Alcohol is a way of life for many Canadians. As a nation, we spend more than twelve billion dollars a year on alcohol. While most people who drink alcohol are able to do so responsibly, about ten percent of Canadians are dependent on alcohol at some point during their lives. There is a disturbing trend of alcohol use among young people: about two thirds of students in grade 7-12 have experimented with alcohol, and about one in ten consumes alcohol on a weekly basis (source: CAMH).
You don’t have to become a statistic. Alcoholism is a life-threatening illness, but it is also highly treatable. Toronto Addiction Centres will help you find a rehab facility that will guide you on your path to sobriety.
Understanding Alcohol Addiction
Alcohol is a drug that alters the way your brain and body work every time you use it. You’ve probably noticed that you have a much higher alcohol tolerance than you did when you first began drinking. This process, known as chemical tolerance, is the first stop on the long journey to addiction. When you drink, your body subtly changes its chemistry to protect you from alcohol, enabling you to drink more without experiencing the intense buzz you once encountered.
This does not mean that alcohol is less dangerous, though. Indeed, tolerance can mask the effects alcohol is having on your body. If you continue to consume alcohol regularly, you may eventually become physically dependent on alcohol, making it nearly impossible to quit drinking.
Alcohol withdrawal is notoriously challenging, particularly for long-term drinkers. Most alcoholics experience anxiety, depression, aches and pains, difficulty sleeping, and appetite changes for seven to fourteen days after quitting. Longer-term alcoholics, as well as those with serious medical conditions, may experience a more serious form of withdrawal known as delirium tremens (DT). DT can become life-threatening if left untreated, so if you experience the following symptoms, contact a physician immediately:
- Fainting or vomiting
- Suicidal thoughts
- Sensitivity to light or sound
- Loss of consciousness
- Psychosis, aggression, or intense anger
If you have been dependent on alcohol for more than a year or have a chronic illness, talk to your doctor before quitting this powerful drug. In many cases, your doctor may be able to prescribe medications to reduce your cravings and alleviate your withdrawal symptoms.
Is Inpatient Care Right for Me?
Anyone with an addiction to alcohol can benefit from inpatient care, but there are many other alcohol treatment programs available. Some alcoholics, for instance, are able to get sober solely with the assistance of a program like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). If you answer yes to more than three of the following questions, you are a strong candidate for an inpatient alcohol addiction treatment program:
- Do you have a history of mental illness?
- Have you had previous unsuccessful attempts to quit drinking?
- Are you addicted to drugs other than alcohol?
- Do you have serious medical conditions, such as diabetes or congestive heart failure?
- Do you feel hopeless, depressed, or suicidal?
- Have you lost important relationships because of alcohol?
- Are you concerned about your ability to resist cravings?
- Have you been an alcoholic longer than a year?
- Are you under the age of 21?
- Have you suffered legal or health problems, such as a DUI or liver failure, because of your reliance on alcohol?
The Importance of Permanent Sobriety
There is no escaping alcohol. It is everywhere from church ceremonies to family gatherings, but once you have achieved sobriety, you can never touch alcohol again. You have probably heard it said that “Once an alcoholic, always an alcoholic.” Unfortunately, this claim is true. Even a single drink is sufficient to reignite your addiction, because alcoholism permanently changes the way your brain and body react to alcohol.
Toronto Addiction Centres can help by referring you to an alcohol addiction treatment program that is right for you, and that will help you achieve sobriety that lasts a lifetime.