TREATING ALCOHOLISM

Best Alcohol Addiction Rehab Centre in South Africa

What is alcohol use disorder?

Alcohol use disorder, formerly termed alcohol addiction, is a brain disorder that can range from mild, moderate to severe. People who drink regularly develop a tolerance to alcohol which progresses to dependence and addiction. Long-term alcohol use changes your brain’s structure and function and damages neural pathways, resulting in brain chemistry changes that affect your physical and mental well-being.

When you’ve decided to start the process of finding out how you can stop drinking, and are considering entering a rehab for alcoholics, the first step on the road to recovery is to accept that you have a problem.
When you are drinking alcohol habitually in excessive amounts, and find that you cannot go without it, you might have a problem.

There is a difference between drinking moderately and drinking habitually.
Moderate drinkers generally don’t have a problem and will indulge in one drink a day, normally as a way to unwind. South Africa is home to a burgeoning population of recovering addicts, counsellors, and specialists, making it an excellent setting for drug rehabilitation centresGet in touch with us for more information on our South Africa treatment centre.

Habitual drinkers tend to go overboard and might even end up drunk, every day, sometimes beginning their day with a drink and continuing from there. Not all alcoholics will drink until intoxicated, but what all have in common is their uncontrollable need to drink.

There is also a difference between addiction and abuse when entering an alcoholic rehab. Those who abuse alcohol can still turn back without experiencing any physical effect.

However, those who have gone beyond the point of no return are termed dependent because they have become physically and mentally dependent on alcohol. Without their daily dosage, they can start to experience the effects of withdrawal.

This is because alcohol is toxic to neurotransmitters, chemical signals and electrical impulses in your brain that carry messages to the rest of your body. Prolonged alcohol use causes cerebellum atrophy (brain shrinkage), resulting in ataxia, an irreversible degenerative disease of your central nervous system.

A combination of medical detox, medication, psychotherapy and group support therapy is used at alcohol rehabs to successfully treat alcohol addiction as part of an integrated addiction treatment programme, whether it be an inpatient or outpatient centre.

If you feel you have a problem with alcohol and that it’s time to empty the bottle, know that there is a way out, a way to stop drinking alcohol, and to enjoy a life of freedom and sobriety. Even the worst addict has beaten their alcoholism and turned their lives around. And with the use of alcoholic rehabilitation, so can you.

What causes alcohol use disorder?

Alcohol use disorder (alcoholism) is caused by long-term alcohol consumption that changes brain chemistry, structure, and functions.

Alcohol blocks chemical signals (neurons) between your brain cells, which causes intoxication. Symptoms of intoxication include slurred speech, slow reflexes, poor memory and impulsive behaviour. Alcohol is a depressant substance that inhibits neurons, slowing down their ability to ‘fire’ chemical messages and electrical impulses, which carry information to other parts of your body.

The short-term side effect of alcohol is intoxication which alters how you think, feel, behave, and make judgment calls. The long-term impact of alcohol abuse includes life-threatening physical and mental health conditions.
A warning sign of alcohol dependence is that you experience moderate to severe withdrawal symptoms if you reduce your intake or stop drinking alcohol. At this point, it might be a good idea to consider a rehab for alcohol addiction.

In the tolerance stage (which we discuss below), your brain adapts to the side effects of alcohol by reducing the impact of dopamine on your brain pathways. You drink more alcohol more frequently to get the same result.

As noted above, alcohol is a depressant substance. To compensate for the depressant effect, your central nervous system increases the production of stimulating chemicals such as serotonin and norepinephrine.
When you reduce or stop using alcohol, your body continues to produce these stimulating chemicals, and you stay in a ‘keyed up,’ alert state. This process is experienced as unpleasant and potentially life-threatening withdrawal symptoms.

Alcohol Addiction Treatment

What causes alcohol tolerance?

When you drink, your brain reward pathways are flooded with dopamine, causing a euphoric feeling. Your brain adapts to repeated alcohol use by shutting down neurons, producing fewer dopamine receptors and increasing dopamine transporters to get rid of excess dopamine in the spaces between your brain cells. This stage of alcoholism is known as alcohol tolerance, where your central nervous system adapts to dopamine flooding triggered by your brain’s reward pathways anticipating alcohol in your central nervous system.

What are the effects of long-term alcohol misuse?

Prolonged use of alcohol damages your brain in different ways. Neurotoxicity causes neurons to burn out, and damage to brain matter (white and gray) causes your brain to shrink. These brain chemistry changes are irreversible after prolonged alcohol use and cause permanent life-threatening physical and mental health conditions, which may need to be treated at an alcoholic rehab.

Cerebellum atrophy (brain shrinkage) leads to cerebellum ataxia, a medical term for “without coordination.” Ataxia affects muscle control in your legs and arms and makes maintaining your balance and coordination challenging.

