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Alcohol Abuse Disorder or Alcoholism
Alcoholism is a national health crisis that is the third most-preventable cause of death in the United States. It is a crippling disease that can take a physical, psychological and emotional toll, and eventually impairs a person to the point of being unable to work or be there for their family. Additionally, there is a social stigma that surrounds alcoholism that might deter people from seeking help.
The National Institute for Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism puts the number of individuals with alcoholism at 14.5 million and only 10.4 million of those individuals (or 7.2 percent) received any type of treatment (NIAAA, 2021). With the social stigma and lack of accessibility to information, it is easy to see why many people never get help for their medical condition.
Risk factors for Alcoholism
Like any abuse disorder, several factors affect your likelihood of developing an Alcohol Abuse Disorder including genetic, psychological and social factors. However, according to the Mayo Clinic, you are at a higher risk if:
- You are a regular drinker for an extended amount of time.
- You started drinking at an early age.
- You have a family history of alcohol or substance abuse.
- You have or have had depression and other mental health problems.
- You have a history of trauma.
- Other social and cultural factors, like the media, traditions, family and peers, e.t.c..
Alcoholism and COVID-19
COVID-19 created two new problems for those with AUD. First, excessive alcohol consumption compromises the immune system, putting those people at a higher risk for getting the COVID-19 virus (MCA, 2020).
Second, the stress of a pandemic, economic crises and social distancing could contribute to a rise in cases of alcoholism.
According to the National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics,
“Economists as well as healthcare and addiction specialists agree the pandemic and quarantines of 2020 had a significant impact on nationwide alcohol consumption.”
Additionally, in March of 2020 (when most lockdowns began) online liquor sales rose 262 percent compared to 2019 and despite these lockdowns, liquor store sales rose by 54 percent (NCDAS, 2021). The increased sales of alcohol, as well as the lack of access to help during the COVID-19 lockdowns, might have contributed to the large increase in cases of alcoholism.
Admitting that you have a problem is the first, and hardest, step towards sobriety. According to the American Addiction Centers, denial is a common response in many cases to having lost control over alcohol use. However, AUD is a medical condition and reaching out for help is vital in getting sober. It can actually improve your chances of getting sober (AAC, 2019). Trusted family members and friends are a great source of support and can aid you in reaching out to find professional help. Make sure that you reach out to people who will support you on your journey towards becoming sober
Detoxing is, simply put, the process by which the body gets rid of drugs, alcohol and toxins. This happens after a few hours after a patient with AUD stops consuming alcohol. Patients undergo alcohol withdrawal, symptoms of which include:
- Hyperactivity and increased hormone levels
- Increased blood pressure
- Profuse sweating
- Tremors and physiological pain
- Vomiting and nausea
Alcohol withdrawal can last from 4 to 5 days (Mayo Clinic, 2021). It is an extremely stressful process on the patient, both physically and mentally. Many alcohol detox centers in Austin offer programs that are personalized and offer a safe environment with trained medical professionals to aid patients in detoxing. They also offer medical care, licensed counseling and a great support system.
Austin Alcohol rehab centers offer a more intensive care treatment. Here, patients get constant care during the medical detox stage, followed up by rehabilitation therapy, where individuals examine the psychological and behavioral factors that contribute to their condition. Rehabilitation centers also offer out-patient treatment, where patients detox at home under the care of a medical professional, and undergo rehabilitation therapy, while still being available to keep a job or attend school.
These centers follow up with Aftercare, which involves setting up a support system to ensure the continued success of their sobriety.
Sober Living Communities
Sober living communities offer a supportive environment where patients can learn to transition into a sober life alongside other patients. Patients develop a community and learn life skills to aid them in their continued sobriety. Patients, if need be, are able to have access to licensed medical professionals. Sober living homes in Austin also provide patients with a chance to network, establish a support system and regain independence, which will eventually help in maintaining a sober life.