Estimates provided by the NIAAA (National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism) indicate more than twenty million American adolescents, teens and adults have an alcohol use disorder or alcoholism. Unlike some other addictions, alcohol dependence does not happen after a single use; it emerges from long-term alcohol use and abuse.
Is Alcohol Addictive?
Alcohol is one of the most commonly abused addictive yet legal substances in the nation. According to data provided by the National Council on Alcohol & Drug Dependence, approximately twenty million Americans live with the symptoms and effects of alcohol addiction. Alcohol has addictive qualities that have both physical and phycological impacts. When you drink alcohol, the body produces excess dopamine and endorphins.
Dopamine and endorphins are naturally occurring chemicals in the body responsible for creating feelings of pleasure and satisfaction. They also act as a natural pain-relieving chemical. Chronic alcohol abuse causes physical changes to your brain chemistry. The longer you drink alcohol, the more you want or need to drink to ensure you can repeat or maintain these feelings of happiness and pleasure that result from alcohol use. Without alcohol addiction treatment, chronic alcohol abuse often evolves into alcohol dependence and addiction.
What are the Signs of Alcohol Dependence?
If you depend on alcohol, you will turn to alcohol even though drinking introduces challenges and difficulties into your daily life. Once you develop alcohol dependence, physical, psychological, and behavioral symptoms will soon follow. Some of the most common indicators of alcohol dependence include craving alcohol when you cannot drink (or cannot access alcohol), developing a tolerance for alcohol (needing more and more alcohol to achieve the euphoric feeling that comes with drinking), and continuing to drink despite experiencing new or worsening problems with your medical and emotional health.
Also, if you are dependent on alcohol and try to stop or slow down your drinking, you will experience withdrawal symptoms. While withdrawal symptoms will occur in varying degrees of severity depending on your specific relationship with alcohol, common detox symptoms may include agitation, racing heartbeat, nausea, tremors, and sweating.
Many believe their drinking habits, especially if only moderate in frequency and amount, are not a cause for concern. It is also a common and dangerous misconception that if you “don’t drink often enough,” you will not or cannot develop a dependency on alcohol. Unfortunately, it is the reverse that typically occurs.
It is essential to remember that even occasional drinking, when done long-term, can lead to an increased desire for alcohol and tolerance to its effects. Once you develop a dependency on alcohol, it becomes more challenging to quit alcohol and achieve lasting sobriety without addiction treatment at an alcohol rehab like The Hills.
What Happens to Your Body When You Start Alcohol Rehab?
Alcohol can be harmful to every system in the human body. The extent and severity of these impacts vary from person to person based significantly on how much and how often you drink. With long-term, regular drinking changes to how your body functions and manages alcohol intake can lead to lasting, sometimes irreversible effects on your body and brain. So what happens to your body when you stop drinking?
Several studies have followed people during the initial stages of detox and through the early stages of sobriety. Within the first few months to a year after quitting drinking, several profound, positive changes occur in the body. Examples of these include:
Effects on your liver
Study results indicated that within the weeks and months after quitting alcohol, the fatty deposits in the liver decreased by fifteen to twenty percent. As these fatty deposits decrease, it allows the liver to heal and begin functioning as needed to help your body filter and remove toxins from your system.
Your cholesterol levels will improve
Most study participants showed an improvement in LDL (bad) cholesterol numbers of up to 5%. Long-term drinking increases the oxidation of bad cholesterol (due to changes in how the body metabolizes alcohol), which inevitably gets deposited in your carotid arteries leading to heart and blood pressure problems.
Your blood glucose levels will decrease
Study results indicated blood glucose levels in participants decreased by fifteen percent or more after quitting alcohol. Each time you drink, it affects your blood sugar levels, causing your numbers to rapidly swing from high to low based on how much and how often you drink. If you have diabetes or controlling your sugar intake for another reason, quitting can go a long way in helping you maintain safe glucose numbers.
