Alcohol addiction is characterized by increasing mental, physical and social problems. Most so-called alcoholics are “socially embedded,” and such a person has a social network and job.
Regardless of it, alcohol intake increasingly overshadows all other activity unless the process is stopped in time. This leads to the complication of the person’s social situation, absenteeism increases, and health care needs grow; in longer term, such people are threatened with a premature death.
Heavy or long-term alcohol addiction can lead to epileptic seizures or delirium tremens at the sudden interruption. A rule of thumb is that the corresponding 70 cl of spirits per day without a break for three weeks increases the risk of epileptic seizures and delirium tremens, which are both so-called withdrawal complications. A person with pronounced alcohol addiction should always be evaluated by an experienced physician in order to determine if there is a risk of withdrawal complications. In smaller towns where specialized dependent care is not available, it is common for psychiatrists making such assessments.
The terms alcohol addiction, alcoholism, and alcoholic can be perceived as stigmatizing and therefore many sufferers, as well as health care workers, prefer the states to be referred to as defined dependence or abuse which also is medically accurate. Precisely for this reason, national guidelines for substance abuse and addiction treatment services were published in 2007. Since then, new therapies have been introduced and new methods for the detection and prevention have emerged in health and social care. There is therefore a need for a revision of the current guidelines in order to better guide the health care and social services in the use of these methods, such has begun and is expected to be completed in 2013.
According to the medical science, alcohol addiction is abuse and dependence disorders with diagnostic classification, but not hazardous drinking which is considered a lifestyle factor. It is noteworthy also that the diagnoses abuse and dependence refer to symptoms over a 12 month period, which means that the generally accepted view about substance-related disorders “once ill – always sick” is questioned. In the book “Heavy drinking: the myth of alcoholism as a disease” Herbert Fingarette takes up research exploring the previously used concept of disease. Fingarette writes that the research did not find scientific evidence regarding individual medical / clinical perspective. Craving mechanism was refuted. Loss of control mechanism was refuted. Release of substances in depleting of alcohol dependence was refuted. Uncontrolled drinking (behavior) when consuming alcohol was refuted. Total abstinence to alcohol a requirement for continued ” life ” and freedom from abuse was refuted. Family history as a cause of abuse was refuted. Operant conditioning as a mechanism was refuted.
The health service conducts evidence-based outpatient treatment for alcohol abuse or dependence, such as various forms of drug treatment and relapse prevention with foundation in cognitive behavioral therapy; often so-called dependent receptions model is common. A person with severe withdrawal symptoms may need to be cared for in hospital to hospital to avoid the risk of severe complications such as seizures.
The social services in each municipality provides specific treatment for alcohol abuse and dependence, as well as organizing in the current situation further treatment interventions (e.g., treatment).
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