alcohol effects on the nervous system Boston Massachusetts

Alcohol Effects on the Nervous System

There are many drawbacks to consuming alcohol. One of these is that the consumption of alcohol has adverse effects on the nervous system. It is important to understand how the use of alcohol affects your body. If you are working towards remaining sober, recognizing the negative effects of alcohol on the nervous system can help you stay on the right track to sobriety.

What is the Nervous System?

The nervous system is made up of the peripheral nervous system and the central nervous system. The peripheral nervous system is made up of nerves (neurons) that form a network in order to carry information to and from certain parts of your body, such as the neck, legs, arms, and internal organs.

The central nervous system controls your motor function, takes in information through your senses, and controls your emotions. It also controls your ability to think, reason, and understand.

How Does Alcohol Effect the Nervous System?

Since alcohol acts as a depressant, it has the effect of slowing down your nervous system. The amount of alcohol you consume tends to impact the degree to which your nervous system slows down. How quickly you consume alcohol also has an effect on the slowing down of your nervous system.

Some of the other effects of alcohol that people tend to experience that are related to the nervous system include altered speech, slowed down reaction time, impaired vision, dulled hearing, weak muscles, and a foggy memory. It is evident through many years of research that alcohol has many adverse effects on the nervous system. Avoiding these effects is one of the many benefits of sobriety.

The Tharros House is a sober living home located in Lexington, Massachusetts. Contact us today to learn more about what we offer individuals who are working toward recovery from addiction.

Alcohol Abuse Side Effects Path in Boston Massachusetts

Alcohol Abuse and Side Effects of Withdrawal

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, nearly 87 percent of adults have had at least one drink during their lifetime.  While many addictive substances are illegal, alcohol is legal in the United States to those over the age of 21, and this substance is easily obtainable.

Many people are able to drink mild to moderate amounts of alcohol on a regular basis without any negative health consequences.  The Mayo Clinic has even published findings that drinking in moderation may even have some positive health benefits.  However, heavy drinking or binge drinking can lead to an alcohol problem.  Binge drinking is typically defined as drinking more than four drinks in a span of a few hours for a woman, or more than five drinks in a few hours for a man.

Additional Facts and Statistics Regarding Alcohol Abuse

  • It is estimated that approximately 16.6 million American adults had an alcohol use disorder in 2013.
  • One of every three visits to an emergency room is related to alcohol consumption.
  • Approximately 88,000 people die each year from an alcohol-related cause, making alcohol the third-leading preventable cause of death in the U.S.

Side Effects of Alcohol Withdrawal

Alcohol withdrawal is generally thought to begin between six hours and 24 hours after the last drink was consumed, according to American Family Physician.  There are three major stages of alcohol withdrawal.

Stage One

Stage One of alcohol withdrawal typically includes mild symptoms, such as anxiety, nausea, stomach pain and/or vomiting, loss of appetite, mood swings, heart palpitations, and depression.

Stage Two

Stage Two of alcohol withdrawal includes more moderate symptoms, such as irregular heart rate, sweating, irritability, mental confusion, increased blood pressure, and increased body temperature.

Stage Three

Stage Three of alcohol withdrawal includes severe symptoms, such as fever, seizures, severe confusion, and hallucinations.

Tharros Sober Living House

Rehabilitation from alcohol abuse isn’t usually a quick process.  It requires effort, and it takes time.  Building a solid foundation will serve you for your entire life, which is the reason why we solely accept clients ready to put sobriety and recovery as their top priority.  To learn more about our approach and get answers to common questions, please visit http://tharroshouse.com/faq/.

Alcohol Withdrawal Signs and Symptoms List

Alcohol Withdrawal Signs, Symptoms, and Solutions

Alcohol withdrawal is both uncomfortable and dangerous.  For those witnessing someone in a state of withdrawal, it’s often easy to tell that something is very wrong.  But it’s not uncommon for people who don’t know what’s going on in the person’s life, to miss the fact that these are signs or symptoms of alcohol withdrawal.

What are some symptoms of alcohol withdrawal?

