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Alcohol Addiction in Missouri


Alcohol problems affect people from all walks of life, many of whom need professional treatment to help break the bonds of addiction. Alcohol addiction, also known as alcohol use disorder or alcoholism, can have disastrous consequences if left untreated. Addiction intervention is often needed at the outset of the treatment process, followed by medical detox, behavioral therapy, and relapse prevention programs. Alcohol addiction in Missouri is a big problem that affects the entire community, including the individual drinker, their friends and family, and members of wider society. If you know someone who is living with alcohol addiction in Missouri, it’s important to find specialized care as soon as you can.

What is Alcohol Addiction?

Alcohol addiction is a broad classification that can be used to describe any kind of problematic drinking behavior. For example, people who binge drink on the weekends can be classified as alcoholics in some cases, as can people with a physical alcohol addiction. The previous terms ‘alcohol abuse’ and ‘alcohol dependence’ were combined in 2013 under a single classification that is now used to describe a wide range of problems. Common signs of alcoholism include building up tolerance, experiencing withdrawal symptoms when drinking is stopped or reduced, and being unable to fulfill everyday commitments because of alcohol. Alcoholics may also feel guilty about their drinking habits, lie to the people around then in an effort to hide their drinking, and be unable to reduce consumption levels when they try.

Physical Effects of Alcohol Addiction

Excessive alcohol consumption has been linked with a range of health and social problems, with alcoholics continuing to drink even when these problems are recognized. Alcohol use can affect every organ of the body, including the heart, brain, pancreas, and liver. The immune system is heavily compromised in heavy drinkers, with secondary diseases such as cancer more likely to develop in alcoholics compared to members of the general population.  Physical symptoms from drinking may include pancreatitis, alcoholic dementia, peptic ulcers, sexual dysfunction, alcoholic liver disease, nutritional problems and much more. Some demographics are more susceptible to these problems, including children, teenagers, women, and certain racial groups. Some of the physical effects of alcoholism can also have psychological implications, with physical brain damage known to cause a range of psychiatric disorders.

Psychological Effects of Alcohol Addiction

Excessive alcohol consumption has also been linked with a range of psychological and psychiatric effects. People who drink heavily for a long period of time are more likely to develop depression disorder than members of the general population, with the co-existence of a mental health disorder and a substance use disorder known as a dual diagnosis. The links between depression and alcoholism are strong, including clear causal links and bi-directional links. A similar situation exists regarding certain anxiety disorders, including generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The long-term abuse of alcohol can also result in severe cognitive problems, including alcoholic dementia and other forms of brain damage. This can adversely affect the life of an alcoholic on many levels, with some problem drinkers developing significant social problems due to executive impairments, perception problems, and theory of mind deficits.

Social Effects of Alcoholism

Abusive drinking behavior does not just affect the alcoholic, it also affects their friends, families, and wider society. Problem drinking has been closely linked with a wide range of social problems, including an increased risk of committing criminal offenses, child abuse, domestic violence, assault, rape, and car accidents. People who drink heavily are also more likely to struggle with interpersonal problems and less likely to be productive members of the community. Financial and legal problems may also develop as a direct or indirect result of alcohol abuse, with some people suffering the implications of their alcohol addiction for years after they stop drinking.

Alcoholism Statistics in Missouri

Alcoholism is a problem across the United States, including the state of Missouri. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), 16.6 million adults had an alcohol use disorder in 2013. This includes 5.8 million women and 10.8 million men, with only 1.3 people receiving specialized treatment for their alcohol problem. About 88,000 people die every year from alcohol-related causes in the United States, including automobile accidents. There were 248 drunk driving fatalities in Missouri in 2012 according to MADD, representing 32.8 percent of all traffic deaths. In order to prevent these terrible accidents from taking place, education is needed across the state.

Medical Detox and Medication Therapy

Medications are often used to treat alcoholism, especially for people with a physical alcohol addiction. A medical detox period is often initiated at the outset of the treatment process, with benzodiazepine drugs such as Valium and Serax widely prescribed to alleviate and manage withdrawal symptoms. Alcohol is associated with a physical-somatic withdrawal syndrome, with possible symptoms including nausea, vomiting, hallucinations, seizures, and delirium tremens. Benzodiazepine drugs help to alleviate these symptoms before they create additional medical complications. Medications may also be applied during the rehabilitation phase of treatment, including Antabuse, naltrexone, Campral, and other benzodiazepines.

Behavioral Therapy

Detox and medication therapy is an important aspect of alcoholism treatment. Medications are not enough when administered in isolation, however, as they do nothing to treat the emotional and environmental factors that underpin alcohol addiction. Behavioral therapy programs are always advised following detox, including cognitive behavioral therapy, family therapy, motivational enhancement therapy (MET0), contingency management and many more. 12-step facilitation and relapse prevention programs are also advised on an aftercare basis, with some recovering alcoholics attending Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and related groups for months or even years after rehab.

Seek Professional Help

If you or anyone you know is struggling with alcoholism in Missouri, it’s important to seek professional help as soon as you can.