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Alcohol Addiction in Oklahoma

Oklahoma has long had a problem with alcohol consumption and addiction, as indicated by high DUI rates consistently above the national average. However, the dismal trend for alcohol addiction in Oklahoma, which appeared to be worsening over time, suddenly took a sharp reversal in 2013 in at least that one area: DUIs. At that point, traffic fatalities involving alcohol decreased by 28 percent, according to the Oklahoma Highway Safety Office. That trend continued in 2014, showing signs that Oklahoma may at last be on the right track of managing their DUIs. However, even if the roads are getting a bit safer, it doesn’t mean that alcohol addiction in Oklahoma is no longer an issue. In fact, the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services reports that approximately 5 percent of the state population still needs treatment for alcoholism. That’s a total of 140,000 people who should seek treatment for alcohol addiction in Oklahoma.

Areas in Oklahoma with the Worst Problems

The County Health Rankings and Roadmaps data for Oklahoma show Logan, Kingfisher and Love counties as having the highest rates of binge or heavy drinking rates, at 18, 19, and 21 percent of the population, respectively. The entire state of Oklahoma has much higher rates than average for DUIs for all age groups, as reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. While that area is showing improvement, it’s still important that Oklahomans who are suffering with alcoholism get help.

How Alcoholism Can Get Started

Alcohol addiction in Oklahoma can have multiple causes. It can come about as a social habit first ingrained during binge drinking days at college. It can be due to an underlying mental health or emotional condition. For instance, someone with social anxiety may decide to self-medicate with alcohol when they are exposed to stressful social interactions. Since alcohol is widely accepted in American culture, it can be an easy way to mask an underlying mental health condition. However, there is a change in brain chemistry in alcoholics that doesn’t happen to everyone who drinks excessively. For those people, their brains and bodies become dependent on the substance and they can experience severe withdrawal symptoms when they stop drinking. In order to keep those symptoms at bay, they end up losing control over when and how much they drink.

What Happens in the Brain of an Alcoholic?

The entire mechanics of alcoholism are unknown. However, there is research that has shed some light on the subject. Alcohol affects the neurotransmitters responsible for releasing dopamine and serotonin into the brain that produce that good feeling buzz associated with alcohol consumption. The more a person drinks, the more tolerance is built up and it takes more of the same substance to get the same good feelings again. At the same time, the brain’s chemistry has changed to expect the presence of alcohol to stimulate those neurotransmitters and sends out signals that show up as cravings for alcohol to get the person to drink. That is how the vicious cycle begins. If the person tries to stop drinking, they can experience multiple withdrawal symptoms as the brain tries to compensate for the lack of alcohol it has now become dependent upon.

Inpatient Treatment Can Be Necessary to Safely Detox

You don’t just risk a hangover when you have a serious alcohol addiction in Oklahoma. You can end up with hallucinations and a condition called delirium tremens or DTs, where the body shakes and convulses uncontrollably and can end up as a seizure. If the patient is not treated medically they run the risk of going into a coma and dying. That’s why alcoholics are told to go into a hospital to detox so that they can be supervised 24×7 during the time they are getting dry. There, medical staff can help them by giving them anti-seizure medication or painkillers, if they are experiencing severe migraines. They can also be helped to eat better so as to help them combat some of the damage they have caused to practically every major organ in their body with their drinking. Even after they have dried out and gotten into rehab, they will still be at higher risk for cancer or diabetes than the normal population as their bodies retain vestiges of years of excessive drinking.

Treatment is Available for Alcohol Addiction in Oklahoma

After detox, the addict will need to attend meetings for substance abuse and also take part in peer and individual counseling; however, this can often be done on an outpatient basis. Programs for alcohol addiction in Oklahoma can run anywhere from 30 to 90 days. For those that need a more structured approach, they may end up going into sober living arrangements to remove them from an environment that may be too difficult to deal with as they learn new techniques for dealing with stress triggers, through cognitive behavioral therapies, and become educated on their disease. There they might be subjected to Breathalyzer tests regularly to make sure they are abiding by the rules of the dry household. Recovery from alcohol addiction is a lengthy process that can have numerous relapses before it finally takes hold and the person makes a decision to stay sober for life. Until then, they will require the help of numerous mental health professionals who can help them uncover the underlying causes of their disease and address them, whenever possible.

If you are charged with a DUI, Oklahoma will make you get an assessment before you can get your license back. You will need to show that you are no longer a risk of killing someone on the road. That’s one reason to seek treatment for alcohol addiction in Oklahoma. However, the biggest reason to get help for either you or a loved one is to reclaim the life that is being destroyed before it is too late. Make the decision to get help today, before it costs someone their life, and start down a better road to a happier life as soon as possible.