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Alcohol use disorder (AUD) is a chronic disease that involves compulsive drinking despite the negative implications that the behavior has on an affected patient’s life. Alcohol addiction is a leading social concern impacting millions of people globally. A clear understanding of AUD is essential to accepting its presence and being able to combat it. In this article, we will discuss what AUD is, what leads to it, what happens when a person is suffering from AUD, and what should be done to cure it.

What is Alcohol Use Disorder?

Alcohol use disorder can be described as a medical condition that involves the inability to abstain from or reduce alcohol consumption despite adverse effects on the social, occupational, or health of one’s life. The American Psychiatric Association, in the DSM-5 classification, identified at least two out of eleven symptoms that are used to diagnose AUD.

In this context, alcohol consumption starts with moderate consumption and goes right up to pathological use and then to AUD. According to SAMHSA, 5 million adults in the United States suffer from AUD, but only a limited proportion seek treatment for alcohol addiction.

Causes and Risk Factors

Psychological and physiological factors are said to contribute to the development of AUD alongside genetic and environmental factors.

Genetic Predisposition

A study shows that genetic factors may contribute up to 50% of the risk of developing AUD. Alcohol dependence also has affected their family and, those who have a family history of alcohol dependence have increased chances of developing the condition due to genetic factors that influence alcohol metabolism and the brain.

Environmental Influences

This is where social impacts like family interaction, cultural practices, and peer pressure come in. Especially if a person grows up in such a household or environment, they are likely to develop AUD with frequent heavy drinking. Adverse life events stemming from traumatic events or other forms of social loss can also lead to the development of AUD as a way of managing stress.

Psychological Factors

Depression, anxiety, PTSD, or other mental illnesses usually develop in people who have AUD. Individuals with such conditions may resort to alcohol to mask the psychological problems and, in the process, develop further complications, including psychological problems and alcohol dependence.

Physiological Aspects

Regular alcohol consumption can alter brain chemistry and cause the cycle of addiction. As alcohol tolerance increases, a larger amount of alcohol is required to get the desired impact, as are cravings when the substance is reduced or stopped.

Symptoms and Diagnosis

Identifying signs of Alcohol use disorder is one of the initial steps toward diagnosis and management. Symptoms can also be classified under behavioral signs, physical signs, and psychological signs.

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Behavioral Signs

  • The inability to consume the agreed amount of alcohol or its continued use for a longer time than was planned
  • Failed alcohol reduction or abstinence attempts
  • Drinking milk with alcohol, often for a long time to get it, drink it, or recover from it.
  • Failure to perform duties at the workplace, educational institutions, or within the home environment

Physical Symptoms

  • Some of the withdrawal symptoms that are associated with the use of alcohol include sweating, shaking, and nausea.
  • The rising tolerance bar means that more alcohol will be needed to produce the needed effect.
  • Some health complications associated with substance abuse include hepatic disorders, cardiovascular diseases, and immunodeficiency disorders.

Psychological Signs

  • Pangs of hunger and desires to consummate alcohol. This refers to the act or process of persisting in the consumption of alcohol even though the person is aware that he/she is developing or exacerbating issues.
  • Fluctuations in mood or outbursts of depression or anxiety linked to alcohol consumption

Diagnosis is often done through clinical assessment by a healthcare practitioner aided by screening checklists like the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT) and a history and physical examination.

Effects of Alcohol Use Disorder

AUD not only affects the physical and psychological well-being of the person but also the social and financial standing of any individual.

Physical Health effects

Alcohol addiction results in numerous health complications such as cirrhosis of the liver, pancreatitis, cardiovascular diseases, and even different forms of cancer. It also impairs the ability of the immune system to fight off infections, leaving individuals more vulnerable to them.

Mental Health Effects

AUD and mental health disorders can be seen as complementary since the symptoms of one aggravate the manifestations of the other. Alcohol also worsens depression, anxiety, and other related conditions, and that makes the healing process harder.

Social Effects

Social relationships with family, friends, and even coworkers are harmed because of the behavioral modification linked with AUD. This is caused by trust deficits, poor communication, and aggression, all of which are common occurrences in homes with alcohol dependents.

Economic Effects

These are at the individual level and range from direct medical expenses, lost wages, and legal fees all charged in Australian Dollars (AUD). Issues such as the burden of disease on healthcare systems, and the reduction of productivity due to workforce losses, are other issues that affect economies across the world.

Treatment and Recovery

AUD is diagnosed and treated using medical, psychological, and social treatment approaches. The aim is to assist these people in remaining and becoming non-dependent on alcohol and other substances while enhancing their quality of life.

Overview of Treatment Options

  • Inpatient Treatment: Residential services with an emphasis on psychotherapy and medical management
  • Outpatient Treatment: Welfare programs enable people to get the necessary treatment while still holding their jobs
  • Therapy: One-on-one and group counseling and psychotherapy using CBT and MI techniques

Medications

Some drugs can alleviate the symptoms of withdrawal, suppress appetite, and protect against relapse. These include

  • Naltrexone: Reduces craving and the rewarding aspect of alcohol consumption
  • Acamprosate: Supports the process of sustaining abstinence by regulating the chemistry of the brain.
  • Disulfiram: Causes an adverse effect when alcohol is taken, discourages its intake

Support Systems

Self-help groups are groups of people going through similar issues in their lives. Involvement of the family in treatment can also have a positive impact on the improvement of the patient through emotional support and the reconstruction of relationships.

Steps Toward Recovery

It is a long-term process divided into several phases, which include identification of the issue, seeking assistance, rehabilitation, living a sober life, and avoiding relapses. This means that therapy, support, and other necessary changes should be constant and long-term.

Prevention and Early Intervention

Early prevention and intervention of alcohol use disorder can help alleviate the negative effects of this disease on the patient and others. These include the provision of information, public health campaigns, and work at the policy level.

Prevention Strategies

Health education programs can raise awareness of the dangers of binge drinking among the general public and encourage them to engage in safer behaviors. Schools, workplaces, and communities should organize themselves to ensure that they pass on information that can prevent alcohol abuse.

Importance of Early Intervention

Primary prevention involves the early detection and elimination of potential risk factors leading to AUD. Another important setting involved in detecting early signs of alcohol abuse and offering necessary interventions in healthcare.

Community and Policy-Level Efforts

These legal interventions include restrictions on the sale of alcohol, taxes on the consumption of alcoholic products, and age restrictions. Community programs can assist the vulnerable.

Personal Stories and Testimonials

This would be helpful for people with AUD, as they can draw inspiration from others who have gone through similar struggles. Such experiences demonstrate that AUD is a common issue and that people can overcome it with proper support and care. The experiences revealed the difficulties encountered in the process of recovery and the approaches beneficial to patients.

Family Support

Family members usually have major responsibilities when it comes to the recovery process. Their stories can help others understand the effects of AUD on relationships and the role of family in the recovery process.

Professional Help

An individual must seek professional help to get the right treatment. Call Orlando Treatment Solutions today for more information on our personalized services and individualized treatment plan.

Alcohol Use Disorder treatment

Alcohol Use Disorder is an illness that has infiltrated many lives and is a major health concern However, with awareness and addiction treatment programs, people can step out of this cycle. If you or someone you know is experiencing any of the symptoms, feel free to give us a call at (321) 415-3213 or email us your concerns at info@shc.health and our professionals will be in touch with you.

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Orlando Treatment Solutions has helped over 2,000 people who have struggled with substance use (alcohol and drug addiction) and mental health find freedom.

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