Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Health Care and Alcoholism

Alcoholism affects millions of Americans. According to the Mayo Clinic, Alcoholism is a chronic disease that makes your body dependent on alcohol. You may be obsessed with alcohol and unable to control how much you drink, even though your drinking is causing serious problems with your relationships, health, work and finances. It's possible to have a problem with alcohol, but not display all the characteristics of alcoholism. This is known as "alcohol abuse," which means you engage in excessive drinking that causes health or social problems, but you aren't dependent on alcohol and haven't fully lost control over the use of alcohol. Although many people assume otherwise, alcoholism is a treatable disease. Medications, counseling and self-help groups are among the therapies that can provide ongoing support to help you recover from alcoholism.

According to eHow.com, in most cases, the financial effects of alcoholism can have on a family are tremendous, if not treated immediately. Keep in mind that alcoholics often consume alcohol in excess on a regular basis. This means that during work they are sometimes susceptible to consuming some alcohol. With increased finances leaving the family and going to the increased need for an alcoholic to consume, money is constantly leaving the budget on a revolving basis. Financial duties, such as bill payments, can be put at risk because it is 'necessary' for the alcoholic to get a fix. Beyond money leaving the family budget, alcoholics often put their job security in jeopardy. Mixing alcohol and work can produce inconsistencies that are generally noticed by supervising factions. Erratic behavior at work can add strain to working relationships. Since work is not being performed on a steady basis by the person afflicted with alcoholism, his family may ultimately be subject to constant job changes and standards of living as the alcoholism progresses.

According to ezinearticles.com, Alcoholism is a debilitating personal and social problem worldwide. It refers to a preoccupation with or compulsion toward the consumption of alcohol and an impaired ability to recognize the negative effects of excessive alcohol consumption. And, destructive consequences of alcoholism include health problems, legal complications such public disorder complaints and drunk driving, loss of employment, marital conflict, domestic violence, and criminal activity.

In America it is said that more than 17 million people drink in excess according to eHow. Of the 17 million that drink in excess, 9 million are classified as alcoholics. The vast majority of these alcoholics are in fact involved in the child rearing or a familiar structure of some sort in which they have the power to influence. Young children who see the abuse of alcohol become more susceptible to abusing alcohol themselves and at an early age. Parental duties are often neglected, leaving children in charge of themselves. This becomes an obvious recipe for disaster as toddlers to teenagers need extensive attention for proper development. Children who are alcoholics become disconnected from their parental figures and often develop disdain for the family structure. Increased risky activity develops as well with those who are underage alcoholics, who are more susceptible to risky situations, such as pregnancy or the contracting of sexually transmitted diseases. Depression is often side effect of alcoholism, and this can place strain on relationships with everyone who is involved with the alcoholic. Marriages in which there is only one alcoholic often end in divorce. Alcoholics can often become physically and verbally abusive affectively severing emotional ties in the family relationship. The family can be solicited to lie for the alcoholic to cover his dependency to bill collectors, other family members, and agencies whose job it is to investigate the home environment standards.

Also, according to eHow, among the emotional and financial implications alcoholism can have on a family, are also the increased physical risks on the alcoholic. The excessive drinking of alcohol means that the alcoholic is constantly wreaking havoc on their bodies internally. Alcoholism can cause major damage to the body specifically the liver, and can trigger a host of problems including diabetes. Withdrawal symptoms include nausea, anxiousness and sweating when a craving is experienced by an alcoholic. Alcoholics typically become withdrawn from social activity in order to dedicate more time to their physical dependency. With a heightened tolerance to alcohol through abuse, alcoholics often don't know when to stop drinking. This serves to increase the risk that they will need to be hospitalized due to their drinking in excess. If financial dependency of the family is staked in anyway on the alcoholic, often times this is a gamble that is lost. Decreased production because of illness serves to deprive the family of necessities, because of the alcoholics inability to provide to the same standard. Treatment for alcoholism is costly and if it is not sought in time, death can ultimately be experienced. This is a burden that is carried by all those who are left behind whether family or friends.

As noted on ezinearticles.com, the World Health Organization estimates about 140 million people throughout the world suffer from alcohol dependence. In a broader, societal level examination of alcoholism's effects, this large number translates into millions of dollars spent annually on health care and litigation. This additional financial strain also stresses resources, as many doctors and lawyers are involved with the treatment and repercussions of alcohol dependence instead of aiding other non-preventable societal problems. Health complications resulting from alcoholism include cirrhosis of the liver, epilepsy, alcoholic dementia, heart disease, increased chance of cancer, nutritional deficiencies, sexual dysfunction, and death. Treatment of alcoholism generally includes intervention, detoxification, and rehabilitation. Intervention is an important step because many people with drinking problems do not realize alcohol is preventing them from reaching their goals. Following intervention is detoxification, which is performed in a controlled, medical setting. Withdrawal is usually achieved within a week and a healthy, balanced diet is necessary to support the alcoholic's body as it going through major changes. Finally, rehabilitation, generally consisting of counseling, support groups, or learning new life skills, occurs. However, once a person completes all of these steps, long-term support from role models is usually helpful as the temptation to drink abounds in society. Unfortunately, once a person successfully quits their alcohol dependence, long term complications may linger including health and legal issues. Additional health problems and complications include brain degeneration, cancers of the larynx, esophagus, liver, and colon, depression, liver disease, and insomnia. Legal problems can follow a recovered alcoholic for the rest of their life and prevent them from getting new employment opportunities, having a fair chance in a child custody battle, or getting a necessary loan from the bank.

