According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), 26.5 % of adults in the United States reported binge drinking at least once in a 6-month period in 2018. Approximately 6.6% of those individuals reported drinking heavily in a one-month period. Not everyone who binge drinks struggles with alcoholism. However, binge drinking is discouraged by medical professionals.
Alcohol is widely accepted as an addictive substance. There are several factors that can contribute to a person developing an addiction. This includes our environment and our genetics. While research is still needed to better understand the connection between genetics and addiction, it is known that it plays a role.
Research has helped us have a better understanding of how alcohol impacts our bodies. Heavy alcohol use is known to change the way our brain works. For example, individuals who abuse alcohol heavily, have different areas of their brains active when compared to individuals who do not drink. Part of this change is between the prefrontal cortex, basal ganglia, and amygdala. These areas of the brain develop a reward cycle where dopamine is released when we drink, which makes us feel good. When we stop drinking, our dopamine levels decrease which can have a negative impact on our mood.
How Does Alcohol Impact the Body?
There are several ways that alcohol can impact our bodies. There are short-term and long-term consequences. Even the smallest amount of alcohol in our system has an impact on our brain’s ability to function. This is because alcohol decreases our brain’s ability to make connections regarding concentration, coordination, mood, and behaviors.
Alcohol poisoning can happen to anyone who drinks heavily in a short period of time. This includes those who drink heavily and those who rarely drink. Alcohol poisoning is a serious medical condition that can lead to a loss of consciousness, seizures, and death. Other symptoms can include vomiting. Alcohol poisoning does warrant the need for medical evaluation and treatment.
What are the Signs of Alcoholism?
Some of the physical signs of alcoholism were mentioned above. This would include impaired coordination, poor concentration, mood changes, and behaviors. Alcohol acts as a depressant which is known to lower our mood.
There are behavior changes that can be seen in individuals who struggle with alcoholism. It is important to note that the behaviors discussed may be present in someone who is not struggling with addiction and that you can be struggling with alcoholism without any of these behavioral changes. Everyone’s experience with addiction is different.
Relationship distress can occur within romantic relationships, friendships, and relationships with children. This can include a loss of trust, uncertainty, and turbulence. Family therapy can be helpful in these situations and encourage families to navigate the future together.
Another sign of alcoholism is the individual’s responsibilities are being negatively impacted by their drinking. It could be that they are consumed by their addiction and have little time for other things. Another possibility is having your work or school negatively impacted. A person may fall behind on their bills or forget their prior engagements.
What are the Long-Term Effects of Alcohol Abuse?
The long-term effect of alcohol abuse can impact your health, behaviors, and relationships. Alcohol addiction is known to create a world of chaos that touches every aspect of your life.
For individuals who drink alcohol heavily for a long period of time, there are a variety of health consequences that can occur. One of the most widely recognized concerns when it comes to drinking alcohol is liver damage. This includes alcoholic hepatitis, fibrosis, and cirrhosis. Additional concerns that can develop may include cardiomyopathy, arrhythmias, high blood pressure, and stroke.
For those who have been abusing alcohol long-term, you can develop a physical dependence on alcohol. This means that their body becomes accustomed to functioning with alcohol, and is unable to function properly without it. This leads to alcohol withdrawal when you stop drinking, which is typically unpleasant. It is important to note that alcohol withdrawal can be as dangerous as alcohol poisoning and warrant the need for medical supervision.
Denial is a common experience among those who struggle with addiction. This occurs when they are unable to see the negative impact that their alcohol use is having on their life. The negative impact may be seen by their loved ones, friends, children, and co-workers. Denial is a powerful mindset others can struggle to witness.
How do Mental Health Disorders Impact Alcohol Abuse?
Alcohol can act as a coping skill for individuals who are struggling with mental health concerns. While alcohol is not a healthy coping skill, it acts as a depressant that can help relieve symptoms, such as anxiety. Common mental health concerns that we see among individuals who struggle with alcoholism include anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, trauma, and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Mental health concerns are also known to contribute to relapses in recovery. If alcohol has been used as a person’s main coping skill, they will continue to struggle with their mental health until they learn healthy ways to manage their distress. For some, feeling distressed can be overwhelming.
Because of this, individuals who struggle with mental health concerns and addiction will have a greater chance of a healthy recovery, if they receive treatment for both concerns at the same time. Many inpatient and outpatient treatment programs offer specialized treatment options where they are able to provide treatment for both.
How to Find Alcohol Addiction Treatment in Louisville, KY
While finding an alcohol rehab in Louisville may feel overwhelming, you have resources that can make this process easier for you. One option would be to talk to your Primary Care Physician about your drinking concerns. They will likely spend time understanding your drinking patterns and the consequences you have experienced. This will allow them to make an accurate referral for an alcohol addiction program.
A second option would be to contact your insurance company by calling the number on the back of your card. They would be able to give you a list of providers who are in-network. Additionally, they will be able to give you information about your plan coverage and what you can expect to pay yourself.
Impact IOP offers a variety of alcohol treatment programs in Kentucky. This includes a partial hospitalization program, an intensive outpatient program, and outpatient treatment. If you are struggling with a mental health concern, we can customize your treatment plan so that you can receive the treatment you need.
Our treatment facility is located in Louisville, KY. We are happy to work with individuals in the surrounding area. To learn more about the services we offer, you may call (502)912-1038.