Alcoholism is an epidemic on par with any infectious disease in history, affecting millions worldwide every year. It can tear families apart, lead to financial ruin, and even kill people, yet many consume this poison deliberately, trapped in the constraints of addiction. Thankfully, help is available for these victims in the form of de-addiction therapy from life center baton rouge. Read on to find some tips to help combat alcohol dependence.
The word ‘alcohol’ can describe a wide variety of chemicals, but in common parlance, we mean beverages containing intoxicating quantities of ethanol. It affects the neurotransmitter signaling systems in the body, inducing euphoria, dulling pain and anxiety, and reducing inhibitions. It also affects your ability to form long-term memories. About 33% of the world’s population uses alcohol today.
Alcohol stimulates the release of opiates and endorphins within the body, causing the ‘feel-good’ buzz that makes it so popular as a recreational drug. However, over time, its usage can affect the homeostatic balance within the body as the natural production of neurotransmitters is downregulated or the receptors’ sensitivity decreases as a response to the glut caused by it. This will lead to physical dependence on the drug as the body begins to rely on constant alcohol consumption to maintain normal function; attempting to stop causes neurotransmitter insufficiency and a set of symptoms known as ‘withdrawal’; depending on the extent to which dependence has been established, this may even be fatal without proper medical intervention.
Despite the horrors of withdrawal, it is not a viable solution either to keep consuming alcohol. As the name ‘intoxicant’ implies, alcohol is toxic to the body and must be metabolized to neutralize it; in humans, this happens in the liver. However, the intermediate processing products, like acetaldehyde and reactive oxygen, are incredibly damaging to the liver. The organ can regenerate from some damage, but chronic use causes irreversible damage, leading to conditions like Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (AFLD) and Cirrhosis. Furthermore, alcohol can cause many short-term and long-term effects like short-term memory loss, brain shrinkage and damage, sleep disruption, and gastric ulcers. It also reduces the production of vasopressin in the hypothalamus, leading to frequent urination and, in the long term, kidney damage and failure. The effects compound with age as the body’s growth and repair mechanisms progressively decrease in efficiency.
Severe dehydration can be extremely dangerous for the body as it causes problems in almost every aspect of metabolism and bodily functioning. Alcohol severely dehydrates the body, and when you stop drinking, nausea and diarrhea that follow due to withdrawal only exacerbate the issue. It also depletes electrolytes due to increased excretory waste production, further reducing your body’s ability to retain water. Plenty of electrolyte-rich drinks like sports drinks will help you maintain your hydration and stave off the effects of withdrawal.
Sudden bouts of feeling very hot are common during withdrawal. That is because alcohol sends blood to surface-level vessels, which makes you feel warm in the short term but reduces your core temperature as this radiates more heat away through the skin. When you stop drinking, your body gets warmer again, causing you to feel discomfort. Additionally, hangovers activate the fight-or-flight response, causing sweating, a higher heart rate, and other symptoms which exacerbate this feeling. Taking a cold shower may help control these symptoms.
Alcohol metabolism inhibits the release of glycogen stores from your liver into your bloodstream, leading to low blood sugar. Over time, your body’s homeostatic balance may adjust to make your sugar levels perpetually low. During the detox process, you must get your body used to the average blood sugar levels again. Healthy fruits like apples and mangoes contain sugars such as glucose and fructose, which can give your body the anti-hypoglycemia boost it needs while still being healthy. Bear in mind that adjusting after long-term use can take time, and you will feel tired and disoriented for a significant period.
Alcohol seriously throws your endorphin regulation systems off balance and going cold turkey can lead to depressive tendencies as your nervous system struggles to adjust production and sensitivity again. To avoid the worst of these issues, you can counteract the ‘crash’ by performing activities that feel rewarding and release endorphins and dopamine, such as exercising, listening to music, gardening, or whatever else you might enjoy. That may also help you keep your mind off of cravings.
We can address not all withdrawal symptoms at home. For hefty drinkers, abruptly cutting off alcohol can cause a potentially life-threatening disorder called Delirium Tremens (DT). The sudden scarcity of GABA neurotransmitters, which perform an inhibitory role in the central nervous system, sends the body into a dangerous state of overactivity. DT patients suffer from hallucinations, tremors, high fever, vomiting, and insomnia. If left untreated, it can cause cardiac dysfunction, seizures, sepsis, and death. The condition requires immediate medical attention; call a hospital immediately if you suspect you might be suffering from these symptoms. Treatment is primarily symptomatic, such as antipsychotics, blood pressure medicines, analgesics, and IV electrolytes. Central Nervous System depressants like Benzodiazepines (such as Diazepam and Alprazolam) are also used to calm the nervous system down.
Alcohol de-addiction is a complicated and intricate process, and you should not hesitate to seek professional and medical help should you need it. Doctors and counselors can help you work through both your addiction and your withdrawal symptoms safely. Above all, always remember that you are not alone: there are at least thousands of others suffering like you to rid themselves of their vice. The momentary relief of one drink does not compare to the lifetime of pain you set yourself up for if you do not shake the habit as soon as possible. There are various platforms and support groups to motivate and be motivated by others in this journey. If necessary, you can even reach out to family and friends. Detox is an ongoing process and will not happen overnight, but anyone can lead an intoxicant-free and healthy life with enough perseverance.