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What Are the Basics to a Recovery From an Alcohol Addiction?

April 12, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 206

Some historians believe that alcohol is the oldest mind altering substance used by man. Its use is prevalent in human history. In the United States, we have 18 million alcoholics. This disease costs Americans about 40 - 60 billion dollars yearly. In fact, the cost of alcoholism in this country is greater than the cost of cancer. Estimates and the problems it causes are monumental, to say the least.

Alcoholism affects the brain similar to other addicting chemical substances and behaviors. Dopamine is increased in the pleasure center of the brain and this produces a significant euphoria. The rush or euphoria that an alcoholic experiences from drinking is not the same feeling that other people experience when drinking. GABA, the body's natural tranquilizer, is another major neurotransmitter that is affected by alcohol. Alcohol increases the actions of GABA in the brain. It also alters serotonin levels in the brain. Serotonin affects mood, sleep, appetite and other physiologic functions. Alcohol's inebriating effects are familiar to everyone. But the molecular details of alcohol's impact on brain activity remain a mystery. A new study by researchers at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies brings us closer to understanding how alcohol alters the way brain cells work (1).

The chemistry of ethanol is relevant to an understanding of the neurobiology of alcohol addiction (2). Alcohol is water soluble and, therefore, distributes throughout the entire body. Some individuals are alcoholics "waiting to happen." In other words, all it takes is that first drink. This is not an uncommon story, especially when there is a strong family history of alcoholism. Just how long it takes to develop depends on the individual. Diagnosing alcoholism can be put in simple terms. If alcohol causes problems in a person's life and they continue to drink, they are probably an alcoholic.

Alcoholics can develop a high tolerance to alcohol. While everyone is familiar with the classic signs and symptoms, the chronic alcoholic may show few signs or symptoms of his or her alcoholism. Chronic alcoholics may be very high functioning. In other words, their blood alcohol could be at 2 - 3 times the limit and yet they show no signs or symptoms of being "under the influence."

Detox and withdrawal from alcohol can be life threatening. Alcohol is a depressant and withdrawal is the exact opposite. Seizures, rapid heart rate, hallucinations, insomnia and extreme agitation can occur with severe alcoholics. A lot of drinkers are not even aware of milder withdrawal symptoms because they just have another drink. When the disease is full blown, the alcoholic does not drink because he wants to drink... he drinks because he has to drink. Cravings will come and go for any recovering alcoholic. These cravings frequently have "triggers" in the environment. The triggers can be subtle and relate to people, places or things. Any one who wants to stay clean and sober should be aware of his or her triggers and avoid them.

The harmful side effects of alcohol abuse/alcoholism are legion. This solvent affects every cell in the body. The more common physical problems include: dementia, heart disease, liver disease, pancreatitis, malnutrition, strokes, cancer and alcoholic neuropathy, to mention a few. Alcoholism also presents the potential for severe psychological problems - from depression to suicide. It can destroy families, marriages, relationships and careers.

Alcohol is especially harmful to the unborn child. Fetal alcohol effects and fetal alcohol syndrome are well known consequences of drinking during pregnancy. It is probably best for pregnant females to not drink at all during their pregnancy.

The legal consequences are limitless. DWI is probably one of the better known offenses. This offense results in unbelievable costs to the offender and the penal system. Alcohol is responsible for the majority of domestic violence charges and other offenses too numerous to mention here. While alcohol used to be detected in the urine for up to 24 hours, there are new urine drug screens that can detect the presence of alcohol in the urine for up to 5 days.

Current treatment for alcoholism ranges from inpatient to outpatient to home detox. The type of treatment depends on the patient's resources and motivation. Alcohol dependent individuals usually need some type of medical supervision during detox and withdrawal. There are new alternative medical treatments as well as herbal supplements to help with detox, withdrawal and cravings for alcohol abuse or alcoholism. These alternative therapies provide affordable, professional care in the privacy of one's home.

Cognitive and behavioral therapies are important in recovery from alcoholism or alcohol abuse. Relapse is common with alcoholics. The combination of 12-Step attendance at AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) meetings and some natural, non-addicting herbal supplements to address alcohol cravings works well. Treatment with herbal supplements for cravings should continue for at least 2 years.


1. Science and Technology News. June 28, 2009, Site for alcohol's action in the brain discovered. July 17, 2011

2. Pat Jones, MS, RN, CS. 2011. Alcohol Addiction: A Psychobiological Approach. Psychiatry And Wellness, August 8, 2011,

Tom E. Jarvis is the creator of the all-natural and non-addictive Addiction Buster® formulas and an expert in the field of addiction. He was a chemist prior to attending medical school, where he graduated with honors. He has spent over 20 years treating over 20,000 patients addicted to alcohol, drugs and addictive behaviors. Tom E. Jarvis is also a recovering alcoholic & drug addict.

Visit our site to get FREE access to our 4 Step Addiction Recovery Plan for Alcohol, Drug & Addictive Behaviors.

Source: EzineArticles
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