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In the UK, alcoholism has become a significant public health concern, with an estimated 602,391 dependent drinkers in 2018-19. Unfortunately, only 18% of these receive addiction treatment.
Alcohol misuse is the leading risk factor for serious illness among those aged 15-49 in the UK and ranks as the fifth biggest risk factor across all age groups. The consequences of alcohol addiction are far-reaching and can impact various aspects of life, including physical and mental health, relationships, and employment.
Furthermore, during the COVID-19 pandemic, surveys conducted by Public Health England show a 58.6% increase in respondents reporting higher levels of alcohol consumption between 2020-2021. We may not fully understand the implications of lockdowns for some time, and given that only 18% seek help, the real number of problem drinkers could be significantly higher in 2023. At CATCH Recovery, we understand how difficult it can be to seek help for an alcohol problem. Denial and fear are often the first barriers to substance abuse treatment, but there is a way out.
If you are struggling, book a free, confidential assessment with our team today to learn more about the alcohol treatment options available.
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Understanding Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism
Alcoholism, also known as alcohol use disorder (AUD), is an illness characterised by the compulsive consumption of alcohol, loss of control over alcohol intake, and a negative emotional state when not drinking.
It affects the mind and body, leading to various physical, psychological, and social issues. Alcohol addiction differs from binge drinking, which involves consuming large amounts of alcohol quickly, typically exceeding eight units for men and six units for women on their heaviest drinking days. Drinking in excess does not necessarily indicate a problem. However, it comes with its health implications and risks.
Alcohol addiction, like all forms of compulsive behaviours, is not a choice or result of bad decision-making. It is a persistent, progressive illness that should be treated with the same understanding as those with other mental or physical health problems. If you’re concerned about drinking habits, contact CATCH Recovery today for support.
Who Is at Risk?
High-risk groups for developing alcoholism include those with a family history of addiction, mental health disorders such as depression or anxiety, and people who started drinking early. There is also a strong correlation between alcoholism and childhood trauma or abuse.
Frequent binge drinking and repeat alcohol exposure may increase the risk of developing an addiction. In England and Scotland, 24% of adults regularly drink over the Chief Medical Officer’s low-risk guidelines. Meanwhile, 27% of Great Britain drinkers binge drank on their heaviest days.
The Effect of Problematic Drinking on the Mind
Regular alcohol abuse and dependence significantly affect the mind, altering its chemical structure and leading to cognitive and emotional impairments. Like substance abuse and other forms of compulsive behaviour, the brain’s reward system is hijacked, increasing dopamine levels and reinforcing the desire to drink more. Those who drink excessively increase their risk of developing mental health problems such as depression and anxiety.
The relationship between alcohol use disorder and mental health is complex; while heavy drinking can contribute to developing these conditions, those with pre-existing mental health issues may also use alcohol as a coping mechanism, further exacerbating their symptoms.
According to the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), an estimated 589,000 people are dependent on alcohol in England, with about a quarter likely receiving mental health medication for anxiety, depression, sleep problems, psychosis, and bipolar disorder.
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Alcohol Abuse: Effects on the Body
Excessive drinking over time can lead to several physical health complications, including liver damage, heart disease and a weakened immune system. Regular heavy drinking also increases the risk of cancer and other chronic diseases.
Alcohol interferes with many bodily functions and can lead to malnutrition and vitamin B12 deficiencies, hampering the body’s natural healing process. Furthermore, excessive and compulsive drinking can lead to physical alcohol dependence, which occurs when the body becomes accustomed to the effects of alcohol, and more is needed to achieve the same effects.
Alcohol’s Effect on the Blood Pressure
Initially, alcohol consumption can cause a temporary increase in blood pressure. We advise people with pre-existing high blood pressure conditions to stop drinking altogether. This is because alcohol is a vasodilator and widens blood vessels, which leads to an increase in the blood flow to the body’s tissues. With excessive and chronic alcohol consumption, blood pressure can be elevated for extended periods of time.
Due to the same physical effect on the blood vessels, chronic alcohol use can cause damage to their walls, leading to an increased risk of developing chronic high blood pressure. Some alcoholic drinks, and co-occurring behaviours can lead to weight gain and obesity, recognised risk factors for high blood pressure.
Moreover, long-term excessive alcohol consumption can lead to alcoholic cardiomyopathy, often leading to an increased risk of hypertension and, in some cases, heart failure. If you have high blood pressure or are at risk for developing high blood pressure, we recommend that you limit alcohol consumption or avoid it altogether.
Recognising the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal can help ensure that appropriate treatment and support are provided, reducing the risk of health complications. Alcohol withdrawal symptoms can vary depending on drinking habits and length of exposure. In more severe cases, medical assistance may be required to manage severe withdrawal symptoms such as Delirium Tremens (DT) and seizures.
