Alcohol Abuse Counseling:Does it Work?
Alcohol counseling is a valuable step in treating alcoholism because it deals with the emotional, mental, and psychological effects of alcohol addiction.
Why Do I Need Alcohol Abuse Counseling?, What Mental Illness is Associated with Alcoholism?, , Is Being an Alcoholic a Mental Health Issue?, Can Alcohol Cause a Nervous Breakdown?, What are the Warning Signs of a Nervous Breakdown?, What is the Difference Between a Nervous Breakdown and a Psychotic Break?, Is Paranoia a Symptom of Alcoholism?, Why Do I Get Angry When I Drink Alcohol?, What Happens to the Brain of an Alcoholic?, What Does Excessive Alcohol Do to the Brain?, Can Alcohol Age You?, What is considered the Most Effective Treatment for Alcohol Use Disorder?, Rehab Is Your Best Chance
Alcohol counseling is one of the most important steps in treating alcoholism. If you are struggling with an alcohol use disorder or AUD, which is also known as alcoholism, your counselor will be able to guide you throughout your journey towards sobriety. While you should expect a long journey ahead, this road will ultimately lead you to an alcohol-free life.
Alcohol counseling is a valuable step in treating alcoholism because it deals with the emotional, mental, and psychological effects of alcohol addiction. It also tackles the underlying issues that prevent a person from recovering.
Most rehab facilities that deal with alcohol addiction include counseling in their comprehensive treatment plans. It is just as important as managing the physical symptoms of addiction.
But another reason why counseling is essential to the recovery process is because it is personalized. These programs are designed to cater to a patient’s specific needs—because at the end of the day, everyone experiences addiction in different ways. For a treatment program to be effective, it needs to address the different factors that make an individual patient unique such as their age, gender, family, substance abuse history, etc.
No matter how long you’ve been dealing with alcoholism, counseling can make a big difference in your journey.
Why Do I Need Alcohol Abuse Counseling?
The recovery process is different for everyone, so one patient’s experience may be different from another. But generally speaking, it will involve meeting with an alcohol counselor on a regular basis. This may be done individually or in scheduled group sessions where patients can share their experiences, feelings, and struggles.
Your rehab counselor will give regular assessments to determine your progress. As the patient makes progress over the course of a few months, these sessions may begin to taper down. If you are having a difficult week or struggling with the urge to drink, you can schedule a meeting with your counselor.
Whatever your situation, an alcohol counselor can help you in different ways. They can give you information about the recovery process and also create a structured treatment plan that is based on your individual needs.
A counselor can also help you discover the triggers that are connected to your drinking habits. This will allow you to avoid situations and people that are contributing to your drinking problem. Additionally, your counselor will provide helpful tips and techniques that should help you stay sober once you leave rehab. These are healthy coping mechanisms that are designed to keep you on the right track while successfully avoiding triggers and temptations. Finally, their goal is to provide emotional support and encouragement in order to motivate you to keep pushing for your sobriety.
What Mental Illness is Associated with Alcoholism?
While alcohol does have a positive impact on a person’s mood, these effects are short-lived. The long term effects of alcohol abuse are also serious. In fact, alcohol abuse is linked to a number of mental health disorders including depression, anxiety, and even psychosis. In rare cases, alcoholism is also linked to memory loss and suicide. Regular heavy drinking exposes the person to a greater risk of developing these conditions or making the problem worse.
Alcohol affects the brain’s chemistry—and continuous intake of large amounts of alcohol can cause a variety of effects. It can even impact a person’s behavior, making them more erratic, aggressive, or unpredictable. Alcohol disrupts the brain’s thoughts and feelings. This leaves a significant impact on the person’s mental health, giving them a distorted view of self.
When a person becomes addicted to alcohol, they will continue drinking even when they are already suffering from its effects. They will not stop drinking even if their career, relationships, and finances are already suffering.
Even if they do admit the problem and decide to quit, it will be difficult without seeking professional help. They will experience serious cravings and withdrawal symptoms after they stop drinking.
Depression is one of the mental health disorders that is most commonly associated with alcoholism. It impacts the way a person feels, thinks, and acts. Depression is not just about being sad, although persistent sadness is a part of it. It is also characterized by a sudden loss of interest in things that the person used to enjoy. Depression decreases their ability to function at home and at work.
Symptoms of depression include: sudden changes in appetite, sudden weight loss or weight gain that is unrelated to diet, sadness, loss of interest in old hobbies and activities, difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much, lethargy, fatigue, suicidal ideation, and difficulty concentrating. These symptoms may range from mild to severe.
