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Alcohol abuse is excessive or problematic alcohol consumption. It can progress to alcoholism.
Several factors can contribute to alcohol abuse and alcoholism, including:
These factors increase your chance of developing alcoholism. Tell your doctor if you have any of these risk factors:
Doctors ask a series of questions to assess possible alcohol-related problems, including:
Blood tests may be done to:
It is common to deny an alcohol problem. Alcohol abuse can occur without physical dependence.
Alcohol abuse symptoms include:
Symptoms of alcoholism include:
The brain, nervous system, heart, liver, stomach, gastrointestinal tract, and pancreas can all be damaged by alcoholism.
Treatment for alcohol abuse or dependence is aimed at teaching patients how to manage the disease. Most professionals believe that this means giving up alcohol completely and permanently.
The first and most important step is recognizing a problem exists. Successful treatment depends on your desire to change. Your doctor can help you withdraw from alcohol safely. This could require hospitalization in a detoxification center. They will carefully monitor you for side effects. You may need medication while you are undergoing detoxification.
Drugs can help relieve some of the symptoms of withdrawal and help prevent relapse. The doctor may prescribe medication to reduce cravings for alcohol.
Medications used to treat alcoholism and to try to prevent drinking include:
A study showed that an anticonvulsant drug, topiramate (Topamax), may reduce alcohol dependence.
Therapy helps you to recognize alcohol’s dangers. Education raises awareness of underlying issues and lifestyles that promote drinking. In therapy, you work to improve coping skills and learn other ways of dealing with stress or pain.
Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) helps many people to stop drinking and stay sober. Members meet regularly and support each other. Your family members may also benefit from attending meetings of Al-Anon. Living with an alcoholic can be a painful, stressful situation.
Here are some general statistics on treatment outcomes of individuals one year after attempting to stop drinking:
If you are diagnosed with alcohol abuse or alcoholism, follow your doctor’s instructions.
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