By Jacqueline Havelka

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Copyright © 2023 by Mason Crest, an imprint of National Highlights, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, taping, or any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher. Printed in the United States of America First printing 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 Series ISBN: 978-1-4222-4719-8 Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-4222-4721-1 ebook ISBN: 978-1-4222-7092-9 Cataloging-in-Publication Data on file with the Library of Congress Developed and Produced by National Highlights, Inc. Editor: Andrew Morkes Cover and Interior Design: Tara Raymo • CreativelyTara Layout: Priceless Digital Media, LLC Publisher’s Note: Websites listed in this book were active at the time of publication. The publisher is not responsible for websites that have changed their address or discontinued operation since the date of publication. The publisher reviews and updates the websites each time the book is reprinted.

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Introduction ................................................................................. 6 Chapter 1: What Is Alcohol Addiction? ...................................... 9 Chapter 2: The Negative Physical and Mental Effects of Alcohol Addiction ..................... 25 Chapter 3: Treating Alcohol Addiction .................................... 41 Chapter 4: The Impact on Loved Ones ................................... 61 Glossary of Key Terms . ............................................................. 72 Further Reading and Internet Resources ............................... 75 Index . .......................................................................................... 76 Credits . ....................................................................................... 79 Author’s Biography ................................................................... 80 KEY ICONS TO LOOK FOR: Words to Understand: These words with their easy-to-understand definitions will increase the reader’s understanding of the text while building vocabulary skills. Sidebars: This boxed material within the main text allows readers to build knowledge, gain insights, explore possibilities, and broaden their perspectives by weaving together additional information to provide realistic and holistic perspectives. Educational Videos: Readers can view videos by scanning our QR codes, providing them with additional educational content to supplement the text. Examples include news coverage, moments in history, speeches, iconic sports moments, and much more! Text-Dependent Questions: These questions send the reader back to the text for more careful attention to the evidence presented there. Series Glossary of Key Terms: This back-of-the-book glossary contains terminology used throughout this series. Words found here increase the reader’s ability to read and comprehend higher-level books and articles in this field.


We live in stressful times. The COVID-19 pandemic, political unrest, and other ongoing challenges (such as poverty, racism, serious damage to the environment, job loss, financial distress, and the illnesses and deaths of loved ones) have raised stress levels to record levels. “These compounding stressors are having real consequences on our minds and bodies,” according to the American Psychological Association, which says that these and other problems are causing a “national mental health crisis” in the United States. The situation is the same or even worse in other countries around the world. As a result, many people are abusing drugs and alcohol more frequently and/or engaging in other addictive behaviors to reduce stress and blunt the pain of the loss of loved ones, relationships, homes, or jobs, or other serious life events. One example is the rising number of drug overdoses, which have been fueled by the growing use and spread of the deadly opioid fentanyl. Nearly 100,000 Americans died from overdoses from June 2020 to June 2021—an 18.2 percent increase from June 2019 to June 2020, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Other addictions—such as problem gambling or spending too much time on social media or playing video games—are not typically physically dangerous, but they can damage our mental health, cause us to lose focus on important things in life (e.g., our families, relationships, faith, or careers), and otherwise downgrade the quality of our lives.


For those who are addicted to drugs or alcohol or who have unhealthy relationships with food, gambling, or even shopping or social media, it can seem daunting to overcome these challenges, especially given the ongoing stressors in their lives. But there is hope for anyone who feels that they are controlled by an addiction or who seeks to otherwise re-balance their lives. They will have a bright future if they seek help with their addictions from friends and families, and, most significantly, from counselors, physicians, and clinicians (such as psychologists and psychiatrists). Each book in the Detoxing from series spotlights a major addiction; discusses the negative physical and mental effects of the addiction on the addict, as well as its effects on family and other loved ones; and provides an overview of treatment strategies for the addiction. Stories of those who are battling addictions are also featured to humanize these issues and

help readers better understand that anyone—from young and old, to the wealthy, middle class, or the poor, to those who have a PhD or who are still in high school—can develop toxic relationships with drugs, alcohol, gambling, and/or other behaviors. The path to detoxing

from drugs, alcohol, problem gambling, and other challenges will not be easy—and there may be bumps in the road. But there will be happiness, healing, and the opportunity for personal growth and success for those who continue walking on the road of recovery.

