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Liver Disease | How Do You Want To Solve Your Problem?

The word “alcoholism” refers to a disease known as alcohol dependence syndrome, the most severe stage of a group of drinking problems which begins with binge drinking and alcohol abuse. Alcohol problems occur at different levels of severity, from mild and annoying to life-threatening. Although alcohol dependence (alcoholism) is the most severe stage, less severe drinking problems can also be dangerous. Alcohol abuse becomes alcohol dependence when drinkers begin to experience a craving for alcohol, a loss of control of their drinking, withdrawal symptoms when they are not drinking and an increased tolerance to alcohol so that they have to drink more to achieve the same effect. Alcohol dependence is a chronic and often progressive disease that includes a strong need to drink despite repeated problems.

Because alcohol affects many organs in the body, long-term heavy drinking puts you at risk for developing serious health problems, some of which are described below. More than 2 million Americans suffer from alcohol-related liver disease. Some drinkers develop alcoholic hepatitis, or inflammation of the liver, as a result of long-term heavy drinking. Moderate drinking can have beneficial effects on the heart, especially among those at greatest risk for heart attacks, such as men over the age of 45 and women after menopause. But long-term heavy drinking increases the risk for high blood pressure, heart disease, and some kinds of stroke. The pancreas helps to regulate the body’s blood sugar levels by producing insulin. The pancreas also has a role in digesting the food we eat. Long-term heavy drinking can lead to pancreatitis, or inflammation of the pancreas. This condition is associated with severe abdominal pain and weight loss and can be fatal.

Drunk driving is no accident. There were 16,885 alcohol-related fatalities in 2005 – 39 percent of the total traffic fatalities for the year. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), “A motor vehicle crash is considered to be alcohol-related if at least one driver or non-occupant (such as a pedestrian or pedalcyclist) involved in the crash is determined to have had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .01 gram per deciliter (g/dL) or higher. Thus, any fatality that occurs in an alcohol-related crash is considered an alcohol-related fatality. The term ‘alcohol-related’ does not indicate that a crash or fatality was caused by the presence of alcohol.” The statistics reveal that most fatal alcohol-related crashes do indeed involve drunk drivers and far fewer of these fatalities involve intoxicated pedestrians or “bicyclists and other cyclists”. Nationwide in 2005, alcohol was present in 24 percent of the drivers involved in fatal crashes (BAC .01-.07, 4 percent; BAC .08 or greater, 20 percent). The 16,885 alcohol-related fatalities in 2005 (39% of total traffic fatalities for the year) represent a 5-percent reduction from the 17,732 alcohol related fatalities reported in 1995 (42% of the total). The 16,885 fatalities in alcohol-related crashes during 2005 represent an average of one alcohol-related fatality every 31 minutes.



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When someone experiences alcohol problems, the negative effects of drinking exert a toll, not oly on the drinker, but also on their partner and other family members. Recent data suggest that approximately one child in every four (28.6%) in the United States is exposed to alcohol abuse or dependence in the family.12 One of the clearest demonstrations of how alcohol use negatively impacts the family is the widely documented association between alcohol use and interpersonal violence. Family problems that are likely to co-occur with alcohol problems include:14 Violence, Marital conflict, Infidelity, Jealousy, Economic insecurity, Divorce, and Fetal alcohol effect. Drinking problems may negatively alter marital and family functioning, but there also is evidence that they can increase as a consequence of marital and family problems. Thus, drinking and family functioning are strongly and reciprocally linked. Not surprisingly, alcohol problems are common in couples that present for marital therapy, and marital problems are common in drinkers who present for alcohol treatment.

If you think your drinking is a problem, try following these steps: STEP ONE: Decide what your aim is. Do you want to give up alcohol altogether? Or do you want to cut down to within daily benchmarks? Or maybe you want to avoid binge-drinking and all the problems that go with it. The decision is yours but be clear about what you want to achieve. STEP TWO: Pick a day in the next week to start cutting down. Go for a day when you are likely to be relaxed and not under pressure. Plan ahead for a day when it is easier to avoid alcohol. STEP THREE: Work out how you can avoid situations when you know you end up drinking more. If you often drink at home, stock up on alternatives to alcohol, like alcohol-free beers, or lagers or wine or soft drinks. You might like to tell other people that you are cutting back, this should avoid them putting pressure on you to drink and they might even join in. STEP FOUR: Do not give up! Changing habits like drinking takes time and hard work and sometimes it is difficult to drink less. Keep focusing on the positive things you have achieved. If you do relapse, set a new date to start reducing again. STEP FIVE: If you continue to find it difficult to cut down you could see a trained alcohol counsellor to help you develop strategies or contact Drinkline for advice. Try phrases such as: No thanks ,I have had enough or I have got a lot on tomorrow. Reward yourself. Chart your progress. Cutting down requires willpower and self-control so you should be pleased with yourself for succeeding. Buy yourself something special with the money you save from not drinking. Be honest with yourself. Make sure you only reward yourself when you meet the targets you set yourself.

Over the past 20 years, modern methods of evaluating medical therapies have been increasingly applied to alcohol treatment. Alcohol treatment centers use both counseling and medications to help a person stop drinking. With support and treatment, many people are able to stop drinking alcohol and rebuild their lives. Alcohol treatment programs work for many people.But just like any chronic disease, there are varying levels of success when it comes to alcohol treatment. Some people stop drinking and remain sober on their own. Others have long periods of sobriety with bouts of relapse. With alcohol treatment, one thing is clear, however, the longer a person abstains from alcohol, the more likely he or she will be able to stay sober.

If you have decided, for whatever reason, that you want to stop drinking, there is a world of help and support available. To get a better picture of where you are now, so that you can make an informed decision about how to proceed, perhaps the first person to talk with should be your family doctor. Sometimes admitting to yourself and others that you need help can be one of the most difficult steps to take on your road to recovery. As the The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) says in it’s information: Acknowledging that help is needed for an alcohol problem may not be easy. But keep in mind that the sooner a person gets help, the better are his or her chances for a successful recovery. Any reluctance you may feel about discussing your drinking with your health care professional may stem from common misconceptions about alcoholism and alcoholic people.


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