Alcoholism Treatment Program in New Hampshire
Howe in When someone suffers from an addiction to alcohol, it can have significant negative impacts on every aspect of their life. There are many reasons why a person may choose to start drinking, and once it becomes a habit, it can be very difficult, and even dangerous, for them to quit on their own. Knowing the warning signs and symptoms of unhealthy drinking patterns can be incredibly important to your overall health or that of a loved one.
As an adult in the United States, it can be difficult to find events or activities where alcohol isn’t readily available for consumption. Despite the cultural acceptance of drinking, for many, it can become a slippery slope that ends in addiction. What was once a jolly, celebratory activity can quickly become a source of depression, shame, and any number of physical or psychological health issues.
Addiction Recovery Services is here to help educate you about the cycles of harmful alcohol addiction and your options for recovery. The first step in overcoming an addiction is understanding it.
What Is Alcoholism, or Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD)?
It’s important to know that the term “alcoholism” isn’t a formal, clinical term. It’s used in everyday conversation and refers to when a person’s drinking habits start to have a negative impact on important aspects of their life. The current medically preferred term is “alcohol use disorder” or simply “AUD.”
As described by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), “AUD is a chronic relapsing brain disorder characterized by an impaired ability to stop or control alcohol use despite adverse social, occupational, or health hazards.”
While other drugs may get more attention from the media, alcohol consumption has been a major public health issue over the last decade. One NIAAA study from 2016 found that the citizens of New Hampshire consume more alcohol per person than people in any other state in the nation. While citizens of the United States were reported to have consumed 2.35 gallons of alcohol on average for the year 2016, people who live in New Hampshire consumed an average of 4.76 gallons. This far exceeds any other state and is more than twice the recommended alcohol consumption limit of 2.1 gallons per year.
The nationwide alcohol consumption numbers suggest this is hardly just a local issue.
According to NIAAA in 2018, 15 million people in the United States suffer from AUD. That’s roughly 15% of the population. Of those 15 million, 65% are men and 35% are women.
Adolescents can be diagnosed with the disorder as well, and research found that in 2018, an estimated 401,000 adolescents ages 12-17 had AUD. Many of these people need treatment programs to help them quit.
What Are the Signs of Alcohol Addiction or AUD?
There are many signs of alcohol addiction, but the most common question is, “Do I or does someone I know have a problem?” The reality is that there is no blood test, genetic test, or head scan that can tell if a person has AUD or not. Instead, it’s a much more individual process determined by the impact alcohol use has had on a person’s life. If an individual has greater negative impact than they are comfortable with, this is a clear sign they shoud try to reduce use or seek professional help if they find they cannot do so on their own.
According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), anyone that meets 2 of the 11 following criteria within a 1-year period may be diagnosed with an alcohol use disorder. The following are the questions asked on a DSM screen for AUD:
“In the past year, have you:
- Experienced withdrawal symptoms such as irritability, depression, anxiety, nausea, or trouble sleeping once you stopped using?
- Drank more than you planned to or said you would on multiple occasions?
- Have had to increase the amount you drink to obtain the same desired effect that lower amounts would do in the past?
- Have tried to stop, but ended up starting again?
- Spent a large portion of your day recovering from bouts of drinking the day before?
- Ended up in risky situations such as drunk driving, unprotected sex, or fights?
- Continued drinking even after seeing negative effects on your health, your family, your career, or your education?
- Blacked out on more than one occasion in the past year?
- Given up activities you used to enjoy in favor of drinking?
If you or a loved one answers yes to at least 2 of the above, you should seek a professional assessment to determine if you’ve developed a physical dependency or addiction.
At Addiction Recovery Services of New Hampshire, we understand and celebrate that you are so much more than your addiction. If these patterns sound familiar, it may be helpful to reach out to us.
Alcoholism and Its Impact on Physical Health
Someone who drinks alcohol occasionally will most likely not suffer any severe, lasting health effects if they are otherwise healthy. However, if someone has become a habitual or regular heavy drinker, the negative health effects can compound quickly. One has to be careful and attentive to their own body. We’ve all heard stories of someone who drank heavily until the age of 92. It’s important to remember that only up to 15% of smokers develop lung cancer, but this doesn’t mean they don’t have other problems. Alcohol use is no different. Some people will never have a major physical problem, while others can get cirrhosis of the liver and die before they’re 40. The important thing is to look at one’s own health.
Long-term heavy drinking can result in cirrhosis or fatty liver disease, both of which decrease or remove the liver’s ability to process toxins. If you’ve ever seen a heavy drinker with yellowed skin, this is a clear sign of cirrhosis.
Numerous studies have shown that long-term heavy drinking increases the likelihood of cardiovascular issues, especially surrounding the heart. Again, this won’t effect everyone, but how many of us actually want to increase our risk of getting a serious disease?
Brain and Nervous System Issues
Extreme, long-term drinking has been associated with seizures as well as increased risk of Alzheimer’s.
Throat, mouth, esophageal, and liver cancers all can result from heavy drinking since excessive alcohol use increases the probability of mutated cancer cells in these areas.
Other possible health issues that can stem from long-term heavy drinking include digestive issues, anemia, infection, gout, and sleep abnormalities.
Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) for Alcohol Use Disorder
Here at Addiction Recovery Services of New Hampshire, we’re proud to support medication-assisted treatment (MAT) as part of our wide range of services. While most often used to treat opioid use disorder, MAT can also be used to treat AUD through the use of Vivitrol or other medications.
These medications are designed to relieve mental and physical withdrawal symptoms as well as curb any cravings. This helps a person sustain long-term recovery. With withdrawal and craving symptoms under control, it is much easier for individuals to engage in behavioral therapy techniques that again increase the likelihood of success in long-term recovery.
The medications used in MAT for alcohol addiction (with their brand names in parentheses) include:
- Naltrexone (Vivitrol and ReVia)
- Disulfiram (Antabuse)
- Acamprosate (Campral)
Reclaim Your Health at ARS
Our mission is to never make you feel like a failure, no matter if that’s when you enter or when you are enrolled in IOP. It’s hard to begin, and it can be hard to maintain long-term recovery. We focus on harm reduction rather than complete abstinence because we believe it’s been shown to help people recover effectively.
If you or someone you know is ready to begin recovery, let us know. ARS has many pathways to recovery, each defined by, and chosen based on, what the person in recovery needs. Give us a call at (978) 228-5853 and let’s see about starting you on the way to recovery.
Can your body repair itself from alcohol misuse?
In a majority of cases, the body can begin to heal from the damage done by drinking within just a few weeks after detox. The liver is very resilient and can regenerate itself. That said, many years of heavy drinking may leave the liver scarred and unable to fully heal itself to full operating capacity.
What is the most successful way to stop drinking?
The approach with the highest rate of recovery success is seeking professional treatment from a licensed addiction healthcare facility. Attempting to detox from drinking on your own can be extremely dangerous and even deadly in some cases.
What treatment options are available for someone who has a drinking problem?
There are many different inpatient and outpatient treatment options that can help a person overcome alcohol use disorder. The most successful options provide a full range of services, from alcohol detox to continued support in aftercare.
Where to find help - Local Resources
Evidence-based group therapy, family education
and medication management with a unique focus
on the mental health symptoms accompanying addiction.
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