Alcohol Intoxication

Alcohol Intoxication | Midwood Addiction Treatment

Alcohol intoxication is a temporary condition caused by consuming alcohol, usually in an attempt to experience euphoria or as a social lubricant. Severe alcohol intoxication is commonly referred to as alcohol poisoning and is potentially life-threatening.

Alcohol intoxication is most commonly the result of ethanol contained in commercial or homemade alcoholic beverages, such as beer, wine, and liquor. However, there are several other types of alcohol that be found in a variety of sources that include methanol, isopropanol, and ethylene glycol. These poisonings are uncommon are not addressed in this article, but more information including individual effects and treatment can be found here.

Alcohol consumed orally is absorbed into the blood through the small intestine and the stomach. Because the body absorbs alcohol faster than the liver can metabolize or eliminate it, blood alcohol concentrations (BAC) continue to rise with consumption and peak between half an hour and ninety minutes thereafter.

Increasing levels of blood alcohol can eventually cause symptoms such as dizziness, nausea, vomiting, sleepiness, and the characteristic changes in speech and motor skill impairments that are closely associated with drunkenness.

Risk of Alcohol Intoxication

Alcohol is a central nervous system (CNS) depressant, which is a type of substance that decreases activity in the brain and can reduce the body’s reaction time. The absorption rate of alcohol and risks related to alcohol intoxication depends on a number of factors, including the amount and percentage of alcohol consumed, the period of time in which it was ingested, presence or absence of food in the stomach, and individual factors including tolerance, weight, sex, and other substances in the person’s system.

For example, individuals who do not drink alcohol often tend to get more intoxicated more quickly and more intensely than those who drink alcohol regularly—although this is not always the case. Also, women and younger adults may become drunk more easily than men, due to differences in body size and fat composition and variations in each person’s system’s ability to process alcohol.

Binge drinking is the most common cause of alcohol intoxication and alcohol poisoning and is defined as drinking 4 or 5 units of alcohol in a two-hour time frame for women and men, respectively. In the U.S. one unit of alcohol is considered to be approximately one ounce of liquor, 5 ounces of wine, or 12 ounces of beer.

Signs and Symptoms of Alcohol Intoxication

Early effects of alcohol intoxication may include accelerated heartbeat, feelings of confidence and well-being, facial flushing, and impaired motor coordination.

Symptoms of worsening alcohol intoxication include:

  • Reduced inhibition
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Reduced attentiveness
  • Slurred speech
  • Impulsive movements
  • Sleepiness
  • Stupor
  • Blackouts
  • Loss of consciousness

People with very severe intoxication may also become very cold, dehydrated, and suffer seizures.

Levels of Alcohol Intoxication

Because everyone processes alcohol differently, the amount of alcohol it takes to cause each individual to exhibit the numerous degrees of intoxication also varies. However, the levels of alcohol intoxication can generally be grouped as follows:

Mild Alcohol Intoxication

Alcohol Intoxication | Midwood Addiction Treatment

Symptoms of mild alcohol intoxication, which is typically reflective of a BAC of between .02-.05%, may include talkativeness, feelings of relaxation and sedation, and minor impairments in fine motor coordination.

Moderate Alcohol Intoxication

Moderate alcohol intoxication, which is typically a BAC of between .05-.20%, may include the following symptoms:

  • Poor fine motor coordination
  • Uncontrolled eye movements
  • Clumsy and unsteady gait
  • Reduced reaction time
  • Slurred or incoherent speech
  • Impaired judgment
  • Altered sense perception
  • Mood swings
  • Changes in personality
  • Uncharacteristic behavior
  • Loss of inhibitions
  • Memory impairment

Severe Alcohol Intoxication

Symptoms of severe alcohol intoxication are typically associated with a BAC of greater than .20% and may include the following:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Problems speaking
  • Double vision
  • Amnesia
  • Delirium
  • Feeling very cold
  • Lethargy
  • Respiratory depression
  • Seizures
  • Stupor
  • Coma
  • Death

In people who do not regularly consume alcohol, a level of .40 or above may be lethal—an event better known as alcohol poisoning. People with alcoholism can usually drink more alcohol than others and therefore have higher blood alcohol levels without exhibiting symptoms of intoxication as intensely. Nonetheless, alcohol poisoning can result in sudden death due to respiratory depression and heart arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat).

People observing a person at this level of intoxication may notice the following signs:

  • Strong alcoholic breath
  • Vomiting
  • Slow breathing
  • Enlarged pupils
  • Rapid eye movements
  • Flushing of the face
  • Disorganized speech
  • Incoherence
  • Lack of alertness
  • Semi-consciousness
  • Stupor
  • Unresponsiveness

When to Seek Medical Help

Some complications from alcohol poisoning require immediate emergency medical attention, including breathing problems, uncontrollable vomiting, chest pain, and seizures. If a person becomes semi-conscious or unconscious and is experiencing severe vomiting, it is important to monitor them to minimize the risk of inhalation of vomit. Aspirated vomit can result in death by suffocation, or can cause a bacterial infection in the lungs.

To reduce the risk of vomit being inhaled, place the person on their side, facing slightly downwards, supported by bent limbs. A person in this condition must be closely supervised, and their caregivers should seek emergency medical help for them immediately. Tragically, people who binge often drink rapidly—that is, those who consume very large amounts of alcohol in a brief period risk drinking a lethal amount of alcohol even before signs of intoxication become evident.

Alcohol Intoxication | Midwood Addiction Treatment

Treating Alcohol Intoxication

Treatment of alcohol intoxication primarily involves the administration of fluids and the management of nausea and vomiting. People who are mildly to moderately intoxicated will eventually process the alcohol without significant complications and improve with time. People with severe alcohol intoxication, however, often need medical evaluation or hospitalization to receive fluids intravenously and to manage complications such as seizures or difficulty breathing.

Those in the presence of someone who is drunk should take steps to make sure that they are safe, conscious, and are not vomiting uncontrollably or showing signs of having difficulty breathing. If the person is unresponsive, unconscious, and vomiting or exhibiting signs of respiratory distress, seek medical care immediately, especially if the person’s condition worsens or does not show any improvement in a reasonable amount of time.

Other Serious Complications of Alcohol Intoxication

Hyponatremia (severe sodium imbalance in the body) is a potentially life-threatening condition that may occur in those who vomit uncontrollably and cannot keep down electrolyte fluids or food.

Dysrhythmia is a condition in which the intoxicated person experiences heart arrhythmias after binge drinking.

Pancreatitis is a condition characterized by severe inflammation of the pancreas and can manifest soon after binge drinking. Acute pancreatitis can be deadly and is considered a medical emergency.

A lack of coordination and slowed reaction time increases an intoxicated person’s risk of injury from falls, burns, car accidents, stunts, etc. If a drunk person becomes belligerent and aggressive, which is common, this can lead to heated arguments, fights, and assaults that injure either the intoxicated person or those around him or her. In turn, these drunken actions can lead to legal ramifications.

Treatment for Alcoholism

People who become intoxicated often and find it difficult to control their drinking should seek professional help as soon as possible. Midwood Addiction Treatment offers a comprehensive approach to substance abuse that includes therapeutic services vital to the recovery process, such as psychotherapy, counseling, group support, and more.

If you or someone you love has a drinking problem, please contact us as soon as possible to discuss treatment options. Discover how we help people free themselves from drugs and alcohol once and for all!

Effects of Using Ibuprofen and Alcohol

Ibuprofen and Alcohol | Midwood Addiction Treatment

Effects of Using Ibuprofen and Alcohol – Ibuprofen (brand name Advil) is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) designed to relieve pain, inflammation, and fever. It’s sold over the counter, meaning that means it doesn’t require a doctor’s prescription. That said, some prescription-only medications may also contain ibuprofen.

