ALCOHOLISM IN U.S SOCIETY
Regular heavy use of...
ALCOHOLISM IN U.S SOCIETY
Regular heavy use of alcohol results in
the hospitalization of millions of Americans annually. Such individuals often
experience alcohol withdrawal symptoms. The Central Nervous system of drunkards
usually adjusts to the constant presence of liquor in the body hence
chronically depressed. The brain remains in a hyperactive state when there’s a
significant reduction or abrupt stop in drinking which leads to withdrawal
symptom. Alcohol withdrawal syndrome varies among victims and may even cause
death. The symptoms manifest through seizures, headaches, insomnia, agitation, hallucinations,
anxiety, and delirium tremens
The “disease concept” of alcohol
dependency has been greatly debated. Many researchers argue that alcoholism
should not be classified as a disease. They have boldly indicated that alcohol
dependence may involve physical dependence and lead to physical diseases but it
should not be necessarily considered as a disease itself. However, few other
experts believe that problem drinking is an illness. The disease model of
alcoholism suggests that a disease that alters the brain structure and
functioning of the brain could lead to problem drinking. In fact, this made the
American Medical Association recognize alcoholism as an illness in 1956.
Compulsive drug use and addiction mean
the same thing but physical dependence is different. Addiction means the
inability to seize from using a drug which results in failure to meet
obligations. In physical dependence, one’s body adapts to a drug and becomes
tolerant thus demanding more from the drug. If one stops using it, they
experience withdrawal symptoms.
Pharmacologic treatment is one of the
approved remedies for alcohol withdrawal syndrome. The treatment involves using
medication that is cross-tolerant with alcohol. Pharmacologic treatment has
been proved to be effective. The benefits of pharmacologic treatment include;
remedy for sleep disorders including insomnia, remedy for delirium and seizures,
treats muscle spasms, and contains anti-anxiety properties. The downside of
this treatment is that some also have addictive qualities and withdrawal
symptoms. A combination of these drugs with alcohol or other drugs could be
. Alcoholism is a critical issue in the
United States since it affects millions of families. Statistics indicate that
one in every three Americans has consumed an amount of alcohol that would be
deemed at risk of alcohol dependence. Moreover, dependence and abuse of alcohol
are related to hundreds of deaths annually due to alcohol-related injuries and
diseases. The yearly economic cost of alcohol dependence and abuse also runs
into hundreds of billions of dollars (AAFP). Alcoholics cannot abstain from
consuming alcohol, and most do not meet either family, social or work
obligations. From one year to another, general hospitals have reported a huge
number of patient admissions due to medical conditions related to alcohol use
or alcohol withdrawal syndrome. The untimely death of many alcoholics and the
hospitalization of many others has prompted intensive research to discover
remedies for alcoholism.
Researchers have conducted studies that
have unraveled much about the biological factors that are part and parcel of
drug abuse and dependence. The brain is an essential specimen of study when it
comes to addictive disorders like alcoholism. Therefore, experts have been able
to narrow down to studying the brain chemistry and neurotransmitter systems
that condone dependence. Such extensive information has made it easier for
scientists to develop drug therapies useful in treating addictive disorders.
Factors leading to alcohol dependence
include psychosocial, environmental, and genetic. Professionals have tapped on
psychotherapeutic and psychosocial means to develop relapse prevention.
Pharmacotherapy, alongside behavioral therapy, has also proved to be effective
in preventing relapse and boosting abstinence. Pharmacotherapy medications
approved by the FDA to be used for treatment of alcoholism disorder include
(Jung & Namkoong 2006);
Disulfiram (aversive agent)
Acamprosate (anti-craving agent)
Naltrexone (anti-craving agent)
Other drugs that have been researched and
used but have not been approved by the FDA include; fluoxetine, topiramate, and
ondansetron. Topiramate is used as an anticonvulsant while the rest are used as
serotonergic agents. Both types of agents play a significant role when it comes
to treating alcohol dependence. Recent studies have indicated that all three
can significantly decrease drinking and intensify abstinence rates (Williams, 2005).
Two of my best pharmacotherapy
medications would be Naltrexone and Acamprosate. Both are anti-craving agents.
Acamprosate helps heighten abstinence while decreasing relapse rates.
Naltrexone equally diminishes relapse rates and elevates abstinence rates. The
use of Naltrexone comes along with several benefits including;
Boosts the natural defenses of the body and its immune system
Fights inflammation in human body
Helps alleviate pain
Ability to decrease seizure risk
Helps fight cancer
Improves quality of life and mood
Decreases the effects of Alzheimer’s
Reduces symptoms of Parkinson disease
Reduction of rhinorrhea and lacrimation
However, use of Naltrexone could lead to
side effects such as nausea, increased spasticity, problem sleeping, upset
stomach, and bloating. Other disadvantages include; not safe for individuals
with liver disease or have had an organ transplant and are taking
immunosuppressive medication. Also, because it blocks opioid receptors in the
body, it’s not advisable for people taking medicines that are opioid activators.
Acamprosate is an effective drug that has
been proved by researchers to significantly reduce relapse to drinking
(Blackwell, 2010). However, it cannot be used by individuals with kidney
problems or those allergic to the drug. Side effects of Acamprosate include;
chest pain, suicidal tendencies, headache, diarrhea, fever, back pain, hernia,
vomiting, varicose veins, nausea, depression, hypotension, hemorrhage among
Although the side effects of using
pharmacotherapy may appear to be distressing, that might not always be the
case. The drugs have been studied for long and have been approved for a reason.
They are effective and safe for consumption; therefore, the side effects would
be mild if any, and won’t last long. I would recommend anyone dependent on
alcohol to seek help by considering pharmacotherapy as a treatment.
Jung, Y.-C., &
Namkoong, K. (2006). Pharmacotherapy for Alcohol Dependence: Anticraving
Medications for Relapse Prevention. Yonsei Medical Journal, 47(2),
(2010, September 17). Acamprosate prevents relapse to drinking in alcoholism,
review finds. ScienceDaily.
Retrieved February 15, 2018 from
Williams, S. (2005).
Medications for Treating Alcohol Dependence. Aafp.org. Retrieved
17 February 2018, from https://www.aafp.org/afp/2005/1101/