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Alcohol Addiction


Alcoholism is a broad term used to describe problematic drinking patterns, such as alcohol abuse and alcohol dependence. Alcohol addiction in Hawaii is a significant problem that requires professional analysis and treatment from the early stages of addiction intervention and detox, through to the later stages of relapse prevention and aftercare. While some people are able to get sober by themselves, most alcoholics benefit from having access to a professional treatment center. If you know anyone who is living with alcohol addiction in Hawaii, it is important to contact a dedicated treatment facility as soon as you can.

What is alcoholism?

Alcohol abuse and alcohol dependence were combined as alcohol use disorder in 2013, with this condition also known as alcoholism. Alcoholism describes a wide array of problematic drinking practices, from occasional binge drinking through to physical alcohol addiction. Generally speaking, people are said to have a drinking problem whenever alcohol is causing problems in their life and they still continue to drink despite these problems. Compulsive and uncontrolled drinking patterns are a common feature of alcoholism, as are a range of health and social problems. According to the World Health Organization, over 200 million people around the world are living with alcoholism, with this figure representing roughly 4 percent of the adult population. Excessive drinking has been linked with a wide range of health and social problems, including the experience of physical-somatic and emotional-motivational withdrawal symptoms when drinking levels are stopped or reduced.

Alcohol Dependence and Addiction

Alcohol dependence is typically defined by the building of a tolerance when drinking, and the existence of withdrawal symptoms upon alcohol discontinuation. Unlike alcohol abuse, people who are dependent on alcohol may be unable to stop drinking without experiencing physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms. Other signs of dependence include: using large amounts of alcohol for longer time periods than originally intended, craving alcohol on a continual basis, spending considerable amounts of time obtaining or recovering from alcohol, giving up recreational and social activities because of alcohol, and continuing to drink even when social and health problems are present. Alcohol addiction is closely related to dependence, with addiction defined as the compulsive engagement in rewarding stimuli despite negative consequences. When it comes to alcohol, addiction typically includes both physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms.

Alcoholism Statistics in Hawaii

Alcohol abuse and addiction are huge problems seen across the United States, and Hawaii is certainly not an exception. According to the National Alcoholism Center, the rate of heavy drinking in Hawaii is 1.3 times the national average, with this culture of drinking putting lots of people at risk of developing an alcohol addiction. Alcoholism creates a wide range of health and social problems throughout America, with 17 percent of men and 8 percent of women likely to become dependent on alcohol in their lifetime, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). According to the CDC, someone dies on America’s roads every 51 minutes as a result of alcoholism. Because of this, it is clear that education and treatment is needed now more than ever before. If someone you know is struggling with an alcohol problem, it is important to seek professional help as soon as possible.

Dangers of Alcohol Exposure

Excessive and continual drinking practices can lead to a range of health and social problems. The short-term effects of exposure include sedation, lethargy, increased self-confidence, and possible euphoria. If someone continues to drink over a period of hours, they may also experience blurred vision, mental confusion, impaired speech, dizziness, vomiting, and other physical symptoms. Alcohol poisoning can result from extensive drinking. People who drink heavily are also more likely to be involved in, or cause, car accidents and emergency department visits. The long-term physical effects of alcoholism can include high blood pressure, liver disease, peptic ulcers, sexual dysfunction, brain damage, and extensive nervous system damage. Alcohol addiction can affect both the central nervous system and peripheral nervous system, with women and young people more susceptible to many of these symptoms. Problem drinking has also been linked with a wide array of psychological health problems, including anxiety, depression, and severe cognitive impairments.

The Importance of Treatment

People who are addicted to alcohol normally benefit from professional treatment, including medical detox, rehab, and aftercare support programs. The treatment process often begins with a medical detox period, including the administration of benzodiazepine medications to help alleviate and manage withdrawal symptoms. While it is possible to stabilize patients without the use of medications, drugs such as Valium and Librium can help patients to avoid additional medical complications. Alcohol withdrawal syndrome is potentially very dangerous, with common symptoms including sweating, nausea, vomiting, seizures, hallucinations, and delirium tremens. While medical detox helps to manage these symptoms before they create problems, it does little to address the issues surrounding alcoholism. Residential or outpatient rehab programs are also advised to treat the precedents of alcohol addiction, including behavioral and motivational therapies.

The Importance of Aftercare

Alcoholism is a serious medical condition that requires multiple levels of treatment. While detox helps to promote abstinence and rehab helps to address the emotional aspects of addiction, further measures are needed to support long-term recovery. Aftercare programs are based on the principles of relapse prevention and community support, with therapists helping patients to recognize triggers and make healthier lifestyle choices. Traditional 12-step support groups are one example of aftercare, with Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and similar groups working to help people overcome their addiction issues in the weeks, months, and years that follow their formal treatment. Sober living environments, group counseling, and the SMART Recovery system are other examples of aftercare, with each of these programs helping people integrate back into everyday life and stay sober on a long-term basis. If you or your loved one needs to access treatment for an alcohol problem, it is vital that you pick up the phone and speak with an addiction specialist to learn more about the benefits of treatment today.