Although OTC drugs such as ibuprofen are available without a prescription, they can still be strong medications. They also come with the risk of unwanted side effects, especially if you don’t use them as directed.

Should You Take Ibuprofen and Alcohol Together?

Mixing any medication with alcohol has the potential to be dangerous to your health. Alcohol can render some medications less effective and intensify the effects and side effects of others.

In most cases, drinking a moderate amount of alcohol while taking ibuprofen will not result in harm done. However, using more than the recommended dosage of ibuprofen or consuming an excessive amount of alcohol can significantly increase your risk of complications.

Gastrointestinal Bleeding

In a study of more than 1200 patients, it was revealed that the regular use of ibuprofen increased the risk of stomach and intestinal bleeding in those who consumed alcohol. People who used ibuprofen infrequently and drank alcohol were not found to have an increased risk.

Symptoms of gastric bleeding include the following:

  • Persistent upset stomach
  • Black, tarry stools
  • Blood in vomit
  • Kidney Damage

Chronic use of ibuprofen can harm the kidneys. Alcohol use can harm your kidneys, as well, so using ibuprofen and alcohol in combination can significantly increase a person’s risk of kidney problems.

Symptoms may include the following:

  • Fatigue
  • Swelling in hands or feet
  • Shortness of breath
  • Decreased alertness

Ibuprofen works to reduce pain, and it can help a person feel relaxed. Alcohol has a similar relaxing effect, so, when combined, these two substances may raise the risk of not paying attention while driving or operating machinery, delayed reaction times, and falling asleep. And, of course, you should never drink and drive—ever.

Finally, according to the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, some research has found that using alcohol in conjunction with ibuprofen can result in an increased heart rate. A rapid heart rate can lead to side effects such as dizziness and result in medical complications if the person has a pre-existing heart or lung condition.

Ask a Doctor

If you are taking ibuprofen for long-term treatment, ask your doctor if it’s safe to drink. He or she may say yes or no based on your personal risk factors. For example, if you use ibuprofen only occasionally, it may be safe for you to drink moderately.

NOTE: Consuming even one alcoholic drink while using ibuprofen may result in an upset stomach.

Side Effects of Ibuprofen

Ibuprofen and Alcohol | Midwood Addiction Treatment

Ibuprofen can aggravate the stomach lining, and result in a gastric or intestinal perforation, which can prove fatal. If you use ibuprofen, you should consume the lowest dosage you need to relieve symptoms. Also, you should not use the drug for longer than you need. Following these precautions can reduce your risk of side effects.

According to the ibuprofen drug warning label, the risk of stomach bleeding is higher for those who are over 60 years of age, take a high dosage, use the medication long-term, take blood thinning or steroid drugs, or have had a history of stomach bleeding.

As people age, their bodies are unable to metabolize alcohol as effectively. Therefore, smaller amounts of alcohol in older adults can cause more significant interactions with ibuprofen, leading to increased risks and dangers.

Other possible side effects include the following:

  • Stomach ulcers
  • Gastritis
  • Fluid retention and swelling
  • Headache and dizziness
  • High blood pressure
  • Allergic reactions

Also, if you have asthma, ibuprofen can make asthma symptoms worse. High doses or prolonged use of ibuprofen may also lead to a heart attack or stroke.

If you are a breastfeeding mother or use other prescription or over-the-counter medications, ask your doctor if it’s safe to take ibuprofen. Using ibuprofen while pregnant may cause harm to the unborn baby.

Treatment for Alcoholism

If you are using ibuprofen regularly to treat pain or inflammation, you are advised not to consume alcohol to reduce your risk of complications. If you have found yourself unable to quit drinking on your own, you should consider seeking professional help.

Midwood Addiction Treatment is an addiction treatment facility that specializes in drug and alcohol addiction, as well as co-occurring mental illnesses such as anxiety or depression. We offer comprehensive programs that feature services vital to the recovery process, including psychotherapy, counseling, group support, aftercare planning, health and wellness programs, and more.

If you or someone you know is struggling to quit drinking alcohol or using drugs, call us now! Discover how we help people break the cycle of addiction and begin to experience the healthy and fulfilling lives they deserve!

How Long Does It Take to Detox from Alcohol?

How Long Does It Take to Detox from Alcohol? | Midwood Addiction

Detox is the process of removing toxins, including alcohol, from the body. During this time, people with alcohol dependence may suffer from a variety of unpleasant and potentially life-threatening symptoms.

For people with mild-moderate alcoholism, withdrawal symptoms may onset within a few hours after the last drink and can last between 5-7 days. For persons with severe alcoholism, withdrawal effects may not completely resolve for two weeks or more.

The duration of alcohol detox depends on several factors, including the severity of a person’s alcohol addiction. The more intense the substance use disorder is, the longer detox may take.

Alcohol Withdrawal Side Effects

Withdrawal can be broken down into three separate stages of severity:

Stage 1: Mild

  • Anxiety
  • Abdominal pain
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Tremors
  • Depression
  • Foggy thinking
  • Moodiness
  • Heart palpitations

Stage 2: Moderate

  • Increased body temperature
  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Rapid respiration
  • Irregular heart rate
  • Excessive sweating
  • Disorientation
  • Confusion
  • Irritability
  • Mood disturbances

Stage 3: Severe (Delirium Tremens)

  • Hallucinations
  • Fever
  • High blood pressure
  • Seizures
  • Severe confusion
  • Extreme agitation

It takes about 6-12 hours for the first stage of alcohol withdrawal symptoms to begin and is often hallmarked by symptoms such as agitation, anxiety, headaches, shakiness, nausea, and vomiting.

Between 24-72 hours, symptoms peak, and stage 2 symptoms can rapidly onset and include disorientation, increased blood pressure and body temperature, and irregular heart rate. Stage 3 symptoms also manifest during this time and in severe cases, may include hallucinations, fever, and seizures.

Symptoms may start to subside between 5-7 days and gradually diminish in intensity. After the first week, some of the side effects, particularly those that are psychoemotional, may continue for several weeks unless properly addressed. When these symptoms persist, the condition is referred to as post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS).

How Long Does It Take to Detox from Alcohol? | Midwood Addiction

Professional Detox

Alcohol rehab offers a safe, comfortable place for people to undergo detox. Trained medical professionals can administer medication-assisted therapy to relieve the most painful and dangerous withdrawal symptoms, thus expediting the detox process.

During detox, the first phase is to monitor and control the physical symptoms until the patient’s system is relatively stable. This step is often accomplished through the administration of medications to treat symptoms such as nausea, dehydration, seizures, and insomnia. Benzodiazepines like Ativan are commonly used during alcohol withdrawal to reduce overactivity in the central nervous system that can occur as it attempts to restore equilibrium.

Heart rate, blood pressure, respiration, and body temperature should all be closely monitored, and measures should be taken to ensure that they stay within safe levels. Those dependent on alcohol also frequently suffer from malnutrition. As such, a healthy diet with supplemental support and a dedicated sleep schedule may mitigate some of the withdrawal effects and help the body heal faster.

In summary, a medical detox program provides the most comprehensive and supportive environment during all stages of alcohol withdrawal.

Detox from Severe Alcohol Addiction

For those people suffering from especially severe alcoholism, detox can take longer. Chronic alcoholics may experience a condition known as delirium tremens (DTs) when they stop drinking abruptly. DTs is a collection of severe alcohol withdrawal symptoms, including extreme confusion, hallucinations, and tremors. This condition often affects individuals with late- or end-stage alcoholism.

Fortunately, DTs is a relatively rare condition. According to research, about 3-5% of people hospitalized for alcohol withdrawal will develop delirium tremens. A small percentage of those will die due to complications, but fatality is more likely when the person does not receive medical treatment.

