The sad and untimely death of music icon Whitney Houston has provided a lesson in how easily self- medicating with alcohol and prescription drugs can have a deadly outcome. Though the official cause of her death is unknown, science tells us that alcohol, combined with relatively small amounts of certain prescription medications can suppress breathing to the point that death is inevitable. Alcohol is a legal substance and the majority of people can have the occasional drink or three at dinner or at a party with few or no adverse consequences. These folks can go back to work the next day and not think about a drink again for weeks or months.
However, there are other people who may start out drinking socially but eventually lose track of the amount they’re consuming, and are clueless to the fact that they have shifted to drinking for different reasons than when they started. They have no idea, at least on a conscious level, that there’s something very wrong, and that drinking is now having a negative effect on them both physically and mentally. Alcohol is no longer the one or two drinks they used to have to be sociable with friends, and has become a real need in order to get through the day. They may insist they can stop any time they like, but the truth is they can’t. One day, maybe two without a drink will precipitate obvious changes in mood and personality and send them running back to the bottle.
Alcoholism is an insidious disease with the addictive nature and damaging effects building slowly and presenting few early clues to what is happening. People who have a family history of alcoholism may have a genetic predisposition in the way their body metabolizes and responds to alcohol, and a psychological tendency to addictive behaviors, making them even more likely to become addicted. These are the people who, when they stop drinking, may take up compulsive exercise, compulsive eating, an obsession with housecleaning, or any of a dozen other behaviors that they may substitute for the original addiction.
Chronic, daily drinkers will definitely need medical intervention if they are going to have a chance to stop before alcohol costs them their life. Liver damage, renal damage, high blood pressure, malnutrition, and a host of other potentially deadly consequences of their drinking are now becoming obvious. And any effort to cut off the body’s supply of alcohol will result in withdrawal symptoms that can, in themselves, be deadly. Mild symptoms like the shakes, sweats, nausea and rapid heartbeat are replaced by seizures, confusion, delirium, heart attack or stroke and without medical intervention, may be fatal.
Alcohol addiction rehab centers use a variety of techniques and interventions by trained professionals to bring the person to an alcohol-free state safely with close observation and medical care until the dangerous part of withdrawal has passed. Then the person can, with a clear mind, work in therapy to examine and treat the reasons for their addiction and develop a plan to maintain their sobriety and live a healthy life from that point on. The real key, however, is the commitment of the alcoholic to use the tools they have been given to maintain a truly drug-free lifestyle.
For more information, go to Treatment Centers
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