Substance Use

Ethanol (ETOH) Use Disorder Treatment

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homeless man dark with bottle of ethanol liquor

Ethanol (ETOH) Abuse and Addiction Treatment Options

Alcohol is a drug that people have used for centuries. Alcohol addiction can happen in all walks of life, from the homeless to famous people. People addicted to alcohol suffer the results of addiction and withdrawal. We will explore ethanol addiction, signs of sickness, and treatment options available to those suffering from this harmful addiction.

What Is Ethanol and How Does It Affect the Body?

ETOH, or ethanol alcohol, is the scientific name for a drug that has been used since antiquity and can be found in several drinks. Alcohols are made when yeast reacts with sugars to produce carbon dioxide and ethanol or CH₁₀O. ETOH addiction happens when someone uses too much of this substance over an extended period, leading to a state of dependence that requires treatment. 

The absorption process begins as soon as the first sip. But, because alcohol is high in calories, it takes longer than other drugs to enter the bloodstream. This means that if you drink on an empty stomach rather than after eating food, more will go straight through your system without being metabolized.

Once in the bloodstream, ETOH is carried throughout your body. Blood brings it to every living cell, including those in the brain, which are affected almost immediately. Brain chemicals that control emotions and behavior are released at high levels when you drink alcohol because they act on the same nerve cells as GABA receptors. This means that drinking can affect how a person feels emotionally by affecting central nervous system function, making this drug dangerous if used irresponsibly.

Ethanol acts like other drugs inside the body; however, ethanol addiction and its withdrawal symptoms clearly differ from addictions to other substances such as cocaine or heroin. The most common difference is its addictive potential; over time, people develop tolerance, causing them to consume more and more of the drink to achieve a “high.”

Why Do People Drink Too Much Alcohol?

There are many reasons people become addicted to ETOH, but most of them can be traced back to an underlying mental health disorder or issue. People who suffer from depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and other co-occurring conditions may use alcohol as a form of self-medication, which causes their bodies to become dependent on the drug over time. These individuals will likely need specialized treatment to overcome addiction.

Some people drink too much simply out of boredom or social pressure; however, these behaviors usually lead down the same path toward addiction if left unchecked. It is essential to realize when starting to rely on ethanol for happiness rather than finding ways to solve problems without using drugs.

Signs of Ethanol Addiction

There are many signs of ethanol addiction and symptoms that you can look out for to determine if someone close to you is suffering from addiction. The most common side effects include:

Loss of Coordination or Balance 

The brain has difficulty sending messages throughout the body when it’s impaired, which means that drinking alcohol debilitates motor control and slows reaction times. This may be especially noticeable when trying to walk across a room after drinking, but it also contributes to other issues such as drunk driving accidents or falls on stairs.

Flushed Skin or Redness in the Face

The body attempts to purge ethanol through sweat and urine, but this process causes blood vessels in the skin to open up, leading to a reddening of the face.

Nausea or Vomiting

The human body is not designed to process large amounts of alcohol all at once, which means it will attempt to reject as much as possible. This can lead to intense nausea or vomiting, depending on the severity of ETOH addiction.

Decreased Inhibitions 

Many people drink because they want to feel more comfortable socially rather than being inhibited by their self-consciousness. This means that individuals addicted to ETOH will say things without considering the repercussions and act in ways they usually wouldn’t when sober.

Drowsiness

One of the most common side effects of alcohol is drowsiness because ethanol interferes with chemical reactions in the brain that are needed for staying awake and active throughout the day. This can lead to various health conditions over time if an alcoholic doesn’t get enough sleep.

Effects of Ethanol on Your Body

Ethanol has many effects on the body, depending upon how much you drink and for how long. Some of these side effects can be dangerous if left untreated.

Common effects include:

Irritation of the Stomach Lining

The ethanol in alcoholic beverages is very harsh on your digestive system. It causes inflammation and swelling to sensitive tissue, making it difficult for food to be properly digested. This can lead to abdominal pain, cramping, or even ulcers if left untreated over time, which could require hospitalization due to complications such as malnutrition.

Obesity

Many people who drink alcohol excessively tend to become obese over time due to ethanol’s ability to increase appetite while slowing down the metabolism. This means that you’ll eat more food than usual without burning calories, which can lead to weight gain if unadressed over a long period.

