Alcohol Dependence/Alcoholism

Condition

Alcohol dependence, otherwise known as alcoholism, is the severest drinking problem a person can have.

An individual who has an alcohol dependence would strongly crave for alcohol.

In Ireland 3.8% of the population has a problem with alcohol according to the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO, 2015).  In Ireland, alcohol dependence tends to be higher in males than females across the age brackets however the gender gap in terms of alcohol consumption is getting smaller.

The HSE has a National Helpline (800 459 459) and it also offers email support (helpline@hse.ie)

Because alcoholism is an addiction to alcohol itself, withdrawing from it causes symptoms of withdrawal which can be dangerous in themselves, potentially causing seizures.

The adverse health consequences of drinking large amounts of alcohol on a daily basis can include damage to the liver, developing heart disease, getting a stroke or an increase in blood pressure. Not only this but alcoholism can also lead to ill mental health due to its depressant nature and interreference with neurotransmitters in the brain. It also has an impact on work performance and social relationships with others with resultant knock on effects on family and friends.

Signs and Symptoms of Alcohol Dependence

  1. Compulsion to drink
    • Needing the alcohol and once starting to drink, being unable to stop drinking.
  2. Preoccupation with where to get the next drink
    • Planning social gatherings with family and friends ensuring alcohol will be at hand.
  3. Urge for a drink first thing in the morning
    • Needing to drink alcohol as soon as one wakes up. Also, a strong desire for alcohol in order to cope with the day’s events. Using alcohol to “settle the nerves”, calm down or help to face the day ahead.
  4. Symptoms of withdrawal when alcohol levels decrease in the bloodstream
    • Include shaking, seating, tremors, hallucinations, seizures, nausea and these symptoms suddenly fading as soon as alcohol is consumed.

Triggers/Factors

Each person has different life circumstances, so alcoholism may sometimes be something private that starts quietly and quickly becomes uncontrollable.

These are some of the common triggers:

  • Family history – having a relative with alcohol dependency increases the risk of developing alcoholism
  • Experiencing mental health problems – having a mental health problem can increase the risk of alcohol dependency. For example, a person who is anxious may use alcohol to calm their anxiety and this can lead to alcoholism. People who experience depression, anxiety, PTSD, psychosis and drug dependence may use alcohol to medicate themselves.
  • Stressful environments or events – for example having a stressful job, relationship problems, bereavement can all lead to increased use of alcohol leading into alcoholism.
  • Starting to drink at an early age – people who start drinking alcohol early are more prone to becoming dependent on alcohol as they get older. The body gets habituated to drinking and therefore tolerates more alcohol, requiring higher amounts for the same effect, and the act of drinking becomes a habit.

Conventional Treatments

People usually get treated for alcohol dependency by:

  • Pharmacology or Medication: taking Naltrexone and Acamprosate to reduce alcohol cravings. However, these drugs are not effective for everyone and can have unpleasant side-effects.
  • Attending counselling or psychotherapy
  • Having Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) sessions which can help with monitoring drinking patterns including abstinent and drinking periods.
  • Attending a Detox or Rehab Centre
  • Joining self-help groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous and following the 12-step programme.

rTMS Treatment in Dublin

Research and Studies

rTMS treatment has a good evidence base that has shown it to be safe and effective in treating alcoholism.

It reduces the craving and so can help in maintaining abstinence.

Treatment Protocol

At Smart TMS Ireland Dublin Clinic, we offer Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation Therapy (TMS) treatment for alcoholism/alcohol dependence.

rTMS Treatment Centres

rTMS treatment for alcohol dependence is now available at our Dublin Clinic as well as in London and Birmingham.

If you would like more information about TMS treatment for alcoholism, please contact us and we will be happy to help.