Posts from 2017-12

Alcohol Addiction and Alcoholism

 

Why do people drink?

 

The making of beverages and concoctions containing alcohol as the result of fermentation can be traced back into prehistory and into current-day primitive societies. While the consumption of differing forms of alcoholic beverages among prehistoric and primitive cultures has often been associated with religious rites and ceremonies, somewhere along the way, it was discovered that intoxicating beverages could be used also for “recreational” purposes.

 

Thus, a transition occurred, transforming a religious practice into a commonplace, non-religious activity—drinking. While the taste of primitive alcoholic concoctions was only minimally associated with their moving from religious rituals into non-religious practice, the mind-altering effect they produced was probably the source of non-religious drinking. Thus, the mind-altering effects of alcoholic beverages became an end in itself. No longer the means to gain religious insights, the purpose of drinking developed from motives relating to the pleasures of the mind-altering effects of drinking.

 

It is the mind-altering effect of alcoholic beverages which are the source of common practices of drinking. Many people have a drink for social purposes, to have a drink with associates and friends contributes the conviviality of such social relations making it a kind of non-religious ritual celebrating social exchanges. For other people, the slight elevation in spirit and slight lowering of inhibitions produced by alcohol creates a kind of relaxation which, additionally, in social situations reduces stress and increases social behavior. For some people, wine connoisseurs, for example, certain alcoholic beverages are consumed to experience the pleasures of their taste rather than for the purpose of intoxication.

 

These forms of drinking motivation and behavior lead people occasionally and often in particular situations to have a drink or two. This is “social drinking,” and, ordinarily, it is relatively harmless.

 

For some people, however, somewhere along the way, their drinking behavior crosses the line and becomes something more serious. However, people don't ordinarily cross the line from social drinking to alcohol addiction and alcoholism because they like the taste of particular alcoholic beverages. The motivation for this change of behavior from social drinking to addiction and alcoholism is most often the result of elements of the personality of the individual. Consciously or unconsciously, they have some inner psychological needs or motivations for something beyond the pleasure of the mild intoxication of social drinking. They are seeking escape from something, self-medicating, or seeking to numb themselves.

 

This kind of drinking, therefore, has different causes and effects from social drinking. As we all know, there are many dangers from alcohol addiction and alcoholism, ranging from driving under the influence of alcohol and other legal problems to serious physical violence against property and other people. Therefore, when and if many people come to the recognition that their drinking patterns have changed from social drinking to alcohol addiction and alcoholism, they often seek to avoid the adverse health effects and other serious results by seeking to control and terminate the heavy drinking behavior.

 

In seeking to change, there are two major perspectives: The first is the extinction of the drinking behavior itself. This is usually accomplished through some form of stopping the drinking—detox. In addition to simply stopping the drinking behavior, and to avoid starting it again at some time in the future, it is desirable and necessary to discover what is at the heart of the motivation to drink to excess. It is in assistance in accomplishing this goal that psychological counseling can be of very real and direct help. What are the underlying psychological motivations that compel you to drink to excess? Why are behaviors that can be learned to “short-circuit” the impulse to drink in excess? What are effective coping behaviors which can mediate the dealing with inner psychological conflicts and problem other than alcohol abuse which can result in healthier, less destructive, and more socially acceptable behavior instead of alcohol addiction and alcoholism?

 

Thus, psychological counseling can provide effective and meaningful approaches to the termination of problem drinking, alcohol addiction, and alcoholism. Psychological counseling can assist in helping you to ameliorate the psychological-social circumstances leading to drinking and help you to create coping mechanisms to the termination of the need or will to drink.

 

 

Risk Factors for Drinking Problems and Alcoholism

 

 

The risk factors for alcohol addiction are often interconnected: there may be a genetic predisposition to alcohol. Home environment as a child, past and current social environments, psychological-emotional adjustment, and social adjustment. There may also be some racial component, such as with Native-Americans, which contributes to the predisposition of alcohol addiction. Specific risk factors may be a history of alcoholism in the family, the frequent socialization with heavy drinkers, and mental health problems such as depression, anxiety, and bi-polar disorder. Self-medication is often a conscious or unconscious motivation for the use of alcohol that becomes addictive.

 

Pathways to alcohol addiction

 

While the abuse of alcohol is not 100 per cent predictive of alcohol addiction, it is certainly a high risk factor. Ordinarily, for some people, the addiction to alcohol is progressive over a period of time, for other people, however, it may be rather quick, such as if it is related to some life-changing event, such as retirement, divorce, a death of someone close, or other form of loss, such as the loss of a business.

 

For “regular drinkers,” the regular consumption of alcohol tends to build up tolerances, meaning that you have to drink more to get the same desired effect. Binge drinking increases the likelihood of alcohol addiction. Daily drinking also increases the likelihood of addiction.

 

Alcoholics vs. alcohol abusers

 

There is a distinction between alcoholics and alcohol abusers. Alcoholics ordinarily do not have a significant ability to set limits on their drinking, while, to some degree, alcohol abusers can set such limits.

 

Common symptoms and signs of alcohol addiction

 

 

 

1) The repeated neglecting of responsibilities: This may occur at home, a work, or at school due to drinking. While adverse effects may occur while the alcohol is still I the system, the problems may also arise from hangovers. This may become apparent through poor work performance, poor academic performance, and/or the neglect of partner and/or children.

