Chronic Alcoholism – Symptoms, Consequences and Treatments!

Chronic Alcoholism – Symptoms, Consequences and Treatments that we should all know. In addition,  chronic alcoholism is characterized by habitual and sudden psychological difficulty in controlling alcohol consumption. A person with this addiction is highly dependent on alcohol and consumes it each day to dangerously high levels.

Typically, the deterioration in the ability to control alcohol can be intermittent and very mild in the early stages of the disease. When you start drinking, and even during the first few years that excessive alcohol consumption is made, inability to stop consumption is not very high.

However, as the years go by and you continue to drink alcohol in a pathological way, the inability to control consumption can be continuous and intense, and lead to an absolute dependence on this substance. Thus, chronic alcoholism raises a more interesting question that deserves to be raised before we begin to review this disease.

This question can be raised through the following question: If alcoholism is a disease that manifests itself in a clear dependence on alcohol after many years of consumption, when does alcoholism really start?

Evidently, saying that a person who has been drinking for a year is suffering from chronic alcoholism is inappropriate, since the pattern of consumption has not yet become chronic. In addition, this person has been drinking alcohol in abundance for a year, at this time, does not even suffer from a high substance dependence, so if he wanted to stop drinking, it would be relatively easy.

This raises the option of the person wearing a few years alcohol consumption is still alcohol, since no clear dependence on alcohol. Now, why does this person drink alcohol? What does it take to keep consuming for so many years to reach a state of chronic alcoholism ?

These questions are difficult to answer, because there are many factors that can play an important role in the development of this phenomenon, however, the fact that there are so many cases of chronic alcoholism raises the possibility that the first-drinking and constitutes a first phase of the illness.

Furthermore, for a person who suffers from chronic alcoholism and is 30 years old consuming alcohol pathologically pathology cannot be understood as a new situation. That is, you cannot say that alcoholism begins when a person sees a clear dependence on the substance, since before this happens, the person had already spent many years pathologically consuming it.

In order to accurately define the concept of alcoholism it is convenient to distinguish and relate it to other problems related to alcohol consumption.

Differences Between Chronic Alcoholism and Other Types of Consumption: 

Hazardous Consumption: Hazardous consumption of alcohol that exceeds prudent drinking limits and increases the risk of illness, accident, injury, or mental or behavioral disorders is considered. In qualifying values, consumption was defined as an almost daily consumption of more than 40 grams of ethanol per day, that is, the equivalent of 4 normal doses (UBEs) daily.

Harmful consumption:  For the WHO manual for the diagnosis of mental disorders harmful use is that type of consumption that has already affected physical or mental health. This consumption pattern does not meet the diagnostic criteria for alcohol dependence, and is based on regular consumption above 60 grams per day in men and 40 in women.

People who have this pattern of drinking can get a great benefit to their health if they can reduce their consumption, but no, they have a good chance of developing an alcohol addiction and present alcoholism.

Alcoholism:  Alcoholism refers to those people who have already developed a severe dependence on alcohol and cannot return to moderate drinking or present ability to reduce or eliminate alcohol intake. To get to this situation of alcoholism requires several years of continuous alcohol consumption, showing consumption patterns discussed above.

Alcohol Dependence Syndrome:  This syndrome is characterized by the presentation of a series of physiological, behavioral and cognitive manifestations in which alcohol has top priority for the individual. In these cases, the person has a number of symptoms when they consume alcohol and has a sense of desire and constant need to drink alcohol.

The development of this syndrome is normally much slower than with other drugs, so it appears, on average, after 30-40 years of use. However, changes in consumption patterns and previous or concomitant use of other substances can encourage a faster development of dependence.

Major Symptoms of Chronic Alcoholism:  As noted earlier, alcoholism is a physical dependence and addiction to alcohol. This situation can affect a person, it appears after many years in which inappropriate and excessive consumption of alcohol occurs. Likewise, in order to define the presence of chronic alcoholism  one  must present the following symptoms continuously.

Intense Desire to Drink Alcohol: The person must experience a desire interpreted as a need to consume alcohol. Typically, these feelings automatically lead to the consumer’s time when the need for alcohol is being lessened. However, at times when no alcohol is consumed, the desire to drink alcohol progressively increases.