Alcohol is a drug.  While it does take significant alcohol abuse to develop a physical addiction to alcohol, alcohol addiction is very real, and medical treatment is often needed to avoid life threatening dangers that can result from withdrawal in a person who has alcohol dependence.  Some common symptoms observed during an alcohol detox are irritability, anxiety, agitation, tremors, and of course DT’s and seizures.

Alcohol facts:

It’s important to identify several facts about alcohol.  Excessive alcohol consumption on a regular basis can lead to alcohol dependence.  Continued alcohol intoxication leads to alcohol tolerance, which often leads to greater consumption.  Alcohol percentage in someone’s blood is identified as BAC, which is measured to determine the level of alcohol intoxication.  As people build a tolerance, it’s possible that they will not feel the effects of the drug, yet their BAC level will still be elevated.  This is a common contributor to drunk driving incidents.  It’s also possible to suffer from an alcohol overdose, which can be fatal.

As a person engages in more consistent alcohol consumption, the risks for alcohol dependence increase.  As the body and mind become addicted to the alcohol, the neurotransmitters are suppressed.  During withdrawal, the neurotransmitters become hyperactive, which leads to the symptoms listed above.  These symptoms are essentially the opposite of what alcohol does to someone when they use.

What are the solutions?

Alcohol awareness month is April.  Each year, The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD) takes measures to educate people on the dangers of alcohol.  It’s important that family and friends are aware of the risks associated with alcohol withdrawal, as there are many fatalities each year that result from seizures related to withdrawal without medical supervision.

If someone has alcohol dependence, it’s probable that the signs will include shaking, sweating, irritability, anxiety, agitation, etc.  These symptoms show up when the person is away from alcohol for a period of time, and the body starts to enter withdrawal.  We have heard many stories in which initial symptoms were noticed first at family events, as the person with alcohol dependence does not want to drink when it’s not socially acceptable.  Depending on the level of alcohol addiction, the symptoms can show up in as little as two hours from the last drink.  When symptoms are present, it’s best to enlist medical help and seek out an alcohol detox.  Of course, if the symptoms become very severe, calling 911 is the best option.

There are many alcohol detox programs available.  Some are affiliated with alcohol and drug treatment centers, while others are independent detox facilities, or affiliated/connected to hospitals.

To learn more about alcohol addiction, signs, and symptoms, we encourage you to visit the CDC site dedicated to Alcohol Awareness Month at http://www.cdc.gov/features/alcohol-awareness/

Man with Alcohol Addiction

Alcohol Addiction: Physical Dependency vs. Binge Drinking

What is Alcohol Addiction?

Many in recovery who identify as having had an alcohol addiction have never found themselves physically addicted to alcohol.  In actuality, alcohol is less physically addictive than many other substances, including nicotine, cocaine, and opiates.  However, partially due to the fact that alcohol consumption is so socially acceptable, alcohol abuse is very common.

Alcohol Dependence

When a person becomes physically dependent on alcohol, an alcohol detox will be necessary to avoid potentially serious alcohol withdrawal symptoms.  Alcohol is a drug, similar to others which are commonly used for recreation.  It is possible to overdose on alcohol, which happens most often to those who are not alcohol dependent.  Due to low tolerance levels, it’s easy for an alcohol overdose to occur when a young person, like a college student, is engaged in rapid alcohol consumption.  In our experience with clients who have developed an alcohol dependency, this is something that took many years of alcohol abuse and eventually led to morning drinking, and a need to consume alcohol in order to function.  In our work, we more commonly encounter those whose lives have become unmanageable without getting to the point of physical addition to alcohol, though we have worked with both.

Alcoholic Binge Drinking

Binge drinking is often overlooked as the early stages of alcohol use disorder.  Binge drinking is the large consumption of alcohol in a short period of time.  A person is at greater risk of alcohol poisoning when participating in binge drinking.  A person’s alcohol limit is usually exceeded in a short period of time, and this can lead to an alcohol overdose.

Do I have an alcohol problem?

