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Alcohol

The usage of some addictive substances is more socially acceptable than others, largely because those same substances can be used casually without fear of addiction. However, this does not mean that those who are addicted to these substances are anomalies or that they should be treated negatively by others because they have become addicted to the substance in question. Socially acceptable usage of a substance does not mean that the abuse of that substance is also socially acceptable, nor is it safe.

What is Alcohol?

Alcohol is one of the most commonly consumed addictive substances and has a rather lax legal standing compared to other drugs. It can be found nearly everywhere, from the store to people’s homes to restaurants and other establishments. Its presence is not questioned at social events or celebrations, and alcohol has a firmly established, positive, and accepted place as a part of the culture of the U.S. Such casual use of alcohol often causes people to forget that it can be addictive and harmful.

People have been using alcohol for drinking, medical purposes, fuel, and preservation for centuries, amongst other applications. It was seen as beneficial and useful throughout the world. Excessive use—whether it was to the levels of addiction or otherwise—was also seen as harmful, but mostly when a person would become drunk. Most actually saw chronic or habitual drunkenness as a legitimate problem, but did not necessarily think the same of regular or casual drinking that some people did daily.

Alcohol and its effects on a person’s body weren’t really seen as harmful or fully grasped until the early to mid-1800s when the term alcoholism came into use in the medical field. Efforts to halt or prevent alcohol addiction really didn’t start in earnest until then, which eventually led to things like Prohibition in the 1920s and the creation of help groups like Alcoholics Anonymous in the 1930s. Today, there’s more knowledge about what alcohol addiction and what alcohol can do to a person even when it is used casually. There are significantly more options available to an individual who wants to overcome alcohol addiction and more efforts in educating people about alcohol addiction in today’s world than there was 100 or 50 years ago.

In regards to alcohol addiction or alcoholism, alcohol usually takes the form of beverages like liquors, beers, wines, etc. The actual alcohol content of the beverage can vary based on what its type, who or where it was made, and what other ingredients are included. Whether a person does or doesn’t have an alcohol addiction is usually dependent on how much they are drinking and how often.

Most experts suggest that there is cause for concern when a person binges, or consumes a significant amount in a short amount of time. For men this is more than four drinks at once or fourteen or more drinks per week, and three drinks at once or more than seven per week for women (one drink equals one mixed drink, a glass of wine, or can of beer). The person’s ability to not drink is also brought into consideration, especially if they have experience withdrawal-like symptoms when they don’t drink and continue to drink even if it causes problems in their life.

Effects of Use

Alcohol usage can have a variety of effects on a person, depending on the quantity that they drink and their existing tolerance. At low levels (blood alcohol content/BAC of 0.03-0.12%), alcohol can have a euphoric effect on a person: increased socialness and confidence, less nervous or anxious, and generally relaxed. Their attention span might be shorter, and they may struggle with focusing on things. Their skin may appear flushed, and they may exhibit impaired judgment and/or muscle coordination (e.g., walking).

As their BAC increases (0.25%), the person’s memory, coordination, comprehension, and ability to react are going to be impaired. Their senses—sight, taste, smell, hearing, touch—might also be impaired or otherwise impeded by the alcohol in their system. It is not uncommon for a person to have severe difficulty with walking and their balance at this point. At 0.30% BAC, they may have nausea or vomiting, feel dizzy or confused, and their senses may be significantly dulled to the point of numbness or sedation.

Once a person’s BAC reaches 0.25-0.40%, they may struggle to stay conscious. Decreases in cardiac and respiratory functions are also possible, to the point where they may be life-threatening. Memory at this point is severely impaired to the point of amnesia regarding recent events, and the person’s drinking may be described as being “black-out drunk” as a result. Users will also experience vomiting at this point (if they have not already) and may aspirate or choke on their vomit if they fall conscious, which can be potentially fatal.

If you or your loved one are facing alcohol addiction, give us a call today, and we will help walk you through the process of getting help.

Long-Term Effects

Many of the long-term effects of alcohol consumption can develop with the first time someone drinks, not just when they drink addiction-level amounts. Again, this is due to the quantity that a person drinks and not just the frequency; the body can only process so much at a time, and exceeding that amount can easily cause harm.

In most cases, the long-term damage that alcohol causes is to the body’s organs. This includes their heart, brain, liver, stomach, and kidneys—all of which come in direct contact with the alcohol in the person’s system either through their digestive system or as it enters the bloodstream. Cirrhosis and cancer of the liver are common potential long-term effects with alcohol addiction, as the liver is the organ that processes alcohol in the body.

There is also the possibility of permanent damage and changes to the brain’s function and chemistry. This can include impairment to coordination, memory, and mental development. Psychologically, users may experience depression and anxiety from prolonged alcohol use and may have additional issues tied to it. Sleep problems, anxiety, and psychosis is also common, with some alcohol users experiencing hallucinations or delusions.

Overdose

An overdose is always a possibility with alcohol addiction. Should a person drink more than their body can process at any one time, they could experience fatal alcohol poisoning. A high BAC (up to 0.80%) can cause coma, heart and/or respiratory failure, and severe brain and organ damage. An overdose may be considered in cases where the user asphyxiated while vomiting from alcohol usage, as it can lead to similar damage.

If you are ready to change your life into the positive experience that you deserve, Lionheart Recovery is waiting for your call.

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At Lionheart Recovery, we will work with you, hand in hand, to ensure you or your loved one finds the personalized care specific to your needs. This service comes at no cost to you or your family. Our addiction specialists are ready to help you begin your journey to achieving long-term, sustainable sobriety. Let’s find a solution, together.
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