What Is Alcohol Addiction?
To function properly, your brain relies on an appropriate balance of neurotransmitters. These are chemicals that are responsible for mood, behaviors and body functions. When a person drinks alcohol, it’s contents slow the transmission of neurotransmitters, which can result in a person experiencing feelings of intoxication, including sleepiness and sedation.
Some people can drink alcohol on a regular basis and not experience alcohol addiction, while others cannot. Some people’s brains adjust the amount of alcohol and start to crave more to achieve similar intoxicating effects. Over time, a person’s brain becomes accustomed to the extra intake. As a result, the individual experiences alcohol addiction. They will crave alcohol when not in use and will start to do anything (even harmful things) to obtain alcohol.
Alcohol addiction and abuse unfortunately occurs in New Hampshire just as it does in other areas of the country. If you or someone you love has fallen victim to New Hampshire alcohol addiction, there are resources in the state that can help.
Statistics Related to New Hampshire Alcohol Addiction
According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, New Hampshire residents reportedly have a higher rate of alcohol use, binge drinking and alcohol dependence than when compared to the national average for alcohol abuse. The age range with the highest reported rates of alcohol abuse are those ages 18 to 25, where 20 percent of those reported a history of alcohol abuse and/or dependency on alcohol.
New Hampshire has an Alcohol Fund, where 5 percent of the state’s profits from alcohol sales go toward funding alcohol addiction treatment, recovery and prevention. However, a 2015 report published by nonprofit organization New Futures found the Alcohol Fund has not been fully funded at 5 percent since 2003 in its history.
According to a 2014 report published by group PolEcon, the direct and indirect costs of alcohol and substance abuse in New Hampshire was $1.84 billion in 2012.
“One-point-eight-four-billion. That’s an astronomical number, and it’s enlightening to note that two-thirds of those costs fall on businesses for lost worker productivity,” says Linda Paquette, Executive Director of New Futures. “So not only are our residents sick and dying because of drugs, but the costs to our state in healthcare, criminal justice, corrections and other revenues are just another reason why we need to be thinking about investing in prevention, treatment and recovery.”
Why Is Alcohol Abuse Dangerous?
Alcohol abuse is dangerous because it presents short-term and long-term dangers. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), short-term risks associated with alcohol abuse include:
- Alcohol poisoning
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders
- Risky sexual behaviors
- Sexual assaults/intimate partner violence
- Stillbirth and miscarriage risks
Long-term dangers associated with alcohol abuse include:
- Cancers of the breast, colon, liver, mouth and throat
- Digestive disorders
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
- Liver disease
In addition to health problems, those who abuse alcohol also experience long-term social problems, including lost productivity, family conflicts and unemployment. According to the CDC, excessive alcohol intake leads to 88,000 deaths in the United States on an annual basis.
Varying Levels of Alcohol in Each Substance
The recommended daily intake for men is no more than two drinks per day and no more than one drink per day for women. Because there are varying alcohol levels in particular substances, a person may start out drinking excessively without even realizing it. Examples of a “drink” in the United States are:
- Beer: 12 ounces of a beer that is 5 percent alcohol
- Malt liquor: 8 ounces of a malt liquor that is 7 percent alcohol
- Spirits: 1.5 ounces of an 80-proof liquor, such as gin, rum, vodka and whiskey
- Wine: 5 ounces of a wine that is 12 percent alcohol
Signs and Symptoms of Alcohol Abuse
Signs a person may be abusing alcohol include:
- The person regularly misses school, work and/or social commitments due to drinking
- The person experiences regular lapses in memory, such as blackouts or memory loss
- The person drinks, even though they have experienced health complications related to drinking
- The person cannot control their drinking
- A person takes in increasing amounts of alcohol to achieve the same intoxicating effects
- A person experiences withdrawal symptoms when they are not drinking, such as shaking, sweating and feeling anxious
- The person has made attempts to quit drinking on their own or received help, but has returned to drinking
Alcohol abuse is a serious condition that should not be ignored. If you or a loved one suffers from alcohol abuse, it is important to seek help.
Treatment Options for New Hampshire Alcohol Addiction
Because alcohol abuse creates changes in the brain, withdrawal from alcohol can cause severe chemical imbalances that lead to physical and mental symptoms. The severity of symptoms depends upon a person’s overall health and his or her alcohol abuse history. Examples of symptoms that can occur during alcohol withdrawals include delirium tremens, seizures, shaking, rapid heart rate, increased body temperature and coma.
Several medications are available to treat alcohol withdrawals and reduce the likelihood for adverse effects. These include:
- Benzodiazepines: Medications such as Valium and Xanax increase the amount of GABA in the brain to restore neurotransmitter imbalances.
- Disulfiram (Antabuse): A medication that can make a person feel extremely ill when he or she drinks alcohol.
- Naltrexone (Vivitrol, ReVia, Naltrel): This medication reduces the pleasant sensations associated with drinking alcohol.
- Acamprosate (Campral): This medication reduces some of the harmful symptoms associated with alcohol withdrawals.
Of course, alcohol addiction is more than a physical disease. It is also a disease that affects a person’s mental health. Therefore, any alcohol treatment plan should also include counseling and therapy to help a person learn to overcome the mental pull toward alcohol.
If you are struggling with New Hampshire alcohol addiction you aren’t alone. Help is available for rehabilitation that can help you live a healthier, happier life.