Alcohol

Street names Include: Hooch, Booze, Juice, Sauce, Giggle Juice and many more

Alcohol is consumed as a liquid – most commonly in the form of beer, wine or liquor. The drug is classified a central nervous system depressant and enters the bloodstream through the gastrointestinal tract (stomach and intestine). Alcoholism is a leading form of substance abuse in the United States. Almost 80,000 people die each from alcohol relates issues. Alcoholism can be caused by environmental or genetic issues and affects all socio-economic levels, races and genders to some degree.

The effects of excessive alcohol consumption are wide-ranging and present severe consequences. Alcohol dependence can form as a result of sustained alcohol abuse. Continued abuse can lead to personal harm and ultimately, death. Sustained alcohol abuse has also been shown to contribute to many diseases including certain forms of cancer, heart disease, stroke and cirrhosis of the liver. Alcohol can also alter brain function including alertness, motor function and mood.

Alcohol also affects those around us. Pregnant women who consume alcohol increase the risk of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS). Further, alcohol can cause long-lasting or permanent developmental delays in the unborn child. A leading cause of traffic fatalities revolves around alcohol consumption as well. Many innocent lives are lost each year as a result of intoxicated drivers.

Underage drinking is prevalent in the United States with over 10 million 12-21 year old drinking more than just a few sips, according to 2009 data. And while young people do not drink as often as adults, the quantity they drink, when they do drink, is greater. Underage drinking is related to about 5,000 deaths and 190,000 emergency room visits each year in those under 21.

Treatment for Alcohol Abuse and Dependence

Treatment for alcohol dependence begins with a course of medical detox. Depending on the severity of the problem, this may last for three days to a week. During this time, patients will experience severe withdrawal symptoms commensurate to the duration of use and quantity of alcohol consumed. Withdrawal symptoms may include DT or Delerium Tremens, nausea, increased heart rate, anxiety, hallucinations and more. Patients can be made more comfortable with the use of various non-addictive medications.

After detox, a course of treatment at a qualified addiction treatment facility is critical for patients to maintain sobriety. Counseling may include individual and group therapy, family participation and education, structured activities, education and support. The level of care that is recommended is determined both by the condition of the patient and the professional opinion of the clinical team.

Recovering alcoholics must contend with the possibility of relapse for the rest of their lives.  Many treatment centers offer continuing care programs for up to two years following treatment. Additionally, active participation in Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), along with supportive family and friends are key to maintaining sobriety for the long-term.

Drug Status

A 2012 survey reported that almost 88% of all people over the age of 18 had consumed alcohol in their lives, showing the ubiquitous nature of this legal drug. SAMHSA suggests that almost 17 million Americans over the age of 18 are physically dependent upon or abusing alcohol as of 2012.

Other Addictive Drugs