Alcohol abuse is a primary, chronic, progressive, and often fatal health problem for all of society, not just for the professional community. Alcohol use disorder has specific symptoms that can be fueled by unmanageable stress, work demands or poor relationships. If left untreated, alcohol use disorder can and will worsen. Like many other disorders, the symptoms of addiction can be temporarily stopped, but without entering an alcohol rehab program, significantly changing your lifestyle and continued recovery maintenance, relapse can occur.
Positive Sobriety Institute (PSI) is one of the leading alcohol rehab and alcohol treatment centers in Chicago. We treat chemical dependency and alcohol use disorder as a brain disease, as well as take into account the many psychosocial factors that contribute to the disease.
Alcohol Dependence Causes and Risk Factors
The prevalence and social acceptance of alcohol use in our society is a contributing factor as to why alcohol use disorders are a common health concern. Biologically, alcohol has many negative affects—and it all begins in the brain. Alcohol effectively changes and alters the way the brain functions, flooding the brain with dopamine. Overtime, a physical dependence builds causing devastating consequences. As the brain’s reward center is impacted, these feelings of pleasure cause the person to crave alcohol, driving individuals to want to consume the substance even when their health, livelihoods and personal life are negatively affected.
Science has found that addiction can be traced to neural pathways in the brain predating a diagnosis. However, a genetic predisposition alone is not enough to predict addiction. Typically, psychological and social influences drive the individual to use addicting substances and the combination of genetic predisposition and these influences trigger the disease.
Characteristics of Alcohol Use Disorder
Characteristics of alcohol use disorder and addiction include lack of control over drinking, constant preoccupation with alcohol, use of alcohol despite adverse consequences, and distortions in thinking—most notably denial. Symptoms of alcohol use disorder may include:
- Deteriorating personal hygiene
- Personality and behavior changes
- Emotional outbursts, arguments or violence
- Embarrassing social behavior
- Observable decline in physical or emotional health
- Shakiness, tremors of hands, agitation
- Slurred speech
- Unsteady balance
- Disorganized schedule
- Withdrawal from professional obligations, associations, committees
The most critical component in identifying addiction is to examine the changes in the person. Many addicts may work to maintain their personal, family, and professional standards, and may continue to function successfully for a long time in spite of their active addictions. Eventually, however, alcohol use disorder will cause a person to reach a point of personal deterioration that is impossible to ignore.
At our state of the art alcohol rehab in Chicago, Positive Sobriety Institute’s team of addiction experts has been helping professionals overcome their their alcohol abuse and alcohol use disorder for decades. We understand the sensitive nature and complications of an addiction and a career that hangs in the balance. PSI offers life-changing solutions for men and women inside comfortable facilities in a compassionate and supportive environment, for those seeking alcohol treatment in Chicago.
The Effects of Alcohol Abuse on Health
Alcohol abuse can have devastating effects on the body. Sustained and continuous drinking greatly impacts the brain, heart, liver, pancreas, esophagus, bladder, kidneys and immune system in the following ways:
- Brain: Alcohol interferes with and negatively impacts communication pathways within the brain causing changes in personality, mood and cognitive skills such as impairment of memory, speech, judgment and coordination. Excessive alcohol abuse can lead to coma and even death.
- Heart: Long-term alcohol abuse can cause cardiomyopathy (drooping and stretching of the heart muscle), arrhythmias (irregular heartbeat), high blood pressure and even stroke.
- Liver: Alcohol abuse can lead to irreversible damage to the liver, the organ responsible for breaking down alcohol and drugs in the system. Liver problems include cirrhosis, hepatitis, fibrosis, jaundice and steatosis (fatty liver).
- Pancreas, stomach and intestines: Over time, toxins building up in the body’s system from prolonged alcohol use can lead to pancreatitis, which is the inflammation of blood vessels in the pancreas. Other health issues may arise with digestion, including stomach and intestinal problems such as irritation of the stomach lining and ulcers. Alcohol blocks the absorption of vitamins and minerals that are vital to nourishing the body and maintaining health.
- Esophagus: Alcohol can irritate and burn the lining of the esophagus and is known to be linked to esophageal cancer.
- Bladder and kidneys: Alcohol abuse can cause inflammation and swelling of the bladder, frequent urination (alcohol is a diuretic) and even renal failure.