Lack of Control Over Consumption:  Normally, a person who has an inadequate pattern of consumption has certain difficulties in controlling alcohol intake. However, in chronic alcoholism we are witnessing a lack of absolute control in the consumption of alcoholic substances, referring to both the need to start drinking and the inability to stop or reduce this consumption.

Withdrawal:  It is one of the main symptoms to determine the presence of chronic alcoholism  . In these cases, the person has a number of irritating physical sensations as well as behavioral and/or emotional times for not consuming and their desire to drink alcohol cannot be fulfilled.

Tolerance:  This symptom is not unique to chronic alcoholism , as a person who does not have a clear dependence on alcohol but consumes this substance on a regular basis can also exhibit it.

However, in chronic alcoholism   a high tolerance to the substance, so that the person has to consume higher amounts of alcohol to achieve the same effects previously achieved with lower doses appears.

Memory Problems:  It is quite common in chronic alcoholism failures in the person’s memory and cognitive functioning to appear. Lapse, forgetfulness or sudden gaps in memory, especially in periods of increased consumption.

Interference in Daily Life:  To speak of chronic alcohol consumption has to interfere with the normal functioning of the person. Thus, excessive alcohol consumption can affect different areas such as social, work, academic or family.

Consequences of Chronic Alcoholism: Chronic  alcoholism is one of the conditions that constitute the main risks for the person. So, suffering a high alcohol consumption and dependence on this substance for a long time, can lead to serious illnesses both health and mental disorders and social problems. As far as the physical component of the person is concerned, chronic alcoholism is a risk factor for many diseases and disorders of the body.

Liver Damage:  Probably the organ that is most affected by chronic alcohol consumption is the liver , as it is responsible for metabolizing this substance in the body. Thus, chronic alcoholism can affect the liver in many ways , causing diseases such as alcoholic liver disease, whose damage can range from inflammation of the liver to the development of more serious diseases such as cirrhosis .

Hypertension:  Alcohol consumption is one of the main enemies of hypertension, so chronic alcoholism is the main risk factor for developing this disease.

Digestive Problems:  Alcohol is highly irritable to the digestive substance, it attacks the gastrointestinal mucosa and can produce illness such as heartburn , vomiting or bleeding ulcers. Thus, people who suffer from chronic alcoholism often have many digestive problems and impaired functioning.

Eating Disorders:  Alcohol abuse reduces the absorption of many vitamins and minerals, so chronic alcoholism often implies an accelerated deterioration of the body. People who suffer from chronic alcoholism often have anemia , osteoporosis and low blood sugar levels on a regular basis.

As we can see, chronic alcoholism  often carries a large number of physiological changes, however, it produces its greatest damage in the person’s brain and cognitive functioning.

Cognitive Impairment:  Unlike other illnesses that can be more or less predictable, chronic alcoholism  always translates into a decline in a person’s intellectual capacity.

Intellectual changes that can produce chronic alcohol consumption are usually variables, however, rarely witness cases of chronic alcoholism  without changes in cognitive functioning. Cognitive impairment can range from diminished memory capacity or having memory problems, to developing a clinical picture of frank dementia.

Depression:  Alcoholism has a number of conditions that cause a reduction in the social circle and a progressive isolation of the individual. Many studies have demonstrated a strong correlation between alcoholism and depression.

Typically people with chronic alcoholism are acquiring a depressive nature and are being overrun by symptoms such as feelings of sadness, apathy and decreased energy.

Central Nervous System Damage:  Finally, alcohol causes irreparable damage to the human nervous system, so people who suffer from chronic alcoholism often have symptoms like tremors, lack of coordination, and parkinsonian manifestations.

Treatment For Chronic Alcoholism:  Treatment for chronic alcoholism is not a simple task and requires a lot of effort by the affected person to overcome. However, studies such as the one carried out by Antonio Gual of the Hospital Clínic de Barcelona, ​​have shown how, contrary to the popular belief that alcoholics drop inexorably, if the proper treatment is applied, chronic alcoholism can be overcome.

Therapeutic strategies that have proven to be effective for the treatment of chronic alcoholism are psychotherapy and pharmacotherapy. With regard to drugs, it is recommended to use benzodiazepines, clomethiazole and tetrabamate during detoxification and disulfiram and calcium cyanamide during maintenance and detoxification.

However, to achieve long-term effects, this treatment must be accompanied by psychotherapy, which is based on providing individual strategies to reduce withdrawal discomfort, avoid consumer behavior and increase motivation for change.

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