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Arizona Alcohol Addiction
drug abuse and drug addiction

Arizona alcohol addiction is a major public health problem. Alcohol is the most commonly abused addictive substance in the United States, but some states had more significant problems with alcohol addiction than others.

An epidemiologist for the Washington State Department of Health co-authored a study into the possible reasons why some states might have bigger alcohol-related problems than others. Her findings revealed that states with lots of rural areas can limit the level of access to care and treatment needed. The study could explain why the Arizona alcohol addiction rate is so high.

However, further studies also show that the people and families who struggle with alcohol dependence feel as though some communities within Arizona place a negative stigma on alcoholism. This causes many people who suffer from alcohol addiction to hide the extent of their problem and avoid seeking out help for fear of guilt or shame.

What is Alcoholism?

Alcohol addiction is a chronic relapsing disease of the brain. Other chronic illnesses, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, or asthma, require ongoing management to avoid symptoms returning.

In the event that a person with a chronic illness like asthma does relapse, it’s considered normal to seek medication and treatment. By comparison, if a person with a chronic disease like alcoholism relapses, people automatically think treatment must have failed. It’s also common for people to believe the recovering person simply ‘fell off the wagon, or is hopelessly beyond help.

In reality, alcoholism is a disease that requires professional treatment and management in order to recover.

Statistics for Arizona Alcohol Addiction and Abuse

Statistics released by the Arizona Department of Health Services reveals that 27 percent of all admissions into rehab treatment facilities in Maricopa County were for treating alcohol abuse.

A study on the contribution of excessive alcohol consumption to deaths conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that Arizona was tied for the fourth-highest rate of alcohol-related deaths in the years from 2006 to 2010.

The same study also showed that Arizona ranked as the fifth highest state in the country for the rate of alcohol-related deaths, with 13.4 percent of all deaths attributable to alcohol between 2006 and 2009.

The Dangers of Alcohol Abuse

Alcohol is a depressant substance that acts directly on the central nervous system to slow down the brain’s functions. It is common for people who abuse alcohol to experience changes in mood, behavior, and personality, including developing psychiatric conditions such as anxiety or depression.

Studies conducted on long-term heavy drinkers and alcoholics show that the brain shrinks at a significantly higher rate. The risk of permanent brain damage is also increased, either from the direct effects of alcohol on the brain, from severe liver damage, or from poor general health.

It’s common for many people with an alcohol addiction to have poor nutrition and dietary habits. Alcohol also interferes with the body’s ability to absorb nutrients from food, so it’s common for alcoholics to have a deficiency in vitamin B1 (thiamine), which is an essential nutrient required by the brain.

Alcohol is also a known cancer-causing carcinogen and can lead to cancer in the throat, mouth, larynx, esophagus, breast, and colon.

Most people are aware that alcohol can damage the liver, causing liver disease, fatty liver or cirrhosis. However, they may not realize that alcoholic cirrhosis of the liver can increase the risk of damage to the brain that causes lead to a brain disorder called hepatic encephalopathy.

People who abuse alcohol also have a greater risk of damaging the heart muscle, increasing the risk of heart attack, high blood pressure, and stroke.

Signs and Symptoms of Alcohol Abuse

The signs and symptoms of alcohol abuse include:

  • Redness of the nose or cheeks (broken capillaries)
  • Inability to stop drinking at just one or two drinks
  • Experiencing blackouts, or having no memory of anything that happened while under the influence
  • Repeated failed attempts to give up drinking
  • Drinking alone
  • Hiding how much alcohol is really being consumed
  • Continued drinking, despite health problems
  • Giving up other activities in order to drink more

The symptoms of alcohol dependence, or alcoholism, consist of all the items listed above, plus the following:

  • Loss of control over how much is being consumed
  • Cravings, overwhelming compulsions to drink
  • Tolerance (needing to drink higher volumes of alcohol to experience the same effects)
  • Physical dependence (experiencing withdrawal symptoms when alcohol intake stops suddenly)

Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms

A person with alcohol dependence will experience unpleasant withdrawal symptoms when alcohol intake is stopped after a period of heavy drinking. Symptoms can include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Headaches (not related to hangovers)
  • Tremors and shaking
  • Sweating
  • Irritability
  • Confusions
  • Increased heart rate
  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Hallucinations
  • Seizures
  • Delirium tremens (DTs)

Arizona Alcohol Addiction Rehabilitation Options

Treating alcohol addiction requires a combination of treatments and therapies to address both the physical and the psychological aspect of the addiction. Treatment begins with the detoxification process, followed by intensive therapy.

As some alcohol withdrawal symptoms can be potentially life-threatening, it’s important to detox under medical supervision. Medical staff can administer prescription medication to help reduce the severity of any symptoms that arise.

Individual counseling and behavioral therapy work to correct dysfunctional attitudes and behaviors, and replace them with positive new habits.

One of the key success factors in alcohol rehab treatment is developing a strong support network. Regular attendance at group support meetings allows a recovering person to build a social support network of likeminded peers who understand the unique challenges of recovery.

The Importance of Treatment for an Alcohol Use Disorder

Many people avoid seeking treatment for alcohol abuse, simply because they don’t recognize the extent of their problem. They may believe they can quit drinking on their own, or they may deny having a drinking problem at all. Others may believe that quitting alcohol should be a simple case of just saying no and then exerting a bit of willpower.

In reality, alcohol addiction is a chronic disease of the brain that requires specialized treatment in order to recover.

The first step to recovery is reaching out and asking for help. With the right combination of treatments, it’s possible to live a healthy, productive life of sobriety over the long-term. Pick up the phone and speak with an addiction specialist when you are ready to get sober once and for all.