Alcohol abuse can destroy relationships, careers, and one’s health.



asphyxiating: describing a lack of oxygen in the body that leads to unconsciousness and even death cardiorespiratory: relating to both the heart and the respiratory system chronic disease: diseases like diabetes that limit activities, last for more than a year, and require continued medical care fraternal twins: a genetic outcome in which each child of the same pregnancy is produced from two different eggs; they may be of the same or different sexes genetics: properties that determine the features and characteristics of an organism hygiene: practices that maintain health, such as brushing your teeth or bathing


1 Chapter

What is Alcohol Addiction? Alcohol addiction is one type of substance abuse disorder. It is also a chronic disease . People with this disorder have an uncontrolled dependence on alcohol. The disease usually lasts a lifetime and can be dangerous and even life threatening if it remains untreated. Alcohol addiction affects the body and the brain. Drinking too much can cause coordination problems, blurry vision, and loss of consciousness, all of which can lead to accidents if someone is driving or even walking under the influence of alcohol. A person can suffer cardiorespiratory arrest, or die by vomiting and then asphyxiating . Too much alcohol consumption can lead to alcohol poisoning and even death. Cells cannot stop alcohol frommoving into the bloodstream, and the alcohol spreads to the body tissues. In particular, the function of the liver can be greatly affected. When alcohol is in the bloodstream, the liver prioritizes its metabolism over everything else in order to work hard to rid the body of alcohol, which is a toxin. Over time, alcohol abuse can place a huge burden on the liver and cause significant liver damage, which can lead to several liver diseases. Alcohol can affect the brain in many ways. Common side effects are slurred speech and difficulty walking. Heavy drinking over a long period of time can lead to brain deficits that remain even when the person has stopped drinking. A person can start having simple slips in memory, such as not remembering names, or can have more serious


An illustration of some of the negative effects of alcohol abuse on the human body.

debilitating conditions that require significant medical care. Scientists don’t know everything yet about exactly how alcohol affects the brain or whether all of the effects are reversible. This area remains a hot topic in alcohol research. Signs of an Alcohol Problem How do you know whether someone close to you has a problem with alcohol use? Here are some signs to look for.


Detoxing from Alcohol

At first, you may see a friend have an occasional drink or maybe a drink to alleviate stress. Then, the person may begin having intense urges for alcohol, and you may notice more frequent drinking. Soon, the person may be unsuccessful in limiting alcohol consumption. Once the person starts drinking, he or she may be unable to stop. The individual may even build up an alcohol tolerance, needing more and more alcohol to create the same “buzz” effect. The individual may have trouble giving up alcohol even though it may be causing family problems, friendship issues, or even physical problems. Your friend may start spending more and more time drinking and recovering from drinking, and may be preoccupied with alcohol, spending lots of time thinking about obtaining and then consuming alcohol. He or she will likely find excuses to drink, such as attending live events or friends’ parties. Soon, they will eventually make alcohol central to their life. Their work in school or at a job may suffer. They may become careless, and may also give up hobbies and activities that were once very important. The person may ask friends and family for money, or might even steal to support the alcohol habit. The person is not being his or her best self. Alcohol is interfering with his or her ability to be a good student, employee, friend, and family member. You may see a friend drink an occasional beer at parties. But it is important to know that many people use alcohol in secret, so you may never see that person actually binge drink. (Binge drinking is defined by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism as a drinking pattern that causes the blood alcohol concentration to be 0.08 percent or higher.) An alcoholic will usually not acknowledge the drinking problem and might rationalize the behavior, or say that it is just a bad habit. The person will complain that family and friends are blowing the situation out of proportion, and may even blame others for the drinking problem. There are some very clear physical signs that someone has a drinking problem. One of the most obvious signs is that they may


What is Alcohol Addiction?

