An alcoholic is someone who is addicted to alcohol, suffering from the disease know as alcoholism. They suffer from the uncontrollable urge to consume more alcohol regardless to the negative effects it has on ones health, employment, academics, finances and personal relationships. Alcoholics are both physically and psychologically dependent on alcohol. When the abruptly stop the use of alcohol they will experience painful withdrawal symptoms and intense alcohol cravings that often results in them consuming more alcohol for comfort.
How alcohol works on the body
Alcohol is metabolized rather quickly into the body. On an empty stomach approximately 20 percent is absorbed directly through the walls of the stomach and within one minute it can reach the brain. When in the stomach, the alcohol is broken down by the alcohol dehydrogenase enzyme. Then the upper portion of the small intestine rapidly absorbs the alcohol. The alcohol-laden blood then travels through the the veins and capillaries of the digestive tract, traveling to the liver where it affects almost every liver cell. The liver cells then metabolize the alcohol. The cells can only metabolize approximately ½ ounce of ethanol per hour so the excess alcohol then travels to different parts of the body such as the brain where it alters ones functions through intoxication. The user will feel intoxicated until the the alcohol is recirculated to the liver and broken down.
Long term use of alcohol
Long term use of alcohol not only results in addiction, it also slowly destroys ones vital organs. Alcohol use causes an increased risk of cancer in the liver, pancreas, rectum, breast, mouth, pharynx, larynx and esophagus. Alcohol raises the users blood pressure and blood lipids, for heavy drinkers there is an increased risk of stroke and heart disease. Chronic alcohol abuse causes the kidneys to become enlarged as well as altering hormone functions. There is an increased risk of kidney failure for those who regularly abuse alcohol. The way the body metabolizes alcohol creates a risk of developing liver diseases such as; fatty liver, alcoholic hepatitis and cirrhosis. Alcohol also effects the nervous system impairing ones balance and memory as well as causing neuropathy and dementia. Long term use of alcohol can cause psychological illness, users often experience depression, anxiety and insomnia.
HELP, I’m an alcoholic!
If you are an alcoholic and are ready to take the first step in admitting you have a problem there are rehab centers that specialize in Alcoholism and can help you overcome this disease. When entering into a rehab center you will go through an assessment process to determine the severity of your alcohol addiction as well as the appropriate course of treatment to insure your success at sobriety.
Typically alcoholics require a medical detoxification to cleanse the body of alcohol in a controlled environment. Under the supervision of a Doctor you will be prescribed a medication to lessen the symptoms of withdrawal and help control drug cravings. Behavioral modification therapy will help you understand your addiction as well as learn how to deal with daily ‘real world’ stress and ‘real life’ situations that once may have lead you to drink alcohol. Therapy will also be provided to you, your friends and family to help you mend any broken relationships and regain their trust. It is important to fix these relationships now because they are going to make a great support team for you, promoting your now sober lifestyle. You can not only depend on friends and family, it is important to join a support group such as ‘Alcoholic Anonymous’ to help you manage a life time of sobriety.