Alcoholismalcoholic asian woman on sofa

The Effects of Alcoholism and the Rehabilitation Process

There are many reasons why someone might decide to drink. It can allow them to escape from the realities of life, give them self confidence, enable them to socialise or forget about uncomfortable feelings they are experiencing. Those who abuse alcohol will develop a tolerance over time and will need to drink more to achieve the desired effect. Users will also feel withdrawal symptoms and will need to drink more alcohol to feel comfortable and at ease.

As an abuser of alcohol begins to lose control of the situation they will find themselves drinking more alcohol over a longer period of time than intended. An alcoholic will develop a tolerance over time meaning that more will have to be consumed to achieve the desired effect.


Recognising a functioning alcoholic can be difficult

It is common for alcoholics to go unrecognised by friends and family, even by health care professionals due to the ability to conceal the frequency and amount of consumption. There is also a tendency for abusers of alcohol to deny they have a problem or to blame the issues affecting them on other factors in their life.


Chronic abuse of alcohol can cause serious physiological and psychological effects

Alcohol can be highly toxic! Sustained use leaves the body susceptible to numerous diseases and health problems. At most risk is the brain and liver that can suffer extensive damage, but its chronic effects can also extend to reproductive functioning, disease and cancer. Another issue is of nutritional deficiencies that often occur in those who are dependent on alcohol that can cause impaired cognitive functioning, for example Wernicke’s disease.

It can take years for the long-term effects to become evident even following a sustained period of abstinence. The consequences of heavy drinking also vary from person to person making judgements of the susceptibility and severity of any damage difficult to assess. Because of such variations in the severity and symptoms of chronic alcohol abuse, it is difficult to precisely state what is considered a safe level of consumption. Due to the health implications of continued alcohol use, it is essential to seek help as soon as possible. I may not be too late to enter a treatment programme and make a full recovery.

Did you know that excessive alcohol use can…

  • Cause multiple organ failure
  • Significantly impair memory
  • Cause severe depression and anxiety
  • Cause diabetes, stroke, heart attack and cancer
  • Disrupt sleep patterns
asian man in detox centre

The long term effects of alcohol abuse include…

  • Pancreatitis
  • Gastritis
  • Cirrhosis
  • Neuropathy
  • Anaemia
  • Cerebella atrophy
  • Heart disease
  • Abnormal brain functioning
  • Confusion
  • Korsakoff’s dementia
  • Brain degeneration
  • Malnutrition
  • Hallucinations
  • Peptic ulcers
  • Gastrointestinal bleeding
  • Seizures

What Does an Alcohol Rehabilitation Programme Involve?

The methods used to treat alcoholism and related disorders will depend on recommendations made by a health care professional. A thorough assessment should be carried out in advance to establish the correct procedures for entering a treatment programme tailored to your specific needs. The following information is only a guide as to what might be expected as part of a wider addiction treatment plan.


Alcohol Detoxification

The timing and method of a detox will depend on the type of treatment programme and the ability of an alcohol rehab programme to provide such a service. Some of the more reputable rehab centres are able to provide this service ‘in-house’ where there are suitably qualified medical professionals.

Drugs are frequently used in the treatment of alcohol problems and during the detoxification stage those who are physically dependent on alcohol will use prescribed drugs in the medical management of withdrawal. The process of detoxification can be a dangerous one and should not be attempted without the necessary medical support.

Symptoms of alcohol withdrawal can include…

Sharp mood swings
Sweats or chills
Anxiety and panic
Aggression or irritability
Muscle spasms
Seizures or blackouts
Heart attack

HK doctor inspects his patient
Medicated Detox and Assessment

WARNING: Do not attempt to stop alcohol or detox without consulting a medical professional or addiction specialist. Failure to seek the correct advice could result in serious withdrawal symptoms that can result in death.

One-on-One and Group Counselling

Counselling is an essential part of any addiction treatment programme and allows an individual to explore the triggers of the addictive behaviour and provide education and skills necessary for the prevention of a relapse. The intensiveness and frequency of counselling will depend on the chosen treatment method but will include both one on one and group counselling sessions.

One-on-one sessions are more specific to the needs of the individual and offer private therapy with a professional addiction counsellor. The focus is on confronting the issues that have brought about the addiction and finding solutions that allow the addicted person to move forward with their life.

Group counselling sessions allow for the sharing of stories and experiences with others who find themselves in a similar situation and provides a tremendous amount of support from other members of the counselling group.



Completion of a rehab programme does not guarantee a life of abstinence. When a person in recovery faces the outside world they face a number of challenges that test their ability to fight the temptations of their alcohol addiction.

Stress, environmental and pressure from others mean that aftercare is an essential component to a long term recovery plan. A suitable treatment programme will provide such a service where contact with counsellors can be maintained and support can be offered when needed. Participation in local Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and continued work on the 12 steps treatment method will also be encouraged where necessary.

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