Alcohol addiction is a serious disease that affects many individuals in the United States today. Unfortunately, the alcohol abuse crisis is being overshadowed by the opioid crisis, and alcohol itself is often touted as a harmless substance by the media we consume. Make no mistake, though; alcoholism is a mental disorder and chronic disease that requires professional care in a substance abuse treatment facility.
If you are an individual in the LGBTQ community and you are suffering from alcohol abuse or addiction, or you know someone who is in this situation, getting help and seeking safe, effective treatment should be your number one priority.
Treatment for Alcoholism
Addiction treatment for alcoholism is extremely similar to drug addiction treatment, as alcohol can cause addiction in much the same way. Treatment often includes the use of both medications to minimize withdrawal symptoms and stabilize the patient and behavioral therapies to help the individual learn to avoid a return to alcohol abuse after treatment has ended. The combination of these two programs is the most effective option for addiction treatment, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
Is Alcohol a Depressant?
Drinking alcohol can make you feel good, excited, and happy. However, many people don’t realize that alcohol is a depressant. As stated by the National Institute on Health, alcohol is classified this way because, although it initially causes euphoria and excitement, it eventually creates sedation, sleepiness, and even slowed breathing. Drinking too much alcohol could cause a person to fall asleep and stop breathing altogether, which is very dangerous. Coma and death are also possible side effects of drinking too much alcohol.
Many people do not recognize these effects. Instead, they drink because they feel good initially and continue to drink to keep the good feeling going. Participating in this behavior too often can cause addiction. Alcohol is a dangerous substance, and those who become addicted experience many serious side effects.
Alcohol Addiction: Signs, Withdrawal, and Symptoms
Signs of alcoholism are not difficult to spot. According to the National Library of Medicine, when a person abuses alcohol enough to experience alcoholism, they will show a number of signs, including
- A high tolerance for alcohol
- Cravings when they are not drinking
- An inability to control their drinking once they start
- A physical dependence on the substance that leads to side effects when they don’t drink, also known as withdrawal symptoms
Alcohol withdrawal symptoms are the strongest and most severe sign that a person needs help for their addiction to alcohol. The most common alcohol withdrawal symptoms include
- Mood swings
- Clammy skin
- Pale skin
- Fast heart rate
In some cases, individuals with alcoholism might experience severe withdrawal symptoms. These are collectively known as delirium tremens, and as stated by the NLM, they are a medical emergency. They include symptoms like
A person who is experiencing delirium tremens needs medical treatment immediately. The other symptoms and signs of alcoholism are those associated with other substance use disorders, such as an inability to concentrate, problems at school and work, spending less time with people or spending time with different people, ignoring one’s responsibilities, etc.
How Long Does Alcohol Stay in Your Urine?
Alcohol doesn’t stay in your urine as long as some other substances. Usually, it will leave your system after about 80 hours. However, if you are wondering how long alcohol stays in your urine, it is important to make sure this behavior hasn’t become a problem for you. It is never healthy to go to work still inebriated or to drink on the job. These are both behaviors associated with alcohol abuse and alcoholism. If you have trouble getting through the day without a drink, you may need help from a professional alcohol abuse treatment center.
How Alcoholism Affects the Family
Alcoholism can cause serious problems for a family. Of course, every family is different and structured differently, which means substance abuse can cause different effects in different families (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration). Still, it is important to remember that every individual in the family is likely to be affected. This could mean that an individual related to the alcoholic could struggle with a mental disorder, that financial problems will hang over the family unit, and many other things could go wrong. In addition, the person who’s addicted to alcohol could also experience severe mental and physical side effects of their substance abuse, such as cancer, heart disease, liver disease, and more (NLM). That is why at La Fuente Treatment Center, we have a Family Program that encourages your family members and loved ones to attend our Family Days where they can begin their own recovery by addressing the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual dimensions of the disease of addiction.
LGBTQ Community and Alcoholism
Alcoholism is also a prevalent issue in the LGBTQ community. This is partially because alcohol becomes a way for people who identify as LGBTQ to self-medicate when issues of prejudice or bigotry cause them to experience everything from self-esteem issues to full-blown mental disorders like anxiety or depression. Also, NIDA states these individuals experience a much higher risk of violence and harassment. Finally, a recent study found that choice of alcoholic beverage and vessel (the glass, bottle, etc. in which it is served) are a way of defining one’s identity in the LGBTQ community, so much so that the behavior has become ingrained in the population.
These aren’t the only reasons alcohol abuse is prevalent in the LGBTQ community. Bars are often considered safe and accepting spaces where LGBTQ people might first go to socialize with one another, which can potentially lead to problematic alcohol abuse. It also isn’t a coincidence that alcohol companies themselves spend considerable amounts of money on advertising that is specifically engineered to target members of this community.
The LGBTQ community and alcoholism are, unfortunately, linked at a higher rate than that of alcoholism in straight individuals. For those who are a part of this community and need help putting an end to their alcohol abuse, treatment in an LGBTQ-affirmative facility is often the best way to recover safely and to receive appropriate, individualized care.
Alcohol rehab offers safe, effective care for individuals who need help putting an end to their alcohol abuse and who need to learn skills for avoiding relapse in the future. There are many facilities all over the country that offer this kind of treatment, as well as individualized treatment plans for each patient. However, LGBTQ-affirmative treatment is best for individuals who are addicted to alcohol and part of this community as well. This treatment offers the kind of specialized care as well as sensitivity necessary for treating individuals in the LGBTQ community.
In general, treatment should usually last at least 90 days for patients to gain the full effectiveness of the program (NIDA). Alcohol abuse can cause severe withdrawal symptoms for which patients will often require medically-assisted detox. Afterward, inpatient or residential care is usually the best course of action, followed by aftercare in the form of sober living homes, outpatient clinics, 12-step meetings, or other options. Addiction treatment is the best way to put an end to your alcohol abuse and to start your life over again.