 

 

2) The use of alcohol in circumstances of potential physical danger. The most common example of this is driving under the influence of alcohol. However, alcohol severely adversely affects the use of all forms of machinery at home or work. Another form of this danger is drinking alcohol in combination with prescription medications.

 

3) The incidence of legal problems association with drinking, such as drunk and disorderly conduct on the street, fighting while drinking or drunk, domestic abuse, or driving under the influence. Of alcohol.

 

4) Continuing to drink despite the various kinds of problems that it is causing at work, in personal relationships, or with neighbors.

 

5) Using alcohol as a way to relax, stress-reduction, or self-medicate. One example of this is to have the urge to have a drink during or after family conflicts, or as a way to de-stress after work.

 

If any of these behaviors sound familiar to you, you probably have some degree of a drinking-alcohol addiction problem.

 

Psychological counseling can assist in helping you to ameliorate the psychological-social circumstances leading to drinking and help you to create coping mechanisms to the termination of the need or will to drink.

 

 

What are the warning signs for alcohol addiction?

 

We all may have a drink or two occasionally, but for some people, it doesn't stop with “one or two” or “occasionally.” Having the availability of alcohol and the circumstances or occasions in which to consume alcohol can lead to occasional overindulgence. But, even occasional overindulgence is usually not a problem for most people. That is because overindulgence has a kind of “remedy” which discourages further overindulgence: the hangover. For most people, the hangover is painful enough that it discourages immediate or continued instances of overindulgence.

 

 

 

However, for some people, regular drinking sometimes has the insidious effect of becoming an addiction to alcohol. While steady and heavy drinkers are usually aware that they are having a problem with alcohol, that is, it has become more than “social lubrication” and that it has become a regular habit. Nevertheless, often people with incipient or continuing alcohol addiction problems have a kind of built-in defense mechanism that allows them to overlook and ignore the truth about their addiction. Sometimes, people are simply unaware of the time when regular social drinking becomes alcohol addiction.

 

 

To help to identify problems of alcohol addiction, there are a number of warning signs to watch for. Be aware that you may addicted to alcohol if you demonstrate any of these behaviors:

 

 

  • Do you feel ashamed or guilty about your drinking?

  • Do you hide your drinking habits?

  • Do you lie to others about the regularity of your drinking or drinking habits?

  • Do you drink when alone?

  • Have friends or family members commented on your drinking habits?

  • Have family or friends commented or complained to you about your behavior while drinking?

  • Do you need a drink in order to “take the edge off,” relax, or “even out”?

  • Have you “blacked out” while drinking; do you often “black out” when drinking?

  • Do you forget what you did when you were drinking or immediately afterwards?

  • Do you dread people telling you what you did while you were drinking or afterwards?

  • Do you often think, “I'll just have a couple of drinks,” but often end up drinking more than you intended?

 

 

If any of these behaviors sound familiar to you, you probably have some degree of a drinking-alcohol addiction problem.

 

 

Psychological counseling can assist in helping you to ameliorate the psychological-social circumstances leading to drinking and help you to create coping mechanisms to the termination of the need or will to drink.

 

 

 

Food Addictions Continued: Behaviors to be Alert For:

 

1) Sneaking food:

 

When you go to the store, do you buy a lot of “snack foods,” like potato chips, Cheetos, cookies, or other such items? Do you buy other “special” foods that you like to “nibble on” or have as a “midnight snack”? Do you have special places around the house or apartment where you put food so you can find it but no one else can? How often between meals do you eat? Where do you eat? In bed? while working on the computer? while reading? Do you nibble on food while you are shopping. Do you wait until you are alone to pull out the snack foods? What about the evidence of your eating? Do you hide the food wrappers or dispose of them in places no one will or can find them? Based on your answers to these questions, they may indicate a food addiction.

 

Like a drug addict or alcoholic, food addicts often seek to conceal or camouflage their behavior so it cannot be easily identified by people around them.

 

2) Food guilt:

 

Eating in secret and/or hiding the evidence of eating demonstrates conscious or unconscious feelings of guilt focused on food and eating behaviors. However, guilt in regard to food and eating can be expressed in other ways: Do you overeat, but feel guilty afterwards? Do you feel guilty about thinking about or craving food? Do you diet for a while, but then “slip,” and feel guilty about it? Worse, do your feelings of guilt make you feel depressed? But, feeling depressed stimulates more eating, followed by more guilt, in a seemingly unending cycle? Guilt feelings about food and eating have the adverse effect of contributing to food addictions rather than diminishing them. Listen to your feelings. Be aware of the guilt feelings that you have related to food and eating.

 

3) Health problems:

 

Food addictions, of course, result in the over consumption of food. That often leads to weight gained. Excessive weight gained and maintained is a significant adverse health problem. While being overweight or obese creates obvious problems such as cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure, many people do not know that these conditions can also result in low energy levels, skin problems, digestive problems, and even poor oral health. An increasingly common problem nowadays is type 2 diabetes which is associated with poor diet and being overweight. Thus, if you overeat and have any of these problems, the food addiction is probably contributing to your health problems. Thus, these health problems may be a warning sign to do something about your food addiction to bring it under control.

 

Treatment: If you see yourself in this general picture of the food addict, don't despair. Psychological counseling can provide you with coping mechanisms and positive behavioral change: The treatment modalities including cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectical behavioral therapy, crisis intervention therapy often combined with medication treatment and inpatient hospitalization for acute interventions specifically in cases where the patients are not treatment compliant in psychotherapy or lacking family support and are experiencing severe symptoms and/or adverse health issues.

 

 

 
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