Alcohol Awareness: America's Most Deadly Drug?

Alcohol is legal and widely available in many parts of the world, including the US. It is a socially accepted drug, often consumed during social gatherings, celebrations, and even casually. However, despite its legality and widespread use, alcohol can indeed be very harmful, both to individuals and society as a whole. This article will spread alcohol awareness as it is consistently a leading cause of death in the United States.

According to NIAAA, over 140,000 people died due to alcohol-related issues between 2015 and 2019. And the deaths skyrocketed in the wake of the pandemic. Going by the numbers, alcohol is one of the leading preventable causes of death in the US, only after illegal drugs, physical inactivity, poor diet, and tobacco. Despite this, alcohol misuse remains a significant public health concern, often overshadowed by the spotlight on other substances like illegal drugs and opioids.

The opioid crisis has rightfully garnered attention in recent years. But it may come as a surprise to many that alcohol-related fatalities often surpass those caused by opioids in certain regions. This stark reality underscores the urgent need for increased awareness and action surrounding alcohol misuse.

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Understanding the Dangers of Alcohol Misuse

Alcohol doesn't attract consistent attention as a deadly drug because it's socially acceptable, legal, and readily available. As a matter of fact, it's deeply ingrained in many cultures and is often celebrated as a staple of social gatherings and festivities. However, this widespread acceptance belies the significant dangers associated with alcohol misuse.

Psychological Impacts

Physiologically, alcohol is a central nervous system depressant that affects virtually every organ in the body. Upon consumption, it quickly enters the bloodstream and travels to the brain, where it alters brain function, causing changes in mood, behavior, and cognition. In moderate doses, these effects may manifest as feelings of relaxation or euphoria. However, when you drink alcohol in excessive amounts it can cause profound impairment, leading to slurred speech, impaired judgment, and loss of coordination.

Impact on Physical Health

Beyond its immediate effects, long-term alcohol misuse can have devastating consequences on physical health. It can lead to liver disease, including cirrhosis, fatty liver, alcoholic and hepatitis and contribute to cardiovascular problems such as hypertension, cardiomyopathy, and stroke. Additionally, prolonged alcohol misuse can damage the pancreas, weaken the immune system, and increase the risk of certain types of cancer.

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Mental Health Impact

Alcohol misuse has far-reaching implications for mental and emotional well-being. It increases the risk of depression, anxiety, and other mood disorders and exacerbates pre-existing mental health conditions like post-traumatic stress disorder. Alcohol also impairs cognitive function, leading to memory problems, difficulty concentrating, and decreased overall cognitive performance.

Impaired Judgment

Perhaps most alarmingly, alcohol misuse is a significant contributor to preventable injuries and fatalities. Impaired judgment and coordination make individuals more susceptible to accidents, falls, and motor vehicle collisions. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), alcohol-impaired driving accounts for almost one-third of all traffic-related deaths in the US each year, claiming thousands of lives and causing countless injuries.

Social Economic Impact

Alcohol misuse doesn't just affect the person using and their loved ones, but the entire society as a whole. The economic costs associated with alcohol-related healthcare expenses, lost productivity, and criminal justice system involvement are staggering, amounting to billions of dollars annually. According to a systematic review, alcohol accounts for 0.45% to 5.44% of GDP.

Seeking Help for Alcohol Addiction

The stigma surrounding alcohol addiction often prevents people from seeking the help they need. Society's misconceptions and judgmental attitudes towards addiction can cause feelings of shame, embarrassment, and isolation for those struggling with alcohol dependence. 

However, it's essential to recognize that addiction is not a moral failing. It is a medical condition and seeking help is a brave and crucial step toward recovery. Professional alcohol addiction treatment provides individuals with a range of customized treatment options to help them overcome their AUD and regain control of their lives. These include:

Medical Detoxification

Medical detoxification involves supervised withdrawal from alcohol under the care of medical professionals. It helps manage withdrawal symptoms like nausea and vomiting, seizures, delirium tremens, etc., safely and may include the use of medications to alleviate discomfort and reduce the risk of complications.