It also affects your speech, eye movement, fingers and hands. People with cerebellar ataxia develop an ‘alcohol gait,’ characterised by a shuffling walk and uncoordinated arm and leg movements.

Alcohol use disorder (addiction) is characterised by permanent brain damage, particularly severe cerebella damage. Alcohol destroys connective brain fibres known as white matter, which link the little brain (cerebellum) to your central nervous system and the big brain (cerebral cortex).

Long-term alcohol use without treatment at an alcoholism rehabilitation center leads to chemical changes, affecting normal function in the striatum, which controls voluntary muscle movement.

Did you know?
The National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) defines one standard drink as:
·        355 millilitres (1.5 cups) of regular beer (5 percent alcohol)
·        266 millilitres (1 cup) of malt liquor (7 percent alcohol)
·        148 millilitres (3/4 cup) of unfortified wine (12 percent alcohol)
·        44 millilitres (1/4 cup) of 80-proof hard liquor (40 percent alcohol)

Alcohol Addiction Treatment
Alcohol Addiction Treatment
Alcohol Addiction Treatment

How Is Alcohol Use Disorder (Addiction) Diagnosed?

Individuals who enter a rehab for alcohol are diagnosed with alcohol use disorder (AUD) if they meet specific criteria provided in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders(DSM-5). The severity of the condition depends on how many of the eleven criteria a person meets. You will receive a diagnosis of AUD (alcohol addiction) before entering an alcoholism rehabilitation center if you meet two out of the eleven criteria in 12 months.

11 signs of alcohol use disorder (alcoholism)

  • You drink alcohol in larger amounts or over a longer period than you intended.
  • You have a persistent desire to reduce or stop drinking alcohol, but repeatedly fail.
  • You spend a lot of time seeking out alcohol, drinking alcohol, or recovering from its effects.
  • You crave or have a compulsive need to drink alcohol.
  • Repeated alcohol use leads to failure to fulfill important obligations at school, work or home.
  • You continue to drink alcohol despite having persistent or recurrent social, financial or relationship problems caused or exacerbated by your drinking habit.
  • You avoid or give up attending social, work or recreational activities because of alcohol use.
  • Recurrent alcohol use lowers your inhibitions and puts you in risky, hazardous situations.
  • You continue to drink alcohol despite knowing the damage it is causing your physical and psychological well-being.
  • You have high alcohol tolerance, as defined by either of the following:
    • a need for markedly increased amounts of alcohol to achieve intoxication or desired effect
    • a markedly diminished effect with continued use of the same amount of alcohol.
  • You experience alcohol withdrawal symptoms if you reduce or stop drinking alcohol, as defined by either of the following:
    • the characteristic withdrawal syndrome for alcohol
    • alcohol or a closely related substance is taken to relieve or avoid withdrawal symptoms.

Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms

Alcohol withdrawal symptoms vary extensively, depending on how much you drink and whether you have developed alcohol dependence. Alcohol shakes are a mild form of withdrawal, while delirium tremens are a severe form that can lead to life-threatening, even fatal, seizures.

3 to 6 hours after your last alcoholic drink

  • headache
  • shaky, trembling hands
  • anxiety, agitation
  • nausea, vomiting
  • sweating, hot flushes
  • goosebumps
  • insomnia

12 to 48 hours after your last alcoholic drink

  • paranoia
  • hallucinations
  • mood swings, anxiety, depression
  • uncontrollable tremors, shaking
  • profuse sweating
  • hypertension
  • seizures

48 to 72 hours after your last alcoholic drink

  • delirium tremens (DTs)
  • delusions, hallucinations
  • rapid heartbeat
  • confusion, disorientation
  • heavy sweating
  • chills, fever
  • high blood pressure

Why Do Some Become Alcoholics?

There are a number of reasons why someone becomes addicted. The addiction could be psychological, biologically, or socially driven.

Psychological
Mental health issues such as anxiety and depression can push a person to abuse alcohol. Alcohol can soothe the feelings associated with these mental health problems and eventually become a complete coping mechanism if not treated at an alcohol rehabilitation center.

Biological
Some of us are more predisposed to alcoholism than others. Our genetic makeup can have an effect on whether or not we become addicted to alcohol.

Social
Drinking on social occasions can become more problematic when you start going overboard. This is known as binge drinking. It’s not an everyday occurrence but it is something that happens every time you have a social event.

And just as people drink for different reasons, there are different alcohol treatments used at alcoholic rehabilitation centres when quitting alcohol.

You don’t have to live your life dependent on alcohol to get through each day. There is another way to live and it starts by seeking the right help, particularly at an alcoholism rehab center.
If after reading this you know that you want to stop drinking alcohol and enter rehabilitation for alcohol that will turn your life around, you need to get in touch with us.

Can You Go ‘Cold Turkey’ If You Are A Chronic Drinker?

