Alcohol: Supplement the Quitting Process
Alcohol is very prevalent in America and other societies around the world. Many people who drink alcohol are responsible alcohol users and do not drink it in a way that would jeopardize themselves or raise the risk for alcohol dependency issues. In fact most people use it rationally in ways that actually can be beneficial and healthy for them.
Those that do have a risk for alcoholism or are dependent on alcohol, may find it difficult to simply stop drinking. Quitting can come with a number of unpleasant side effects, making the process of withdrawal difficult. If you, or someone you love, is thinking about quitting drinking, there are things that can be done in order to make the process easier.
First, let’s take a look at what the depth of alcoholism, as a way to understand the overall problem and why it is so difficult to simply just quit. Then, learn about some helpful supplements and life changes that you can take in order to make the quitting process a bit more bearable.
Alcoholism vs. Alcohol use
Alcoholism is characterised by an addiction to the consumption of alcoholic beverages or the mental illness and compulsive behavior resulting from a dependency of alcohol. This can create a sever pattern of problems surrounded by the problem in controlling the drinking of the person affected. Many tall tell tales of alcoholism are not limited to but include being consumed by alcohol, ongoing use of alcohol despite the issues and constant problems it causes, having to progressively drink more to get the same effect in the past, having withdrawal symptoms when severely decreasing the amount consumed or stopping altogether.
If you find that your day to day life is encumbered by drinking, then it is probable that you have an alcohol issue. That being said, some people don’t realize that they have a problem and it requires family or friends or a triggering event in their life to happen before they decide to make a change.
Alcohol issues can range from moderate to dangerous. Even moderate alcohol issues can snowball into a dangerous issue rapidly, so treatment is recommended and important for the safety of the abuser and the people surrounding them.
Alcoholism in America
There is no exact statistic for how many alcoholics reside in America but the U.S National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism estimates around 28% of American adults consume alcohol at rates that put them at risk for alcohol dependence and alcohol related health problems.
There are many things that increase the risk for alcohol dependence issues. Drinking at a young age or before the legal age of consumption increase the risk of alcohol dependency infact a study of over 40,000 adults revealed that of those that started drinking before the age of 14 almost half had become alcoholics by 21. Those that have a family history of alcoholism are also significantly more likely to start drinking at a young age and even if they don’t they still run a more severe risk of becoming alcoholics later in life compared to their peers with non alcoholic parents. Though alcoholism typically develops earlier rather than later in life the elderly are not exempt and many side effects of alcoholism can be overlooked by the typical aging process. This can dire side effects on an aging body especially compared with many medications prescribed to elderly folks.
The majority of alcoholics happen to be men but there is a rise in alcoholism seen in women for the previous 30 years. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate around 17% of men and less than half (8%) of women will meet the criteria for alcoholism at a given point in their lives. Correlating men have more rates of alcohol related deaths and hospitalizations compared to women. Men and women both have much to risk from alcoholism such as impaired judgement, risky behavior, and an overdose. Specifically though men run a higher risk of developing cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, liver and colon in response to alcoholism. In comparison women are typically more vulnerable to the effects and long term ramifications of alcoholism. A few instances include women being more vulnerable to brain cell damage created by alcohol, more likely to develop alcoholic hepatitis, as well as die from cirrhosis.
When it comes to class race and ethnicity in general there is not really a difference. Some populations however (Native Americans) have more of an occurrence of alcoholism at the same time some (Jewish and Asian Americans) have less. Though the biological or cultural reasons for the difference in occurrence have yet to be explained specific people in the population may have a genetic sensitivity or protection in regards to alcoholism because of the way their bodies metabolize the alcohol.
The Negative Effects Of Alcoholism
With the brain alcohol disrupts the communication pathways affecting the way it works
- It changes mood, behavior and even the way it looks
- Makes it harder to clearly think and accurately move
- May cause hallucinations or nerve damage
- Can lead to seizures
Alcohol has numerous effects on the heart whether it is extensive drinking over a period of time or at one time all can apply
- Cardiomyopathy or stretching and drooping of the heart muscle
- Arrhythmias or irregular heartbeat
- Stroke and neuropathy
- High blood pressure
Substantial drinking has these problematic effects on the liver and stomach
- Inflammations of the liver
- Fibrosis or thickening and scarring of the tissue
- Cirrhosis or very heavy scarring of the tissue
- Steatosis or fatty liver
- Alcoholic hepatitis
- Severe ulcers
The pancreas produces toxic substance that can end up leading to pancreatitis a fatal inflammation and swelling of the blood vessels that are in the pancreas that prevents thorough digestion. Acute pancreatitis is not in of itself usually fatal but it can quickly turn into chronic pancreatitis and eventually pancreatic cancer which are.