Behavioral Therapy

Behavioral therapy aims to modify attitudes and behaviors related to alcohol use, helping individuals develop coping strategies and skills to abstain from alcohol. Contingency management, cognitive-behavioral therapy, and motivational interviewing are common approaches used in alcohol addiction treatment.

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Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)

MAT combines behavioral therapy with medications to address alcohol dependence. Medications such as naltrexone, acamprosate, and disulfiram can help reduce cravings, alleviate alcohol withdrawal symptoms, and discourage relapse by blocking the rewarding effects of alcohol or inducing unpleasant reactions if alcohol is consumed.

Support Groups

Support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) provide peer support, encouragement, and accountability to individuals in recovery. These groups follow a 12-step program, offering a safe space for seeking guidance, sharing experiences, and fostering community.

Family Therapy

Family therapy involves the participation of family members in the treatment process to address interpersonal conflicts, improve communication, and support the individual in recovery. It helps repair relationships strained by alcohol addiction and promotes a supportive home environment conducive to long-term sobriety.

Holistic Therapies

Holistic therapies, such as mindfulness meditation, yoga, art therapy, and acupuncture, complement traditional treatment approaches by addressing the physical, emotional, and spiritual aspects of recovery. These therapies promote relaxation, stress reduction, and overall well-being, enhancing the effectiveness of alcohol addiction treatment.

Aftercare Planning

Aftercare planning is crucial for maintaining sobriety after completing formal treatment. It involves developing a personalized plan that may include ongoing therapy, participation in support groups, regular medical check-ups, and healthy lifestyle changes to support long-term recovery from alcohol addiction.

More Than Rehab offers comprehensive substance use disorder treatment in a safe and comfortable environment. If you or someone close to you is struggling with AUD, we can help. Give us a call today to learn more. We are available 24/7, 365 days a year.

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How Naltrexone Implants Work for Alcohol & Opioid Addiction

Opioid and alcohol use disorders are a growing concern in the United States, especially with the rise in overdose deaths. In 2021 alone, 107,622 drug-involved overdose deaths were reported in the country, and opioids accounted for 80,816. In the same year, there were over 52,000 alcohol-induced deaths in the US. 

The increase in substance abuse and overdose cases indicates the need for addiction maintenance treatments. While traditional treatments for opioid and alcohol use disorder do a great job of helping people get off of drugs, they do little to prevent overdose cases. Once a recovering addict leaves the treatment facility, they may face triggers that can result in relapse and overdose. 

That's why many medical institutes worldwide are still trying to find innovative ways to enhance the convenience and chances of long-term sobriety. Naltrexone implants are one such innovative treatment option. These implants provide long-term maintenance from alcohol and opioids by reducing the risk of cravings and relapse.

What are Naltrexone Implants? 

Naltrexone implants are small pellets that contain the medication naltrexone. Naltrexone is an opioid antagonist medication that blocks the effects of opioids and alcohol on the brain, thus helping manage cravings. 

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The principle behind this medication-assisted treatment is that if someone can't feel the desired effect of drugs, they won't be motivated to use them. Over time, the positive association with opioids or alcohol will fade, and temptations won't be present.

When the implant is inserted under the skin, it slowly releases Naltrexone into the body over several weeks to months. This extended release can help reduce cravings for opioids or alcohol and prevent relapse. In some cases, it can also help curb opioid overdose cases.

Naltrexone implants have shown promising results in treating alcohol and opioid addiction, mainly when used in conjunction with other forms of evidence-based treatment, like medication, counseling, and support groups. This holistic approach addresses substance use disorders and the mental health aspect. 

How Naltrexone Implants Work for Alcohol and Opioid Addiction

Naltrexone is an opioid antagonist medication that works by blocking the opioid receptors in the brain. The implants provide a constant level of medication in the body, which can help to keep the opioid receptors blocked and reduce the risk of relapse.

Naltrexone implants have several advantages as they:

Weakness of Naltrexone Treatment

Despite the advantages of Naltrexone, there are some downsides as well. These include:

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How Are Naltrexone Implants Administered?

Naltrexone implants are small, sterile pellets implanted under the skin in a minor surgical procedure. The procedure is usually done in an outpatient setting, meaning you won't need to stay overnight in a hospital.

