Friday, May 18, 2007

Chronic Alcohol Abuse

Chronic alcohol abuse, also known as alcoholism, is a condition wherein a person is physically dependent on the intake of alcohol. However, a person who abuses alcohol is not necessarily an alcoholic. Someone who abuses alcohol will from time to time drink excessively and this may result in that person being harmful towards others or negligent of responsibilities but, technically speaking, that person is not alcoholic unless he or she develops chronic alcohol abuse, where the person feels a strong and constant need to drink.

Chronic alcohol abuse, in other words, is an addiction. A person with this condition builds up tolerance to alcohol so the tendency is for them to drink even more. Just like in any substance addiction, when an alcoholic attempts to cut down his drinking the withdrawal symptoms kick in such as nausea, sweating, anxiety, and delirium.

Treatment of chronic alcohol abuse usually includes:

* Detoxification or the cleansing of the body of alcohol which, of course, requires that the person stops drinking. The process may take four days to a week. A person undergoing detoxification usually takes medication to prevent withdrawal symptoms.
* Prescribed drugs to help avoid a relapse after the person has successfully quit drinking. An example of these drugs is disulfiram”, which creates adverse physical reaction when alcohol is taken such as vomiting, headaches and nausea. Other prescribed drugs are “naltrexone” and “acamprosate”, which both suppress the craving to drink
* Counseling, which can be done individually or as part of a group. These sessions are designed to help recovering alcoholics determine first, which situations may trigger their desire to drink and secondly, how they can fight the urge in those situations. Alcoholics Anonymous or AA is the most well-known example of these programs for chronic alcohol abuse recovery.

How effective these methods are in treating chronic alcohol abuse depends upon the degree of addiction as well psychological and social factors. The person’s commitment to the treatment process is also vital. Studies show that more alcoholics who committed themselves to a 12-step recovery program were able to remain sober six months afterwards compared to those who did not join any support programs.

Research also shows that chronic alcohol abuse treatment is more effective if medication is combined with counseling or therapy than undergoing individual methods of treatments alone.
Unfortunately, chronic alcohol abuse cannot be permanently cured. People recovering from alcoholism must continually strive to avoid a relapse.

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