DTs may not start for one or two days after alcohol is eliminated from the bloodstream, and can occur without warning. For this reason, alcohol withdrawal should be closely supervised by a healthcare professional who can continually monitor vital signs and ensure the client’s safety during the detox process. Stopping one’s drinking abruptly —or “cold turkey”—is never recommended without clinical supervision.

Factors That Affect Alcohol Withdrawal Duration

The alcohol withdrawal timeline is influenced by several factors, such as the severity of alcohol dependence and addiction, medical history, presence of a co-occurring mental health condition, stress levels, and a family history of addiction or childhood trauma. The use of other drugs, in addition to alcohol, can also affect withdrawal and increase the potential risks and side effects.

The more alcohol-dependent a person has become, the more likely the person is to encounter severe withdrawal symptoms. Therefore, many people without extremely severe addictions will not go through every stage of withdrawal (e.g., delirium tremens). A person’s tolerance to alcohol and the intensity of his or her addiction are two of the greatest factors that determine the length of time it takes to detox.

Other factors that influence how long alcohol detox lasts include the following:

  • Age
  • Weight
  • Biological sex
  • Mental health status
  • Overall health status
  • Genetic predispositions
  • Other substances present in the body
  • How much the person typically drinks
  • How long the person has been drinking heavily
  • Whether they binge on occasion or drink on a daily basis

Addiction Treatment

How Long Does It Take to Detox from Alcohol? | Midwood Addiction

After completing detox, people with alcohol dependence should enter a comprehensive treatment program. Here, individuals can work on changing their feelings toward alcohol, manage their cravings, and find more effective ways of coping with stress.

Once the physical symptoms are under control, mental health professionals who specialize in substance abuse treatment can help people reduce some of the more powerful emotional symptoms associated with withdrawal. Anxiety, depression, and suicidal ideations are all possible outcomes that can be managed by medications coupled with psychotherapy, counseling, and other treatments and forms of support.

Preventing relapse is also an essential part of any alcohol detox and treatment program, and 12-step groups and individual therapy can provide continued support throughout recovery, into aftercare, and beyond. To help prevent relapse, detox centers may prescribe one or more of the following FDA-approved medications to help reduce alcohol-related cravings: disulfiram, naltrexone, and acamprosate. These medications work in various ways to manage withdrawal symptoms and discourage those in recovery from drinking again.

Getting Help for Alcoholism

As noted, detoxing from alcohol should not be done at home. Medical detox is usually necessary to prevent relapse and ensure the person’s safety as their body endures the withdrawal process, which in some cases can be life-threatening.

Midwood Addiction Treatment is a specialized rehab center that offers outpatient detox services as well as comprehensive treatment in partial-hospitalization and outpatient formats. We also employ medication-assisted therapy as a part of our detox and recovery process.

Research has shown that psychotherapy and counseling, in addition to group support and other therapies, are vital for recovery, and those patient outcomes are significantly improved when they receive these services. Our staff of highly-skilled addiction professionals is trained to deliver treatment to clients with compassion and expertise. We are dedicated to providing them with all the tools they need to achieve a full recovery.

If you or someone you love is suffering from alcohol addiction, please do not go through it alone. From detox to aftercare, we help people free themselves from the grip of addiction and foster the healthy and satisfying lives they deserve! Contact us today to discover how!

Home Remedies for Alcohol Withdrawal

Home Remedies for Alcohol Withdrawal | Midwood Addiction Treatment

Home Remedies for Alcohol Withdrawal – For those with a dependence on alcohol, quitting for good can seem impossible. Alcohol addiction results in highly unpleasant and sometimes life-threatening withdrawal symptoms and cravings upon cessation. It is these effects that often compel those in recovery to relapse.

Although going through alcohol withdrawal at home without medical supervision is not advised, people frequently do choose this method. Those who, for whatever reason, believe themselves unable or unwilling to undergo a medical detox should be aware of the risks involved. Also, under no circumstances should this process be done alone without someone else present in case of an emergency.

Note: While detox in a specialized facility that also includes additional therapeutic services is ideal, without insurance or financial means, this may not be achievable. However, unless a person does not have access to 911 or emergency services, there is no reason why medical detox is out of the question. These services are available to everyone, even those without insurance. A hefty bill may come later, but it’s worth it to ensure your safety during this process.

Risks of Home Remedies for Alcohol Withdrawal

Some individuals opt to detox at home for reasons that come down to comfort. Keep in mind that this “comfort” is usually more psychological than physical, however. Safety and physical comfort are often better achieved with medical detox, as medications can be administered that mitigate many of the worst effects of withdrawal.

Unfortunately, there is some unpredictability associated with detoxing from alcohol. In addition to the possibility of immediate relapse, there is also a very real potential for severe depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideations. Finally, a complication known as delirium tremens (DTs) can occur. This condition is characterized by confusion, hallucinations, and seizures, and can ultimately result in death.

Home Remedies for Alcohol Withdrawal: Preparation

If you do decide that an at-home detox is right for you, it’s vital that you try your best to do it safely. The following are some things to consider when undergoing alcohol withdrawal at home:

Remove all alcoholic beverages from the home. This first step may sound self-evident, but it’s a critical action to take when detoxing. Moreover, when you first begin to encounter withdrawal symptoms, you may not be able to control your cravings. It’s much better to evade the temptation altogether.

Make sure your schedule is free for several days, if possible. For some, clearing one’s schedule for this amount of time seems impossible, but it’s necessary for detox to be successful. There will be benefits from taking time off work or school and temporarily relinquishing some responsibilities to focus on staying sober and on track to recovery.

Find support! Just because you’re enduring an alcohol detox at home doesn’t mean you should suffer through it by yourself. Find a family member or friend who can keep you safe during this process and can get help if withdrawal symptoms get too severe.

Hydration and Nutrition During Detox

Home Remedies for Alcohol Withdrawal | Midwood Addiction Treatment

Alcohol withdrawal results in a wide range of symptoms, including fatigue, anxiety, depression, loss of appetite, nausea, and vomiting. These symptoms typically last between 24-74 hours and may significantly curb appetite. But remember that these symptoms are normal, and make sure to drink plenty of fluids and stay hydrated during this process as it will help clear your body of toxins.

Water, juice, and broth are all healthy choices during the early stages of withdrawal. However, don’t forget that eating healthy is also a vital component of your recovery because alcohol alters how your body metabolizes and uses nutrients.

Once you can begin eating again, it’s essential to focus on eating a healthy, balanced diet. Eat foods from all four food groups in sufficient amounts to meet your caloric needs. Eat as many fruits and vegetables as possible, but don’t forget to include lean protein and whole grains.

Take Vitamin and Mineral Supplements

If you detox at a hospital or inpatient or outpatient addiction treatment center, you will likely be prescribed medications to help mitigate withdrawal symptoms. While at home, though, you won’t have that luxury. But there are over-the-counter vitamins and mineral supplements you can take, however, that may be beneficial and help eliminate toxins. Some of these include B- vitamins, vitamin C, vitamin E, magnesium, calcium, and multivitamins.

Pros and Cons

Alcohol withdrawal can be a dangerous process, which is one reason why most medical providers and addiction experts maintain that it is best handled in a clinical environment. Alcohol detox causes physical and emotional symptoms that can be severe and, in many cases, very difficult to endure without medical assistance.

While withdrawing at home may seem like the best course financially, it’s also very risky. While a detox at home is most often warned against by medical professionals, of course, it can be done. If you choose to detox from alcohol at home, make sure you’re in a safe environment without access to alcohol and have support readily available from family or friends who can help you safely get through it.

If the symptoms of alcohol detox become too painful or severe, you should seek help from a medical professional immediately.