If you’ve been abusing alcohol for a long time, it is not recommended that you suddenly stop drinking until you have spoken to a healthcare professional. Physical withdrawal symptoms can be difficult to navigate and sometimes dangerous without the proper care of a medical professional.
Coming to Terms with Alcohol Use Disorder
Problem drinking is often described as having five stages, ranging from binge to alcoholism. The issue with distinct definitions is that it detracts from the unique experiences and challenges and may prevent seeking alcoholism treatment due to fear. It is far easier to come to terms with a problem by understanding the negative consequences it may be having on your life.
The CAGE questionnaire is a set of 4 human-centric questions that can reliably detect an issue without complicated definitions.
Take your time and answer these four questions honestly:
- Have you ever felt you needed to Cut down on your drinking?
- Have people Annoyed you by criticising your drinking?
- Have you ever felt Guilty about drinking?
- Have you ever felt you needed a drink first thing in the morning (Eye-opener) to steady your nerves or to get rid of a hangover?
If you answer yes to any two of these questions, it may be a good time to consider treatment. In addition, you may be experiencing difficulties in many areas of your life:
- Frequently feeling the need to drink, often to cope with stress or negative emotions.
- Getting into trouble due to drinking, such as legal issues, relationship conflicts, or work-related problems.
- Experiencing difficulty enjoying life or relaxing without having a drink.
Coming to terms with a drinking problem and seeking help requires courage, determination, and commitment to change. With our team’s right support and treatment, recovery is possible for anyone, regardless of their current situation.
Recognising the Impact on Others
Alcohol misuse can have far-reaching consequences not only for the ones suffering from the condition but also for those around them. The impact of alcohol abuse and addiction on relationships, work, and family responsibilities can be detrimental and pervasive. Those with alcohol use disorder often struggle to maintain healthy relationships due to their drinking habits. This can lead to conflicts, mistrust, and emotional distress among family members, friends, and romantic partners.
Moreover, excessive alcohol consumption can impair the ability to fulfil work or school responsibilities, resulting in poor performance, absenteeism, or job loss. The impact of alcohol misuse and the impact it has on others is an important part of the recovery process.
We Can Help
If you’ve made it this far, a part of you must recognise the negative implications of compulsive drinking habits. Perhaps you’re realising that someone you know suffers from alcohol dependency; either way, self-realisation is the key to breaking the cycle of alcohol abuse and alcoholism. CATCH Recovery is dedicated to providing quality and effective treatment programmes for those struggling with alcoholism and substance abuse, compulsive behaviours, and mental health disorders.
Our approach incorporates the latest evidence-based therapies to ensure a comprehensive and tailored treatment plan. Depending on your needs, circumstances, and work commitments, CATCH Recovery can provide online or in-person treatment.
Our free, confidential assessment covers various aspects that may contribute to your relationship with alcohol. These include medical and family history and mental health problems that may exacerbate alcohol-related issues. Our comprehensive assessment allows us to identify the nature of your alcohol use disorder and tailor our treatment approach accordingly. By understanding the unique factors contributing to your alcohol misuse, we can develop an effective treatment plan that addresses your unique circumstances.
At CATCH Recovery, we recognise the importance of planning in the treatment process for those struggling with alcoholism. You will be assigned a dedicated therapist specialising in treating alcoholism. They will work closely with you to implement a successful treatment plan. The plan will consist of a variety of therapies, including:
Whether you participate in the programme in person or online, our treatment approach does not compromise quality or efficacy.
The Role of Therapy for Alcoholism
We employ the latest evidence-based therapies and a wealth of experience and expertise to explore the nature of problem drinking. The goals of alcohol addiction therapy include:
- Identifying the root causes of addiction
- Recognising triggers
- Understanding the health problems and consequences of problematic drinking
- Managing stress and psychological problems that exasperate unhealthy habits
- Craving management
- Developing coping skills and strategies
- Fostering behavioural changes
- Promoting the need for long-term abstinence
- Developing meaningful relationships with peers through group counselling sessions
Long-term Recovery from Alcoholism
Long-term, abstinence-based recovery is essential when seeking to overcome alcoholism. Due to the complicated nature of the illness, it is essential to emphasise the need to maintain sobriety and make lasting lifestyle changes to prevent relapse.
Post-treatment, you should engage in various activities such as attending support groups, engaging in healthy hobbies, and staying connected with others who share the same common goal. To help facilitate long-term recovery and to support you with your long-term goals, we can provide optional services, including:
Or for those with more complex mental health needs, ongoing therapy may be recommended.
Take the First Step Towards Change Today
Take the first step towards freedom from addiction and contact CATCH Recovery today! You can contact one of our compassionate experts to help you decide on the best course of action. By enrolling in our treatment programmes, you can regain control of your life and enjoy a healthier, happier future free from the constraints of addiction.