Hello, and welcome to the beginning of your journey to recovery from alcohol. This is a comprehensive article that takes you through the signs and risks of alcohol abuse, how to recognize those signs and risks in order to help someone in need, what withdrawal from alcohol can be like, and finally what The Haven has to offer in the way of detoxification from alcohol, the utterly important first step toward recovery.
If you wish only to read about our detoxification process itself, please scroll down and begin reading at the section titles About Our Alcohol Detox Program. Otherwise, please continue to read on. The best of luck to you, but with help from The Haven, luck is something you may not need!
Signs of Alcohol Abuse
Because alcohol consumption is such a normalcy in American society, sometimes even an expectation such as at a wedding or work party, it can be difficult to tell what the signs of alcohol abuse are. There is no exact chart or graph that we can use to determine whether or not someone is an alcohol abuser or an alcoholic. However, there are indeed plenty of signs of alcohol abuse that are recognizable.
The following is a list of signs of alcohol abuse. Now, it is true that someone who drinks for the very first time may exhibit most or all of these signs. When it comes to recognizing alcohol abuse, the primary sign is frequency. Anyone who gets drunk will exhibit at least of the following signs. Someone who exhibits these signs frequently may be an alcohol abuser.
- Dizziness or lack of coordination
- Excessive sweating
- Difficulty talking, walking, and/or standing up
- Bloodshot eyes
- An aroma of alcohol
- Unprovoked agitation or aggression
- Compulsive, sometimes risky behavior
- Nausea or vomiting
- Excessive gum-chewing or cologne or other attempts to mask an odor
- An extremely high tolerance to alcohol
Risks of Alcohol Abuse
Less than two years ago, the rate of alcohol-caused deaths was at its highest in America since 1979, according to the Washington Post. In ’79, just over eight in every 100,000 people died from alcohol-induced causes. In 2015, that number almost reached ten, coming in at 9.5 per every 100,000. Plus, this was a 37% increase since 2002. Worse yet, these numbers DO NOT INCLUDE drunk driving accidents and do not include any alcohol-related homicides.
Altogether, alcohol causes about 88,000 deaths every year, and that’s just in America alone. Europe is undergoing its own alcohol-related crisis, and recent news says England is on route to experience all-time death rates from alcohol. There literally are too many risks of alcohol abuse to even list here without the article turning into a scroll of symptoms. However, we want to provide you with some of the more common risks of alcohol abuse. Some are short-term, and some are long-term, so there are two separate lists.
The short-term risks of alcohol abuse include:
- Impaired judgment, (which could lead to engagement in risky behavior/injury)
- Blacking out, (which is literally a form of temporary amnesia and may have more serious long-term effects than currently known)
- Alcohol poisoning, (which will likely land you in the hospital for a stomach pumping, and can indeed be fatal)
- Bodily dysfunction, (including everything from motor skills to incontinence)
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Extreme emotional distress
The long-term risks of alcohol abuse include:
- Brain damage
- Cirrhosis of the liver and/or pancreas, (which could lead to cancer)
- Uncontrollable shaking/tremors
- Anxiety and/or depression
- Kidney failure
- Several different heart conditions
Recognizing Alcoholism & Stepping In
Alcohol abuse is not necessarily alcohol addiction, which is traditionally known as alcoholism. Regardless, if you know and care about someone who is either definitely an alcoholic, or someone who you suspect may be, there are ways to step in, intervene, and being the process of helping… and of course you can step in and help yourself too. With alcohol, as with most substances, abuse is the step directly preceding addiction. However, there are some ways to tell abuse and addiction apart.
Abuse consists of using a substance to the point of intoxication. Addiction consists of repeating that process on a regular basis. An example of abuse would be someone drinking an entire six-pack of beer in one sitting and getting drunk. An example of addiction would be someone doing that every night, or even most nights. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, published by the American Psychological Association, offers scientific criteria regarding telling abuse vs. addiction, for further reading.
Stepping in and intervening when it comes to someone we know has a problem is never an easy thing to do. We love these people, and we do not want to hurt them, but we love them enough to know they are hurting themselves, and perhaps at a deadly rate. In such extreme cases, professional intervention is recommended. When it comes to simply trying to help someone you love, keep these tips in mind:
- Do not call the person an alcoholic. Try to start sentences with “I” and not “You”.
- Do not demand the person to seek help. Simply state your concerns.
- Encourage the possibility of help, but do not be forceful.
- Maintain the rapport you already have with the person. Acting differently will likely arouse suspicion.