Treatment for Alcohol Addiction

If you choose to undergo medical detox, this will be the first step in treatment for addiction. Those who opt to go through withdrawals at home should also strongly consider specialized treatment following this process. After the body has rid itself of toxins, those motivated to make a full recovery should seek professional treatment.

Midwood Addiction Treatment offers outpatient detox services and professional treatment that is comprehensive, customized for the individual, and comprised of evidence-based modalities, including psychotherapy, counseling, and group support.

Contact us today! We are dedicated to providing people with the tools and support they need to reclaim their lives and enjoy long-lasting sobriety, happiness, and wellness.

Alcohol Detox Symptoms

Alcohol Detox Symptoms | Midwood Addiction Treatment

Alcohol Detox Symptoms – Most Americans 18 and over have consumed alcohol at some point in their life. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), about 87% of the U.S. adult population has drunk at least one unit of alcohol. Unlike most other psychoactive addictive substances, alcohol is legal to consume for those over age 21 and is readily available.

Many people consume alcohol regularly and have minimal or no issues. Patterns of binge or excessive drinking, however, can suggest that a person has a problem with alcohol consumption, according to NIAAA.

Alcohol Detox Timeline

Alcohol detox symptoms do not rigidly follow a specific schedule but manifest on a general timeline that fluctuates between people according to individual factors and the severity of their dependence on alcohol. The alcohol detox and withdrawal timeline includes the following stages that begin after the last drink has been consumed:

Stage 1: 8 Hours Later

The early hours after drinking has subsided may be characterized by nausea and vomiting, stomach pain, and anxiety. Other symptoms may include the following:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Depression and fatigue
  • Foggy thinking
  • Moodiness
  • Heart palpitations
  • Tremors

Stage 2: 24-72 Hours Later

Elevated blood pressure, body temperature, breathing, and heart rate can be experienced during this time. These symptoms often peak and rapidly onset at this stage. Other symptoms may include sweating, confusion, irritability, and moodiness.

Stage 3: 3-4 Days Later

Agitation, fever, and, more rarely, delirium tremens (hallmarked by hallucinations, seizures, and severe confusion) may manifest at this time.

Stage 4: 5-7 Days Later

Most symptoms usually start to subside, decreasing in severity. Psychological symptoms, such as anxiety and depression, however, may persist for much longer.

Alcohol Detox Symptoms | Midwood Addiction Treatment

More About Alcohol Withdrawal

The severity of alcohol detox symptoms can vary significantly, and are influenced by several factors, including the following:

  • Duration of alcohol use
  • Average amount consumed
  • Medical history
  • Stress level
  • Liver function
  • Presence of a co-occurring mental health disorder
  • Family history of addiction and substance abuse
  • History of childhood trauma such as neglect or abuse

Using other drugs in conjunction with alcohol can impact the withdrawal process and increase potential risks and side effects. The more dependent on alcohol an individual has become, the more likely the person is to experience more intense withdrawal symptoms.

The most severe (but, fortunately, the rarest) form of alcohol withdrawal is known as delirium tremens (DTs). This condition occurs in about 5% of patients experiencing alcohol withdrawal, and it can be deadly without treatment. About 1 in 20 who suffer from DTs will die, but this rate is significantly reduced among those people who receive medical treatment. DTs will probably not onset until a day or two after alcohol is totally eliminated from the bloodstream, and it can manifest suddenly and without warning.

It is for this reason that the withdrawal process should be closely supervised by a health care provider to ensure the patient’s safety throughout alcohol detox. Moreover, quitting drinking suddenly or “cold turkey” is never recommended without the help of medical supervision. Alcohol withdrawal can lead to life-threatening complications, as the brain and central nervous system (CNS) experience a “rebound” after being consistently subjugated by alcohol for a prolonged period.

Managing Symptoms During Medical Detox

After physical symptoms have been controlled, mental health specialists can help the person overcome some of the most severe emotional side effects of withdrawal. Sometimes this emotional instability, if not adequately managed, can become even more challenging to deal with than the physical symptoms of withdrawal.

Medications can help to treat anxiety and depression, especially when used in combination with therapy and counseling. Preventing relapse is a vital part of any alcohol detox program, and group support and individual therapy can offer resources for clients throughout detox and beyond.

Alcohol detox centers may administer one or more of the following medications, which are approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), to lessen alcohol-related cravings: disulfiram, naltrexone, and acamprosate. These medications work to manage the symptoms of withdrawal and discourage patients from drinking again.

Naltrexone works by binding to and blocking opioid receptors in the brain, thereby reducing cravings and the potential rewards commonly incurred from alcohol use. Acamprosate is indicated to treat long-term withdrawal symptoms, and disulfiram causes people to become violently ill if they drink, therefore making drinking undesirable.

A fourth medication, the anticonvulsant drug topiramate, has also shown promise for the treatment of alcoholism by interfering with the way alcohol “rewards” those who abuse it. Topiramate’s primary function is to reduce abnormal excitement in the brain.

Alcohol Detox Symptoms | Midwood Addiction Treatment

Alcohol withdrawal shouldn’t be undertaken without the supervision of health care providers in a medical setting or detox center, as symptoms can manifest and accelerate quickly. Even after the physical symptoms of alcohol withdrawal have been controlled or have subsided, protracted withdrawal, or the long-lasting experience of emotional symptoms and cravings, may persist and can result in a relapse without the proper level of support and treatment.

During medical detox, the first step is to monitor and manage any existing physical symptoms and achieve stabilization. Medications are often used to relieve symptoms such as dehydration, nausea, seizures, and insomnia. Benzodiazepines, particularly Ativan, are commonly used during alcohol detox to mitigate over-activity in the CNS that may manifest as the body begins to restore its natural order.

Also, blood pressure, respiration, heart rate, and body temperature are all closely monitored, and measures can be taken to ensure that they remain within safe levels. Some people who are dependent on alcohol may also suffer from malnutrition due to poor diet and the effects that alcohol has on bodily organs and the digestion of nutrients. Various vitamin supplements and the implementation of a healthy diet and regular sleep schedule may reduce withdrawal side effects and facilitate the healing process.

How Alcohol Impacts the Brain

Alcohol use boosts the brain’s levels of dopamine, a chemical messenger responsible for feelings of reward and pleasure. For this reason, alcohol can temporarily improve mood, increase self-confidence, and lessen inhibitions. As alcohol is cleared from the bloodstream, however, these feelings quickly subside.

Repeated interference in dopamine levels can cause the brain to become accustomed to the presence of alcohol and, as a result, stop producing dopamine at healthy levels without exposure to the substance.

The more alcohol a person consumes, the more a person’s tolerance builds and the more dependent on it the brain may become. Tolerance is a byproduct of the brain’s capacity toward “repeated exposure = diminished response” in response to exposure to psychoactive substances. When the effects of alcohol subside, a dependent person will encounter highly unpleasant and potentially dangerous withdrawal symptoms, ranging from mild to lethal.

Treatment for Alcohol Addiction After Detox

Following detox, those who have an alcohol use disorder are urged to participate in a partial-hospitalization or intensive outpatient program that uses an integrated approach which includes evidence-based treatment modalities, such as psychotherapy, psychoeducation, counseling, and peer group support.

Midwood Addiction Treatment offers outpatient detox and medication-assisted treatment. We employ caring, highly-competent addiction professionals who are dedicated to providing clients with the resources and tools they need to achieve abstinence, avoid relapse, and enjoy long-term happiness and sobriety.

We can help restore sanity to your life! Please contact us today to discover how we can help you on your path to recovery!

Understanding Alcoholic Neuropathy

Alcoholic Neuropathy | Midwood Addiction Treatment

Alcoholic neuropathy is a severe disorder caused by heavy alcohol consumption that is characterized by nerve damage and unusual sensations in the limbs, impaired mobility, and loss of some bodily functions.