First, a healthcare professional will clean and numb the area where the implant will be inserted. This is done with a local anesthetic, so you'll be awake during the procedure but won't feel any pain.

Next, the healthcare professional will make a small incision in your lower abdomen skin. They'll then insert the naltrexone implant into the pocket they've created under the skin and close the incision using stitches or adhesive strips. They will also apply a sterile dressing to the area to protect it as it heals. 

The procedure usually takes about 20 minutes or less you can go home the same day. 

Side Effects of Naltrexone Implants

Naltrexone is generally safe. But like any medication, it can cause side effects. Here are some of the potential side effects of naltrexone implant:

  1. Pain, swelling, or redness at the implant site
  2. Infection at the implant site
  3. Bleeding or bruising at the implant site
  4. Itching or rash at the implant site
  5. Nausea or vomiting, headache or dizziness
  6. Diarrhea
  7. Anxiety or nervousness
  8. Fatigue or weakness
  9. Liver problems
  10. Allergic reactions

It's important to note that these side effects are usually mild and temporary, and most people tolerate the medication well. However, if you experience severe or persistent side effects, you should contact your healthcare provider immediately. 

If you have any medical conditions or take other medications, inform your healthcare provider before starting a naltrexone implant to ensure it's safe and effective for you.

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Starting Naltrexone Treatment

Before starting Naltrexone, you must undergo an assessment to ensure you're suited for treatment. A good candidate for Naltrexone treatment would typically meet the following criteria:

Naltrexone implants are a cutting-edge treatment for addiction to opioids, heroin, and alcohol. But the FDA has not approved the implantable version of Naltrexone for use in America. The treatment is only available in Europe and Australia. Still, many centers offer other forms of Naltrexone, which also offer long-term maintenance.

For more details about Naltrexone, reach out to More Than Rehab today.

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What is the Cost of Alcohol Rehab?

Approximately 21 Million people in the United States struggle with alcohol addiction in America every year. If you or a loved one is among them, you may wonder what the cost of alcohol rehab programs are.

The cost of alcohol rehab can range from free and low-cost programs to expensive inpatient treatment. This variation is due to aspects like the level of care, type of treatment, length of stay, and whether insurance will cover any or all of the costs.

Factors Affecting the Cost of Rehab

The cost of alcohol rehab can depend on several factors, including:

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Let's look at some of the different types of alcohol rehab and their average costs, as indicated by the National Drug Helpline.

Day Drug Detox Cost

If you struggle with mild to moderate alcohol addiction, you may only require a short detoxification period followed by outpatient treatment. If this is the case, the cost of alcohol rehab will be lower. The cost of a day of drug detox is about $250-$800.

3-Month Outpatient Care Cost

If you have a more severe addiction, you will likely require outpatient care for 3 months or more. The cost of outpatient alcohol rehab can range from $1,400 – $10,000.

30-Day Intensive Outpatient Program Cost

An intensive outpatient program (IOP) is a type of outpatient care that is more intense than traditional outpatient care. It typically requires 3-5 days of treatment per week for 4-6 hours each day. The cost of an intensive outpatient program can range from $3,000 – $10,000 for 30 days.

Residential Treatment Cost

If you require more intensive treatment than an outpatient program can offer, you may need to enter a residential treatment program. Residential treatment programs provide 24-hour care and supervision in a setting that is removed from triggers and temptations. The cost of residential treatment can range from $5,000 – $80,000 for 30 days.

Sober Living Cost

After you have completed a residential treatment program, you may choose to live in a sober living environment. Sober living homes provide a safe and structured environment for people in recovery. The cost of sober living can range from $500 – $5,000 per month.

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The Cost of Alcohol Addiction Treatment with Insurance

While many different treatment options are available, many people struggling with alcohol use disorder are deterred by the cost of rehab. Fortunately, most health insurance plans, including Medicaid, Medicare, military, and state-financed health insurance, now cover alcohol addiction treatment. Here is how it works:

Most insurance plans will cover some or all of the cost of detoxification, which is the first step in alcohol addiction treatment. Detoxification can be done in a hospital or outpatient setting and typically lasts a few days to a week. During this time, medical staff will monitor patients closely and give medications to help manage withdrawal symptoms.

