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Alcohol Addiction in Ohio

Alcohol addiction in Ohio is an extremely severe issue. While many people enjoy having a couple drinks from time to time and do not experience any problems, abusing alcohol or drinking irresponsibly can lead to addiction.

There were more than 12,000 alcohol-related motor vehicle accidents in the year 2014, across the state of Ohio. Furthermore, alcohol addiction in Ohio costs taxpayers roughly $1.3 billion each year to subsidize drunk driving fatalities.

Alcohol Abuse and Addiction Statistics for Ohio

Research released by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, shows that almost 17 million Americans had a drinking problem in 2012, with an additional several million people indulging in risky drinking behaviors that could lead to abusive drinking problems (2).

Of those 17 million Americans over the age of 18 with an alcohol abuse disorder, it is estimated that around 8.1 million of them are considered alcoholics, and only 3.1 million of them received professional treatment for the problem.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), alcohol abuse causes around 88,000 deaths each year (3). Of those deaths, approximately 33% of them are the result of suicides and alcohol-related accidents that include motor vehicle crashes, drowning, and head injuries.

What Does Exposure to Alcohol Do To the Body?

Alcohol affects every organ in a person’s body. It interferes with the brain’s communication pathways, and can cause changes in mood and behavior. In many studies, heavy drinking and depression are strongly linked, as alcohol is a central nervous system depressant.

Heavy drinking speeds up the shrinkage rate of certain areas in the brain, which can result in memory loss and dementia. It can also cause epilepsy and seizures in people who are not epileptic. Motor skills, executive functioning, and cognitive functioning centers in the brain are also impaired by alcohol.

Heavy drinking can cause irreparable damage to the heart, increasing the risk of high blood pressure, irregular heartbeat, weakening of the heart muscle (cardiomyopathy), heart attack and stroke.

Alcohol is toxic to liver cells. Abusing alcohol can lead to serious health problems, including inflammation of the liver, fatty liver, alcoholic hepatitis, and cirrhosis.

Alcohol is a known carcinogen, and increases the risk of developing certain types of cancer, including cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, larynx, liver and breast.

Overall, drinking excessive amounts on a frequent basis, weakens the entire immune system and makes the body an easy target for disease and infection.

How Does Alcohol Addiction Develop?

Alcoholism is a progressive chronic disease of the brain that can develop in stages. The biggest concern is that many people do not recognize that they have a problem, and therefore will continue with harmful drinking patterns until an addiction forms.

Stage 1: Occasional Abuse

Many young adults will test their limits in terms of drinking alcohol. They may experiment with different types of alcohol to discover what taste, strength and style works best for their own preferences.

It is also common for some young adults to drink larger volumes of alcohol during parties or social gatherings. This type of occasional abuse is known as binge drinking.

Many people believe that drinking more than 4 or 5 drinks within a two hour period is safe if it is only done once in a while. However, this can cause alcohol poisoning, which can lead to coma and death.

Some people enjoy the feeling of being intoxicated, because they find that it reduces inhibitions, boosts mood, and increases confidence levels. As a result, they may begin to drink more frequently to try and maintain those feelings.

Stage 2: Increased Drinking

Instead of drinking from time to time, a person developing an alcohol problem will begin to increase the amount of alcohol consumed. What began as an occasional drink, may progress to drinking every weekend.

People may begin to hang out with other friends who enjoy drinking more regularly, and use social associations as an excuse to drink more. Some individuals may choose to drink as a means to unwind after a stressful day at work, or to numb feelings of sadness or loneliness. Others may have a drink with their meal, as a way to feel good each night.

Drinking alcohol regularly in order to feel good or to alleviate other moods, is a sign that an emotional attachment to alcohol has developed.  As regular drinking continues, the person becomes more dependent on alcohol, which dramatically increases the risk of developing an alcohol addiction.

Stage 3: Problem Drinking

A person struggling with problem drinking, will soon begin to feel the consequences of their drinking. The person may develop a tolerance to alcohol, requiring them to drink increasingly larger volumes to become intoxicated.

Some people may experience difficulties sleeping as a result of their problem drinking. Others may feel sick, become depressed, or experience relationship issues that stem from the amount of alcohol being consumed.

While a problem drinker has not yet developed alcoholism, they may experience complications in their life as a result of the drinking, but still continue with the habit anyway.

Stage 4: Dependence

Abusing alcohol over time can lead to a dependence, where the person no longer has control over the amount being consumed. The attachment to alcohol takes over a person’s routines, therefore individuals who have an alcohol dependence may drink alone or in secrecy, to hide the extent of their problem from others.

It is common for someone who is dependent on alcohol, to become annoyed or defensive when others comment on or criticize drinking habits. Many people will also feel uneasy about the idea of facing a social gathering without a drink.

Most people will also feel anxious when thinking about their next drink, and usually experience the inability to stop drinking once they have started.

When alcohol intake is discontinued, it is common for a dependent person to experience withdrawal symptoms. In an effort to avoid withdrawal symptoms, many will continue to drink more.

Stage 5: Addiction

Addiction is the final stage of alcoholism. The person no longer drinks for pleasure, but instead drinks due to a serious physical and psychological need. They will experience overwhelming compulsions to drink, often drinking whenever and wherever they can.

Detox Process and Withdrawing from Alcohol

Treating alcohol addiction begins with the process of detox. Since some of the symptoms of withdrawing from alcohol can be potentially life-threatening, it is important that detox is conducted under medical supervision in a licensed rehab facility.

Alcohol has a depressant effect on the brain. Long-term heavy drinking exposes the brain to a constant depressive effect, causing changes in the brain’s chemistry as it tries to adjust to the effects of alcohol by over-producing serotonin or norepinephrine.

When alcohol intake suddenly stops, the brain becomes overstimulated by the over-supply of serotonin and norepinephrine, which causes the majority of symptoms associated of withdrawal.

Withdrawal can begin within 6 hours of the last drink. Symptoms of withdrawal include:

  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Tremors and shakes
  • Rapid pulse
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Increased heart rate
  • Heavy sweating
  • Confusion
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Irritability
  • Insomnia
  • Nightmares and vivid dreams
  • Hallucinations
  • Seizures
  • Delirium Tremens (DTs)

Treatment Options

There are a range of treatment options available to deal with alcoholism. The right combination of treatments may depend on the volume of alcohol being consumed, the length and severity of the addiction, and any underlying or co-existing mental health disorders that may also need to be treated.

Prescription medications can be given to help reduce the severity of any withdrawal symptoms during the detox process. Individual behavioral counseling can also commence, to help correct dysfunctional attitudes and behaviors and replace them with healthier coping skills for living a sober life.

People recovering from alcohol addiction are encouraged to participate in regular group meetings. Not only do group meetings provide valuable social networks among peers, but they also provide guidance and support to help maintain motivation during the recovery process.

Why is Professional Treatment Necessary?

The first step to recovery from alcohol addiction is seeking professional treatment. With professional support and the right combination of treatments, it is possible to live a healthy, sober life over the long-term. Reach out to qualified addiction rehabilitation centers in Ohio today to learn more about the alcohol treatment options available.