Dehydration

Alcohol naturally limits how much water someone drinks when they are out socializing. This means that individuals addicted to ETOH will become more quickly dehydrated, leading to illnesses like gout or kidney stones.

Decrease in Testosterone Levels

One common side effect associated with ETOH addiction is a decrease in testosterone production. This happens because ethanol decreasing activity in your pituitary gland and hypothalamus, making it harder for your body to produce enough hormones on its own naturally while under the influence.

Liver Damage

The liver is the organ that deals with ethanol in alcoholic beverages, breaking it down into a usable form that can be flushed out of your body. This process creates a byproduct known as acetaldehyde which is extremely toxic and causes damage to cells when present for long periods, especially if someone drinks too much ETOH. Long-term use will lead to scarring or even cirrhosis, making it harder for blood or nutrients to pass through the liver, potentially causing an early death depending on how serious the issue becomes.

Effects of Ethanol on Your Brain

Ethanol has several effects on the brain, depending on how much someone drinks and for how long.

Some symptoms include:

Slurred Speech

Alcohol is known to slow down physical responses such as eye movement, muscle coordination, and the brain’s processing speed due to ethanol’s interference with chemical reactions that control these functions. This can cause slurred speech, among other issues.

Addiction

The euphoric feelings that ethanol creates when someone first starts using it make them want to continue drinking more and more as time goes on. This, coupled with the fact that people become physically dependent on alcohol over time, is why many individuals who become addicted to ETOH end up needing rehab or detox to stop completely.

Memory Loss

One of the most dangerous side effects caused by ethanol addiction is memory loss. It makes users forgetful and more likely to make excuses for poor behavior without taking responsibility. Furthermore, these amnesia-like symptoms can lead to blackouts where users forget entire chunks of time while drinking.

Mental Health Issues

Many people who become addicted to ETOH report having problems with their mental health because ethanol is a central nervous system depressant. This means that its effects make individuals feel less happy and less energetic by depressing neurons responsible for regulating moods.

Depression

Many people drink alcohol in social situations where it is served with friends or new acquaintances for a reason — ethanol releases endorphins into the brain, creating a feeling of euphoria and happiness. Unfortunately, these feelings fade away, leaving an individual feeling worse off mentally despite having fun physically. This can lead to depression when the individual realizes that their emotional state is in worse condition than before they started drinking, which might cause them to drink even more or seek other drugs to cope with underlying issues.

Ethanol Withdrawal Symptoms

Ethanol’s withdrawal symptoms can affect individuals who have been using ETOH for a long time and suddenly stop because withdrawal symptoms usually occur when the drug is present in deficient levels or no longer being consumed.

Symptoms include:

Headaches

When someone physically dependent on ethanol suddenly stops drinking, they might end up experiencing headaches because their bodies are no longer used to not having the substance. This means that when it leaves their system, and their blood sugar levels drop because they have no alcohol in their body, neurons can become starved for energy and trigger pain receptors in critical areas like the head. The severity of these withdrawal symptoms largely depends on how much ETOH was used over time and what other drugs were taken alongside it, so detox professionals should be notified if this happens.

Sweating

Another common symptom experienced during ethanol withdrawal is profuse sweating, especially at night or while sleeping. This is because ethanol inhibits the activity of neurons in critical parts of your brain responsible for regulating body temperature, making it harder to stay warm when drinking, even if it is hot outside.

Heart Palpitations

The “jitters” are another symptom that some people experience during withdrawal from ETOH after a long period without use. Some people feel their heart pounding out of their chest or into their throat due to irregular beats.

Nausea/Vomiting

Nausea or vomiting can also occur because the toxins in the substance have altered the body.

Insomnia

Insomnia is another symptom that users might suffer from after stopping ETOH use. If you’re struggling with insomnia alongside headaches and sweats, then consider reaching out to a medical professional because it could be tied to more serious issues like depression.

Seizures

While seizures are not expected during ethanol withdrawal, they can happen, and if you or someone you know experiences this, seek emergency help immediately. This is why individuals should reach out for assistance before stopping their use of alcohol to prioritize their safety. Healthcare professionals might need to give them medications or perform surgery in extreme cases where these side effects could endanger their lives.

