Alcohol Rehab and the Consequences of Alcoholism

Alcohol Rehab and the Consequences of Alcoholism

By Lakeview Health
Lakeview Health
Published: June 12, 2012
Alcohol is the most widely abused drug in our society today. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) did a survey in 2010 which indicated that 50.9% of adults over the age of 18 were regular drinkers. The possibility that 50% of the population may struggle with alcohol addiction is concerning. Alcohol rehab programs have been created to safely detox addicts and offer addiction treatment, which can have a positive influence on recovery.

What is Alcoholism?

Alcoholism is defined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV-TR) as alcohol dependence. Alcohol dependence is characterized as tolerance, withdrawal, the inability to cut down on drinking, excessive time lost to alcohol, impaired social and work activities due to alcohol and continued use of alcohol despite physical or psychological consequences. A person must display at least 3 of the above criteria over a period of one year to qualify as an alcoholic. Oftentimes, a person’s family and friends are the first to notice that alcohol may be a problem for him or her. They may question their loved one’s relationship with alcohol and excessive consumption. This concern will run parallel with other symptoms and signs not listed in the DSM-IV-TR.

Other Signs that a Person May Be Struggling with Alcoholism:

  • Irritability
  • Argumentativeness
  • Mood swings
  • Fatigue
  • Inappropriate displays of anger
  • Black and white thinking patterns
  • Paranoia
  • Depression

These psychological symptoms can also be accompanied by physical damage requiring medical attention.

Consequences of Alcoholism 

The National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) reported that of the 19.3 million people who needed alcohol treatment in 2007, only 1.6 million received treatment at an alcohol rehab facility that year. With the number of alcohol addicts continuing to grow, the rate of medical complications arising from alcoholism is increasing as well.

Physical Damage from Chronic Alcohol Use:


  • Memory lapses
  • Blackouts
  • Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome


  • Cirrhosis
  • Liver Disease

Stomach and Digestive Tissue

  • Chronic infection
  • Inflammation
  • Malnutrition
  • Cardiovascular System
    • High Blood Pressure
  • Increased Risk of Cancer

Alcohol addiction is extremely dangerous and it is not suggested that alcohol dependent individuals stop alcohol use abruptly. Stopping alcohol use requires medical detox supervised by a team of doctors and nurses that can respond to withdrawal symptoms quickly.

What to Expect in Alcohol Rehab

Some alcohol withdrawal symptoms are milder than others. This depends on quantity, frequency and duration of alcohol use. Certain severe withdrawal symptoms can lead to death if severe enough damage is already present.

According to PubMed Health, withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Insomnia
  • Nervousness
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Headache
  • Vomiting
  • Rapid Heart Rate
  • Sweating
  • Tremors
  • Clouded Thinking

At an inpatient alcohol detox facility, a medical team of doctors and nurses can supervise the alcoholic, monitor withdrawal symptoms and intervene immediately to prevent serious complications. The alcoholic may receive detox medication in order to make the detox process as comfortable as possible. After detox, is it suggested that the alcoholic attend inpatient alcohol rehab to help stabilize any physical complications created by chronic alcohol use. Alcohol negatively impacts brain chemistry and some alcoholics have depressive symptoms which need to be stabilized to decrease risk of relapse. In an inpatient alcohol rehab, recovering alcoholics meet with a therapist to learn about relapse prevention, mood management and how to maintain their health.