SCRIPT NUMBER 116 ALCOHOL ADDICTION - 2 (TWO SPEAKERS)

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1 SCRIPT NUMBER 116 ALCOHOL ADDICTION - 2 (TWO SPEAKERS) PROGRAM NAME: HEALTH NUGGETS PROGRAM TITLE: ALCOHOL ADDICTION - 2 PROGRAM NUMBER: 116 SUBJECT: ALCOHOL ADDICTION, RISK FACTORS, TREATMENT KEY WORDS: TOLERANCE, WITHDRAWAL, DENIAL DATE OF SCRIPT: JUNE 14, 2013 AUTHOR: RICHARD YUKL, MD, FACS Vlad is a 28-year-old man living in Moldova. He had his first alcoholic drink at age fifteen. He loved its taste, so he began sneaking an occasional drink from the bottles of alcohol his parents kept in their home. They didn t seem to notice. Once Vlad finished school, he found a job and moved into his own apartment. His frequency of drinking slowly increased until he was drinking every day. On occasion, he lost track of time because of the drinking and was absent at work. He eventually lost his job because he became an unreliable employee. He realized he had developed a drinking problem that needed correction. Unfortunately, his craving for alcohol was great, and he simply could not stop drinking. He had developed an alcohol addiction.

2 We want to talk about alcohol addiction today, because it has become THE leading cause of death around the world, killing more than two and one-half million people every year. It is a major contributor to traffic accidents, and a contributing factor for many of the diseases suffered by modern man. How does one know if they have an alcohol addiction? If one becomes addicted, their body becomes both physically and emotionally dependent on alcohol. They can no longer control how much or how often they drink. They drink even when it causes problems with their relationships, their health, their work and their finances. Why does one become alcohol addicted? The brain begins to crave alcohol because of the feelings of pleasure that it creates. The feelings of pleasure are so great, you lose interest in the activities and hobbies that used to bring you pleasure. You eventually lose your ability to limit your drinking, and obtaining alcohol becomes the centerpiece of your life. You drink alone or in secret. You hide alcohol in unusual places at home, at work and even in your car. Often, you need a drink as soon as you get up in the morning. If you try to stop drinking, you experience withdrawal symptoms such as shaking, vomiting and confusion.

3 What will alcohol addiction do to my body? God created a delicate mechanism within the cells of our bodies to convert the food we eat and drink into the energy the cells need to function properly. Alcohol literally poisons that cellular mechanism. In the brain, it causes individual nerve fibers to lose their connection with other nerve fibers, changing brain functions such as thought, speech and muscle coordination. These changes in nerve function can lead directly to accidents. And, over time, the poisonous effect of the alcohol, combined with the lack of vitamins many alcoholics suffer because of their poor eating habits, results in some of the nerve cells dying. The brain actually shrinks in size. What other problems does alcohol cause? The list of problems is long. It causes problems in all parts of your body. Your breathing can become so depressed that you develop a lifethreatening coma. Your liver is poisoned, and that can lead to its progressive, irreversible destruction. Alcohol can scar your pancreas so that it doesn t produce insulin, causing diabetes so severe it becomes life threatening. Other serious medical conditions include high blood pressure, heart failure and stroke. How is an alcohol addiction treated?

4 Unfortunately, many people who are addicted are in denial, refusing to accept that they even have a problem. Once they, like Vlad, can admit they have a problem and need help, treatment starts with a brief period of intense care. You must eliminate the poisonous effects of the alcohol from your body, and that usually requires 4-7 days as an inpatient in a treatment center. There, you are prevented from drinking any alcohol whatever, and the withdrawal symptoms are treated aggressively. A doctor may also need to treat problems such as high blood pressure, liver disease, diabetes and heart disease that your drinking has already caused. Next, you have to learn ways to change your lifestyle and behavior to avoid drinking. You may benefit from the advise of a counselor who can teach you how to change your lifestyle and behavior, as well as how to relax and manage stress. Also, there are medicines that can help you to not drink. These medicines produce a very unpleasant physical reaction in the presence of alcohol, and they will lower your urge to drink. Isn t it smarter to avoid developing an alcohol addiction rather than to treat it once it has occurred? Yes. Not drinking is a matter of lifestyle choices and habits. But, if you have had an alcohol addiction in the past, successfully recovered, and are now trying to avoid falling back into the drinking addiction, make it clear to your friends and family that you no longer drink alcohol. You may need to avoid

5 those friends and social situations you associate with drinking, because they can stand in the way of your intent to stay recovered. Replace your habits that have centered on alcohol with activities that do not involve drinking. Develop good habits such as getting adequate sleep, regular exercise and eating a balanced diet. A diet of fruits and vegetables will help give you the vitamins and minerals your brain needs to function normally. Getting back into a relationship with God may allow you to gain greater insight into your worth as a child of God, and that can help you stay recovered. Alcohol addiction is a disease that can be successfully prevented, treated and cured, even though it takes recognition that a problem may exist, and true dedication and commitment to make lasting changes. Health Nuggets is written by Dr. Richard Yukl, a medical doctor working in the United States. The medical views expressed in this program are his and may differ for your particular health needs. If you need medical advice, please consult a medical professional in your area.

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