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Dangers of Alcohol Abuse – Recovery from Alcohol Addiction

By September 15, 2018 June 15th, 2023 No Comments
person drinking alcohol

Alcohol addiction is a severe and common problem in Canada, which often does not receive the attention it should.

Over fifteen million Canadian adults struggle with an alcohol use disorder (AUD). According to Statistics Canada data from 2016, 19% of Canadians over the age of twelve “report alcohol consumption that classifies them as heavy drinkers.” However, treatment options for those struggling with alcohol addiction are often limited within the mainstream of health services. Dedicated addiction treatment programs can provide people with the kind of support necessary to achieve lasting sobriety.

Alcohol Addiction Facts

Alcohol abuse is responsible for an estimated 7% of deaths in the county and causes more hospital visits than heart attacks. It is “one of the top-five risk factors for premature mortality, for life expectancy, for burden of disease and hospitalizations.” While alcohol addiction has traditionally been more common among Canadian men, it is becoming increasingly prevalent among women: the rate of women who have died from causes related to alcohol has increased by 26% since 2001.

Alcohol Addiction Effects

There are many symptoms and effects associated with alcohol abuse. The following are some common short-term effects: “slurred speech, slowing of reflexes, a decreased ability to control bodily movements, difficulty concentrating, gaps in memory, or brownouts, poor decision-making abilities, risky behaviour, staying conscious but not having memory of your actions, which is called a blackout.” Many of these effects can prove dangerous in their mental and physical effects. A person who has been drinking heavily will be vulnerable to bad decision making and slowed reactions in situations where this may be dangerous. They may also become aggressive, make ill-judged statements, or engage in risky sexual encounters.

There are also many adverse effects of long-term alcohol abuse. These include: “heart disease, many kinds of cancer, scarring of your liver, known as cirrhosis, inflammation of your stomach lining, known as gastritis, dementia and other neurological disorders.” Long-term alcohol abuse can also result in permanent damage to the nerves and to the kidneys. Many of these effects can result in serious illness or death.

Alcohol Addiction Impact on Body and Mind

New research is still being published with evidence of the connection between alcohol abuse and mental or physical health conditions. The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health recently reported that 57% of examined cases of early-onset dementia were related to chronic alcohol abuse. CBC also report that there is a lack of understanding among Canadians of the association between alcohol and cancer, with 70% of Canadians unaware of the link.

Sustained alcohol abuse can also result in withdrawal symptoms when a person stops drinking. Physical symptoms can be severe and usually last several days. Alcohol suppresses neurotransmitters in the brain, so when they are no longer suppressed, they can become overactive. This can cause intense agitation, fever-like symptoms, confusion and a range of other effects. Withdrawal can be an intensely difficult and potentially dangerous process. Medical professionals should supervise the process and support the individual throughout.

Alcohol Addiction & Concurrent Disorders

Many people dealing with alcohol addiction have concurrent disorders. People may turn to alcohol to self-medicate for depression or anxiety and develop a dependence. Equally, people may develop mental health problems as a result of alcohol addiction. The U.S. Organization the National Institute for Alcohol Abuse & Alcohol Addiction state than “people who are alcohol dependent are two to three times as likely to suffer from major depression or anxiety over their lifetime.” They note that “it’s important to also seek treatment for any accompanying medical and mental health issues.” This is an essential aspect of addiction treatment.

Client-centred treatment with experienced, qualified clinicians uses evidence-based treatment methods to identify and manage all concurrent disorders. This allows the client to develop methods to deal with the underlying causes of their addiction. It helps them to address any mental health conditions or other associated issues. Ultimately, this makes lasting recovery a far more achievable aim.

Alcohol Addiction Treatment

Various treatment options are available for people seeking help with alcohol addiction. It is important to identify a method that will work for an individual, and an organization who will help them both in this initial part of the process and with the actual provision of the selected treatments. An individual can achieve lasting recovery with client-centred, evidence-based care. As the NIAAA state, “Matching the right therapy to the individual is important to its success. No single treatment will benefit everyone. It may also be helpful to determine whether treatment will be adaptable to meet changing needs as they arise.”

