Alcohol Addiction and Treatment


drug abuse help

In today’s world, alcohol is not often thought of as a drug – largely
because its use is common for both religious and social purposes in most
parts of the world. It is a drug, nonetheless, and drinking in excess
has become one of modern society’s most serious and pandemic problems.

Beverage alcohol (C2H5OH), known chemically as
ethyl alcohol or ethanol, can be produced by fermenting and distilling a
number of different fruits, vegetables or grains. The ethyl alcohol
itself is a clear, colorless liquid. Alcoholic beverages get their
distinctive colors from the diluents, additives, and by-products of

Alcohol has been produced by humans for over 12,000 years. It has
been speculated that many ancient farming efforts were undertaken not so
much for the food they would yield but rather to create the raw
materials for alcohol production. Alcohol has impacted every society
since caveman times in one way or another. Some have used it in worship
rituals, some in social customs, some have had widespread social
problems with alcohol addiction and some have banned it altogether. 
Source: Patrick, Charles H. Alcohol,
Culture, and Society. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1952, pp.
12-13. Reprint edition by AMS Press, New York, 1970.

Alcohol takes on one of three general forms: beer, wine or
distilled liquor. The standard servings of 1 oz. of liquor, 6 oz. of
wine or 12 oz. of beer all contain roughly the same amount of alcohol:
10-14 grams of ethyl alcohol.

The effects of alcohol can range from mild intoxication; a
feeling of warmth; flushed skin; impaired judgment; decreased
inhibitions to extreme intoxication, coma and death. The effect will
vary according to body size, amount consumed and time frame of
consumption. Combining alcohol with other drugs can intensify the
effects of these other drugs. Many accidental deaths have occurred after
people have used alcohol combined with other drugs.

Long-term effects of alcohol appear after repeated use over a period
of many months or years. The negative physical and psychological effects
of chronic abuse are many and some are potentially life threatening.
Some of these problems are primary (they result directly from prolonged
exposure to alcohol’s toxic effects), such as heart and liver disease,
pancreatitis, ulcers and inflammation of the stomach.

Others are secondary (indirectly related to chronic alcohol abuse),
they include loss of appetite, vitamin deficiencies, infections, social
problems and sexual impotence or menstrual irregularities. The risk of
serious disease increases greatly with the amount of alcohol consumed
over time.

Physical and psychological dependence occurs in consistently heavy
drinkers. Alcohol is an extremely potent drug and when the user’s body
has adapted to the presence of alcohol, he or she will suffer withdrawal
symptoms if alcohol use is stopped suddenly. Withdrawal symptoms range
from jumpiness, sleeplessness, sweating, and poor appetite, to tremors
(the “shakes”), convulsions, hallucinations, and sometimes
death in those with an already deteriorated physical condition. It is a
little-known fact that alcohol is one of the most difficult and
dangerous drugs to detoxify from after an extended period of heavy

Physical Dependence: Severe with frequent, heavy use
Psychological Dependence: moderate
Tolerance: Strong with frequent, heavy use

Below are some treatment programs that may be useful for alcohol
users as well as others

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