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Alcohol Addiction


According to the 2016 Iowa Drug Control Strategy report, alcohol is the second-most contributing factor of car crashes after excessive vehicular speed. Alcohol addiction in Iowa is not just a problem on the roads, though; it also has devastating consequences for families and communities. The Iowa report also mentions how alcoholism’s health effects taxes health care systems in the state with higher incidences of cancer, liver, heart and kidney disease. The rate of binge drinkers in the Iowa population continues to remain steady at about and average 21 percent, as does that of heavy drinkers, who made up 6.3 percent of the Iowa population in 2014. The report goes on to describe additional measures that need to be taken to reduce the impact of alcohol addiction in Iowa, including intervention training for restaurant servers and enforcement of more rigid drunk driving laws.

Some Communities More Vulnerable Than Others in Iowa

Alcohol addiction in Iowa does vary by county. While the average of 21 percent may seem high, counties like Clayton, Jones, and Dubuque have a rate over 30 percent. The highest is in Clayton County with a rate of 33 percent, according to the County Health Rankings and Roadmaps report. Iowa has many colleges with a culture of binge drinking. Normalization of heavy drinking creates a state-wide culture that ends up giving the state one of the highest rates of binge and underage drinking in the United States. Peer pressure and social acceptance of binge drinking have always played a part in the causes of alcoholism. Family dynamics can also contribute to the disease. However, this does not mean that other factors like a mental or emotional disorder are not also playing a part in some of the people with alcohol addiction in Iowa. It has also been recognized that some people have a hereditary component to alcoholism and that’s why the disease runs in families. However, even the ethnicity of a person, such as a Native American, can predispose them to alcoholism.

Binge Drinking or Excessive Drinking Impacts the Brain

Just like any drug, alcohol will impact the brain to release neurotransmitters responsible for the warm, fuzzy feeling associated with drinking. In this case, it is dopamine and serotonin which are responsible for the relaxation effect and “buzz” associated with drinking. The pleasant feeling may be harder to get if a person builds up a tolerance for alcohol, making them drink more and more to get the same effect. Once hooked, the body and brain will require alcohol to function normally. If withdrawn, the person who is addicted to alcohol can experience withdrawal symptoms such as shakiness, seizures, depression, and even go into a coma. At its worst, a person who ends up going “cold turkey” can experience hallucinations with delirium tremens, also known as DTs, a condition that can be fatal if not treated medically to lessen withdrawal symptoms.

Hospitalization for DTs May Be the First Step

Detoxification needs to be done in a medically supervised setting for those experiencing DTs. It will take up to seven days to get rid of the alcohol in the system as they are given anti-seizure medications and monitored closely. Someone who is alcoholic may have a whole history behind their disease that has negatively impacted family members, their employers, and even their communities. They will have intense nutritional needs due to the fact that they have neglected their health. They may have serious problems like cancer, diabetes, liver disease, and any other number of problems associated with their drinking. While it’s important for the individual to enter a 12-step program to get control of their drinking, and abstain for life, the other issues also need to be addressed. If peer pressure led to alcoholism, they need counseling to understand their trigger points. They will want to engage cognitive behavioral therapies to understand how to adopt new behaviors that are less destructive to themselves and others. They will even need to make amends to all the people they hurt as part of their 12-step program and the road back to recovery to mend those relationships. Their families will need to undertake counseling to understand how to support the addict in their recovery as well. This is a process that can take years with multiple relapses. In some cases, an individual may decide to go into sober living arrangements to remove themselves from a home where conditions are not optimal for their recovery.

More Awareness of Alcohol Addiction in Iowa is Good News

There are many new programs being instituted for the underage drinking problem in Iowa through school-based and statewide prevention programs, according to the 2016 Iowa Drug Control Strategy report. Education of key demographics, like college students, on the dangers of alcohol addiction in Iowa can go a long way to help raise awareness of the costs of alcoholism in terms of health and community safety. There are even traffic educational programs devoted to the dangers of mixing alcohol with driving so that this message gets across at the time someone is engaged in trying to obtain a motor vehicle license. In addition, there are private rehab facilities in the state that can help people with alcoholism get the type of help that they need for their specific needs. Even employers can help by offering employee assistance programs for those that find themselves addicted to alcohol in Iowa.

If you or someone you love has an alcohol addiction problem in Iowa, there are many new resources being offered to help you combat the disease. If the public messages have failed to get through, there are still other options. You can get information on how to schedule an intervention or find someone to facilitate an intervention for your loved one so that they can get the help that they need. By doing so, you could literally save someone’s life on the road and steer the individual back into a healthier lifestyle. So, don’t delay. Find out about the many resources available in Iowa to get help today.