Navigating the complex world of alcohol addiction can be daunting. This condition is often intertwined with a range of mental health conditions.
This guide provides insight into alcohol addiction, its signs, and its cycle, specifically related to coexisting mental health conditions.
What is Alcohol Addiction?
Alcohol addiction, also known as alcoholism or alcohol use disorder, describes an uncontrollable urge to consume alcohol. It’s a condition where the body’s chemical balance shifts due to consistent and excessive alcohol consumption.
This shift amplifies the pleasurable feelings from alcohol, encouraging individuals to continue drinking despite noticeable negative effects.
When occurring alongside a mental health disorder, the complexity of managing alcohol addiction increases significantly.
The Cycle of Alcohol Addiction
The cycle of alcohol addiction often happens over time. Initially, it may appear as social or casual drinking.
But reliance on alcohol then shifts to a stress reliever or escape mechanism. This casual use can later evolve into regular consumption.
Over time, the body develops a tolerance, meaning more alcohol is needed to achieve the same effects. This can lead to dependence, where normal functioning without alcohol becomes challenging.
The final stage is addiction. This condition is characterized by an inability to control drinking and withdrawal symptoms when attempts are made to stop.
Signs and Symptoms of Alcohol Addiction
Recognizing alcohol addiction symptoms is an important first step in the journey to recovery. Symptoms may manifest physically, behaviorally, and psychologically.
Physical symptoms are often the most visible. These include:
- Escalated tolerance to alcohol.
- Experiencing withdrawal symptoms like restlessness, sweating, nausea, or insomnia when not drinking.
- An inability to limit alcohol consumption.
Behavioral symptoms expose the profound influence of alcohol addiction on daily life. They include:
- A constant preoccupation with drinking.
- Neglect of responsibilities due to alcohol consumption.
- Persistent use of alcohol despite apparent physical or psychological problems linked to drinking.
Psychological symptoms of alcohol addiction can be just as detrimental as physical ones. These often include:
- Co-occurring mental health disorders such as anxiety or depression.
- Denial of the problem.
- Defensive behavior when confronted about excessive drinking.
Recognizing these symptoms can be complicated as some individuals may conceal their drinking habits. Understanding these signs is a critical step to recovery.
Alcohol Addiction & Coexisting Mental Health Conditions
Alcohol addiction often coexists with mental health conditions, forming a complicated web of interconnected issues.
This can make the diagnosis, treatment, and recovery process more challenging. Recognizing this relationship is critical for effective treatment and sustained recovery.
Individuals with mental health conditions are frequently more vulnerable to alcohol addiction. They often use alcohol to ‘self-medicate’, seeking temporary relief from their mental health disorder symptoms.
Unfortunately, this can create a destructive cycle. Alcohol can worsen mental health symptoms, leading to an increased reliance.
Impact of Alcohol Addiction
Chronic misuse of alcohol can lead to severe health complications like liver damage, heart disease, and stroke. This can also be paired with cognitive impairments.
Alcohol use can even disrupt social life, cause job loss, lead to financial difficulties, and cause legal problems.
When a mental health condition is present, the effects can become even more severe. The symptoms of the mental health disorder make alcohol use worse.
Treatment for Coexisting Mental Health Conditions & Alcohol Addiction
When alcohol addiction and a mental health condition coexist, treatment requires a dual-pronged approach. This approach involves addressing both conditions simultaneously, ensuring one doesn’t trigger a relapse in the other.
The first step in treating alcohol addiction alongside a mental health condition is detoxification. This allows the body to eliminate alcohol from its system.
But detox alone doesn’t ensure long-term recovery. It must be followed by a comprehensive treatment program that includes therapies like counseling, cognitive-behavioral therapy, and even medication when necessary.
How to Get Help
Facing alcohol addiction, when coupled with a mental health condition, can seem impossible. But you’re not alone. These conditions are treatable.
If you or a loved one are concerned about alcohol use, please reach out to OC Specialty Health & Hospitals today by calling 949-900-8600 (Aliso Ridge Behavioral Health) or 714-243-9000 (Anaheim Community Hospital). We offer a comprehensive program designed to treat both alcohol addiction and coexisting mental health conditions.