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Alcohol Addiction in Oregon


Alcohol is the most commonly abused addictive substance in the United States. However, despite the dangers of abusing the substance, the problem of alcohol addiction in Oregon continues to persist.

The increase in the number of people seeking treatment for alcohol addiction in Oregon is reflective of the growing problem across the state. In 2010, 14,729 people were admitted to a rehab facility to treat alcohol abuse and dependence, while a further 10,189 were treated for alcohol use disorder combined with a secondary drug.

What is Alcohol Addiction?

Alcohol addiction is also known as alcohol dependence, or alcoholism, and is the term used when a person has become physically or mentally addicted to drinking alcohol.

How Does Alcohol Addiction Develop?

Most people can enjoy a drink from time to time without experiencing any problems. However, abusing alcohol regularly can cause significant changes within the brain’s chemistry that can lead to addiction.

Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant that causes the brain’s functions to slow down. An intoxicated person may show signs of slowed brain function with slurred speech, loss of coordination, slowed reflexes, confusion, and impaired judgment.

Under the influence of alcohol, the brain’s chemistry struggles to restore some kind of balance. The result is that the brain releases higher than usual levels of dopamine and serotonin, so the person may experience pleasure from becoming intoxicated.

As the brain adapts to the presence of alcohol over time, a heavy drinker may appear to not get drunk after drinking larger volumes of alcohol. Internally, the brain has developed a tolerance to alcohol, so the person needs to drink more in order to achieve the same effects. The person may also not experience hangovers, as the brain has become accustomed to functioning in the presence of alcohol.

As tolerance levels increase, drinking may also increase, putting the person at severe risk of developing addiction.

Other changes within the brain also occur with regular heavy drinking. The person can become psychologically addicted to drinking. He or she may have begun using alcohol to numb painful feelings or to feel more confident or to relax after a stressful day.

However, over time the brain may come to depend on drinking more alcohol in order to cope at all. When a heavy drinker suddenly stops drinking, they may experience the onset of withdrawal symptoms. Many of the symptoms are caused by the brain going into a hyper-stimulated mode as it struggles to adapt to the sudden lack of alcohol in the system.

Psychologically, the person may experience intense cravings to drink more alcohol that can be overwhelming. Other psychological symptoms of withdrawal can include confusion, anxiety, agitation, depression, hallucinations, nightmares, and delirium tremens (DTs). Physical symptoms can include tremors, shaking, nausea, vomiting, heavy sweating, fever, insomnia, and seizures.

Statistics for Alcohol Abuse and Addiction in Oregon

Statistics show that drunk driving fatalities account for 33.5 percent of all traffic deaths in Oregon in 2014, which is a 19.3 percent increase from the previous year.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the alcohol consumption rate among women in Oregon is far above the national average, and is the fifth highest in the nation behind only Washington, D.C.; North Dakota; Wisconsin; and Minnesota.

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism reports that approximately 16.6 million American adults had an alcohol use disorder in 2013. As a result, almost 88,000 people die each year from alcohol-related causes, making is the third leading preventable cause of death in the country.

Signs and Symptoms of Alcohol Addiction

There are some common signs and symptoms of alcohol addiction to watch for. These include:

  • Cravings to drink more alcohol
  • Feeling the need to drink on order to relax or feel better
  • Drinking more than originally intended
  • Loss of control over the amount being consumed
  • Inability to stop drinking once started
  • Avoiding social activities in order to drink instead
  • Spending more time drinking or recovering from the effects of drinking
  • Blackouts, or forgetting what was said or done while drinking
  • Tolerance
  • Withdrawal symptoms

Treatment Options for Alcohol Addiction in Oregon

Many people struggling with alcohol abuse and addiction attempt to cut down consumption or quit completely on their own. However, stopping the physical intake of alcohol only detoxes the body and breaks the physical side of the addiction. Detox does nothing to address the psychological triggers behind the compulsive drinking behavior.

Alcohol detox can also trigger the onset of withdrawal symptoms that could be potentially life threatening in some people, and may require emergency medical assistance. It’s strongly advised that the detox process is conducted under medical supervision, as medical staff can administer medications that reduce the severity of any symptoms.

In order to achieve a full recovery from alcohol addiction in Oregon, it’s crucial to seek professional treatment for both sides of the addiction. Individual counseling and cognitive behavioral therapies have proven to achieve positive results in correcting self-destructive behaviors and attitudes behind addictive drinking, replacing them with healthy habits and positive coping skills for living a sober life.  

Participation in a range of alternative therapies can also be highly beneficial during the recovery process, as they help to reduce stress and promote relaxation.  Some alternative therapies include restorative yoga, acupuncture, meditation, art therapy, music therapy, equine therapy, or exercise routines.

As alcohol is a chronic disease characterized by occasional relapses, it’s also strongly recommended that recovering people commit to regular attendance at group support meetings, such as Alcoholics Anonymous, or SMART Recovery. Group support meetings help to reduce feelings of isolation during the recovery process, at the same time as helping the recovering person to develop new social support networks among peers who have experienced similar challenges.

There’s no need to struggle with an alcohol addiction alone, especially when there is so much professional treatment available in Oregon. With the right combination of treatment and therapy, it’s possible to regain control of your life and make a successful recovery from alcohol addiction. Contact an addiction specialist today.