There are many types of depression including: major depression, psychotic depression, persistent depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, postpartum depression, and seasonal affective disorder.
Depression is a serious medical illness, but it is also treatable. A person with depression may try to cope with their situation by drinking, and that may lead to alcohol use disorder. That is why addiction and mental health have an incredibly close relationship.
Anxiety is another mental health disorder that is commonly associated with alcohol use disorder. Some people with anxiety drink in order to feel at ease for a little while. Unfortunately, these feelings don’t last long—unlike the adverse effects of drinking. Those who drink to relax may feel bad about themselves once the euphoria dissipates. Drinking only masks the anxiety and doesn’t actually treat it.
As alcohol abuse continues, the person becomes more tolerant, and soon they have to drink more just to get the same effects.
Alcohol is also linked to self-harm, suicide, and in some cases, psychosis. They may lose their inhibitions to the point where they may harm themselves. Drinking heavily and having suicidal thoughts are also closely linked to one another.
Is Being an Alcoholic a Mental Health Issue?
Alcohol addiction is a medical issue that is characterized by the compulsive use of alcohol even when the person is already suffering from its effects. According to the American Psychiatric Association (APA), alcohol addiction is also a mental health disorder that induces long-term changes in brain function. Alcoholism can impact a person’s physical, mental, and social health because of its various effects.
Meanwhile, the National Institute on Substance Abuse and Alcoholism reports that about 18 million people in the US suffer from alcoholism. But the sad reality is that not everyone who needs help for their alcoholism is receiving professional treatment.
Alcoholism is a serious problem. Drinking is a common recreational and social activity, but alcohol itself is highly addictive. Addiction can start after just one drink. As the person keeps drinking, they will develop tolerance, which means they will have to start drinking more just to get the same euphoric and relaxing effects. Eventually, they will become dependent on alcohol and feel as though they are unable to function without drinking.
But the good news is a person with alcohol addiction can still recover from this chronic disease. Just like other chronic diseases there is technically no cure for addiction—but it can be treated. The addicted individual can learn how to manage their addiction until they can live a functional, healthy, and happy life.
Can Alcohol Cause a Nervous Breakdown?
The term “nervous breakdown” is often used to describe a stressful situation wherein they are unable to function normally in day-to-day life. While this term was frequently used in the past to refer to mental disorders, this is no longer the case. In fact, it is no longer used by mental health professionals. “Nervous breakdown” is not recognized as a medical term.
When people say that someone is having a nervous breakdown, it may be referring to an underlying mental health problem such as depression or anxiety—conditions that require attention.
The symptoms of a so-called nervous breakdown may vary from one person to another. It depends on what is causing their breakdown. They may avoid social gatherings and other commitments. They may avoid appointments are start neglecting their responsibilities. They may also struggle to follow healthy eating and sleeping patterns. Even their hygiene may suffer.
Alcohol abuse may lead to several health problems that may contribute towards a nervous breakdown. This is especially true since we’ve established that alcoholism is connected to depression, anxiety, and other mental health disorders.
What are the Warning Signs of a Nervous Breakdown?
A nervous breakdown is also sometimes referred to as a mental breakdown. It usually happens because of extreme mental or emotional stress. It typically happens when life becomes too overwhelming for a person. They become unable to function on a day-to-day basis.
Although nervous breakdown is not recognized as a clinical term, it could still be used to communicate something that a person is going through, and it may clue you in on what mental health disorder they may be suffering from. In any case, you want to recommend therapy, rehab, and other medical solutions to their situation.
Knowing the warning signs of a nervous breakdown may allow you to help someone who is going through it. Keep in mind that there is no single cause of a nervous breakdown. It can be anything that causes excessive stress. Or it could be multiple things piling on top of each other and eventually overwhelming the person.
Things that may trigger a nervous breakdown include: major life changes, a sudden tragedy, burnout at work, poor sleep, anxiety, depression, abuse, and financial problems.
Although stress is an ordinary part of life, sometimes things can be too much to handle, and it can lead to poor coping mechanisms including alcohol abuse. Alcohol only makes the problem worse because it is only a temporary solution that brings even bigger problems. It’s easy to see why some people go into a downward spiral because of alcoholism.
Watch out for these warning signs and make sure you offer emotional support to those who need it. Anxiety and depression may have symptoms such as low self-esteem, irritability, worrying, sadness, difficulty concentrating, sleeplessness, helplessness, appetite changes, fearfulness, fatigue, withdrawing from friends and family, suicidal ideation, self-harm, and losing interest in their favorite activities.