When a person drinks an excessive amount of alcohol for a prolonged period, peripheral nerves can be damaged, and he or she may start to experience a tingling sensation in the limbs. Peripheral nerves connect both the brain and spinal cord to muscles, limbs, and sensory organs. Using these nerves, the brain is able to regulate parts of the body such as muscles and joints and obtain sensory information.

When alcohol has caused damage to the peripheral nerves, this is referred to as alcoholic neuropathy. People who drink excessively on a routine basis are at risk of developing this disorder. In fact, some experts estimate that nearly two-thirds (65%) of people in the U.S. who have been diagnosed with an alcohol use disorder (AUD) also suffer from alcoholic neuropathy.

How Does Alcohol Cause This Condition?

Heavy, prolonged consumption of alcohol can result in malnutrition as well as nerve damage, and both are key contributing factors in the development of alcoholic neuropathy. Alcohol can impair the processing, transportation, and absorption of vital nutrients.

Some people with an AUD also have inadequate food intake, which can result in deficiencies in vitamins B6, B12, and E, as well as thiamine, niacin, and folate. Deficiencies in these essential nutrients can negatively imp0act overall health and prevent nerves from functioning correctly.

Symptoms

Alcoholic neuropathy can manifest in different ways. Some people may experience only one symptom, while others have many.

People who drink heavily regularly and have one or more of the following symptoms in the affected areas should contact a doctor as soon as possible:

Limbs

  • Cramps
  • Loss of movement
  • Muscle weakness
  • Muscle atrophy
  • Muscle spasms or contractions
  • Numbness or loss of sensation
  • Pins and needles sensations
  • Tingling or prickling sensations

Urinary and Bowel System

  • Incontinence
  • Urinary retention
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea

Other symptoms may include the following:

  • Abdominal bloating
  • Dizziness or fainting
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Impaired speech
  • Infertility in men
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Temperature sensitivity
  • Nausea or vomiting

Alcoholic Neuropathy | Midwood Addiction Treatment

Alcoholic Neuropathy Diagnosis

An esophagogastroduodenoscopy examination may be performed to diagnose alcoholic neuropathy. Several other tests can be used to diagnose alcoholic neuropathy, and more than one is often necessary. These include a blood chemistry test, electromyography, nerve biopsy, and upper gastrointestinal and small bowel series.

A doctor will also conduct a neurological examination to evaluate a person’s reflexes, coordination, muscle strength, and sensory function. He or she may also test the functioning of the liver, kidneys, and thyroid and order blood tests to check for nutritional deficiencies.

Treatment for Alcoholic Neuropathy

Identifying the symptoms early and seeking treatment can reduce the risk of permanent disabilities. The best thing a person suffering from alcoholic neuropathy can do is to discontinue alcohol consumption as soon as possible. Inpatient detox and long-term rehab may be recommended when a person’s alcohol use disorder is chronic and severe. Others may opt for outpatient treatment.

Symptom Management

Alcoholic neuropathy is not considered to be curable and can make daily life challenging, so it is important to begin by managing the symptoms. A treatment plan may include one or more of the following approaches:

  • Vitamin supplementation, including vitamins E, B6, and B12, and others
  • Over-the-counter pain relievers for minor discomfort related to alcoholic neuropathy
  • Prescription pain relievers, such as gabapentin, tramadol, anticonvulsants, or capsaicin cream
  • Medications for urinary problems, such as duloxetine, imipramine, and tolterodine
  • Physical therapy techniques, because gentle activities and exercises and can help improve muscle and balance impairments
  • Orthopedic instruments to aid in mobility, such as pull bars in the bathroom, stair lifts, etc.
  • Other safety measures, including advice for people who are troubled by a loss of sensation
  • Exercise, as recommended by a physiotherapist who specializes in neuropathy

Alcoholic Neuropathy Outlook

Alcoholic neuropathy is a potentially severe condition that can result in chronic pain, loss of bodily functions, and permanent disabilities. However, as noted, recognizing the symptoms early and receiving medical attention can significantly reduce the impact of the disorder.

A person can dramatically improve their outlook by quitting drinking and ensuring that they are receiving the proper balance of nutrients. In addition to treatment centers, a wide range of support networks such as Alcoholics Anonymous are available. Individuals with alcoholic neuropathy who comply with treatments and recommendations often make a partial or even a full recovery, depending on the intensity and duration of their alcohol consumption.

Treatment for Alcoholism

Midwood Addiction Treatment offers comprehensive programs that include evidence-based services vital to the recovery process, such as psychotherapy, counseling, medication-assisted therapy, group support, and more. Our highly-trained addiction professionals are dedicated to providing each client with the resources, support, and care they need to recover and experience long-term sobriety and wellness.

If you or someone you know has alcoholic neuropathy or struggling with an alcohol use disorder, contact us today. Discover how we help people free themselves from the chains of addiction and learn how to lead healthy, fulfilling lives!

Signs of Alcoholism

Signs of Alcoholism | Midwood Addiction Treatment

The terms “alcoholic” and “alcoholism” are still commonly used in modern society, but this is a layperson’s description with little clinical use. Moreover, researchers, physicians, therapists, and other health professionals require accord on the different levels of alcohol consumption.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) provides professionals in the mental health industry with a diagnostic tool that helps them to recognize various mental health conditions, including alcohol use disorder. For the purposes of this article, the terms “alcoholism” and “alcohol use disorder” can be used interchangeably.

What Is Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD)?

According to the Mayo Clinic, alcohol use disorder is “a pattern of alcohol use that involves problems controlling one’s drinking, being preoccupied with alcohol, continuing to use alcohol even when it causes problems, having to drink more to get the same effect, or having withdrawal symptoms when you rapidly decrease or stop drinking.”

Although the intensity of an alcohol use disorder varies between individuals, the DSM-5 provides health providers with a set of 11 factors that can help them in the diagnosis of an alcohol use disorder and its severity. These criteria may also be considered to be signs of alcoholism, depending on their number and intensity.

DSM-5 Criteria for Alcohol Use Disorder

To determine whether you or loved one may have AUD and signs of alcoholism, here are some questions to ask that are based on the DSM’s 11 key factors. In the past year, have you or someone you know…

…encountered times when you ended up drinking more or for longer than you originally intended?

…wanted to cut down or stop drinking more than once, or tried to, but failed to do so?

…spent a considerable amount of time drinking or recovering from the after-effects?

…experienced cravings, or a strong need, or urge, to drink, perhaps so much so that you couldn’t think of anything else?

…found that drinking or being ill from drinking often interfered with home or family responsibilities, or caused problems on the job or at school?

…continued to drink despite the fact that it was causing trouble with family or friends?

…given up or neglected activities that were once considered important or interesting to you, or gave you enjoyment, in favor of drinking?

…more than once were involved in situations while or after drinking that increased your risk of getting hurt (such as driving, using machinery, swimming or having unsafe sex)?

…continued to drink although it was making you feel depressed or anxious or contributing to another health problem, or after having had a blackout (memory lapse)?

…had to drink more than you once did to get the effect you desire or found that your customary number of drinks had less effect than before?

…discovered that when the effects of alcohol were subsiding, you experienced withdrawal symptoms, such as insomnia, shakiness, irritability, anxiety, depression, restlessness, nausea, vomiting, or sweating?

Signs of Alcoholism | Midwood Addiction Treatment

If a person has encountered at least two of the 11 factors in the past year, then the person is diagnosable as having an alcohol use disorder. The existence of two or three factors is considered mild alcohol use disorder, four to five symptoms are considered to be moderate, and six or more is acknowledged as severe.

The 11 factors are intended to address both the physical and psychological components of alcohol use disorder. It is important to note that physical dependence is one component of addiction, but it is not addiction in and of itself. Moreover, a person can be physically/chemically dependent on alcohol or another substance without being psychologically dependent upon it.

