Long term alcohol addiction can cause a range of psychological, physical, emotional, spiritual and social effects on an individual’s life. It can have serious consequences for the person’s career and affect relationships with friends and family.
Physically, alcohol addiction is associated with damage to important organs such as the liver, digestive system, heart, brain and nervous system. Some cancers have been linked to alcohol disease. However, with the right rehabilitation many people with alcohol addiction are able to recover, helping reduce the physical effects of the addiction on the body and go on to live a happy and fulfilled life. Having effective support and the correct treatment is paramount to recovery.
There are several factors that contribute to an individual becoming an alcoholic. The most widely discussed factor is that of the person suffering from a pre-existing mental health problem such as depression, anxiety or schizophrenia. The feelings associated with the mental health problem can often lead to individuals drinking more alcohol as they often associate it with positive feelings away from their mental health condition. In this case, effective treatment of the mental health condition can, in turn, lead to an improvement in the alcohol addiction. The use of cognitive behaviour therapy as well as the use of anti-depressant medications has been shown to be effective in helping treat alcohol disease associated with a mental health condition. A family doctor can help refer individuals to the correct services to aid rehabilitation.
Social factors may play a part in someone becoming an alcoholic. The media is often responsible for portraying drinking to excess to have little consequences, especially amongst some groups of people, such as college students. Long term binge drinking is associated with developing alcoholism. Seeking help early, perhaps by visiting a counsellor which you may have access to at work, or at school can help begin the rehabilitation process effectively. Speaking to a professional you trust can help direct you to further help, support and treatment.
There is evidence to suggest that some cases of the illness are caused by genetic factors – genes that are passed down from parents to children. If an individual’s blood relative is suffering from alcohol disease, there is a much greater possibility that future generations will also suffer from the illness.
In many cases, drug therapy is needed, with a combination of counselling techniques to aid rehabilitation. Alcoholism is classified as a chronic condition, and the road to recovery is a difficult one. However, with the correct help, which should be accessed at the earliest opportunity, it is possible. Speaking to your family doctor, a counsellor or an alcohol support service are good ways to begin the rehabilitation process.