Alcohol Problems


Some Topics

  • Diseases Associated with Alcohol Abuse.

    Alcohol has been shown to be directly toxic to the liver. Approximately 90 to 100 percent of heavy drinkers show evidence of fatty liver, an estimated 10 to 35 percent develop alcoholic hepatitis, and 10 to 20 percent develop cirrhosis. Fatty liver is reversible with abstinence, alcoholic hepatitis is usually reversible upon abstinence, and while alcoholic cirrhosis is often progressive and fatal, it can stabilize with abstinence. In addition to liver disease, heavy alcohol consumption causes chronic pancreatitis and malabsorption of nutrients.

  • Alcohol-induced heart damage appears to increase with lifetime dose of alcohol. Alcohol can damage the brain in many ways. The most serious effect is Korsakoff's syndrome, characterized in part by an inability to remember recent events or to learn new information. The incidence of alcohol-related brain damage is approximately 10 percent of adult dementias in the United States. Milder attention and memory deficits may improve gradually with abstinence.

  • Additional diseases strongly linked to alcohol consumption include failure of reproductive function and cancers of the mouth, larynx, and esophagus. Hospitalized alcoholics have also been found to have an increased prevalence of dental problems, compared with nonalcoholic psychiatric patients, including missing teeth and nonrestorable teeth. Psychiatric disorders.

  • Brain and Behavior

    Mental illness is associated with alcohol and other drug abuse. One third of abusers have a mental illness. Alcohol abuse increases the risk for legal troubles, social and occupational impairment, domestic abuse, and a higher likelihood of attempting and committing suicide. Alcohol abuse causes a wide range of psychiatric conditions, including mood, anxiety, psychotic, sleep, sexual, delirious, and amnestic disorders.
    A study published in Neurology in 2014 found that middle-aged men who drink more than 2.5 drinks daily are more likely to undergo faster decline in all cognitive areas—particularly memory—over a period of 10 years.

    The UK Whitehall study followed patients for 30 years found surprising negative effects on the brain.. Moderate drinking is associated with pathologic findings in the brain, including hippocampal atrophy. Higher alcohol intake predicted faster decline in cognitive measures of lexical fluency. People who drank during the 30 years had higher odds of hippocampal atrophy compared with those who did not drink. The risk was dose dependent, with those who consumed more than 30 units of alcohol per week having the highest risk compared with abstainers. The risk was also higher among people who drank moderately (from 7 to fewer than 14 units per week). These individuals had 3 times the odds of right-sided hippocampal atrophy. There was no protective effect in reducing the odds of atrophy of light drinking, defined as 1 to fewer than 7 units per week, over abstinence. (Shivani R, Goldsmith RJ, Anthenelli RM. Alcoholism and psychiatric disorders. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. November 2002.NIH Publications Accessed February 7, 2014. Collins M. Neuroinflammatory PARP pathways in ethanol-dependent neurodegeneration: suppression by omega-3 fatty acid. Proceedings and abstracts of the 14th Congress of the European Society for Biomedical Research on Alcoholism; September 8-11, 2013; Warsaw, Poland. Abstract 01.2.)

    The strongest correlate of alcoholism documented in the ECA is antisocial personality disorder (ASPD). Comorbid ASPD has prognostic and treatment implications for alcoholics. Patients with ASPD have an earlier age of onset of alcohol and other drug abuse and a more rapid and serious course of illness. Bulimia is an eating disorder in which patients, usually female, binge on sugar- and fat-rich meals, and purge regularly, as by self-induced vomiting. This disorder is characterized by craving, preoccupation with binge eating, loss of control during binges, an emphasis on short-term gratification, and ambivalence about treatment--symptoms that resemble those of addictive disorders. Bulimics commonly exhibit multiple drug use disorders and have high rates of alcoholism. Between 33 and 83 percent of bulimics may have a first-degree relative suffering from alcohol abuse or alcoholism.

  • Although it has been suggested that alcoholism and depression are manifestations of the same underlying illness, the results of family, twin, and adoption studies suggest that alcoholism and mood disorder are probably distinct illnesses with different prognoses and treatments. However, symptoms of depression are likely to develop during the course of alcoholism, and some patients with mood disorders may increase their drinking when undergoing a mood change, fulfilling criteria for secondary alcoholism. When depressive symptoms are secondary to alcoholism, they are likely to disappear within a few weeks of abstinence, as withdrawal symptoms subside. /p>

  • Anxiety

    Studies (not using ECA data) indicate that approximately 10 to 30 percent of alcoholics have panic disorder, and about 20 percent of persons with anxiety disorders abuse alcohol. Among alcoholics entering treatment, about two-thirds have symptoms that resemble anxiety disorders. Several studies indicate that anxious patients may use alcohol or other drugs to self-medicate, despite the fact that such use may ultimately exacerbate their condition. The strongest correlation between alcoholism and severe anxiety symptoms occurs in the context of alcohol withdrawal. The severe tremors, feelings of tension, restlessness, and insomnia associated with withdrawal begin to subside after 4 or 5 days, although a vulnerability to panic attacks and to generalized anxiety may continue for months. Because these symptoms decrease with abstinence, they are unlikely to represent an independent anxiety disorder. Other drug abuse.

    Other drug abuse.

  • Based on ECA data, alcoholics are 35 times more likely than nonalcoholics to also use cocaine. Similar odds ratios for other types of drugs are: sedatives, 17.0 times; opioids, 13.0 times; hallucinogens, 12.0; stimulants, 11.0; and marijuana and related drugs, 6.0. Surveys of indicate that up to 90 percent of alcoholics are nicotine dependent.

  • ( Statistics  originated with the USA Epidemiologic Catchment Area (ECA) program of the National Institute of Mental Health. In the early 80's, the ECA surveyed more than 20,000 respondents residing in households, group homes, and long-term institutions in five sites across the United States. Their data tell us about the prevalence and incidence of psychiatric disorders, as well as issues related to treatment.)

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