Two hallmark signs of alcoholism are the development of tolerance and dependence followed by withdrawal symptoms. As tolerance increases, a person who drinks alcohol will require a higher amount in order to experience the desired effects. Withdrawal symptoms are caused by the body’s adaption to the continued presence of alcohol (dependence) and manifest as a response to its abrupt absence.

Common withdrawal symptoms may include anxiety, confusion, tremors, racing heart, headache, nausea, vomiting, and fatigue.

Mild Alcohol Use Disorder

Regarding DSM-5 criteria, new alcohol users might exhibit 0-2 of the 11 symptoms discussed, and in the long run, these may not prove to be persistent signs of alcoholism. Unfortunately, it’s impossible to know for sure if social or occasional drinking will lead to the development of an alcohol use disorder.

Most often, individuals at this stage are either high school students or young adults, such as college students or young professionals. Drinking is still largely considered to be a social event, and binge drinking as a way of partying is often a hallmark pattern of abuse. Moreover, these individuals may not be regular drinkers, but binge drinking alone still places them at an increased risk of developing an alcohol use disorder.

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), binge drinking occurs when a person achieves a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08% or higher within two hours. For women, this may only require about four drinks, and in men, five drinks are standard.

Some binge drinkers will not progress beyond this phase to drink frequently. Those who do continue to drink regularly, however, may be environmentally or genetically predisposed to do so, based on a family history of alcoholism, childhood trauma, mental illness, and any number of other factors.

Moderate Alcohol Use Disorder

Moderate alcohol use disorder is correlated to both with the frequency of consumption as well as one’s primary purpose for drinking. Generally, this level of problematic drinking is associated with a lack of control over one’s alcohol use and signs that it is interfering with one’s normal life activities and responsibilities. At this stage, a person may not be chemically dependent on alcohol.

If alcohol dependence does develop, however, it will likely be more difficult to stop drinking due to the onset of withdrawal symptoms and possibly cravings or urges to drink.

Severe Alcohol Use Disorder

Experiencing at least six of the DSM’s criteria indicates the immediate need for an intervention to seek treatment to address the addiction. The development of adverse health conditions and diseases is a huge concern surrounding alcohol abuse.

The following health conditions, which can range in severity, may manifest as a result of chronic, heavy alcohol abuse, and they indicate that a severe alcohol use disorder is present:

  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Anemia
  • Dementia
  • Nerve damage
  • Several forms of cancer
  • Seizures
  • Depression
  • High blood pressure
  • Pancreatitis
  • Gout
  • Infectious diseases
  • Liver cirrhosis

Signs of Alcoholism | Midwood Addiction Treatment

End-Stage Alcohol Use Disorder

During end-stage alcohol use disorder, the person has completely lost control over alcohol use and becomes controlled by it. The end stage can be thought of as the most severe manifestation of all the possible problems that can be caused by alcohol use disorder. After a long enough period of excessive chronic alcohol use, withdrawal symptoms may be so painful (and possibly life-threatening) that the person is motivated to continue drinking as a means to prevent them.

At this point, individuals may develop severe disease, such as cirrhosis of the liver, which can emerge after years of liver damage. As a person continually consumes alcohol, their liver produces scar tissue instead of new healthy tissue.

Over time, scar tissue in the liver prevents the necessary flow of blood and also impairs the body’s ability to eliminate toxins from the blood, control infections, process nutrients, and absorb cholesterol and certain vitamins. In addition to chronic health conditions, persons in the end stage of alcohol abuse may be at an increased risk of falls, injuries, and other accidents due to balance and coordination impairments.

Treatment for Signs of Alcoholism

Alcohol use disorder can have harrowing and dangerous side effects at every stage, but fortunately, each stage is treatable. Even if some chronic conditions cannot be reversed, abstinence can help to manage them better. Achieving sobriety is always beneficial for one’s health and well-being whether treatment is sought in the early, middle, or end stages.

Alcohol abuse is almost never exclusively about the alcohol itself. For this reason, a full spectrum of treatment services that begins with a medical detox and continues to treat the emotional motivations for abuse is needed. Midwood Addiction Treatment offers these services in partial-hospitalization and outpatient formats, as well as psychotherapy, counseling, group support, and more.

If you or someone you love is struggling with alcohol abuse, contact us today to discuss treatment options!

Signs of Liver Disease

Signs of Liver Disease | Midwood Addiction Treatment

Signs of Liver Disease – The liver is the largest organ in the human body, helping it to digest food, store energy, and remove toxins.

There are several types of liver disease:

  • Diseases induced by viruses, such as hepatitis A, B, C
  • Diseases produced by drugs, poisons, or excessive alcohol consumption, such as fatty liver and cirrhosis.
  • Liver cancer
  • Hereditary diseases, such as Wilson’s disease and hemochromatosis

Symptoms of liver disease vary but often include swelling of the abdomen and legs, bruising easily, changes in the color of urine and stool, and jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes). Sometimes the liver disease is asymptomatic. Imaging and liver function tests can check for liver damage and help to diagnose liver diseases.

Alcoholic Liver Disease

Alcoholic liver disease is the medical consequence of repeated damage to the liver caused by excessive alcohol consumption, especially for prolonged periods. Many people have heard of the common signs of liver disease related to alcohol use, such as jaundice, fatigue and digestive problems.

Less commonly known signs of alcoholic liver disease include the following:

  • Skin problems, such as itchiness, eczema, and psoriasis
  • Adverse reactions to medications such as pain relievers or antibiotics
  • Persistent heartburn and acid reflux

Also, alcohol abusers might notice a significant decrease in alcohol tolerance and will become intoxicated more rapidly than usual. Alcohol abusers might also experience more severe hangovers than usual as liver disease progresses.

Stages and Early Symptoms of Liver Disease in Alcoholics

There are four generally recognized stages of alcoholic liver disease, the signs and symptoms of which may overlap:

Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease

Fatty liver disease is characterized by the accumulation of fat in the liver, resulting in swelling and impaired liver function. Alcoholic fatty liver disease can occur after just a brief period of excessive drinking. Outward symptoms are not usually present in this stage, although some may feel fatigued or notice discomfort in the upper right portion of the abdomen.

With the discontinuation of alcohol use, liver disease can usually be reversed at this stage. If drinking continues, however, damage to the liver will not recede and may lead to permanent disease.

Alcoholic Hepatitis

Alcoholic hepatitis can develop after a prolonged period of drinking. This stage involves inflammation and scarring, which prevents blood flow into the organ and slows its vital functions. Although alcoholic hepatitis might be diagnosed by a medical professional as “mild,” it is still a formidable condition that requires immediate abstinence from alcohol. Severe alcoholic hepatitis can even be life-threatening.

The mildest forms of alcoholic hepatitis may be asymptomatic. As the disease advances, however, signs and symptoms may include the following:

  • Jaundice
  • Fatigue
  • Low-grade fever
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Tenderness in the upper right abdomen

In identifying hepatitis, liver function tests will reveal elevated liver enzymes. Severe alcoholic hepatitis may cause fluid buildup in the abdomen, cognitive and behavioral changes, and liver or kidney failure. It is imperative that people with alcoholic hepatitis seek medical advice and intervention at this stage.

Alcoholic Fibrosis

The third stage of liver disease is fibrosis, which is characterized by an accumulation of proteins in the liver. Instead of filtering toxins and metabolizing proteins, they accumulate in the liver and result in fibrosis. There are multiple stages of fibrosis, ranging from mild to severe.

Alcoholic Cirrhosis

Signs of Liver Disease | Midwood Addiction Treatment

Cirrhosis of the liver is not reversible, though refraining from alcohol use may limit further damage and improve some symptoms. In this type of liver disease, significant scarring in the liver is present. Individuals who have alcoholic cirrhosis will most likely be entirely dependent on alcohol and require specialized addiction treatment and tremendous support.

