Alcohol Dependency Essay

2861 words - 11 pages

Alcohol Dependency

Dependence is defined as a cluster of three or more existing criteria according to
the DSM-IV for alcohol dependency over a period of 12 months. According to Riley,
substance abuse is commonly referred to as an addiction. These terms are often used
interchangeably. Dependency occurs over time and is usually taken in excessive
quantities causing harm to the individual (Riley, 1998). There is no known cause for
alcohol dependency. However, there are contributing factors to the etiology of alcohol
dependence. These factors are age, gender, cultural differences, depression, and schizoid
personality traits. The DSM-IV states, “low educational level, unemployment, and lower
socioeconomic status are associated with dependency, although it is often difficult to
separate cause from effect” (DSM-IV, 1994, p. 201). Alcohol is more common in males
than females with a 5:1 ratio. The reason for the high ratio is because females have a
tendency to drink later on in life due to the increase of stressors. There is a link between
familial history increasing the risk for alcohol dependency, as well as, a genetic
predisposition (DSM-IV, 1994).
Symptoms of depression, anxiety, and insomnia accompany alcohol dependency
along with suicidal ideation. According to the DSM-IV the prognosis for individuals
with alcohol dependency is promising. “Follow up studies indicate that highly
functioning individuals show a higher than 65 percent 1 year abstinence rate following
rehabilitation. Twenty percent or greater of individuals with alcohol dependency achieve
sobriety without current treatment” (DSM-IV, 1994, p. 202-3). Most individuals
demonstrate self control and are able to actively participate regularly in daily activities.
Individuals with alcohol dependency slowly increase their social and vocational roles
with the aid of treatment (Reed, 1991).
The enzyme acetaldehyde accumulates in the blood with any consumption of
alcohol. Most treatments involve the use of Disulfiram, also known as Antabuse. It is an
inhibitor of the enzyme aldehyde dehydrogenase which with a single drink causes a toxic
reaction. This drug should not be administered until 24 hours after the individual’s last
drink. Several side affects could occur if one ingests alcohol while being treated with
Antabuse. Physicians should caution patients of affects. According to Kaplan and
Sadock, this drug can increase psychotic symptoms in some patients with schizophrenia
in the absence of alcohol. The drug Naltrexone aids in decreasing one’s craving for
alcohol. The recommended dosage for this drug is one dose daily. Its primary goal is to
promote abstinence by preventing relapses and decrease alcohol consumption in
individuals (Kaplan & Sadock, 1998). Anti-anxiety agents and antidepressants have
been used as treatments for those symptoms associated with alcohol. However, there is
rising attention to the use of psycho...

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