Whether or not a person is physically addicted to alcohol is important from a medical treatment perspective; this will play a role in the alcohol detox stage.  But what is often more important to consider is if you or your loved one has a problem with alcohol.  You don’t have to meet a set of conditions to determine that alcohol is problematic.  If you decide that you have a desire to stop drinking, you’ve already decided that a life a sobriety is going to serve you better.  Incidentally, you’ve also already met the only requirement for AA membership- a desire to stop drinking.  Living without substances isn’t a new concept.  According to the Washington Post, 30% of Americans don’t drink at all.  Another 30% have alcohol consumption that is less than 1 drink per week.  So, if you’re a heavy drinker or alcohol dependent, you’re actually in the minority (https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2014/09/25/think-you-drink-a-lot-this-chart-will-tell-you/).  You don’t need to be in the top 10%, consuming 74 drinks per week, to identify a problem and take action!

At Tharros House, we help guide clients to and through their own path in recovery from Alcohol Addiction and Drug Addiction.  We don’t force concepts like the 12 steps, or specific CBT concepts.  Putting every person through the same process to get the same result doesn’t work.  We allow our clients to make choices within their recovery.  Doing nothing isn’t an option, but there are many paths to finding happiness in a life of recovery and sobriety.  Finding that path is our goal for each and every client.

 

Writing Alcohol Detox in Boston Massachusetts

Alcohol Detox – What to Expect

The terms alcohol detox and rehab, for an individual suffering from drug addiction or alcoholism, can be overwhelming and scary.  This holds true for both the individual and the family members involved. Many times family members of those suffering from alcohol abuse or drug abuse are unsure what steps to take once someone has an alcohol or drug dependency.

Alcohol Addiction

Alcohol and drug addiction are very hard to define, unless you are a person abusing the substance. Many times, family members and friends see an alcoholic or addict’s consumption as a problem, yet, until the user admits that they have a problem, undertaking treatment or entering a rehab facility, poses many challenges and produces very few good results.  Sadly, there are many individuals who are not able to come to terms with their addiction.  However, there are steps that family members can take to help an individual reach a place of willingness.  Support groups like Al Anon and Learn 2 Cope help families identify ways to stop the enabling behaviors that prolong substance abuse.

Alcohol Detox and drug detox

Once a person is dependent on a substance, it is important that the individual receives proper medical help to detoxify their body.  Many recognize the need for a medical detox from narcotics such as an opioid or benzo.  However, it’s important to recognize that alcohol is a drug too.  When an individual builds a high alcohol tolerance, their body can become physically dependent on alcohol.  Alcohol withdrawal and alcohol poisoning are two very serious medical conditions that require medical attention to avoid an alcohol overdose, alcoholic seizures or even death.

Alcohol Withdrawal

Alcohol withdrawal differs for each individual as it is largely dependent on the amount of alcohol consumed.  After an alcohol evaluation is completed at a medical facility, alcohol withdrawal medication may be prescribed, and the patient is closely monitored.

Treatment and Recovery

Once an individual has detoxed from the substance(s), the real work of “recovery” can begin.  In most cases, residential or inpatient treatment is recommended.  Programs can range from two weeks to many months, and some as long as a year+.  Years of addiction and escaping feelings through substances cannot usually be healed overnight.  Recovery is the process of learning to live a full life, including good and bad feelings, without an escape.  The process is significant, but so are the rewards.

Alcohol Quiz

Addiction recovery starts with willingness to make changes.  That is the catalyst required to stop alcohol use disorder or any other addictive behavior.  If you’re not sure if you have a drinking problem, try taking some of the self-assessments like those offered by SMART recovery: http://www.smartrecovery.org/resources/library/Tools_and_Homework/Interactive_Tools/problem-drinking-test.htm

Remember, it’s okay to complete this kind of tool for a loved one, but it’s critical that the substance user acknowledges their issue with the substance.

There are many recovery fellowships.  The largest, and best known, is Alcoholics Anonymous (AA).  If you’re thinking about participating, it’s good to try at least 3 different meetings.  Each meeting is different and it’s important to try a few before making a judgement.  With regards to the program offered in AA, here is a questionnaire offered on AA.org to help you decide is it’s the right choice for you.  http://www.aa.org/pages/en_US/is-aa-for-you-twelve-questions-only-you-can-answer

Alcohol detox and drug detox is the first step to building a life in recovery.  While it can be a scary concept, many detox centers make the process comfortable, while ensuring that your body is safely rid of the physical symptoms and dependency.  The rewards that come through real recovery are certainly worth any temporary withdrawal discomfort.