Unfortunately, a person with alcohol-related cirrhosis who does not abstain from drinking has less than a 50% chance of living for five more years.

Non-Alcoholic Liver Disease

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is a condition caused by an excess of fat accumulating in the liver, despite the absence of alcohol abuse.

Damage caused by NAFLD, however, presents with signs and symptoms comparable to alcoholic liver disease. NAFLD is an umbrella term, and causes may include obesity, diabetes, cancer, malnutrition, injury or infection, drug overdose, genetic disorders, high amounts of fat in the blood, and more. Fatty liver is most often asymptomatic and is reversible with lifestyle changes.

A more advanced stage of NAFLD is a condition known as non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). This disease is hallmarked by fat growth associated with liver cell inflammation and varying degrees of scarring. NASH is considered to be a serious condition and may lead to significant scarring of the liver as well as cirrhosis.

Other Warning Signs and Symptoms

Recent research has found new molecules that may advance treatments for liver disease. Experiments, tests, and procedures are continuously being explored. Still, early detection remains the best treatment.

Some of the signs of early liver damage include the following:

  • Irregular sleep patterns
  • Low or varying levels of energy
  • Stronger impact of caffeine
  • Skin flushing in the upper body
  • Skin and eyes developing a yellowish tint (jaundice)
  • Skin conditions appear, such as eczema, psoriasis, and itching
  • Small amounts of alcohol cause rapid intoxication and intense hangovers
  • Encountering severe reactions and side effects to common medications

Signs of Liver Disease | Midwood Addiction Treatment

When early liver damage begins to develop, it can no longer protect the body optimally against harmful chemicals. The body becomes less able to efficiently digest food, remove toxins, and send nutrients where they need to go.

An impaired liver may also present with the following signs:

  • Bruising or bleeding easily
  • Stomach discomfort after eating, such as bloating, gas, or nausea
  • Persistent headaches, heartburn, and acid reflux
  • Difficulty losing weight or unexplainable weight gain
  • Common household chemicals, such as bleach, perfume, gasoline, paint, or cleaning products, cause a severe reaction

In addition to the symptoms of NAFLD, those with liver damage due to alcohol often experience tremors.

Why Abstinence is Key

Advanced medical tests and research have put together a picture of what abstaining from alcohol can do for preventing, halting, or reversing liver damage. Indeed, alcohol abuse is one of the primary causes of liver damage, and alcohol-induced liver disease is the main contributor to chronic liver disease in the West.

Once a person is diagnosed with alcoholic liver disease, abstaining from alcohol is the only chance of recovery. Moreover, anything that imperils the astounding regenerative ability of the liver puts a person’s life in danger. The further a liver disease advances, the more serious it becomes.

According to the American Liver Foundation (ALF), up to 20% of heavy drinkers will develop alcoholic liver cirrhosis from repeated, excessive alcohol consumption. Liver cirrhosis is irreversible and incurable, but treatable.

Getting Help for Signs of Liver Disease

The recommended daily limits for alcohol use are no more than one drink each day for women and two for men. If you or someone you are close to frequently exceeds these recommended daily limits or is exhibiting early signs of liver disease, it is vital to intervene as soon as possible.

Seeking comprehensive medical and mental health treatment for addiction is important. Quitting alcohol can be an incredible challenge and detoxing from alcohol at home can be life-threatening.

Midwood Addiction Treatment specializes in the treatment of alcoholism. We employ an integrated, evidence-based approach that includes services, such as psychotherapy, counseling, and group support, essential to the recovery process.

If you or someone you love is suffering from an addiction to alcohol, contact us as soon as possible and find out how we can help you achieve abstinence, prevent relapse, and reclaim the healthy and fulfilling life you deserve!

What Is Binge Drinking?

What Is Binge Drinking? | Midwood Addiciton Treatment

What Is Binge Drinking? – Binge drinking is a dangerous practice that involves the consumption of an excessive amount of alcohol in a relatively short amount of time. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) state that binge drinking causes a person’s BAC (blood alcohol concentration) to rise to 0.08% or higher, and is described as an occasion when a person has at least 4-5 drinks during a two-hour period.

In the United States, binge drinking is most common among persons age 26 and older—it is estimated that this group accounts for about 70% of all incidents of binge drinking. For some, particularly those using prescription medications or illicit drugs, it may take less alcohol consumption to achieve a BAC that would be considered to qualify as binge drinking.

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIDA) defines one “drink” as the consumption of any of the following:

  • 12 ounces of beer
  • 5 ounces of wine
  • 1.5 oz. of distilled spirits (liquor)

A single episode of binge drinking does not necessarily imply the person has an alcohol use disorder (AUD). Repeated incidents of binge drinking do, however, markedly increase the likelihood that the person who is engaging in this practice will develop an AUD. The transformation from occasional binge drinking to full-blown alcohol addiction can happen rapidly, and significant health effects and other serious consequences are likely to follow.

The majority of people (an estimated 80%) who admit to binge drinking on surveys are not chemically dependent on alcohol. Nevertheless, instances of binge drinking account for the highest percentage of fatalities related to alcohol use. Because alcoholism is such an insidious disease, binge drinking, if left untreated and unmanaged, threatens to take over a person’s life, and could eventually lead to severe complications and death.

Reasons for Binge Drinking

In the U.S., binge drinking has become more and more common despite accumulating research that reveals just how serious it can be. Unfortunately, alcohol use is not only socially acceptable but sometimes applauded in many cultures, including America. The dangers of alcohol are generally overshadowed by problems with other illicit substances such as opioids, cocaine, and meth.

Common reasons for binge drinking behavior include the following:

Problem Avoidance

Probably the most popular reason that people say they participate in binge drinking is to relax and forget about problems for a little while—this fact may be more or less related to the “self-medication” effects that alcohol provides for some people. After a couple of drinks, the person starts to feel better as everything is alright, so they continue drinking to sustain that feeling.

Fun and to Lower Inhibitions

One of the main results of binge drinking is that people find it enjoyable. A large number of social occasions that people regularly attend—parties, weddings, holiday gatherings—involve alcohol use to some extent. Binge drinking at every single occasion can quickly lead to alcohol dependence, however.

Bars, clubs, and restaurants are also places where people can usually be found drinking. Many people say they enjoy the social aspect of it, and others who are normally shy or awkward say that it lowers inhibitions and reduces anxiety. The problem is that although drinking alcohol with friends can be highly sociable, the long-term effects of alcoholism are anything but, and can result in people being withdrawn and isolated, drinking in secret rather than to be social.

Tolerance Tests and Competitions

Drinking games are commonly found at parties and social events, especially those involving young people. During such games, binge drinking turns into a social sport or spectacle of sorts, as people seek to determine who has the highest tolerance. Unfortunately, this kind of binge drinking can actually be the most dangerous, as it puts people in imminent danger of life-threatening alcohol poisoning.

Side Effects of Binge Drinking

What Is Binge Drinking? | Midwood Addiciton Treatment

Binge drinking has been associated with a wide variety of health and behavioral problems. While many side effects are relatively mild and acute, others can result in permanent damage.

Acute side effects of binge drinking may include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Impaired coordination
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Memory loss (blackouts)
  • Impulsivity
  • Slurred speech
  • Shakiness
  • Impaired cognition
  • Headaches
  • Dehydration and hangovers

Drinking too much alcohol within a short period of time puts one at risk for a range of health problems and trauma. For example, alcohol is notorious for reducing a driver’s reaction time, which can put him or her and other drivers and passengers in danger.

Also, excessive alcohol consumption impairs decision-making abilities and increases impulsiveness, putting one at risk for unintentional injuries, including those involving dangerous stunts, sexual assault, domestic violence, and acute alcohol poisoning.