It is not uncommon to feel overwhelmed sometimes. But if your stress is beginning to get in the way of your daily life, you may want to talk to your doctor. They may refer a psychologist or psychiatrist who can help you process your situation and feelings without having to resort to alcohol. Your doctor may also prescribe medications to help with physical symptoms.
What is the Difference Between a Nervous Breakdown and a Psychotic Break?
Stress can accumulate in a person’s life as time passes by. If they don’t have the resources or the knowledge on how to properly cope with it, they may struggle with a number of mental health conditions in the process. They may even go into a mental health crisis.
Knowing the difference between a nervous breakdown and a psychotic break is less important than seeking professional help for your loved one, but it is worth discussing anyway.
A nervous breakdown or a mental breakdown is when a person’s stress levels have reached a point where they could no longer cope. This is not an official diagnosis, but it may signal an actual mental health disorder.
The symptoms of a nervous breakdown can widely vary, including: mood swings, outbursts, a lack of motivation, a depressed mood, guilt, paranoia, hopelessness, behavioral changes, aches and pains, fatigue, physical illness, difficulty concentrating, social isolation, social withdrawal, worrying, flashbacks, delusional thinking, and even hallucinations.
On the other hand, a psychotic break is an episode of psychosis. A nervous breakdown may involve psychosis in some cases, but a psychotic break specifically refers to it. Symptoms of a psychotic break may include auditory and visual hallucinations, delusional thoughts, and paranoia.
Psychotic episodes are linked to psychotic disorder, but it is also possible for severe cases of anxiety, depression, and other conditions to result in it.
Is Paranoia a Symptom of Alcoholism?
It is possible for chronic alcohol consumption to result in psychosis. This is referred to as alcohol psychosis. During alcohol-induced psychosis, the person may exhibit symptoms including paranoia. We can say that paranoia is a symptom of alcoholism—but more specifically, a symptom of alcohol-induced psychosis caused by chronic alcohol use.
One example of alcoholic paranoia is delusional jealousy syndrome wherein alcoholics develop suspiciousness and believe their spouse to have an extramarital relationship even without the slightest evidence. They will be convinced of their spouse’s infidelity despite having no reason to believe so. This has been found nearly exclusively in male alcoholics. This delusional jealousy can sometimes be dangerous, with some patients attacking or even killing their spouse because of their paranoia.
Why Do I Get Angry When I Drink Alcohol?
There is a stereotype among alcoholics that is known as the “angry drunk”—and it may be rooted in fact. According to the World Health Organization, alcohol is more closely associated with aggressive behavior than any other psychotropic substance. That said people may exhibit different behaviors when intoxicated.
Anger in particular is an intense emotion. It comes out when something happens that isn’t to your liking or if someone did something to upset you. Aggression is when you act on your anger either physically or psychologically in order to harm yourself, other people, or objects in your environment.
Alcohol is a substance that reduces a person’s inhibitions, which may lead to more aggressive behavior as people under the influence of alcohol may care less about the consequences of their actions.
Alcohol can provoke different emotional responses for different people: this is why some people cry when drunk while others get angry. People with a natural tendency to get angry may become aggressive after drinking alcohol, although this does not apply to everyone.
Generally, some people are more likely to become aggressive when drunk than others: male drinkers, particularly those who binge drink are more likely to get angry or aggressive after a few drinks. Those with high levels of trait anger and irritability are likely to get aggressive when under the influence of alcohol.
Alcohol affects cognitive function and sometimes creates undesirable results. It’s not that the person is unaware of their behavior, but it’s more about them not caring about the consequences of their actions while they are drunk.
What Happens to the Brain of an Alcoholic?
Speaking of alcohol and its effects on cognitive function, drinking can alter the way the brain functions. In fact, it is possible to develop dementia due to alcohol-related brain damage. While moderate consumption is nothing to worry about, regular intake of large amounts of alcohol can be problematic—and it can cause problems for your brain.
Symptoms of alcohol-related brain damage may vary from person to person, but alcohol damages the brain in many significant ways.
Short term effects of alcohol consumption include slurred speech, unsteady gait, slowed reflexes, and lapses in short-term memory. These effects are caused by the suppression of neuron activity in the brain. Alcohol increases activity of GABA, which is the brain’s major inhibitory neurotransmitter. The person may even blackout after one too many drinks.