Speaking of cancer alcohol can increase the risk of having particular cancers listed below
The immune system takes a hit with alcohol abuse as well which means your body is more susceptible to diseases. You can find that after a night of heavy drinking with your friends may result in catching a cold or the flu. Incessant drinkers tend to contract diseases like pneumonia and tuberculosis at a higher rate compared to people who do not drink excessively. Excessive drinking even on one occasion lessens your body's capability to block infections even up to 24 hours after getting wasted.
There are also a handful of psychological side effects of alcohol abuse alcoholism puts you at risk for
- Suicidal ideation
- Dementia and other neural degeneration
The Importance of Quitting
Though responsible occasional drinking can have a few health benefits if you are a person struggling with alcoholism or alcohol dependency issues the positive effects of alcohol are not really relevant. Many or possibly all of the above side effects of alcohol abuse may be taking a tool on your body.
If the physical effects on the body aren’t enough to push you to quit (with severe alcoholics many times it’s not) then the social consequences may be enough. For countless alcoholics the social consequences are the reason they seek help with a push and support from their family and friends many times. The social consequences vary from simply getting incarcerated, to getting fired, losing family or friends, making irresponsible choices, losing time and recollection of events, and even the more extreme involuntary manslaughter or suicide.
The immediate physical effects of abstaining from alcohol can be painful yet so very rewarding. The first 72 hours are the most pivotal for alcohol abusers, these 72 hours are the most painful part of getting better as the body flushes all the alcohol from the system one may have unpleasant pangs of acute withdrawal. While these 72 hours are the most pivotal for alcoholics it actually takes up to two weeks in some cases to fully detox from the substance.
The following effects were observed by the Institute for Liver and Digestive health at University College London Medical School after one month of quitting drinking
- Liver fat decreased an average of 15%, and even some participants lost up to 20%
- Blood glucose levels dropped an average of 16%
- Total blood cholesterol decreased by almost 5%
- Quality of sleep improved was reported by 10% after the study
- The people in the study benefitted by an 18% increased ability to concentrate
Along with these relatively immediate physical benefits there are of course some social ones that follow. Judges have been known to cooperate with those in a program who are abstaining from drinking for alcohol related offences. Family and friends report reestablishing relationships with people who were once alcohol abusers and coming back into their lives.
Even alcoholics themselves have said getting into a program has made them gain a community of people and friends that they otherwise would have never been apart of. Among these great reasons to quit drinking I am sure if you're suffering from alcohol abuse you can think of a few that would benefit you personally.
Quitting Drinking With Supplements
Quitting drinking can be a taxing and hard thing on you and your body. Withdrawal from alcohol can be harsh and sometimes even deadly. The side effects of alcohol do not affect just your brain but your whole body making you not only mentally by physically dependent on the drug. This paired with the negative side effects of withdrawal can make the quitting process that much harder.
The good news though is that you may be able to combat or sooth these negative side effects of withdrawal with supplements. With severe alcoholics detoxing alone is not recommended and since withdrawal can in some cases lead to death a physician's supervision is recommended. From moderate to severe alcohol abuse each person can benefit from using these supplements.
There are studies done that suggest that cravings for alcohol are from a deficit in B vitamins and that supplementing the B vitamins may decrease the desire to want to drink. Alcohol abuse will deplete B vitamins and thiamin specifically it is suggested that someone suffering from alcohol abuse or dependency issues take a B-100 or B-complex vitamin supplement as well as one for more thiamin.
Studies done on animals and humans suggest that the L-glutamine amino acid can lessen cravings as well as anxiety that many times comes with withdrawal. Most of the people going through withdrawal have reported extremely high levels of anxiety about quitting drinking. This supplement has been proven to have helped many of them curb the anxiety and get through the difficult time with much less hardship.
Also known as silybum marianum for the technical ones this extract from the seeds of the blooming plant has been known to stimulate the regeneration of the liver cells. The liver of course has a toll taken on it in the case of alcohol abuse so the regeneration of its cells is an amazing possibility. This supplement is found in most health food stores as “milk thistle”, “silybum,” or “silymarin”. Most labels will direct you to take pills of the extract two or three times a day and you can stay on this supplement indefinitely to improve liver function.
Vitamin C supplements appears to aid in the body's detoxification of the alcohol in throughout the body. Many doctors advise taking 1 to 3 grams of vitamin C a day decrease the time spent in the severe stages of detoxing. Vitamin C also helps the immune system which more often than not is weakened and compromised from extensive drinking.
Increase Your Chances of Success
Kicking the bottle is a tough decision, one that most people don’t make lightly. For a regular drinker, it can be a difficult process for your body. Chemically, you have created neural pathways that are literally dependent on the components of alcohol. You need to adjust your behaviors and ease the symptoms in most cases to have long term success.
There are a number of things that you can do, aside from taking supplements for quitting drinking. Changing behaviors and habits, getting enough sleep and incorporating routines that do not include alcohol will all be positive in helping you quit.
Consider supplements that help with sleep and regulating mood such as Melatonin or St. John’s Wort as well. A complete supplement support system can give you the boost that you need to be successful.