No, it is dangerous to go ‘cold turkey’ on drinking alcohol if you have a chronic addiction. Sudden alcohol cessation (SAC) occurs when your body goes into shock from being deprived of alcohol. The syndrome happens in the early stages of alcohol detox and can be a life-threatening, even fatal, event.

Severe consequences of SAC include:

Delirium tremens

  • confused, disorientated
  • hallucinations
  • highly agitated, restless
  • extremely sensitive to sound and light
  • very sleepy, coma-like state
  • seizures

Heart distress or failure

  • irregular heartbeat
  • racing heartbeat
  • cardiac dysrhythmias
  • cardiac arrest

Did you know?

The phrase ‘cold turkey’ describes the goosebumps a person with alcohol dependence gets when they reduce or abruptly stop drinking alcohol and experience alcohol withdrawal symptoms. Your skin looks like the bumpy skin on a cold turkey in the fridge.

Alcohol Addiction Treatment
Alcohol Addiction Treatment

How Is Alcohol Use Disorder (Alcoholism) Treated?

How do I stop drinking alcohol? This is what most alcoholics will ask at one time or another as they go through this difficult journey. Alcoholism rehabilitation is within your grasp when you seek help from White River Recovery, a substance abuse rehab in South Africa. Having to depend on any substance, whether it is alcohol or drugs, is no way to live. It might get you through the day, but continued abuse might prevent you from seeing a tomorrow.

Being dependent on any kind of substance, whether it is drugs or alcohol, can have a drastic effect on your life.

It can start with a simple, indulgent drink at dinner or the occasional party. You feel good, relaxed, at ease and without a worry in the world when the alcohol is in your system. The question you need to ask yourself is how much is too much?

Just as with any addiction, it isn’t a matter of values or character. Even the strongest character is susceptible to alcohol abuse when the circumstances are just right, in a very wrong kind of way.

Many addicts turn to alcohol to numb themselves or, alternatively, to give them confidence that they would otherwise lack. Not all who become addicted to alcohol do so because they have emotional life issues. Some use alcohol to have a good time but they don’t quite know where to stop, or how to stop drinking alcohol.

Alcohol use disorder (alcoholism) is a treatable mental health condition at rehabs for alcoholics. The sooner you seek help for alcohol addiction, the better. Your best chance of recovery from alcohol addiction is participating in an integrated treatment programme at an alcohol rehab inpatient or outpatient facility. An integrated approach at an alcohol rehabilitation centre includes medical detox, medication for withdrawal symptoms, psychotherapy and group support.

Medical detox
Medical detox in a hospital before entering an alcoholism rehab center is recommended to help you cope with unpleasant, life-threatening alcohol withdrawal symptoms. Your body can go into toxic shock during the alcohol detox process. You’ll be carefully monitored and given medication to ease the symptoms while your body works hard to rid itself of toxins and waste products after prolonged use of alcohol.

Medication
Medication is often necessary to help you cope with severe alcohol withdrawal symptoms, prevent seizures, and purge toxins from your system. Typically, patients at rehabilitation centres for alcoholics are given benzodiazepines such as valium, Ativan or Librium. Anti-convulsant drugs are used to reduce the risk of fatal seizures. Benzodiazepines are highly addictive; the doctor will closely monitor your intake, and you are weaned off them after the alcohol detox process.

Psychotherapy
Psychotherapy – talk therapy – forms part of a comprehensive treatment plan for alcohol use disorder at an inpatient or outpatient rehab centers for alcoholics.

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is one of the most popular talk therapy methods used during alcohol rehabilitation. It focuses on a person’s behaviour and how they think, feel and view themselves relative to the world around them. CBT explores the relationship between your beliefs, thoughts, feelings, and behaviour and the divide between what you want and do in certain circumstances (trigger moments).

Other popular psychotherapy methods include:

Psychodynamic therapy
Psychodynamic therapy focuses on how certain relationships and life events affect your current feelings, choices and behaviour. The aim is to help you understand and acknowledge repressed emotions, negative feelings and resolve internal mental conflicts to improve your self-esteem, relationships and quality of life throughout the process of alcohol addiction treatment.

Dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT)
DBT is similar to CBT, but the goal is to provide people with coping skills to regulate their emotions, make better choices, handle stress, improve relationships and improve their quality of life. DBT was developed initially to treat borderline personality disorder and is now used to treat various mental illnesses at rehab centres for alcohol, including substance use disorder

Humanistic/experiential therapy
Humanistic therapy focuses on the whole person and their nature rather than their behaviour. The aim is to identify positive attributes and boost your ability to heal, grow, and self-actualise through self-exploration. Humanistic therapy forms an effective part of an alcohol rehab program for people with depression, anxiety, panic disorders, low self-esteem, and self-harming tendencies.
 
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