Unfortunately, withdrawal from alcohol is perhaps the most dangerous of all substance withdrawal processes. It is, after all, very likely to have ended the life of singer Amy Winehouse. That was because she, like many alcohol abusers who quit cold turkey, stopped drinking suddenly and without the necessary professional help. Alcohol withdrawal is always dangerous to some degree, but it becomes particularly dangerous when done unsupervised.
The bottom line is that any pain or discomfort felt along the path to recovery will be forgotten about once the bliss of sobriety and normal living comes rushing in. Any struggle at this point along the path is well worth the normalcy and stability of a life without alcohol abuse.
What follows is a list of alcohol withdrawal symptoms, but please be aware that with help from us here at The Haven, not only can most of these be avoided, but all of them can be helped. As you read this list of symptoms, be aware that quitting alcohol without the assistance of professional treatment puts you much more at risk than quitting with the proper help.
Alcohol withdrawal symptoms include:
- Restlessness or insomnia
- Excessive sweating
- Loss of appetite
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Extreme agitation and/or aggression
- Anxiety and/or heightened nervousness
- Increased heartrate
- Acute headache
- Tremors, which could include Delirium tremens, a possibly fatal condition
To reiterate, these symptoms are much more likely to occur, and much more likely to be worse, if an alcoholic stops drinking without help. The Haven can provide all of the help necessary for an alcoholic to begin the path to recovery, and the right way. The first step, as mentioned, is detoxification, commonly called detox, which SAFELY and effectively REMOVES alcohol from the body. There may not be a manual to be able to tell abuse from addiction, but there is indeed a manual on how to provide detox from alcohol, and we here at The Haven may well have written it.
About Our Alcohol Detox Program
Our alcohol detox program offers a safe and comfortable environment for individuals suffering from alcohol dependency to recover in a tranquil, drug-free setting. Alcohol detoxification is the essential first step, a supervised period with zero alcohol intake for effective treatment and management of alcohol addiction. Our clinicians and staff members are on duty 24/7 to support our clients through the recovery process. In addition to care for alcohol withdrawal symptoms, our clients are also given the opportunity to support one another and receive education and counseling about their addiction problem and its effective treatment. One of the benefits of The Haven Detox is the individualized care and recovery plan we provide to encourage the adjustment to sustained sobriety.
The Haven’s clients begin alcohol detox treatment with an intake process to help the clinical team better understand the needs of the individual. A medical, drug and alcohol history will be taken, as well as an assessment of current physical well-being. Clinicians on staff have experience working with alcohol dependency and have acquired skills crucial to understanding where our clients stand in terms of symptoms of withdrawal.
Alcohol withdrawal is a serious, potentially life-threatening condition which can begin as soon as two hours after the last drink. For individuals who have been drinking heavily for weeks, months or years, alcohol withdrawal symptoms can rapidly intensify, so it’s important to seek medical attention even when symptoms seem mild at first.
There is no such thing as being too careful in this situation.
What to Expect During Alcohol Detox
During the first few days without alcohol, an alcoholic is likely to experience a variety of different physical and mental withdrawal symptoms. Since the brain, body and mind are adjusting to functioning with a large amount of alcohol present, when an individual ceases drinking, these functions need to readjust. We are committed to ensuring a safe and comfortable transition for our clients during this time, so they can begin to focus on identifying and treating the causes for addictive behavior.
Following the intake process, most clients in our alcohol detox program undergo detoxification from alcohol to stabilize withdrawal symptoms or any medical complications. In some cases, pharmacological assistance may be needed, involving counter-indicative medication to offset withdrawal symptoms. This is also necessary when there are co-occurring mental health disorders or underlying medical ailments complicated by substance abuse.
Medication & Alcohol Detox Treatment
Medications such as Benzodiazepines, a class of drugs commonly used throughout the alcohol detoxification process, may be prescribed in small amounts in our supervised alcohol detox to help with craving and withdrawal sensations.
These medications are considered mild tranquilizers and bring short-term relief from problems such as insomnia and anxiety. The drugs in this family also have an anticonvulsant which helps relax the muscles. Taking the first step and seeking help in an alcohol detox program is critical to reducing the significant damage done by substance abuse.
The continuum of treatment and comprehensive care offered at The Haven Detox ensures the ability to surmount the physical aspects of addiction. This achievement will promote the confidence necessary to begin building the tools essential to successfully engaging in long-term addiction recovery.
Alcohol is an extremely dangerous substance that can cause addiction in a very short time frame, can kill you from excess or even from withdrawal, and above all is legal. This is why caution and responsibility are paramount when consuming alcohol. If you or someone you know is suffering from alcoholism, or you suspect alcoholism, please do not hesitate to contact us. We can be the first step toward a healthy, alcohol-free life.