Alcoholism is a physical and psychological dependence on alcohol. This begins to take hold when individual drinks heavily enough over a long enough time that both the body and mind become dependent on alcohol to function properly. Once this occurs, the person’s drinking has long since become the highest priority in that person’s life.
Alcoholics continue drinking despite the negative consequences they face. The individual is often aware that their drinking is the source of all of these problems, but having that knowledge is not sufficient to get them to stop drinking.
In addition to alcoholism, physicians have coined the term “alcohol abuse.” This refers to an individual that has many of the social and life consequences associated with alcoholism, but is not physically dependent on the alcohol.
Causes of Alcoholism
As of yet, medical professionals still aren’t able to point to one clear cause of alcoholism. But when it comes to dependency, a person becomes dependent on alcohol when their excessive alcohol use causes actual changes in brain chemistry. These changes are linked to the feelings of pleasure produced by a drink, and push the person to continue drinking despite negative consequences. These changes occur over the course of years of alcohol abuse, and take time to occur.
Risk Factors of Alcoholism
Even though the specific cause of alcoholism is not clear, there are many factors that put a person at risk for becoming an alcoholic. Individuals with the following are more likely to develop alcoholism:
men who consume more than 15 alcoholic beverages each week
females that consume more than 12 alcoholic beverages each week
drinking more than five alcoholic beverages in one sitting (binge drinking)
having a mother or father with alcoholism
having a mental health disorder (anxiety or depression)
Additionally, individuals with the following characteristics have a greater chance of becoming alcoholics:
young adults who experience an abnormally high level of peer pressure
individuals with love self-esteem
experiencing unusually high amounts of stress
being a member of a family that drinks often and accepts drinking
Treatment of Alcoholism
Because alcoholism affects individuals both physically and psychologically, treatment for alcoholism requires specialized, professional attention to both an individual’s physical and mental state. Providing the individual with a safe, medically supervised environment to detoxify from alcohol is the first step of treatment. Because the detox process can be uncomfortable and even fatal, Northbound Treatment Services provides their clients with a medical detox at their one EIGHTY detox program. Clients are given 24 hour medical supervision, which is provided in a relaxing, nurturing environment.
Once clients have completed detox, they begin an intensive inpatient treatment program. This program helps the recovering alcoholic address negative thoughts and behaviors, and to learn positive coping mechanisms that reinforce their sobriety. This process is known as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, and has been proven to be one of the most effective forms of psychological treatment for alcoholism. In addition to CBT, Northbound emphasizes participation in 12 Step Groups, and takes our clients to meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous.
After completing our inpatient program, Northbound provides clients with a range of aftercare programs for continued support. One option consists of extended care treatment plan that concentrate on supporting the client while they continue their educations or careers. A second is a Christian-based recovery programs that helps the client to strengthen their relationship with Christ. Northbound also offers meetings and fellowship through our Alumni programs, which meets twice a week.