Rachel feels hopeless about her addiction to alcohol, but help is available through treatment programs, the support of friends and family, and other resources. Read her story on page 14.

have alcohol odor on their breath. The person’s hair or fingernails may become more brittle and damaged, and the person’s hygiene may falter. Many people who drink too much forget to bathe or brush their teeth regularly. The person may start to have signs of premature aging, and have dry or flushed skin, or damaged capillaries in the face. The person may also develop either excessive weight gain or weight loss. They may stumble and stagger if they have consumed large amounts of alcohol. Some may make terrible decisions—such as driving while intoxicated. If you know the person well, you will likely sense that something is amiss. Just remember that casual drinking at parties can quickly turn into an alcohol addiction. Furthermore, addiction is a progressive disease, and while early warning signs are challenging to spot,


Detoxing from Alcohol

unhealthy patterns become more obvious over time and may develop into a full-blown substance abuse disorder. Paying attention to early warning signs can prevent a larger problem from developing later. Just remember, the earlier you intervene, the better. As a teen yourself, you are in your friend’s social circle and therefore you may see the drinking problem before adults (parents or teachers) see it. If you suspect a problem with alcohol, talk to your friend or an adult in your friend’s life. Why People Abuse Alcohol How does alcohol abuse start? How does a person go from having an occasional drink to a serious alcohol addiction? The answer is not simple because alcoholism is a complex mixture of genetics , social factors, and psychological makeup. (Psychology relates to the mind and corresponding behavior.) The following sections provide more information. Stress Busting Stress relief is actually the number one reason people turn to alcohol. A person may need to escape a stressful situation at school, in their family or in an intimate relationship, or at their job. Rather than turning to alcohol, healthy ways of de-stressing, such as exercising or reading a good book, are better coping methods. Age The younger a person is when he or she begins drinking, the more likely that person is to having an alcohol problem when they are older. Early on, drinking becomes comfortable, and the developing body also builds up an alcohol tolerance.


What is Alcohol Addiction?


Alcohol abuse affects people of all ages, ethnicities, genders, and income levels. A common misconception is that only older people become alcoholics. But alcohol abuse can happen to young people as well. Here is the story of Rachel, a teen who has an alcohol dependency problem. I am not old enough to have my alcohol abuse cause a divorce or loss of a job. However, I feel like because of alcohol, I won’t ever be able to have a wife or family. I may not be able to hold a steady job. Being dependent on alcohol has made me feel like I will never have the adult life I thought I would have. I don’t get up early, so I miss a lot of school. I don’t care about schoolwork now, and I will probably be kicked out of school soon. I find it difficult to maintain my relationships with family and friends. My life is miserable now. This is no way to live. I don’t even know how this happened. I had a few drinks at a party. I started drinking more, but I thought I could handle it. It happened so quickly, I didn’t even notice. Now, I have an uncontrollable problem. I know it is a disease, and I need help. I wouldn’t wish this life on my worst enemy. This story is a very common one. Many teens first try alcohol at a party. Perhaps the teen is just curious about what alcohol tastes and feels like, or perhaps peer pressure is involved. (Peer pressure is when one’s friends or others in one’s relationship circle push or shame them into doing something that they don’t want to do.) Soon, the alcohol use becomes a habit that is hard to kick. It may begin to cause physical problems. Many kids at parties also mix alcohol with drug use, and that can lead to more serious problems.


Detoxing from Alcohol

Mental Health Challenges People with mental health issues like anxiety and depression also tend to be at greater risk for developing alcoholism. It is easy to turn to alcohol as a crutch when feeling stressed, but those with an anxiety disorder may turn to alcohol more and more, and that can eventually lead to an addiction. Peer Pressure Teens often feel stress from peer pressure to try alcohol at parties. While alcohol can provide an immediate reduction in stress, the effect is temporary, and continued alcohol use can quickly lead to dependency and addiction. The alcohol can create chemical changes

Trying alcohol at a party can rapidly turn into a regular habit and negatively affect the user.


What is Alcohol Addiction?

Overconsumption of alcohol can cause people to make bad decisions—such as choosing to drive while intoxicated.

in the body and those who are addicted to alcohol have nervous systems that are much more sensitive to stress hormones sent to the brain to produce the fight or flight reaction. Genetics and Family History Family history and genetics also play a major role. Having an alcoholic parent dramatically increases your risk of alcoholism, due to both genetics and the environment you grow up in. A child can inherit DNA with alcohol-related genes from an alcoholic parent. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), 50 to 60 percent of the risk for alcoholism is inherited. For example, identical twins share the same genes and are about twice as likely to both be alcoholics when compared to fraternal twins . Research suggests that


Detoxing from Alcohol

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