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Alcohol is a toxic substance that exposes the user to physical and mental illnesses. It also increases the risk of accidents, injuries, social rejection and legal problems. Alcohol addiction is commonly referred to as alcoholism. However, scientists have recently decided to refer to it as Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD), as they consider it a more suitable technical term for the condition.
AUD is an obsessive, compulsive need to consume large volumes of alcohol. AUD patients develop a tolerance for alcohol that compels them to steadily increase the volume during each session to achieve the same outcome. Efforts to decrease consumption, causes extremely unpleasant withdrawal reactions. The patient is then caught in a progressively worsening situation that they can not control or stop.
In medical circles, AUD is considered to be the stage where over-consumption of alcohol causes a state of physical illness that requires medical intervention, and other factors related to AUD are largely ignored. In psychological circles, the condition is defined in much broader terms that include physical, mental and social factors.
For a variety of reasons, some people succumb to AUD more easily than others. For example; acute emotional disorders, such as anxiety, depression and PTSD, can motivate some people to more readily start over-using alcohol to soothe their feelings. Children of parents who have AUD, also often follow the example of their parents. Some people may even be genetically predisposed to AUD.
Although some people contract AUD faster than others, nobody is immune to it. By its nature, consistent over-consumption of alcohol produces dependency in everybody, the only difference being the time it takes to reach the point of addiction.
Even when AUD patients manage to return to a sober life, they remain vulnerable to relapses for the rest of their lives. Unless the underlying reasons that originally drove them to alcohol are rectified or healed, the patient relapses and resumes drinking more easily.
AUD is not due to character weakness, but there is a general social bias that taints persons with AUD as weak, immoral and stubborn. The disorder is mistakenly blamed on the person, rather than the underlying emotional cause or the properties and effects of alcohol.
The causes of AUD are combinations of a person’s mental, physical, social and other conditions. Traumatic events, the person’s environment, employment conditions, poverty, lack of skills to cope with life, poor social interaction, and a host of other problems, can stimulate a person to use alcohol as an escape mechanism.
Some people, who had fallen prey to AUD, try to stop using alcohol by themselves, without medical or psychological help. This is rarely successful, as willpower alone can not heal the disorder that originally drove them to alcohol. Withdrawing and detoxifying without medical assistance is also very dangerous.
Because people differ, it requires a complex, personalised therapeutic program to successfully treat the disorder.
People with AUD are very manipulative. They rarely agree to go for treatment, as they are terrified of the withdrawal symptoms. Also, they feel extremely uncertain about their ability to cope with life without alcohol as a crutch. Medically assisted detoxification and psychotherapy can eliminate these conditions, but alcohol addiction sufferers are actually psychologically unable to believe this.
Intervention techniques have been developed to convince resistant alcoholics to accept treatment. Therapists at rehabilitation centres are usually willing to assist people to set up an intervention. They can also provide free advice about other aspects of addiction, something that people who want to help AUD victims should make use of.