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Alcohol Addiction in Alaska
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Alcohol Addiction in Alaska

Alcohol is the main source of many problems that Alaska faces, and the state is acknowledged as the leader of alcohol consumption per capita in the United States. Alcohol abuse and alcohol dependence, such as heavy or uncontrolled drinking, is tied to many of Alaska’s grim statistics involving high rates of crime, violence, suicide, a sexual abuse. Alcohol addiction in Alaska must be viewed and addressed as the serious matter that it truly is, for it is a disorder that requires specialized treatment and professional support in order to overcome. Medical detox and rehabilitation programs are used to treat all elements of an alcohol use disorder, with relapse prevention programs and aftercare support groups used for sobriety maintenance following the completion of treatment. People struggling with alcohol abuse are advised to seek out treatment as soon as possible in order to avoid long-term health problems. Fortunately for many residents, there are effective treatment programs for alcohol addiction in Alaska. If you or a loved one is struggling with an alcohol abuse disorder, do not hesitate to seek out professional care from top ranked Alaska alcohol and drug treatment centers. It is in your best interest, and in the best interest of your loved ones, to take the time to fully understand the developmental process of an alcohol addiction and how it earned the reputation for being a destructive and deadly disease. Speak with the admissions counselors at Alaska alcohol rehab centers for more information on getting help today.

What is Alcoholism?

Alcoholism is a chronic relapsing disease of the brain and the most severe form of alcohol abuse. It is characterized by the compulsive use of alcohol, inability to control alcohol intake, and an adverse psychological state when not using the substance. An alcohol use disorder (AUD) is a broad term used to describe a wide range of problematic drinking patterns and is classified into three categories: mild, moderate, and severe. Generally speaking, a person is said to have an alcohol abuse problem when they consume the substance despite the risks and consequences it has on his or her life, as well as the lives of those around them. The psychiatric classifications of alcohol abuse and alcohol dependence were essentially combined and referenced under the term ‘alcohol use disorder’ in the DSM-5. Alcoholism, also known as alcohol dependence, is linked to a range of health and social problems. When alcohol abuse develops into an alcohol addiction, the dependent person experiences a physical and/or mental need for alcohol. The disorder almost always requires certified alcohol addiction treatment in order to break a person’s physical and psychological dependence on the substance.

Common Signs of Alcoholism include:

  • Building a tolerance to alcohol
  • Loss of control over alcohol consumption
  • Experiencing cravings for alcohol when not using
  • Making alcohol a priority over personal responsibilities and all other obligations
  • Experiencing an intense feeling of needing to keep drinking more alcohol
  • Spending vast amounts of money on alcohol
  • Dramatic change in behavior and personality as a result of drinking
  • Experiencing symptoms of withdrawal when alcohol use is stopped

Alcohol Abuse vs Dependence

While alcohol abuse and alcohol dependence are closely related, they are often distinguished from a psychiatric point of view. Alcohol abuse is recognized by excessive drinking patterns and ongoing use of alcohol despite negative consequences. People in Alaska abuse alcohol in a number of ways, with binge drinking being one specific form of alcohol abuse. There are two distinct personality types that are believed to make a person more prone to alcohol abuse: those suffering from anxiety, and those with antisocial and pleasure seeking tendencies.

Alcohol dependence derives, in part, from alcohol abuse, with people who abuse alcohol on a regular basis often developing a psychological and physical dependence over time. People who are dependent on alcohol often require a range of treatments that address the physical, mental, and emotional aspects of the addiction. Alcohol dependence is associated with the development of a tolerance to the substance, as well as the onset of physical or psychological withdrawal symptoms when alcohol intake is stopped or significantly reduced. Those who have an alcohol dependency also experience the same issues that manifest from ongoing alcohol abuse, but to a more extreme degree. Common consequences of alcohol abuse and dependence include a varying degree of problems related to one’s finances, occupation, social life and relationships, personal life and responsibilities, and state of health and well-being.

Alcohol addiction is defined by the compulsive engagement in rewarding stimuli despite negative consequences. A person suffering from an alcohol dependency will continue to drink even though it is getting in the way of everyday life, hindering their ability to fulfill responsibilities and obligations, and negatively impacting their world and the world around them. For something to be considered addictive, it has to be both intrinsically rewarding and positively reinforcing, with people seeking repeated exposure because of the immediate pleasure it provides. Over time, however, pleasure and novelty often turn into a routine and will develop into an addiction, which then causes physical withdrawal symptoms upon cessation of use and psychological attachment. Despite a person’s best efforts, it is unlikely that he or she can stop drinking on their own without professional assistance in a certified alcohol detox program. Further treatment in an inpatient rehab is also needed following the detoxification process to address the mental and emotional side of the alcohol dependence and to instill the tools and skills for long-term sobriety maintenance.

Alcoholism Statistics for Alaska

Alcohol abuse is an evident problem for the state of Alaska, as it maintains one of the highest rates in the U.S. for both alcohol consumption and the number of residents with an alcohol use disorder. According to the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services, the rate of alcohol abuse and dependence in Alaska is 14 percent, which is twice the national average of 7 percent. This significant divergence highlights an undeniably real and growing problem in Alaskan society. Access to medical detox programs and alcohol addiction treatment centers in Alaska is essential for the residents, as it is the only tried-and-true way to break the bonds of addiction and ensure a lasting recovery.

According to a 2013 report from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), data revealed that, of the Alaska adults aged 18 and older surveyed, 8% were heavy drinkers and 20% were binge drinkers, with binge drinking being more common among those under 45 years of age. In the last 30 days of the survey, 26% of Alaskans aged 18 to 24, 29% aged 25 to 34, and 25% aged 35 to 44 years old engaged in binge drinking.