- Immune system: Drinking excessively compromises the immune system and can lead to an inability to fight off infection which can make a person more susceptible to illness and disease.
- Cancer: Prolonged alcohol use has been linked to a variety of cancers throughout the body including, breast cancer, esophageal cancer, oropharyngeal (mouth) cancer, liver cancer, pancreatic cancer and more.
Characteristics of Alcohol Withdrawal
Prolonged alcohol use, whether it has been days, week, months or years, can lead to dangerous withdrawal symptoms. Alcohol contains ethanol, which is the main ingredient that can either act as a depressant or stimulant on the body’s system. As a dependency builds, the brain and body will crave more and more of the substance to maintain and achieve the pleasurable feelings that consuming alcohol provides. When an individual abstains from alcohol use, the body will begin to go through withdrawal, which can be extremely harmful and unsafe if not cared for by a medical professional. Alcohol withdrawal symptoms range from minor to severe, and in some cases can result in death.
Symptoms of alcohol withdrawal include:
- Tremors in the hands
- Irregular heartbeat
- Heart failure
Treating Dual Diagnosis
Individuals that suffer from both an addiction to alcohol, as well as a mental health disorder, are diagnosed as having a co-occurring disorder. Some medical professionals also refer to this as a dual diagnosis.
Research has shown that people who have a mental health disorder are more likely to experience a substance abuse issue. This is likely because they turn to alcohol as a way to relieve the negative symptoms of their mental health issue, hoping to make daily life more manageable. We’ve found this to be the case among professionals who possess intense, highly stressful roles at work or within their communities. From doctors, corporate executives, lawyers, and nurses, the more demanding the job the higher risk for this type of addiction disorder. Soothing mental distress becomes the main goal and can lead to a serious addiction to alcohol.
It can be difficult to diagnose a co-occurring disorder, as the symptoms of each are complex and vary. When entering treatment for one disorder, patients often do not receive the treatment they need for their additional disorder. Lack of proper treatment can occur for a number of reasons. For example, staff at a treatment facility may not be properly trained to identify the existence of co-occurring disorders and thus do not provide adequate care. Additionally, symptoms of alcoholism and a co-occurring mental health disorder may have similar symptoms, making it difficult to identify one of the disorders.
Some of the most common mental health disorders that occur with alcoholism include:
- Panic Disorder
- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
- Bipolar Disorder
- Fear Disorders
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder
- Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
It is critical that each patient that enters our care receives the help they need to overcome their alcoholism. This means treating an existing mental health disorder when present as well. PSI is one of the best alcohol rehabs in Illinois, and we are fully equipped to treat not only alcohol addictions, but any co-occurring mental health disorder as well. Patients facing a co-occurring disorder diagnosis require a unique, specialized treatment that our mental health professionals and addiction experts are able to deliver.
Our Alcohol Abuse Treatment Process
The process for alcohol addiction treatment in Chicago at PSI is comprehensive, tested, and highly effective. Containing three primary components, we are committed to providing the best standard of care to all that enter our center.
In order to properly identify mental illness symptoms and diagnoses, the medical professionals at PSI first conduct in-depth psychiatric evaluations on patients that enter our facility. Our evaluation covers areas including previous psychiatric assessments, medical, social, psychiatric, and developmental history, and more. We will gather information regarding your history and severity of alcohol abuse in order to garner any information that is crucial to treatment and recovery.
Our evaluation is effective in telling us whether an individual will need to be treated for compulsions or delusions, and also is effective in revealing the ways in which distress within an individual is manifested.
We encourage each recovery patient to participate in alcohol addiction counseling as part of his or her recovery. Counseling has been proven to increase an individual’s motivation to break their addiction, help build the necessary coping and problem-solving skills for remaining sober, and provide family members with the opportunity to learn about their loved one’s addiction and how they can serve as an effective source of support.
At PSI, our counseling team, comprised of licensed psychiatrists, psychologists, family therapists, and social workers, are trained to administer highly effective behavioral and cognitive therapies. Our tried and proven methods help recovery patients stop their addictive behaviors by instilling positive thoughts, feelings, and emotions.
Planning for the Future
We are here to help you take back your life and overcome your dependence to alcohol. Whether you opt for inpatient or outpatient alcohol rehab in Chicago, our life-changing solutions have helped many men and women from all walks of life live the successful and productive lives they deserve, and we are here to help you do the same.