Managing Cravings & Withdrawal
from Alcohol Addiction
Alcohol abuse can have negative consequences not only on your health but your overall quality of life. The widespread availability and acceptance of alcohol consumption can make it difficult to quit drinking on your own. However, there are proven treatments to help you manage your dependency and regain control of your life. When combined with individual or group therapy, as well as support group meetings, medication can be highly effective in helping alcoholics achieve sobriety. Dr. Daniel Bober can provide treatment for those suffering from alcohol addiction. He will typically recommend medication to manage cravings and withdrawal symptoms during your recovery, and can refer you to a therapist in or near Hollywood, FL, to help you establish the support you need.
What is Alcohol Use Disorder?
Alcohol use disorder (AUD), commonly referred to as alcoholism, is the medical diagnosis connected with problem drinking that becomes severe. AUD is defined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorder, Fifth Edition (DSM-5®), as a problematic drinking pattern of alcohol use leading to clinically significant impairment or distress.
To be diagnosed with AUD, a patient must exhibit two of the criteria established in the DSM-5 over a 12-month period:
- Alcohol used in larger amounts or over a longer period of time than intended
- Persistent desire or unsuccessful attempts to cut down or control alcohol use
- Significant time spent obtaining, using, and recovering from the effects of alcohol
- Craving to use alcohol
- Recurrent alcohol use leading to failure to fulfill major obligations at work, school, or home
- Recurrent use of alcohol, despite having persistent or recurring social or interpersonal problems caused or worsened by alcohol
- Recurrent alcohol use despite having persistent or recurring physical or psychological problems caused or worsened by alcohol
- Giving up or missing important social, occupational, or recreational activities due to alcohol use
- Recurrent alcohol use in hazardous situations
- Tolerance: markedly increased amounts of alcohol are needed to achieve intoxication or the desired effect, or continued use of the same amount of alcohol achieves a markedly diminished effect
- Withdrawal: characteristic symptoms of alcohol withdrawal syndrome, or alcohol is taken to relieve or avoid withdrawal symptoms
Alcoholism is diagnosed by severity on a scale of mild, moderate, or severe, based on the number of criteria that are applicable to the patient. According to the 2015 NSDUH, 15.1 million adults over the age of 18 suffer from AUD.
Dr. Bober Discusses Alcohol Addiction on ABC News
What Causes Alcohol Dependency?
Alcohol dependency can be influenced by several factors. Some individuals may be more susceptible to developing an alcohol dependence due to their genetics. However, certain psychological traits, including impulsiveness or low self-esteem, may also contribute to the likelihood of substance abuse. This is often interrelated with social and environmental factors that may cause patients to begin drinking excessively, such as peer pressure. Patients who have struggled with poverty, physical, emotional, or sexual abuse often turn to alcohol to manage emotional issues. Each of these factors obviously impacts every patient differently.
When combined with individual or group therapy as well as support group meetings, medication can be highly effective in helping alcoholics achieve sobriety.
Signs of Alcohol Use Disorder
Alcohol dependency can often lead to noticeable changes in physical appearance and behavior including:
- Noticeable change in weight
- Rapidly aged appearance
- Withdrawal from typical activities
- Yellowing of the eyes and skin
- Increasingly argumentative
- Defensive of drinking habits
Due to continuous drinking, you may also regularly smell alcohol on users' breath.
Typically, withdrawal symptoms will develop six to 24 hours after consumption of the last alcoholic drink. These may include:
- Uncontrolled shaking
- Loss of appetite
- Heightened anxiety
- Increased agitation
- Profuse sweating
- Persistent insomnia
- Unusual heart rate
It is important to seek professional treatment as soon as possible if you or a loved one is experiencing symptoms that indicate withdrawal.
Why Is It Important to Seek Treatment?
Once a patient begins to engage in heavy drinking, it can lead to physiological changes. In many cases, mental health problems, such as depression and anxiety, can be worsened or triggered by alcoholism. Excessive alcohol consumption can have serious long-term physical health consequences. These individuals are at a higher risk of developing:
- High blood pressure
- Liver disease
- Heart disease
Patients who engage in alcohol abuse are also at a significantly higher risk of dying from car accidents, homicide, and suicide.
Effectively Treating Alcohol Dependency
Dr. Bober has helped many patients control their alcohol dependency through medication-assisted treatment (MAT). Similar to his treatment of opioids and other substance addictions, this approach to recovery is highly effective when used as part of an overall strategy that also incorporates counseling and participation in support groups.
There are typically three medication options for treating alcoholism with MAT:
- Antabuse (Disulfiram)
- The first medication approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for alcohol dependency treatment, disulfiram is a deterrent medication that induces an unpleasant reaction to drinking alcohol. However, it does not reduce cravings.
- Acamprosate (Campral)
- Research suggests that this medication helps establish a chemical balance in the brain, allowing the patient to function normally when abstaining from alcohol. It does not prevent withdrawal symptoms.
- Naltrexone (Revia, VIVITROL®)
- These medications are used to reduce the pleasure and cravings associated with drinking. As an opioid antagonist, the active ingredient prevents alcohol's euphoric effects by blocking opioid receptors.
During your consultation with the doctor, he can determine the best treatment plan for your needs to help you maintain long-lasting sobriety.
Recovery can be difficult and requires dedication and determination. However, you do not have to confront your addiction alone. Dr. Bober will collaborate with your therapist and those close to you to establish the support you need. Begin the healing process today by calling us at (954) 994-1115.
- Definition of alcohol use disorder - British Medical Journal
- 15.1 million Americans have struggled with alcoholism - National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism
- Mental health problems can trigger alcoholism - American Psychological Association
- Withdrawal symptoms - Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- Effectiveness of MAT - Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
- Antabuse first medication approved by FDA - American Psychiatric Association
- How acamprosate works - American Psychiatric Association
- How naltrexone works - American Psychiatric Association