About half of the alcoholics in the United States seem to be free of cognitive impairments according to National Institute of Health (NIH). In the remaining half, however, neuropsychological difficulties can range from mild to severe. For example, up to 2 million alcoholics develop permanent and debilitating conditions that require lifetime custodial care. Examples of such conditions include alcohol-induced persisting amnesic disorder (also called Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome) and dementia, which seriously affects many mental functions in addition to memory (language, reasoning, and problem-solving abilities). Most alcoholics with neuropsychological impairments show at least some improvement in brain structure and functioning within a year of abstinence, but some people take much longer. Unfortunately, little is known about the rate and extent to which people recover specific structural and functional processes after they stop drinking.

According to the NIH, alcoholism's effects on the brain are diverse and are influenced by a wide range of variables. These include the amount of alcohol consumed, the age at which the person began drinking, and the duration of drinking; the patient's age, level of education, gender, genetic background, and family history of alcoholism; and neuropsychiatric risk factors such as alcohol exposure before birth and general health status. Overall physical and mental health is an important factor because comorbid medical, neurological, and psychiatric conditions can interact to aggravate alcoholism's effects on the brain and behavior. Examples of common comorbid conditions include: medical conditions such as malnutrition and diseases of the liver and the cardiovascular system. Neurological conditions such as head injury, inflammation of the brain (encephalopathy), and fetal alcohol syndrome (or fetal alcohol effects). Psychiatric conditions such as depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, schizophrenia, and the use of other drugs. These conditions also can contribute to further drinking.

Excessive drinking may also depress one’s nervous system, damaging the vital brain centers, according to AlcoholismDiseaseFree.com. This leads to a stage wherein the alcoholic completely loses control over his tongue and postures. Alcoholism may also cause fatigue, memory loss for a short term, weakness of eye muscles, and paralysis. In the last stage, the patient may even go into a coma, which can be life-threatening. In addition, alcoholism causes the following health disorders:
1.) Liver disorders: Excessive drinking causes alcohol hepatitis, a condition that is characterized by inflammation of the liver. Its symptoms include appetite loss, vomiting, nausea, abdominal pain, fever, tenderness, jaundice, and dizziness. Upon continued excessive drinking, hepatitis may lead to cirrhosis, which is characterized by progressive scarring and destruction of the liver tissues.
2.) Gastrointestinal problems: Excessive drinking may also cause inflammation of the stomach, giving rise to a condition called gastritis. In this condition, alcohol disrupts the stomach’s ability to absorb vitamin B such as folic acid and thiamin. Alcohol, when consumed in heavy quantities, also damages the pancreas and interferes with the organ’s creation of hormones that regulate metabolism of the body by creating enzymes for digestion.
3.) Cardiovascular problems: Excessive drinking may cause high blood pressure or damage the heart muscle, giving rise to a condition called cardiomyopathy. Such a condition increases the chances of a heart attack.
4.) Diabetes complications: High alcohol intake inhibits the liver from releasing glucose, which increases the risk of hypoglycemia, which is characterized by low blood sugar. This condition is dangerous for an individual who is already suffering from diabetes and is taking insulin to reduce the level of sugar in the blood.
5.) Sexual function and menstruation: Prolonged alcohol abuse can give rise to erectile dysfunction in men and menstrual problems in women. Alcohol abuse during pregnancy could be very dangerous, as it can give rise to fetal alcohol syndrome. In such a case, the child is born with defects such as a small head, short eyelids, heart defects, and other abnormalities.
6.) Other health risks: Heavy alcohol intake on a regular basis causes chemical imbalances in the individual’s brain. For instance, it alters the composition of chemicals such as gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA responsible for inhibiting impulsiveness) and glutamate (stimulates nervous system). Excessive drinking can also deplete these chemicals, in the absence of which the body seeks alcohol to ward off negativity. Such a condition when left untreated may fatally damage an individual’s health. Moreover, research also indicates that continued alcohol abuse places one at higher risk of cancer and diseases of larynx, esophagus, colon, and liver.

The bottom line is that alcoholism is a killer. The best course of action is abstinence from any beverage that contains alcohol. Many people think that they will never get hooked, and it all starts with the first drink. Maintain propriety when consuming any alcoholic drink. And the best option is just to stay away from any alcohol consumption.

Until next time. Let me know what you think.


Blogking said...

Alcoholism is the new death wish…..thats all I have to say. we need to offer a hand to those in need of help. Help by helping others, not by ignoring the pain…

http://www.recoveryconnection.org /?utm_source=blog&utm_medium=pv&utm_content=zs&utm_campaign=home

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Jaz said...

Without alcoholism treatment, these problems can often go undiagnosed; most alcoholics don’t ever seek treatment until they wind up in some major problem involving severe health problems or problems with the law. Some patients may also hide pertinent information regarding their problem with alcohol because of shame or a fear of stigmatization.