Although many programs claim to “deal with your feelings,” Chapman House actually developed the process! You will know how to deal with your feelings when you complete our program.
Alcohol, also known as ethanol or ethyl alcohol, is one of the most popular psychoactive and addicting substances worldwide. Addiction to alcohol, commonly known as “alcoholism,” remains a serious problem in the United States. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism reported that 6.2% of Americans aged 21 and over had an alcohol use problem in 2015. Medically, alcoholism is referred to as “alcohol use disorder.”
Alcohol also goes under the names “booze,” “brew,” and “juice.”
Alcohol is a central nervous depressant that slows down the ability to react and induces a calming effect. It is believed to exert its effects by increasing the activity of a GABA (gamma-Aminobutyric acid), our body’s natural “slow chemical.” By enhancing the effect of GABA, users feel a sense of relaxation and lowered inhibitions. This mechanism is similar to benzodiazepines such as Xanax and Valium, an addicting class of central nervous system depressants.
In addition to finding the relaxing effects addicting, alcohol may also play a role in the brain’s reward pathway. The reward pathway is a primitive system in our brain that “rewards” us for performing activities essential to survival such as eating, drinking and procreating. When this system is activated, it causes a pleasurable feeling that drives us to repeat the behavior. Since alcohol stimulates this system, it essentially tricks our brain into rewarding us for drinking it.
Not all people that drink alcohol become addicted to it. Some can drink moderately without becoming addicted while others can become addicted soon after being introduced to it.
Research has shown that some people have a genetic predisposition towards alcohol use disorder. Combined with ease of access and lack of a support system, many people can easily spiral down the path of addiction.
Alcohol overdose, more commonly known as “alcohol poisoning,” occurs when a dangerously large amount of alcohol is consumed. People suffering from alcohol poisoning may exhibit the following signs and symptoms
Alcohol poisoning can be deadly, particularly when other drugs are involved such as benzodiazepines or opioids.
Alcohol use disorder, commonly referred to as “alcoholism,” is a disorder characterized by excessive alcohol consumption. If alcohol is completely legal for those over the age of 21 and many can drink moderately with no health concerns, what exactly counts as alcoholism and what classifies someone as an “alcoholic?”
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the most authoritative tool for diagnosis of mental disorders, has developed a set of criteria in the form of a questionnaire. An individual meeting at least 2 of the 11 criteria in the same 12-month period receives a diagnosis of “alcohol use disorder.” Select criteria for diagnosis is listed below (not all criteria is listed)
In general, the following signs may indicate that someone has an alcohol use disorder:
Individuals with a drinking problem will often drink larger amounts to overcome the tolerance built up over time. This leads to dependence, where the individual needs to drink in order to function normally. Someone dependent on alcohol will suffer serious withdrawal symptoms if they do not drink, some of which can be life-threatening.
Some symptoms of alcohol withdrawal are listed below
When someone with an alcohol use disorder decides to stop drinking, the first priority is ensuring safe discontinuation of alcohol. Since sudden discontinuation, also called “cold turkey,” can cause life-threatening seizures. It is important that heavy drinkers see a medical professional during the initial detox period.
Control of initial withdrawal symptoms may involve the use of the benzodiazepine Valium (diazepam) or Librium (chlordiazepoxide) to prevent or control seizures and anxiety, as well as sleep aids to help insomnia.
Controlling withdrawal symptoms during the detox period is not the same as treating alcohol use disorder itself, which is a far more complex substance abuse disorder.
Most treatment programs involve the use of counseling sessions to focus on the behavioral modifications necessary to treat alcohol use disorder. Some treatment programs may feature group counseling sessions, where people recovering from alcoholism can discuss their problems and progress in a support group atmosphere.