It is important to find an appropriately accredited treatment provider. Trafalgar is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF), an independent authority which sets standards of quality for addiction treatment providers. It is also important to establish the qualifications of the staff and the amount of dedicated treatment a client will receive. The amount of dedicated time a client receives with clinical staff can have a substantial impact on the success of their treatment. Trafalgar’s clients receive three individual sessions with a highly qualified therapist each week, as well as group counselling sessions with our dedicated, experienced counsellors.

Treatment Methods

Individual therapy can help a person truly understand the causes and consequences of their addiction. It can help them to identify methods to deal with them with the support of their therapist. Group sessions provide support and insight from counsellors and other participants who understand the challenges of addiction. Many people struggling with alcohol addiction are dealing with concurrent disorders. This makes it very important for therapy to work towards identifying the underlying causes of an addiction. Good addiction treatment treats the whole person, not just their addictions.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is effective in treating alcohol addiction. It focuses on identifying the patterns of thought and behaviour that lead people to abuse alcohol. Therapy allows them to work with clinical professionals to alter these patterns. It also helps them develop methods of coping with impulses to drink. People who misuse alcohol are often addicted to the act of drinking, as much as the alcohol itself. This means that developing skills and mechanisms to avoid environmental and behavioural triggers for alcohol abuse is essential. As the NIAAA state, “The goal is to change the thought processes that lead to excessive drinking and to develop the skills necessary to cope with everyday situations that might trigger problem drinking.”

For someone starting addiction treatment or working to maintain recovery beyond initial treatment, a support network is also hugely beneficial. It is important to choose a treatment provider that offers aftercare. However, family and friends can also be an essential support for those in recovery. Working to truly understand all the causes and consequences of a person’s addiction and offering support and compassion can help them achieve lasting recovery.

Relapse and Aftercare

Recovery from alcohol addiction is a lifelong process. Someone who has undergone treatment must remain committed to their sobriety. Aftercare after initial treatment can be a huge support in this. A support group can help you connect with other people who are facing similar challenges. They can help answer questions, provide encouragement, and direct you to support resources.

People working towards recovery may also experience relapse. It is important to process this in a progressive way. Relapse can be a learning experience. It is an opportunity to reaffirm a commitment to recovery. As the NIAAA state,

“Just as some people with diabetes or asthma may have flare-ups of their disease, a relapse to drinking can be seen as a temporary set-back to full recovery and not a complete failure. Seeking professional help can prevent relapse — behavioural therapies can help people develop skills to avoid and overcome triggers, such as stress, that might lead to drinking. Most people benefit from regular checkups with a treatment provider.”

Effective Aftercare

Trafalgar’s support for our clients continues after their initial treatment is complete. Our Aftercare and ContinUcare programs ensure that we are there to offer whatever support we can to a client as they face the challenges of recovery. Aftercare functions through group counselling sessions specific to certain issues, providing long-term peer support and preventing a person from becoming isolated. It is available to Trafalgar clients on an ongoing basis after finishing their initial treatment. It is a crucial aspect of our commitment to its clients. ContinUcare keeps clients in touch with our clinical team through sets of questions that will be provided periodically, allowing the client to monitor their own progress and helping our clinical staff to identify any potential issues.

These programs provide Trafalgar alumni with access to long-term supports that reduce the likelihood of relapse. They also provide reassurance for the client and those close to them that any problems that arise will be identified and proactively addressed. With the necessary commitment and dedicated, long-term support, achieving lasting recovery from alcohol addiction is entirely possible.

Trafalgar Addiction Treatment Centres

Trafalgar Addiction Treatment Centres

We offer residential and outpatient rehab treatment programs for addiction and co-occurring mental health disorders.

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