Given that alcohol is readily sold in stores, routinely served in restaurants, and an incredibly common part of the average adult’s life, it’s sometimes difficult for people to recognize when their alcohol use has become problematic. People who abuse alcohol regularly drink to excess, and often experience unpleasant consequences as a result. More importantly, they continue drinking heavily even when their alcohol use has harmed their personal relationships, led to serious legal problems such as DUI charges, negatively affected their careers, and created a host of financial issues.
One thing to note about alcohol abuse, however, is that those who suffer from it still possess the ability to make the conscious decision to quit. Sadly, as alcohol abuse spirals towards full-blown addiction, a number of unseen changes occur within the brain that ultimately take this choice away. Much like alcohol abusers, those who are addicted to alcohol recognize the terrible impact that drinking is having on their lives. Unfortunately, they lack the power to make the changes that are necessary for reclaiming their lives.
That’s because prolonged periods of heavy drinking actually damage the brain. In fact, for many heavy drinkers, alcohol use even leads to significant decreases in brain volume. By the time that a person has become addicted, abstaining or even simply limiting alcohol intake presents a vast range of painful, dangerous, and potentially life-threatening withdrawal symptoms.
Rehab for alcohol is absolutely essential for these individuals. Rehab programs offer end-to-end solutions that include:
- Medically assisted detox for mitigating and minimizing primary withdrawal symptoms
- Therapeutic interventions for alleviating secondary withdrawal symptoms
- Individual and group counseling for learning more about the underlying causes of addiction
- Treatment for co-occurring disorders or comorbidities
- Workshops and other support services for learning new coping skills and identifying post-treatment resources
Going to rehab is not only safer for those living with alcohol use disorder, it’s also an infinitely more effective way to both achieve sobriety and maintain it.
How to Know if Alcohol Is Right for You
Alcohol addiction frequently comes with denial. Most heavy drinkers believe that they have the ability to stop drinking anytime they choose to. If you’ve ever attempted to limit your drinking and have been unable to do so, you can probably benefit from the comprehensive services that alcohol rehab provides. People are often afraid of detoxing from alcohol because they know how uncomfortable and downright miserable abstinence makes them feel.
Medically assisted treatment (MAT) can make withdrawal much easier. Symptoms of withdrawal such as:
- Excessive sweating
can be effectively minimized with MAT. In fact, in some instances, these and other symptoms of alcohol withdrawal can be avoided entirely. MAT leverages special medications for helping the body regain and maintain a sense of equilibrium as it adapts to being alcohol-free.
Medication is also used to ensure that dramatic changes do not occur in patients’ vital signs such that problems with fluctuating blood pressure, temperature loss, blood sugar fluctuations, and heart palpitations can be avoided as well. MAT is additionally used to stave off the more serious symptoms of delirium tremens such as seizures and hallucinations.
Alcohol Use and Brain Damage
Few people take their first drinks fully understanding the risks of long-term alcohol addiction. Alcohol is appealing for a vast range of reasons. It gives drinkers a false, heightened sense of confidence, feelings of euphoria, and a general sense of ease. This is because drinking triggers the release of dopamine and endorphins. These “feel good” chemicals are a large reason why people who drink continue to do so even when their lives are falling apart because of it.
Over time, however, the brain gradually adapts to over-stimulation, and less dopamine and endorphins are released. This makes it necessary for alcohol users to drink more, and to drink more often. One of the key changes that takes place in the brain with prolonged alcohol use is over-activation of the neurotransmitters. This is known as misfiring. It is the result of a severely depressed central nervous system (CNS). It is this misfiring that triggers seizures when abstinence is prolonged, and when detox isn’t medically managed.
From the standpoint of a person attempting to recover, detoxing can also be incredibly bleak. Not only is a recovering alcoholic no longer getting the release of extra dopamine and endorphins that alcohol once stimulated, but few “feel good” hormones are being release at all. These and other changes in the brain are in large part why alcoholism is considered a long-term and often lifelong disease. Many heavy drinkers experience permanent changes in both brain functioning and brain size over time. When changes of this magnitude occur, having the support that’s offered by a professional alcohol rehab is critical for ensuring success in recovery. If you’re tired of living with alcohol use disorder and want to locate the right rehab program for your needs, we can help you find it. Call us today at 844-639-8371.