What is Alcohol Addiction?

By December 6, 2022July 31st, 2023Addiction Treatment
what is alcohol addiction

Alcohol addiction is a serious disease that affects the minds, bodies, and spirits of women all over the world. 

Alcohol Addiction is a substance use disorder that has a strong foothold in society due to a variety of factors, including its easy accessibility. Villa Kali Ma’s integral, holistic approach to healing Alcohol Addiction is dedicated to assisting women to free themselves from enslavement to this severe and damaging pattern of behaviors and suffering.  

While light to moderate alcohol use is generally considered to be safe for the wider population, a significant portion of women who start out consuming alcohol in a more moderate way experience a progressive escalation in their use, eventually spiraling them into a state in which the negative impacts become a problem.

Long-term health impacts of Alcohol Addiction are significant. Alcohol adversely affects the heart, blood, pancreas, immune system, liver, and is linked with breast and esophageal cancers, among other forms of tissue damage to the physical body.

Psychologically, the impacts of Alcohol Addiction are not to be underestimated, resulting in disruption to mood regulation, worsening psychological troubles such as depression and anxiety, and entrenching pre-existing trauma patterning. 

Symptoms of Alcohol Addiction

Symptoms of Alcohol Addiction are broadly encompassed in the phenomena of tolerance, withdrawals, and an increasing pattern of loss of control over external circumstances of one’s life. As addiction grows, a person’s highest intentions and original personality, along with character, tend to degrade. These losses are recuperable with sobriety coupled with a firm commitment to a path of recovery, but will require a lot of personal work and considerable lifestyle and inner habit changes to correct.   

Tolerance is defined as needing more and more alcohol to achieve the same effect. It also explains desiring alcohol more frequently, and why many women go from drinking only on the weekends to drinking to daily to drinking first thing in the morning. 

Relatedly, withdrawal is the phenomenon that takes place when, in the absence of alcohol, the dependent person experiences very uncomfortable physical, emotional and mental states as a result of the substance not being present in the body anymore. This typically triggers a strong craving to drink again and may kick off mental and behavioral obsessions centered on procuring alcohol as soon as possible. 

Drinking to stave off the discomfort of withdrawals contributes to the overall progression of the disease and escalation in use, as the ever-increasing symptoms of alcohol withdrawal guide the drinker back to alcohol again and again, as in the case when a person drinks to make hand tremors, anxiety, insomnia or other alcohol-related symptoms go away. 

Immediate symptoms of withdrawal from alcohol include tremors, rapid pulse, restricted breathing, sweating, nausea and vomiting, anxiety, irritability, and insomnia. If withdrawing from a heavier pattern of use, withdrawal can include hallucinations and seizures, as well as the infamous DTs, or delerium tremens, in which the entire system can experience deep disturbances in functioning, that include mental disorientation, nightmares, stupor and irrational beliefs.

If you notice the presence of withdrawal symptoms such as the shakes in yourself when stopping drinking, it is very likely that damage to the body has already taken place in the gastrointestinal tract, liver, nerves, heart, and blood. Alcohol is poisonous to the body, so if you suspect the presence of an addictive relationship to it it is wise to seek treatment to stop this destructive pattern from getting worse.  

Other signs of Alcohol Addiction include a general pattern of continuing to drink or stopping only to return to drinking in spite of compelling reasons to stop, and in spite of sincere intentions not to (indicating a loss of willpower).

Other key signs include unmanageability of social, work, and personal life needs as the addiction gains primacy over the other aspects of one’s life. Life consequences directly related to use, such as losing a job, a relationship, or getting a DUI, frequently happen to women with Alcohol Addiction. 

Finally, emotional and relationship problems that are directly connected to using alcohol, such as victim-thinking, negativity, depression, anxiety, and dysfunctional or toxic relationship patterns are also typical of the disease.

