Health Risks Associated With Alcoholism and Finding a Cure for This Vice
The Dominance of Drinking Problems in the US
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) states that the prevalence of drinking in the US is quite evident. According to a 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, around 86.3% of people from ages 18 years to older drank alcohol at some point in their lifetime. While this may sound pretty acceptable, the binge drinking statistics and study related to heavy alcohol use shows that 26.45% of people from ages 18 years and older were engaged in binge drinking.
All of this just goes to show that the problem of alcohol abuse and alcoholism is all too real for Americans. However, we need to realize the various other health implications and problems that accompany substance abuse. To shine further light on the health risks associated with alcoholism, let’s take a quick look at some of the most prominent ones.
According to Statista.com, nearly 129,939 people in the US died from liver cirrhosis from 2015 to 2017. What is more terrible is that around 65,089 of these deaths were associated with alcohol-related cirrhosis. Furthermore, alcohol-related cirrhosis deaths, according to the study’s findings, were highest among those aged from 55 years to 64 years old.
This amounted to 19.4 deaths per 100,000 populations. However, this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the broader study of liver disease. As we all know, the liver plays a vital part in our body, including the production of protein and blood clotting, as well as controlling and monitoring various substances in our body such as cholesterol, glucose, and iron.
Any damages sustained to the liver can be detrimental to our overall wellbeing. Signs and symptoms of liver disease include fatigue, jaundice, nausea, vomiting, weakness, and even weight loss. According to the American Liver Foundation, excessive alcohol consumption leads to three major types of liver disease, including the likes of fatty liver and alcoholic hepatitis.
As the name suggests, pancreatitis is related to the pancreas, another important organ of our body that is located in the abdomen and is predominantly responsible for converting the food we eat into fuel for body cells.
Pancreatitis is the inflammation of the pancreas, and it usually occurs when digestive enzymes start attacking the pancreas itself. It can be both acute and chronic, and either form is a serious concern since it can lead to horrifying complications if left unattended.
Heavy drinking causes repeated episodes of acute pancreatitis, which can quickly transform into a chronic case that can lead to permanent and irrevocable damage to your pancreas. This can become even worse for those who smoke regularly. According to studies conducted in the UK, seven out of every ten chronic pancreatitis cases are due to long-term heavy drinking.
Neuropathy itself is a major health problem where the damage or dysfunction of one or more nerves can typically result in individuals feeling numbness, muscle weakness, tingling sensations, and even pain in affected areas. It usually starts at hands and feet, but clinical studies have proven that it can quickly affect other parts of your body too.
Before anyone considers requesting neuropathy treatment immediately, it is important to realize that alcoholic neuropathy is even worse. It is toxic to your nerve tissues, but too much alcohol use can damage the peripheral nerves that connect the brain and spinal cord in our bodies.
The spinal cord is also known as the central nervous system, without which our entire body could be shut down permanently. Too much drinking can cause an imbalance of nutrient levels in our bodies. Vitamin E, B6, B12, niacin, folate, and thiamine are all needed for our nerves’ proper functioning. Severe forms of alcoholism can lead to everlasting damages to our nerves.
Ulcers and Gastrointestinal Problems
Another major set of health troubles caused by heavy drinking that can make people visit alcohol treatment centers are Gastrointestinal Problems that can include ulcers. Ulcers are defined as sores that develop on the lining of your stomach or the small intestine. Peptic ulcers can cause a burning sensation and may even lead to internal bleeding, resulting in a person requiring blood transfusions in a hospital.
Gastrointestinal problems come in a wide variety, such as constipation, irritable bowel syndrome, hemorrhoids, colon polyps, and even cancer, to name a few. Alcohol consumption that exceeds health guidelines can cause stomach ulcers, acid reflux, heartburn, inflammation of the stomach lining aka gastritis, and various other toxic effects to your gastrointestinal tract.
Fighting Back Alcoholism
It should be noted here that the list of problem and health concerns related to alcoholism are simply too much and too many to discuss which current time and space doesn’t allow me to dwell further on them. However, I hope it is pretty clear by now that this vice is the motherlode of all grave concerns towards anyone’s health.
This is why I would like to offer you some remedies for those who are suffering from this evil. Here are some remedies to try out for yourself and your loved ones who have fallen into this corruption.
This involves living at a treatment facility, very much like a rehabilitation center where people can undergo intensive treatment on a day to day basis. Normally a residential treatment can last up to a month to a quarter of a year.
For more severe cases that need immediate attention, people can be hospitalized so that they can acquire ongoing medical monitoring. However, this can prove to be quite expensive, and people with stable living situations should approach such an extensive support system. Hospitalizations can last up to 4-6 hours per day or can even extend up to 3-5 days a week.
It is reassuring to know that people and organizations across the world have come together to defeat this persistent problem. This is why you can find many government-run programs and even websites that can offer you tremendous resources as well as information to help someone in their time of need. These include AI-Anon, Alcoholics Anonymous, SAMSHA (Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration), and the NIAAA, to name a few.
There are different types of addiction therapies available that are specifically designed to treat alcoholism. These can also include individual and group formats that can be used to deal with drinking problems. Some common therapies include:
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) helps prevent a relapse and minimize drinking in individuals through the use of thought process manipulation and negation of self-destructive thoughts that lead to the abuse of alcohol.
- Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is a research-based form of CBT. CBT was originally designed to treat borderline personality disorders (BPDs). DBT takes it a step further by including the treatment of co-occurring mental health and addiction disorders. In this form of therapy, a professional is assigned to an individual to create a strong bond between the two so that addicts can learn to control their emotions and actions.
- Motivational Interviewing (MI) is also a patient-centered approach to assist individuals and their willingness to change behavioral patterns that lead to substance abuse. MI sessions usually include a professional offering motivation to addicts so that they can themselves choose to make the right decision.
Before I end this post, I would like to say that many clinical studies have shown that abstinence is the best way to recover from alcoholism. All you or anybody else really needs is the will power to drop the glass and push aside the bottles away from their path. I hope this post was able to offer you some alarming insights as to how alcoholism is indeed a grave matter for our societies. For more questions regarding the topic, please feel free to share your feedback in the comment section below.