After detoxification, patients will typically participate in an intensive outpatient or residential treatment program. These programs typically last 30 days and provide 24-hour support and supervision. Patients will participate in individual and group therapy sessions and activities designed to promote recovery. The cost of these programs varies depending on the level of care required; however, most insurance plans will cover at least a portion of the cost.

Alcohol addiction treatment can be expensive; however, insurance coverage can make it more affordable. If you or someone you know is struggling with alcoholism, it is important to check with your insurance provider to see what coverage is available.

Alcohol Addiction Treatment without Insurance

If you do not have health insurance, or if your insurance does not cover alcohol addiction treatment, options are still available. Many treatment centers offer sliding-scale fees based on a person's ability to pay. Sliding scale fees allow people to pay what they can afford, making treatment more affordable.

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There are also many state-funded alcohol addiction treatment programs available. For example, the California Department of Health Services offers a variety of treatment options for people struggling with alcoholism. Other states do the same too.

These programs are typically free or low-cost and can be an excellent option for those without insurance. To find out what is available in your area, you can contact your local Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) chapter or the National Association for Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors (NAADAC).

Alternatively, you can apply for scholarships or grants to help offset the cost of treatment. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) offers a variety of scholarships and grants for people struggling with alcoholism. Some high-end rehabs also have scholarship beds for people who can’t afford them.

If you are struggling with alcohol addiction, there is help available. Many treatment options are available, regardless of your insurance coverage or financial situation.

Get Help for your Addiction

In conclusion, alcohol addiction treatment can be costly; however, many options are available to help make it more affordable. If you or someone you love is struggling with alcoholism, please reach out for help. Some people care and are ready to help you on your journey to recovery.

Does Alcohol Addiction Lead To Dangerous Sleepwalking?

Alcohol addiction can lead to many health problems, including liver diseases, heart disease, and pancreatitis. It can also increase the risk of accidents and injuries and contribute to mental health problems such as anxiety and depression. One less well-known effect of alcohol dependence is sleepwalking.

While there is no direct experimental evidence that alcohol predisposes one to sleepwalk, some literature indicates that it can trigger sleepwalking or increase its risk by increasing the quantity of slow-wave sleep (SWS). Alcohol also alters total sleep time and affects the time required to fall asleep.

Although researchers still don't have a grasp of all the complex processes that occur during sleep, what's known is that lack of sleep could predispose one to depressive disorders and sleep disorders. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse, people who drink before sleeping often experience insomnia symptoms and feel sleepy the next day.

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What is a Normal Sleep Pattern?

A normal sleep pattern consists of two types of sleep: slow-wave sleep (SWS) and rapid-eye-movement sleep (REM).

Most people cycle through both types of sleep several times during the night. A typical sleep cycle lasts 90 minutes and consists of four or five periods of REM followed by a period of SWS.

However, the exact duration and timing of sleep cycles vary from person to person. Some people may have longer or shorter cycles, and some may spend more time in REM than SWS.

How the Brain Controls Sleep

Sleep is a complex and fascinating process that scientists are still working to understand. However, we do know that the brain controls sleep. The brain stem, responsible for basic functions like heart rate and breathing, also regulates sleep.

When we are awake, the brain stem sends signals to the rest of the brain that keeps us alert and active. And when we sleep, it signals the brain to slow down and relax. This process is known as sleep initiation.

Scientists believe that sleep is important for restoring energy levels, lowering stress levels, and improving moods. It is also thought to play a role in memory formation and learning.

The Relationship between Alcohol and Sleep

Although moderate alcohol consumption before bedtime may help you fall asleep, it significantly affects sleep continuity and quality. Normally, sleep is divided into three non-REM stages and a REM stage.

During the first two non-REM stages, your heartbeat and breathing slow, and your body temperature decreases. You progress from light sleep in stage 1 to deep sleep in stage 2. In the third stage of non-REM sleep, delta waves (slow brainwaves) begin to appear. This is the deepest and most restorative stage of sleep.