Repeated episodes of binge drinking over a prolonged period can result in a multitude of long-term complications, and would likely be considered for a diagnosis of alcohol use disorder. These may include brain damage, liver disease, heart problems, and an increased risk of stroke and some cancers.

Treatment for Binge Drinking

It is worthwhile to restress the fact that although binge drinking is not equivalent to full-blown alcoholism, it can be just as dangerous. Consuming mass amounts of alcohol in a brief period can severely compromise a person’s physical and emotional well-being. What’s more, excessive alcohol use not only affects the drinker but is also likely to intrude on the lives of family and other loved ones and produce a ripple of adverse effects that is neverending.

Those who regularly participate in binge drinking behaviors are urged to seek treatment for alcohol abuse. Our Midwood Addiction Treatment center offers a comprehensive, evidence-based approach that features essential therapeutic services such as behavioral therapy, individual and family counseling, group support, and aftercare planning.

Please don’t let alcohol abuse lead you down a trail of self-destruction. Our skilled team of addiction specialists can provide you with the resources and tools you need to recover and begin to experience the long-lasting wellness and sobriety you deserve! Call us today to find out how we can help!

Does Alcohol Cause Cancer?

Does Alcohol Cause Cancer? | Midwood Addiction Treatment

Does Alcohol Cause Cancer? – Researchers have known for some time that the consumption of alcohol increases a person’s risk of at least seven types of cancer. These types include cancer of the mouth, pharynx, larynx, esophagus, breast, liver, and bowel.

How Does Alcohol Cause Cancer?

Although this link has been well-established, precisely how alcohol serves to cause cancer is not entirely clear, and most experts believe that several mechanisms may play a role. Most previous research has only studied cells in the lab, analyzing changes in them that occur following alcohol exposure.

Recently, however, researchers from the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, UK, sought to attain a better understanding of the alcohol-cancer connection in animals.

Blood Stem Cells and Acetaldehyde

As alcohol is metabolized in the gut, bacteria transform it into acetaldehyde, which is a toxic chemical that has been clinically shown to cause cancer in lab animals. For the study, researchers fed diluted ethanol (alcohol) to mice and then employed chromosome analysis and DNA sequencing, two processes that help to determine the damage produced by acetaldehyde.

Blood stem cells, located in bone marrow and the blood, are young blood cells that can mature into any form of blood cell, including white and red blood cells and platelets. It is vital to understand how alcohol use harms these cells, as damaged stem cells have been shown to cause cancer.

Following an investigation, researchers revealed that acetaldehyde could indeed damage DNA within blood stem cells. Chromosomes were rearranged, and the DNA sequence was irreversibly altered in stem cells.

Defense Mechanisms

In addition to new findings into the destruction that ethanol wreaks on stem cells, the scientists discovered further insight into the protection mechanisms used by our bodies in reaction to alcohol exposure. Enzymes known as aldehyde dehydrogenases (ALDHs) constitute the body’s first line of defense against damage related to alcohol use. ALDHs break down alcohol into acetate, which our cells can then use as an energy source.

Millions of people have low levels of ALDH or defective copies of these enzymes. For these individuals, toxic acetaldehyde builds up in the body, and they will experience flushing and feel unwell. When researchers examined mice without ALDH, they discovered that alcohol exposure caused four times as much harm to DNA compared to mice that produced ALDH.

The body has a variety of other mechanisms that can help to fix DNA damage, but these mechanisms don’t always work, and some people have mutations that make them less effective. Moreover, if a person is not able to process alcohol efficiently, this can result in an even greater risk of DNA damage and, consequently, the development of some types of cancers.

Does Alcohol Cause Cancer? | Midwood Addiction Treatment

Cancers Caused By Alcohol Use

Liver, throat, and esophageal cancer have the most significant association with chronic or excessive alcohol use, but other cancers have been identified in studies as well. What’s more, tobacco use in conjunction with alcohol significantly increases the risk of some cancers, especially those that affect the upper digestive tract.

Overall it’s believed that alcohol is the cause of about 3.5% of cancers in the U.S. Considering that half of all men and 1 in 3 women are expected to develop cancer in their lifetime, that’s not an insignificant statistic.

Liver Cancer

The link between liver cancer and alcohol use is exceedingly well-established. Chronic, excessive drinking is a principal risk factor for cirrhosis, a condition characterized by liver scarring and inflammation. Over time, drinking causes healthy tissue to be gradually replaced by scar tissue, impairing the liver’s ability to function correctly. Having cirrhosis significantly increases a person’s risk of developing liver cancer.

Breast Cancer

Women may be surprised to learn that even a few drinks a week may increase their risk of developing breast cancer because alcohol influences estrogen levels by altering the way the body breaks it down. Estrogen levels are unquestionably linked to breast cancer, and the risk increases with the amount of alcohol that is consumed. Women who drink moderately to excessively on a routine basis face the highest risk.

Oral Cancer

Those who drink alcohol are several times more likely to develop oral cancer than those who do not. Research finds that more than 75% of people suffering from oral cancer are drinkers. Also, those who drink and smoke face an even higher risk.

Between 80-95 percent of alcoholics smoke cigarettes, a rate three times higher than among the general population. In fact, research suggests that approximately 70% of alcoholics are also heavy smokers (smoking more than one pack of cigarettes per day), compared with just 10% of the general population.

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Addiction, research supports that common belief that “smokers drink and drinkers smoke” and that the heaviest alcohol users are also the biggest consumers of tobacco.

Throat Cancer

Throat cancer develops in the pharynx and other nearby tissue. Research reveals that the long-term use of alcohol is linked to throat cancer development, but when used in conjunction with tobacco, the risk of developing this disease increases dramatically.

Laryngeal Cancer

Laryngeal cancer affects the larynx (voice box) which is an organ that plays a crucial role in breathing and communication. It includes the vocal cords, which produce the sound we need to speak. Although tobacco use is the main risk factor for the development of laryngeal cancer, alcohol, in combination with tobacco, significantly increases the risk.

Esophageal Cancer

Esophageal cancer develops in the long tube that connects the mouth to the stomach – the esophagus. It is believed that about 75% of esophageal cancer cases are linked to chronic alcohol use. The type of cancer most people who drink heavily develop in this organ is usually squamous cell carcinoma, in contrast to adenocarcinoma, which more often occurs in response to chronic acid reflux.

Colon and Rectal Cancer

Several studies have found a relationship between colon cancer and excessive, chronic alcohol use. According to the American Cancer Society, men who drink generally have a higher risk than women, but both sexes are at an increased risk when compared to non-drinkers.

Alcoholism, Weight Gain, and Immunity

Other unfortunate side effects of heavy drinking may include weight gain, reduced physical activity, and a poor diet. Excessive alcohol consumption may decrease the body’s ability to process and absorb nutrients, including Vitamins A, C, D, and E, as well as folate and carotenoids. All of these factors may contribute to a person’s risk of developing any number of cancers throughout the body.

Finally, excess alcohol consumption may lead to immune deficiency, causing an increased susceptibility to disease in general.

Treatment for Alcoholism

Does Alcohol Cause Cancer? | Midwood Addiction Treatment

If you are an excessive drinker, you can significantly reduce your risk of developing certain types of cancer by avoiding alcohol or reducing consumption. If you have tried to quit drinking or cut back more than once and failed or relapsed, it is probably time to seek professional help.

Midwood Addiction Treatment employs a comprehensive approach to addiction treatment that includes evidence-based services vital to the recovery process. Treatments such as psychotherapy, counseling, and group support are provided to patients by caring, highly-skilled addiction specialists.

If you are suffering from an addiction to drugs or alcohol, please call us as soon as possible. Discover how we can help you reclaim your life and experience long-lasting wellness and sobriety!