Changes in brain chemistry can lead to a wide range of moods including euphoria, depression, aggression, mania, and confusion. It is not uncommon for intoxicated individuals to exhibit behavioral changes. Alcohol can even slow a person’s heart rate and breathing, which may lead to a coma.
Chronic alcohol consumption can damage the brain. Alcoholism can cause atrophy in various brain regions, including the parts responsible for short and long-term memory. Alcoholism can therefore cause long-term effects such as dementia, brain shrinkage, hallucinations, psychosis, mood swings, personality changes, and increased risk of stroke.
What Does Excessive Alcohol Do to the Brain?
As the body absorbs alcohol, it takes a toll on the brain. It interferes with the brain’s communication pathways, affecting the way it processes information. The more alcohol enters the system, the more the brain is affected. In fact, there are several stages of alcohol intoxication, and each stage affects the brain in a different way.
The first stage is subliminal intoxication. This is when a person’s reaction time, judgment, and behavior are slowed by the alcohol, although they don’t outwardly appear intoxicated yet. It typically takes only one drink to enter this stage.
In the early stages of drinking, the brain begins to release more dopamine, which is a chemical associated with pleasure. This is when the person becomes more relaxed and confident. However, their memory and reasoning also begin to get impaired. This is often referred to as getting “tipsy”.
When the alcohol level in the person’s system increases even further, they enter a stage of excitement. This is the stage wherein the person experiences blurred vision, impaired motor skills, and slurred speech. It is common for people in this stage to have mood swings. They may even suffer from nausea or vomiting.
The next stage is disorientation and confusion. The person’s coordination is affected by the excessive levels of alcohol. This may occur after a period of binge drinking. The person may require assistance just to walk or stand. They may also suffer from a temporary loss of consciousness, also known as a blackout. This may also affect their memory.
From this point on, a higher BAC or blood alcohol content will put the person at risk of alcohol poisoning. Their physical, mental, and sensory functions are all severely impaired and they risk passing out. They are also at risk of physical injury because of their inability to control themselves.
It is possible for a person to go into a coma after reaching a BAC of 0.35. A BAC of over 0.45 may cause death either due to alcohol poisoning or failure of the brain to control the body’s vital functions.
Can Alcohol Age You?
Alcohol can age people in many different ways. Although a person has to be old enough to drink legally, it can age them faster than normal once they do start drinking.
Alcohol not only impacts the brain but also the body to the point where it can make the person look older. For starters, alcohol can dehydrate you. Drinking alcohol pulls more water out of your body, which increases your chances of dehydration. It also dries your skin, making you look older.
As we age, the skin becomes thinner and drier—this is something we can’t control. But when alcohol comes into the equation, it dries out your skin faster.
Alcohol ages you from within by making vital organs weaker and by slowing the brain. Heavy drinkers have a higher risk of cirrhosis or permanent liver damage. Even moderate drinking can lead to fatty liver disease and other problems. And as we mentioned above, alcohol also affects your brain, affecting your memory and other cognitive functions.
What is considered the Most Effective Treatment for Alcohol Use Disorder?
Treatment for alcohol use disorder may vary depending on the person’s specific needs. Sometimes it involves a brief intervention where the alcoholic person’s loved ones set an ultimatum for them to seek treatment.
After that the person goes through an intake process, which leads to the development of a personalized treatment plan. Generally speaking, the patient has to go through detox and behavioral counseling in order to address the physical and mental health effects of alcohol addiction.
During detox, their alcohol intake is lowered gradually while their withdrawal symptoms are managed. This is done in a safe environment, typically a clinical setting, where the patient can focus on getting better. Medications may be used to keep withdrawal symptoms and cravings under control.
Therapy and counseling for alcohol abuse can help patients get to the bottom of their drinking problem. They can also learn proper coping mechanisms that will keep them away from unhealthy behavior such as drinking. The goal is to teach them how to maintain their sobriety for the long term.
Different rehab facilities may offer different programs and treatment modalities. It is important to look for a rehab facility that suits your specific needs. Look for a rehab facility near you today and get started on the road to sobriety.
Rehab is Your Best Chance
Treatment is an addicted individualʼs best option if they want to recover. Beating an addiction not only requires eliminating the physical dependence, but also addressing the behavioral factors that prevent them from wanting to get better. Simply quitting may not change the psychological aspect of addiction. Some people quit for a while, and then take alcohol again, only to overdose because they did not detox properly. Recovery involves changing the way the patient feels, thinks, and behaves.