Although not typically labeled as such, alcohol is a type of drug. It is an addictive, psychoactive substance that results in altered brain function when ingested. Alcohol falls into a category of drugs called depressants — not because they make you feel depressed, but because they “depress” or dampen your nervous system. When you drink alcohol, your brain’s functions generally decrease. This results in the typical signs of being drunk — slowed reaction times, memory loss, poor mood modulation, lack of inhibition, slurred speech and dulled senses.
But alcohol does stimulate two important chemicals in the brain: GABA and dopamine, which contribute to the calm, pleasurable and rewarding parts of being drunk. The increase in these chemicals is what makes alcohol so addictive. Over time, repeated use of alcohol (particularly binge drinking) causes your brain to crave the heightened levels of GABA and dopamine that alcohol artificially creates. What’s more, continued drinking can lead to developing a higher tolerance for alcohol, which means you’ll need to drink more before you can feel the same levels of pleasure from being drunk. As you drink more, your brain continues to become ever more reliant on alcohol to feel calm or happy — this is called a dependence, which quickly turns into addiction as cravings become stronger and periods between being drunk become harder to bear.
Signs of Alcohol Addiction
Since alcohol is considered a very normal part of modern culture, it can be difficult to discern whether someone has an abusive relationship with alcohol or not. Often, those who are struggling with an addiction to alcohol will drink under the guise of social engagements or will hide their heaviest drinking from friends and family. This is particularly true among adolescents, who can be under a lot of social pressure to drink to the point of intoxication. Young people tend to romanticize heavy drinking, equating it with enjoyment, success or popularity. Speaking up when you are uncomfortable about your own or someone else’s drinking habits can be very hard to do as a teen, so it’s important to ensure they have a safe, approachable place to voice their concern. At Stonewater, we want you to know that seeking help for an addiction to alcohol might very well save the life of yourself or your loved one.
Below are some key indicators that someone’s relationship with alcohol has become abusive, including:
- Regularly drinking to the point of intoxication
- Drinking until memory loss or “blacking out” occurs
- Drinking until passing out or vomiting
- Hiding drinking from friends, siblings or parents
- Appearing drunk in inappropriate settings like school or extracurricular activities
- Drinking alone
There are also some signs that might indicate an addiction is forming, including:
- Personality changes
- Changes in social circles
- Loss of interest in hobbies
- A decline in academic or extracurricular performance
- Irritability or anxiety when sober
- Always suggesting drinking as a social activity
- Difficulty sleeping
- Memory loss
Treating Alcohol Addiction at Stonewater
Alcohol addiction treatments like the programs offered at Stonewater are well-researched, time-tested ways of healing from alcohol abuse and preventing relapse. As a recovery center focused on adolescents, we know that the teens in our programs have their whole lives ahead of them, and it is our goal to make sure they can achieve them to their fullest. We offer treatment and guidance at every step of the recovery process, from detox to residential treatment to long-term recovery support.
At Stonewater, recovery from alcohol addiction may begin with a monitored detox period. This part of treatment is appropriate for those who have developed a strong dependency on alcohol and experience painful or uncomfortable symptoms without access to drinking. Our Withdrawal Management program is overseen by a licensed physician and addictionologist and a trained and highly experienced nursing staff. These medical professionals can ensure that our clients stay safe while their bodies begin to heal from addiction. Withdrawal symptoms are one of the main reasons that addictions develop and redevelop, so ensuring that this process is as thorough and comfortable as possible goes a long way toward starting recovery on the right foot.
After detox, the teens in our programs move into the main portion of their treatment — either residential treatment, during which they live and receive treatment at our facility, or intensive outpatient care, in which they can live at home while attending structured and scheduled treatment sessions. At Stonewater, these programs focus on using a variety of therapies to identify the events or triggers that have led each person to substance abuse and then to replace negative thoughts, habits, and behaviors with positive ones. Our therapies include individual and group talk therapy, family therapy, art therapy, equine therapy and adventure therapy and are designed to instill productive coping mechanisms and fun, healthy hobbies. Our residential programs are available in 30, 60 and 90-day periods, and our intensive outpatient program varies depending on the patient.
Our Treatment Goals
At our beautiful and serene recovery campus in Oxford, MS, we aim to give adolescents the skills they need to find their way back to a healthy and normal life full of opportunity. At Stonewater, your teen can find recovery from alcohol addiction while learning healthy habits and discovering that they do not need drugs, alcohol or other addictive substances to feel good about themselves. If you are worried about yourself, your friend, your child or any other teen in your life, we encourage you to contact our admissions team right away to find out if our programs are right for you. Call us today at 662-598-4214.