Tips for Quitting or Cutting Back on Drinking

  • Go out for dinner or coffee with friends, but don’t order any alcohol.
  • Tell your friends and family about your decision to cut back on drinking so they can support you.
  • Track the days you go without drinking by using an app.
  • Write down your reasons for quitting or cutting back on drinking.
  • Create a list of all the benefits you’ll get from quitting or cutting back, including how it will affect your finances, relationships with other people, and health.
  • Make a list of strategies to help you quit or cut back — include things like making an alcohol-free drink that tastes just as good as your favorite alcoholic beverage. 
  • Get rid of things in your house that might tempt you to drink more than usual.
  • Find someone who has successfully quit drinking and ask them for advice about what worked best for them when trying to stop.
  • Set daily reminders not to forget why you want to change this habit.

Treatment Options for Alcoholism 

With alcoholism being common, there are many treatment options. Here is a list of some common treatments for overcoming alcohol addiction:

Behavioral Therapy

One of the most common ways to help someone withdraw from ETOH use is through “behavioral therapy.” The theory behind this is that learning methods for coping with stress and depression without drinking will keep someone from wanting to do so.

Medication Assistance

In cases where withdrawal symptoms are severe enough that an individual cannot safely stop using ethanol on their own (like seizures or lack of sleep), medical professionals might prescribe medications aimed at helping individuals cope with these abnormal brain states. This can be a helpful process in some cases, but it is not without risks and side effects, so it should only be used when necessary.

Electroconvulsive Therapy

One of the most drastic measures that someone who suffers from severe withdrawal symptoms might consider trying before quitting ethanol completely is called “electroconvulsive therapy,” or ECT for short. In this method, seizures are induced by passing an electrical current through electrodes on the scalp, triggering abnormal activity in brain cells. This therapy can help with depression and anxiety, but it can have many side effects and risks, so it should be used with caution.

Residential Treatment Centers/Inpatient Rehab

An extensive form of care for individuals with problematic alcohol withdrawal symptoms is called “inpatient rehab,” or residential treatment. Substance use centers allow people to stay for weeks or even months to receive extensive care to quit ethanol use. This method is expensive but is more effective than outpatient treatment in some cases, so it might be worth considering if someone struggles with severe symptoms.

Support Groups

While they’re not always necessary, support groups are another option individuals might consider trying when stopping alcohol use. These organizations exist worldwide and allow former ETOH users to connect with others who’ve had similar experiences along their road toward recovery. This type of group therapy can help reduce stress levels by providing a sense of belonging and allowing members time to learn new coping skills without feeling judged.

Outpatient Therapy

For people who don’t have severe withdrawal symptoms but want to quit drinking ethanol in general, outpatient therapy is a great option to help them develop personalized coping mechanisms and healthy alternatives for when they face stress or depression. This method is effective on its own, so it might not need any additional therapies unless someone struggles with underlying mental illnesses that make quitting ETOH difficult.

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy

One of the most common forms of psychotherapy used by therapists today involves “cognitive behavioral therapy,” or CBT for short. In this form of treatment, patients work together with their therapist to identify negative thought patterns and behaviors while also learning how these thoughts affect their moods and emotions. For someone who struggles with chronic depression or another mental illness, this can be an effective way to reduce depressive episodes while learning healthier coping mechanisms.

Family Counseling/Therapy

For families dealing with addiction, family counseling often works best to help them come together as a unit and take care of each other. This method is beneficial for parents and children since their relationship will likely be most impactful.

Twelve-Step Programs

One of the most popular methods that recovering alcoholics use to maintain sobriety involves 12-step programs, such as AA or NA, that follow a specific set of guidelines. Guidelines include admitting powerlessness over one’s drinking habits, believing in a higher power, making amends with people they’ve hurt while under the influence, and more. While these programs aren’t practical for everyone involved, some studies show they might work better than individual therapies to quit ethanol.

Zinnia Healing Can Help

Ethanol addiction can cause problems in a person’s life that they’d never expect, so it’s essential to seek help immediately. Call Zinnia Healing at (855) 430-9439 for more information.