Alcoholism related issues are some of the most important issues gripping America today. Millions of people have trouble controlling their drinking at some point. The majority of alcohol problems come from misuse of the substance. Generally, treatment for alcohol-related matters comes down to overdosing and dependence.
All alcoholic beverages are toxic if consumed in extremely large amounts. From wines to whiskeys to the occasional beer. Alcoholic substances unfit for drinking, such as isopropyl alcohol and methanol, are especially dangerous. Consuming the aforementioned liquids may require specialized medical care to remove waste and toxins from one’s bloodstream.
Generally, determining if an individual has consumed too much alcohol is done through a series of qualitative observations as well as quantitative measurements. Some observations of alcohol poisoning include, but are not limited to:
- Shortness of breath
- Skin color fluctuations
- Blacking out
Some quantitative measurements that could signify alcohol poisoning are:
- Low body temperatures (hypothermia)
- High blood alcohol content level
- Slowed breathing (a single-digit number of breaths in a minute or long periods in between breaths)
Treatment for alcohol poisoning revolves around the concept of giving the patient the best possible care while possibly lethal amounts of alcohol leave the bloodstream.
- Breathing assistance – patients can be left to lie down on their side so that they don’t choke on their vomit. A more serious option is to insert tubes inside of the patient so that they don’t stop breathing.
- IV Drip – An intravenous drip can assist patients in regulating their water, blood sugar, and vitamin levels.
- Close Supervision – Friends or medical professionals should be around to provide warmth, water, and anything else to help the individual
If you find yourself in a situation where someone who has consumed too much alcohol needs help, finding the nearest emergency room will yield the best results. If there is no medical help available, lay the individual on their side, and pay special attention to their physiological condition.
Treating addiction to alcohol is a much different story than treating overdose. When dealing with addiction, a consultation with a medical professional is always a welcomed action. Common ways to treat alcohol addiction are as follows:
There are many medications available for the purpose of treating alcohol dependence. These medicines will typically target changes in the brain caused by the constant consumption of alcohol. Common medications include Naltrexone, Acamprosate, and Disulfiram.
Naltrexone blocks reward centers in the brain, so a heavy drinker won’t feel euphoric when consuming alcohol. Acamprosate targets chemical balanced in the brain caused by dependence and attempts to reduce the desire to drink alcohol. Disulfiram blocks the body’s ability to break down alcohol, which causes very uncomfortable feelings for people that drink alcohol. This medicine can discourage the drinking of alcohol physically.
It is always important to consult with a medical professional on which medications will benefit an addict the most. The right prescription could be a life-and-death matter.
The goal of behavioral treatment is to change how an addict thinks and acts when in contact with their vice. Behavioral treatment can range from full-on 1:1 cognitive behavioral therapy to more qualitative, motivational methods. Patients can expect to work with medical professionals in a 1:1 or group setting and be tasked with “missions” from their counselor or therapist to complete.
Successful patients of behavioral treatment have identified the negative thought or action patterns that lead to alcohol abuse, and have rectified those patterns within themselves so they can prevent their own relapse. New methods of behavioral treatment are being invented (such as motivational interviewing), but old methods (such as cognitive behavioral therapy and rational emotive therapy) have remained a legitimate treatment option for many years.
Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is one of the most popular methods for alcohol addiction treatment. 12 Step programs such as AA give addicts the support network they need to foster better habits and prevent relapse. Support groups give people the opportunity to express themselves and help each other on their journey to sobriety. However, since most of these groups are anonymous in nature, it is hard to obtain quantifiable metrics on the rate of addict-to-sober conversions.
Other group-centered actions include interventions, where a group of the addict’s friends and family will be led by a counselor to sit down with an addict and let them know how their drinking problems are affecting different areas of their life. Interventions can be successful by themselves but typically act as a benchmark indication of the need for the individual to seek help.