Overall, the following telltale red flags may help us recognize in our more lucid moments to accept that we have developed a pattern of Alcohol Addiction:

  • A strong, persistent urge to drink that is so powerful that efforts to stop drinking or cut down repeatedly fail
  • Drinking more in one sitting that was originally intended, as when we say “I’ll just have one” but one leads to another and another, such that our good intentions to apply self-control feel ineffective 
  • A tendency to rationalize, deny or minimize the truth of our relationship with alcohol, lying to ourselves (and others) about the presence of a problem
  • Outer world impacts and consequences, such as deterioration in our relationships, work life, and ability to have mental-emotional balance

Causes of Alcohol Addiction

Alcohol Addiction has many causes. Alcohol Addiction originates in pain that a person tries to address with a mood-altering substance. 

If a woman has a chronic self-ache, it sets her up to look for a way to modulate or change that experience in some form or another, often through substances that seem in the short term to do the trick. 

Specifically with alcohol, its addictive qualities may be attributed to the combination of stimulating euphoric feelings while at the same time providing relaxing effects to the nervous system, thereby addressing two aspects of self-regulation at once. 

Genetic factors, family history, and its widespread availability are all additional factors in alcohol addiction being a top addiction in the Western world. 

Treatment for Alcohol Addiction

Treatment for alcohol addiction follows the following steps.

-Safely detoxify in a medically supervised setting. Due to the potential for seizures, psychosis, and delirium, it is important to detox with support from medical professionals who will be available to monitor and respond in time to the more dangerous aspects alcohol withdrawals. 

-Stabilize the body. Upon achieving full detoxification from alcohol, the needs of the body should be addressed with supportive interventions that help stabilize and restore the body’s immediate health requirements. This can include medical as well as alternative modalities that help the body stabilize.

-Secure a sober environment. It is critical to secure a fully sober environment with reinforced supports to change behavior. In early recovery a woman needs to install and fortify new patterns of behavior that encompass every aspect of life, from material world dimensions like work life, into inner-world emotional regulation and self-soothing habits. Receiving treatment in a residential rehabilitation facility like that offered by Villa Kali Ma, followed by a tapering down approach with Intensive Outpatient is usually best.

-Receive psychological support to change your thoughts, feelings and behavior. Treatment for Alcohol Addiction should include individual psychotherapy sessions as well as group work to address deeper wounds in the psyche. Ideally a woman is supported with trauma-informed treatment modalities like EMDR or Somatic Experiencing that can help the body learn at the nervous system level how to manage PTSD-symptoms without being driven to relapse. Villa Kali Ma’s many programs, therapy groups, and individual psychotherapy offerings meet these needs. 

-Connect to AA. It is advised to begin to connect as soon as one is stable enough, to a community of sober people who will be your failsafe network and support system going forward. Recovery is not a solo-endeavor, and it is a necessity to avoid isolation especially in the early stages of stabilization of sobriety.

-Learn about the nature of the disease and plan for relapse prevention. Treatment for Alcohol Addiction includes learning more about the disease and how it works, so as to be able to swiftly recognize its signature energies, including the early signs of relapse. A plan for relapse prevention that extends beyond the end of treatment will be made during treatment, and this plan includes a healthy set of new coping skills. 

Holistic Alcohol Addiction Treatment Options

Holistic Alcohol Addiction Treatment options include Villa Kali Ma’s unique, compassionately-minded program for women. Villa Kali Ma’s treatment is especially designed to incorporate the insights and practices known to be effective in alternative healing modalities together with the best of Western knowledge about addiction and recovery. 

Methodologies of healing that come from ancient wisdom schools like yoga, ayurveda, functional medicine (nutritional support), shamanic journeying, and breathwork assist recovering women to receive all they need to feel better, mind, body and soul. Massage therapy, fun sober group activities, walks on the beach and connections in the local recovering community are additionally supportive.

Villa Kali Ma provides expressive arts therapy, life skills-learning groups, equine therapy, and gardening as a part of its well-rounded program. At the core of Villa Kali Ma’s treatment program lie the most cutting edge and effective behavioral, cognitive, and evidence-based methodologies, such as Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, Mindfulness and Self-Compassion, and Internal Family Systems therapies. 

Our treatment program weaves in the body-mind connection, an aspect of a fully lived life that is often excluded in the more mechanistic Western model of addiction medicine. 

Women attending our program learn to access their own deepest inner wisdom and knowing, achieving their own personal sobriety and going on to live meaningful lives without substances. You can do it, too!

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