The health and social costs of alcoholism affect people from all walks of life, with alcohol-related costs spiraling to $1,096 per Alaskan resident each year according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report. To get grasp a more solid understanding of the severity of Alaska’s ongoing alcohol problem, you may want to take a look at the Alaska Vital Statistics 2015 Annual Report, which displays that the number of alcohol-induced deaths reached the highest the state had seen in the last decade – 160 fatalities.

Effects of Alcohol Abuse

Drinking too much alcohol or drinking too often, especially over your lifetime, can have several consequences on your health. The risk of harm increases by the measure and rate of alcohol consumption. Of course, drinking too much on a single occasion can be incredibly dangerous, as this can cause alcohol poisoning and result in death, but prolonged alcohol use is known to have several long-term effects on a person’s physical and psychological health.

Long-Term Psychological Effects:

  • Anxiety and panic disorders
  • Depression
  • Dysthymia
  • Manic behavior
  • Schizophrenia
  • Suicide or suicidal thoughts and behaviors
  • Damage to cognitive functioning: problems with attention and learning, retaining, retrieving and using information
  • Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome
  • Hallucinations
  • Delusions
  • Personality disorders
  • Compulsive behavior

Long-Term Physical Effects:

  • Brain disease
  • Bone density loss
  • Nerve damage
  • Peptic ulcers
  • Vision damage
  • Malnutrition
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Chronic pancreatitis
  • Coronary heart disease
  • Accelerated aging or exaggerated aging
  • Liver disease: hepatitis and cirrhosis
  • Cancer: liver, breast, colon, pancreatic, ovarian, digestive system, respiratory system, etc.
  • Cardiovascular disease: heart attack, stroke, arrhythmia, and heart valve problems
  • Sexual dysfunction and reduced fertility
  • Alcohol dependence, or alcoholism

Alcohol abuse and dependence is also closely linked to social problems, such as domestic violence and physical assault, with people who drink heavily much more likely to get arrested than the general population. Alcohol use has many drastic effects that only continue to multiply and worsen with time. It is vital to reach out for professional help at the moment in which you realize you or someone you love is struggling with an alcohol abuse problem. The specialists at top-ranked drug and alcohol treatment centers Alaska can guide and support you in each step of your recovery journey.

Alcohol Detox Programs

Alcohol detox is used to help heavy users and people with an alcohol dependency to safely undergo the process of withdrawal and allow the body to rid itself of the substance and its toxins. During the detoxification process, professionals of Alaska alcohol detox centers often apply one or more proven methods to ease a patient’s withdrawal symptoms, which can be severe in some cases.

Medical detox involves the administration of medications to lessen the severity of withdrawal symptoms and help improve the likelihood that the patient will stick with the program. Benzodiazepine drugs are widely used in this context, including Librium and Valium. Alcohol withdrawal can be dangerous and even fatal if not treated properly, with sedative drugs often needed to manage delirium tremens, seizures, and other dangerous symptoms. Symptoms of alcohol withdrawal can start in as little as six hours after the last drink and occur in stages over the course of about a week.

Stages of Alcohol Withdrawl:

Stage 1: Symptoms of withdrawal during this time are typically mild and can include, anxiety, abdominal pain, confusion, depressions, fatigue, heart palpitations, loss of appetite, mood swings, tremors, nausea, and vomiting.

Stage 2: Withdrawal symptoms become more moderate and include a rise in body temperature and respiration, irregular heart rate, high blood pressure, irritability, mental disorientation, excessive sweating, and profound mood swings.

Stage 3: The third stage of withdrawal is when symptoms become severe and can be life-threatening. The symptoms that may arise in the third stage of alcohol withdrawal include agitation, acute confusion, delirium tremens, fever, hallucinations, and seizures.

Symptoms of alcohol withdrawal often persist for roughly five to seven days and will vary from person to person based on the severity of their unique circumstance and the severity of the alcohol use disorder. Alcohol detox should never be attempted without medical supervision, as some of these symptoms can result in a medical emergency. Certified alcohol detox programs in Alaska ensure your safety, prevent relapse during withdrawal, and assist you in transitioning to the next phase of recovery. The Treatment for alcoholism includes medical detox, counseling, medication therapy, behavioral therapy, relapse prevention, and aftercare support. Each of these elements of treatment plays a vital role in the process of recovery and works to ensure long-term sobriety maintenance.

Treatment for Alcoholism

The rehabilitation phase of treatment takes place following the completion of detox. Alcohol rehab programs are available in an inpatient and outpatient treatment setting. People struggling with an alcohol use disorder are strongly advised to enter inpatient treatment or residential rehab, as live-in programs provide more structure, attention, and engagement in addition to showing significantly higher recovery rates. Rehabilitation programs are initiated after detox to treat the precedents of alcoholism using counseling programs, behavioral therapies, holistic treatments, and medication-assisted treatment. Medication therapy, also known as pharmacotherapy, involves the administration of medications on a long-term basis. Benzodiazepine drugs may be used over a period of weeks or months if needed, with other medications including Antabuse, naltrexone, and Campral. Common behavioral therapy programs include family therapy, art therapy, moral reconation therapy (MRT), cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), motivational enhancement therapy, and mindfulness and meditation. Aftercare support groups also play an important role in the treatment process, including conventional 12-step groups like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and newer systems such as SMART Recovery.

Do not let an alcohol use disorder dictate your health and happiness for one more day. Pick up the phone and call dial and addiction specialist now.