Your risk for various cancers decreases
Alcohol is a known human carcinogen and can increase a person’s risk of developing cancer. The more a person drinks, the more elevated their risk is. There are links between cancers of the head and neck, esophagus, liver, breast, rectum, and colon (Colorectal). Data released in 2009 by the American Journal of Public Health estimated approximately 3.5 percent of cancer deaths in the united states were alcohol-related.
Your weight will (likely) improve
Alcohol is high in calories. Also, wine, beer, and mixed drinks add sugar to one’s diet. If you are a heavy drinker and cut alcohol consumption out of your diet, you are likely to see weight loss, improvement in body composition, less stomach fat, and improvement in your triglyceride counts.
What is Alcohol Rehab Like?
The first few days and weeks after taking your last drink will be some of the most challenging you will experience. Suppose you have been addicted to alcohol and consuming excessively for several years. In that case, it is highly suggested you take your first steps towards sobriety under medical supervision at a facility such as The Hills, where medical and mental health professionals can monitor your safety and overall health during the early stages of withdrawal.
When someone decides to give up alcohol, the first seventy-two hours are the most critical. These are the most painful and unpleasant hours in the treatment and recovery process as your body works to flush all the alcohol from your system. You will likely experience a host of unpleasant symptoms associated with acute withdrawal. The severity of these will vary depending on your relationship with alcohol. The most severe of these symptoms and the ones that make medical supervision highly suggested are seizures, high blood pressure, and increased heart rate.
You may also experience shaking, headaches, sweating, nausea and vomiting, anxiety, and difficulty sleeping. Some people also experience delirium tremens or DTs. The initial symptoms of withdrawal can develop within six hours after your last drink and persist for up to two weeks. Again, it is crucial to remember that the severity and duration of these symptoms will depend on your relationship with alcohol. With proper medical assistance, many of these symptoms can be managed and remain at a tolerable level.
The initial withdrawal stage is the most well-known and talked about phase of recovery. This is the one you hear most people describe and the one you see represented on television most of the time. As previously mentioned, full detox can take up to two weeks for most people. As your body removes the alcohol in your system, there will be a mix of positive and negative effects.
Detoxing from alcohol can produce severe and potentially dangerous symptoms. For this reason, it is crucial to choose to begin your detox and recovery journey in a medically supervised rehab like the hills in Los Angeles. During medically supervised detox, a team of highly-skilled, trained medical and mental health professionals will support and guide you as you progress through the stages of detox and cleanse your system of any remaining alcohol.
Although sometimes unpleasant, it is crucial to begin your treatment journey (the therapeutic process of alcohol addiction recovery) with a “clean slate.” this means you must allow your body the time it needs to be entirely free from the effects of and cravings for alcohol.
Like addiction, the process of detoxing looks different for everybody. Therefore, the symptoms you experience and the time it takes for you to detox from alcohol entirely will differ from someone else. In most cases, however, the most difficult days of detox peak and begin to resolve within the first 72 hours to one week after your last drink. As previously noted, once detox is complete, it is possible to transition into the therapeutic portion of a treatment program at our luxury alcohol rehab in California.
As part of a comprehensive, holistic alcohol addiction treatment program, you will participate in a range of therapeutic models, including evidence-based programs such as cognitive behavioral therapy and dialectical behavior therapy, as well as alternative treatment options such as yoga, mindfulness practices, adventure therapy, equine therapy, and others. Additionally, our medical providers will help guide you through nutritional counseling and medication management (if necessary) as part of a medication-assisted treatment program.
Your journey to overcoming addiction will inevitably look different than anyone else who chooses to get sober. It is not uncommon to worry about going to rehab because it is difficult to know what to expect and how rehab will “feel” as you progress towards sobriety. However, despite the “unknowns” of rehab, knowing that you can expect healing and a comfortable, safe environment at our luxury Los Angeles rehab is essential.
Although we cannot say exactly what to expect in rehab, as your experience is unique to you and your treatment needs, our team at The Hills is here to support and guide you every step of the way. If you are ready to take the first steps towards overcoming an alcohol addiction, don’t wait. Contact a member of our admissions team today to learn more about what to expect at an alcohol rehab in Los Angeles.