Finally, during REM sleep, your heartbeat quickens, your breathing becomes shallow and irregular, your eyes dart back and forth under closed eyelids, and your arm and leg muscles are temporarily paralyzed.

Alcohol consumption before bedtime can adversely affect all four stages of sleep. Although alcohol may help you fall asleep initially, it disrupts subsequent REM sleep. As a result, you may wake up feeling groggy and unrefreshed. Moderate to heavy drinkers are more likely to experience these effects than light drinkers.

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According to a survey published by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse, Alcohol affects sleep initiation and sleep maintenance during the 1st and 2nd half of the nighttime sleeping period.

Furthermore, alcohol withdrawal can also lead to insomnia. If you regularly drink alcohol to excess and then experience insomnia when you suddenly stop drinking, you may be experiencing alcohol withdrawal. Insomnia is one of the most common withdrawal symptoms.

Alcohol and Sleep Disorders

Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant, and it can cause a range of sleep disorders, including:

Insomnia

The most common sleep disorder caused by alcohol use is insomnia, making it difficult to fall and stay asleep. When you are addicted to alcohol, you are more likely to experience periods of binge drinking followed by periods of abstinence. This can lead to a condition called rebound insomnia, which can, in turn, lead to sleepwalking.

Sleep Apnea

Alcohol can also cause disruptions in the normal sleep cycle, leading to problems such as sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a condition in which people stop breathing repeatedly during the night. It can cause fatigue during the day and increase the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke.

Night Terrors

Alcohol use can increase the risk of developing night terrors. Sleep terrors usually occur during the first few hours of sleep when alcohol inhibits REM sleep, which is when most dreams occur. This increased dreaming can lead to night terrors, characterized by suddenly waking up in a state of panic.

Sleepwalking

Sleepwalking is a type of parasomnia, defined as an unwanted behavior or event that occurs during sleep. It is most likely to occur after several hours of deep sleep. Alcohol decreases the level of glucose in the brain, which can lead to micro-awakenings that disrupt deep sleep and increase the likelihood of sleepwalking.

Alcohol-Induced Sleepwalking

No research has established a direct connection between alcohol consumption and sleepwalking. What we know is that alcohol can interfere with sleep patterns and can trigger sleep conditions like sleep apnea.

Untreated sleep apnea can increase sleepwalking risk, especially when enhanced with alcohol use. Alcohol relaxes the upper airways, causing the same effects to sleep apnea when someone stops breathing when sleeping. When this happens, the body may wake someone up from sleep, but there may be confusion in the consciousness level that could raise the chances of alcohol-induced sleepwalking.

How to Prevent Sleepwalking and Stay Safe

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Sleepwalking occurs when you are in a state of semi-consciousness, and you walk or perform other activities while you are asleep. Although sleepwalking episodes are usually brief and harmless, they can sometimes be dangerous. In rare cases, sleepwalkers have been known to injure themselves or others.

Sleepwalking is most common in children, including those with fetal alcohol syndrome. But it can also occur in adults. The condition is usually triggered by fatigue, stress, sleep deprivation, or alcohol use and may expose one to risks.

During sleepwalking episodes, people are often unaware of their surroundings and may put themselves in danger by walking into traffic or falling downstairs. It gets even worse as sleepwalkers may attempt to drive or operate machinery while sleepwalking and end up hurting themselves and others.

If you are addicted to alcohol, it is important to get treatment to avoid the risks associated with sleepwalking. You can also do the following to help with sleepwalking:

  1. First, stop drinking alcohol or avoid it before bed as it can disrupt your sleep cycle and lead to parasomnias.
  2. Second, make sure you get enough rest by following a regular sleep schedule and creating a calm environment in your bedroom.
  3. Finally, if you have a history of sleepwalking, your doctor may prescribe sleep medicine to help prevent future episodes.

Alcohol addiction can lead to some dangerous sleepwalking behavior. If you or a loved one is struggling with an alcohol addiction, it's important to seek treatment to address the alcohol use issue. There are also many resources available online from the Department of Health and Human Services that you can check out.

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