Identifying alcohol misuse is crucial for preventing the development of alcohol use disorder. Here are some clear signs that you or someone you know might be misusing alcohol:

Recognizing these signs is the first step toward addressing alcohol misuse and seeking help. If you or someone you know exhibits these behaviors, it may be time to consult a healthcare professional for further assessment and guidance.

Vivitrol for Alcohol Use Disorder at New Horizons Medical. Stop drinking today!

How to Prevent Alcohol Use Disorder

Preventing alcohol use disorder involves several proactive steps that can be taken to reduce the risk of developing an addiction to alcohol. Here are some effective strategies:

Understand the risks

Educate yourself about the dangers of excessive drinking and the factors that can increase the risk of alcohol use disorder.

Set drinking limits

Establish clear rules for yourself regarding how much and how often you will drink. Stick to these limits strictly.

Avoid temptation

Stay away from situations where heavy drinking is likely to occur. If alcohol is a central part of social events, consider seeking out alternative forms of socializing.

Develop healthy stress-relief techniques

Instead of turning to alcohol to relieve stress, develop healthier coping mechanisms such as exercise, meditation, or engaging in hobbies.

Seek support

If you’re concerned about your drinking, talk to someone you trust. This could be a friend, family member, or a healthcare professional.

Implementing these preventative measures can significantly reduce the likelihood of developing an alcohol use disorder and promote a healthier lifestyle overall.

Diagnosis by a Professional

A healthcare provider or doctor is responsible for diagnosing alcohol use disorder. Initially, they will conduct a physical exam and engage you in a discussion about your drinking habits to better understand your situation.

During the consultation, your doctor might ask whether you:

To aid the diagnostic process, your doctor might employ a standardized questionnaire such as the one from The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence designed to evaluate symptoms of alcohol use disorder.

In most cases, diagnosing alcohol use disorder does not necessitate further diagnostic tests. However, if there are indications of potential liver issues, your doctor may order blood tests to check your liver function.

How is Alcohol Use Disorder Treated?

Treating alcohol use disorder involves multiple approaches, depending on the severity of the disorder and the individual’s specific needs. Here are the common treatment methods used:

Detoxification

The first step in treating alcohol use disorder often involves a detoxification program, which is supervised by medical professionals. This phase helps safely manage withdrawal symptoms when a person stops drinking.

Medication

Several medications are available to help people reduce drinking behaviors, manage withdrawal symptoms, or maintain sobriety. These might include drugs like naltrexone, acamprosate, or disulfiram. Most healthcare professionals choose Vivitrol, as it is not addictive and is a once-a-month procedure.

Counseling and behavioral therapies

There are various forms of counseling, and behavioral therapies are effective in treating alcohol use disorder. These therapies help individuals discover the root causes of their drinking, develop strategies to cope with cravings and learn how to change harmful behaviors.

Support groups

Joining a support group like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or other community support groups can provide ongoing encouragement and accountability as individuals work toward recovery.

Dual diagnosis treatment

For those dealing with both alcohol use disorder and mental health issues like depression or anxiety, dual diagnosis treatment is essential. This approach treats both conditions simultaneously with a help of a psychiatry professional.

Long-term follow-up

Achieving sobriety is an ongoing process that requires long-term commitment. Regular follow-up appointments with healthcare providers help maintain sobriety and manage any relapses.

Effective treatment of alcohol use disorder typically requires a combination of these methods tailored to the individual’s needs. If you would like to learn more, give us a call at 888-999-2041 to schedule a consultation.

Vivitrol for Alcohol Use Disorder at New Horizons Medical. Stop drinking today!

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