WHAT IS THE MOST COMMONLY ABUSED DRUG IN THE WORLD?
Alcohol addiction ranks as the most commonly abused substance in the world. Our online therapy offers help and support for anyone with a drinking problem.
Now this may be surprising to learn given it is one of the easiest substances to get, it being legal in most western nations, it also proves to be one of the deadliest as well. Damage done to health, its contribution to accidents and homicides (caused directly or indirectly by its use) is almost incalculable.
Alcohol is a psychoactive substance, which means it is a drug that impacts the brain and central nervous system. It is classified as a depressant, which means it slows and hinders the nervous system. As a result of drinking, a person’s reflexes will be a lot slower, their thoughts muddled, and they may be unsteady on their feet.
Alcohol has a serious impact on the nervous system, however it does not have a long half life in the body. The main symptoms of drinking will be gone in a matter of hours, and most traces of alcohol will have left the body within about a day. This will of course depend on how much a person drinks, and how long they have been drinking. Since it is a liquid, the body begins processing alcohol almost immediately upon entering the system.
A person can expect relatively quick effects from alcohol, from first drinking it. Once it enters the bloodstream, alcohol will cause a person to feel:
- Mild euphoria
- Difficulty thinking, remembering or concentrating
- Lack of coordination
- Depressed mood, sadness or hopelessness
- Nausea and vomiting
- Raised blood pressure and heart rate
- Lower body temperature
- Irregular breathing
- Black outs
Alcohol is often thought of as a coping mechanism. People will frequently drink to try managing an undiagnosed or untreated condition, like an anxiety disorder or depression.
It is a very effective way to change how a person is feeling and make some of those terrible feelings go away for a very brief period of time. If you think about it, that makes sense as to why someone would want to keep drinking if it meant that whatever demons they had would be quiet, or if they could just get some sleep and peace, even if it was for a couple hours.
The problem with this is that it comes with a cost. Long term use of alcohol comes with a high toll on the body. Drinking impacts nearly every system in the body. It will harm the digestive system more specifically the liver, the endocrine system and the levels of hormones produced, it can cause breathing and cardiovascular difficulties, as well as brain damage, coma, and eventual death from drinking. Alcohol while effective in the short term, will prove deadly in the long term if used as a coping mechanism.
Alcohol addiction is something that everyone knows when they see it, but it is a struggle to define it. While some may still be able to work and function normally with a drinking problem, many more will lose everything to their alcohol addiction.
The medical term for alcohol addiction is a substance use disorder, so going by the symptoms listed for that, a person would need to display at least two of the following according to the DSM-5 to be diagnosed with this disorder:
- Taking the substance in larger amounts or for longer than prescribed or recommended.
- Wanting to cut down or quit using the substance but not managing to.
- Spending a lot of time getting, using, or recovering from use of the substance.
- Cravings and urges to use the substance.
- Ignoring major social responsibilities at work, home, or school because of substance use.
- Continuing to use, even when it causes problems in relationships.
- Giving up important social, occupational, or recreational activities because of substance use.
- Using substances again and again, even when it puts both physical and mental health along with emotional well being in danger.
- Continuing to use, even when it exasperates a physical or psychological problem.
- Needing more of the substance to get the effect desired.
- Development of withdrawal symptoms, which can be relieved by taking more of the substance.
Alcoholism is defined by having two or more of the above symptoms. The more symptoms a person has, the more severe the disease, and the greater the need for intervention and treatment.
WHAT DOES TREATMENT FOR ALCOHOL ADDICTION ENTAIL?
Alcoholism treatment is a process by which therapists, medical professionals and support staff help the person re-learn how to live without alcohol. They will also help them understand why they turned to alcohol as a coping method in the first place, and work towards a better resolution for that underlying cause. The majority of people who use alcohol or are addicted to alcohol will suffer from another mental illness, like depression or anxiety, and may drink to cover up the symptoms of that illness.
Alcoholism is a treatable illness, even though the substance can be found anywhere and is easily acquired. The disease requires support and treatment, but with the right help, recovery is possible. Detox, residential and aftercare staff are available to help you overcome this addiction and learn to live life again free of substances. Making that call for help will be your first step towards living a healthier and happier life.
Here are a few common symptoms. (For a full list please fill out the self-test first and contact us for consultation and assessment if you are serious about stopping drinking.)
WHAT ARE THE MAIN SYMPTOMS FOR SOMEONE WITH SERIOUS ALCOHOL PROBLEM?
- Worrying about where your next drink is coming from and planning social, family and work events around alcohol.
- Finding you have a compulsive need to drink and finding it hard to stop once you start.
- Waking up and drinking – or feeling the need to have a drink in the morning.
- Suffering from withdrawal symptoms, such as sweating, shaking and nausea, which stop once you drink alcohol.
Once a person becomes physically dependent on alcohol they cannot go without a drink without experiencing withdrawal symptoms. Depending on how much that person has been drinking, these symptoms can be extremely severe.
Excessive shaking and anxiety which can lead to more dangerous symptoms such as seizures and Delirium Tremens (DTs). DTs cause confusion, hallucinations, rapid/irregular heartbeat and fever. At their most extreme, these withdrawal symptoms can be fatal.
In these instances, it is essential to seek medical advice immediately and include one of the following in your detoxing:
Doctor/GP, Hospital, Detox clinic, or Primary Rehab.
WHAT PROFESSIONAL LOCAL RESOURCES ARE AVAILABLE FOR PEOPLE WHO WANT TO STOP DRINKING?
As we deal with clients all over the world we cannot often make local recommendations for doctors or hospitals, however we work with a number of drug and alcohol rehabs worldwide and would be happy to make any recommendations following completion of an assessment form.
For any UK residents (England, Scotland, Wales & Northern Ireland) you may be eligible for medical home detox. For more information visit our home detox page.