Alcohol Dependence, Are You at Risk?

Monitor risk factors for alcohol dependency.

Two or more signs of alcoholism signal a possible dependence.

Take this simple test to determine if you are at risk for alcohol addiction. If you can claim two or more of these warning signs of alcohol you may be at risk and need to speak to your primary doctor who can help to assess and provide treatment options for problem drinking.

  • Do you organize your day around your drinking?
  • Do you hide liquor at home or work?
  • Do you spend a great deal of time and energy hiding your secret drinking?
  • Do you notice that you have trouble getting along with other people, family, friends, and co-workers?
  • Are your behaviors hostile?
  • Do you go into rages or have grandiose behaviors?
  • Have you lost interest in other people and activities?
  • Do you become annoyed when others criticize your drinking?
  • Do you harbor guilt from drinking?
  • Have you tried to stop drinking, but it only lasts a couple of days?
  • Do you find you are shaking in the morning and must have a drink to stop?
  • Does your drinking interfere with family and friend relationships?

This person has a dependency on alcohol and cannot drink in moderation, as millions of Americans who socially drink one or two drinks. Researchers find that alcohol dependence is a genetic nature and environmental issue.

Uncontrollable Cravings for Alcohol

Alcohol dependence is a craving for alcohol and is an illness brought on by a chemical imbalance in the brain. 

The Beginning of Alcohol Dependence

The person may find comfort from the sedative and the numbing effects of the alcohol against deep, uncomfortable feelings. When this drinking becomes a daily occurrence, the person becomes addicted. Everyone stands to lose because of addiction: spouses, children, family, friends, and co-workers.

When the person tries to stop drinking, some symptoms occur.

  • Rapid pulse
  • Excessive sweating
  • Insomnia
  • Sweating
  • Anxiety
  • Nausea and vomiting

Severe symptoms of alcohol withdrawal include:

  • Delirium with tremors, delusions, and hallucinations
  • Extreme agitation
  • Can be life-threatening
  • Complications of alcohol abuse
  • Possible neglect, physical and emotional abuse with family and friends
  • At high risk for homicide and suicide
  • Work-related problems

Medical diagnosis of alcohol dependence is a challenge.

The doctor must weigh all signs and symptoms of alcoholism.

Diagnosis is sometimes difficult because of the patient's denial that they are an alcoholic. They are not willing to admit they have a problem for reasons such as embarrassment, guilt, and shame. When a family has an alcoholic member, other family members tend to enable that person, and this only tends to support the dependence on alcohol.

Recognize enabling.

The family often protects the person versus getting them the right professional help. Enabling can be in the form of making excuses for the person from work or social gatherings, and lending money or paying their bills. Some will even drink with the person.

Treatment plans are wide and varied.

The alcohol-dependent person needs to recognize they need help to enter into any number of inpatient and outpatient treatment plans.

When the person decides to seek help for their alcohol addiction, the family should also find help, support, and learn how to help their loved one.

Whatever the program is that the person and family enter into should also include an aftercare program for the rest of the person's life or at least for as long as the person needs aftercare.

Alcoholics hurt themselves and loved ones.

Alcohol consumption on a chronic basis affects and destroys about every vital organ in the body. When an alcoholic refuses to get help there are related disorders that are likely to occur, such as:

  • Alcohol poisoning if the person drinks exceptionally high levels of alcohol
  • Chronic drinking can over the years turn the liver to stone, and it becomes nonfunctional
  • Alcohol impairs sexual functioning and causes congenital disabilities
  • These illnesses associate with emotional disorders such as depression
  • The person's immune system is damaged to the point that the person can no longer fight disease
  • Because alcohol is high in calories and low in any nutritional value, the person is likely to be obese and malnourished, often having a severely low B1 level, adding more complications
  • Alcohol affects the nervous system throughout the whole body
  • Damage to the heart muscle and much more

Out of Sight, Out of Mind

Say Nothing! Hear Nothing! See Nothing!

This is a form of enabling an alcoholic. Saying nothing, hearing cries for help, and refusing to see the problem does nothing to help the alcoholic overcome their dependence. 

Problems remain problems when out of sight.

I remember that when I was a nursing student, I had to view an autopsy. If you have never seen an autopsy, it is something you always remember.

I will not go into too much detail, only to say that the doctor removes each vital organ and after weighing the organ, dissects it to see what disease processes the organ may have had.

When the doctor removed the liver of this patient, it showed a nasty gray color, and the organ was as hard as a rock. Livers are supposed to be pink and smooth with elastic tissue.

When the doctor tried to dissect this liver, he had to use a saw because the liver had turned to what looked like a gray rock from someone's driveway. This patient had been an alcoholic for some years and had cirrhosis of the liver.

Many people do not realize what they are doing to the inside of their body when they abuse alcohol. Addiction is also true of drugs, smoking, food, medicine and anything the person takes into the body in excess.

People live on the theory of, "Out of sight, out of mind." They feel that what they cannot see will not hurt them.

From all that I have read about Robin Williams, he was an alcoholic and had conquered his demons for several years and then started to drink again. Coupled with the depression he apparently suffered, it was too much to bear and too hard to fight.

Seek help now.

If you suffer from alcohol abuse, the first step is to recognize the fact that you just may have a problem. There is nothing to be ashamed of if you seek help from reputable professionals, family, and friends. You can become healthy and well again.

References Only

The Cornell Illustrated Encyclopedia of Health

Personal Nursing Experience

*Beware. If you are at risk of alcohol dependence, get help today. If you know someone who is an alcoholic, help them get help as soon as possible.

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