Welcome to Portland

The largest city in Oregon and seated in Multonamah County, located in Willamette Valley, and housing roughly 2,300,000 people, Portland holds the 28th largest population in the United States. Like many large cities throughout the country, Portland is split into numerous districts and counties that divide the city into smaller pieces. Connecting most of these counties is the TriMet transportation system: a light rail that runs through most of Portland’s sub-districts. Because of Portland’s TriMet, as well as its other expertly maintained busses and public transit programs, Portland was named the #1 transit-friendly city in the United States by Transit + Leisure Magazine.

One of the most significant landmarks in Portland is the White Stag Sign, which is a neon-lit sign located atop the White Stag Building in downtown Portland. This sign faces the Burnside Bridge and has been a staple of the city since 1940 when it was installed. Since then the sign has carried several different animations and messages, usually promoting Portland’s various organizations and companies.

Portland is home to parks, museums, and even the Portland Japanese Gardens, giving both residents and visitors a wide variety of attractions to keep them busy. Unfortunately, however, there are some who choose to ignore these attractions and choose another venue for distraction: alcohol abuse. It’s hard to enjoy the many things Portland has to offer through the haze of drunken eyes.

Too Much Port in Portland

Alcoholism can affect anyone, regardless of health, age, or gender. We’d like to make things absolutely clear to start: having a drink or two with dinner or in a social environment, on occasion, is not alcoholism. Alcoholism is dependency on alcohol to the point that your body goes into withdrawal if you were to suddenly quit drinking cold-turkey. More specifically, it is defined as a dependency on the consumption of liquor, or the mental illness and compulsive behavior resulting from alcohol dependency.

When you become dependent on a substance it can have highly dangerous side-effects, both psychological and physical, and alcohol is no different. We all know that when drunk we tend to say things we don’t mean, do things we didn’t mean to, and sometimes we become the subject of rather embarrassing videos. Some people drink and drive, often causing accidents that maim or even kill others, if not ourselves. Whether it is several drinks throughout the day, every day, or a bunch of drinks within 1-2 hours (commonly referred to as binge drinking), this is a very real, very dangerous problem that you need to address as soon as possible.

Binge drinking is often associated with ages 18-28, though it is not exclusive to those ages, and generally happens at parties. The result of binge drinking is usually blacking out and either passing out or losing any and all memory of what happened during that phase. Another unpleasant affect binge drinking can cause is alcohol poisoning, which can actually be fatal if not treated immediately.

Alcoholism itself presents a wide variety of issues that can be heavily detrimental to your social health. In 1999 the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD) conducted a study on domestic violence that showed alcohol to have played a role in 55% of the domestic cases, and 65% in spouse abuse cases. Alcohol itself doesn’t cause one to commit domestic violence by itself, but it is a prevalent factor. Alcoholism is a disease, and ugly one at that, so it requires the attention of an expert medical staff along with understanding.

Treating Alcoholism

Treating alcoholism is no different than treating any other disease: it requires the proper approach, proper knowledge and know-how, and the proper attitude. You can’t treat cancer with Nyquil any more than you can recycle substance abuse treatments, which is why alcoholism being categorized as a disease gave it the attention and care it deserves. Nowadays, treatment for alcoholism tends to be in one of three forms: Behavioral Treatment, 12-Step Programs, or Medication, and any of these can be combined depending on necessity.

Behavioral Treatment can be summed up as one-on-one therapy, where a medical professional sits down in sessions with the alcoholic. The goal of this method is to specifically target the behavioral, reasons why the person drinks to excess, whether they be peer-pressure, stress induced, or any other factor. It may seem like an easy thing to know what causes us to drink but there are often underlying issues that are causing the problems. The goal here is to find those roots and learn strategies to prevent them from growing.

One well known method of recovery from alcoholism is the mutual-support group, such as Alcoholics Anonymous. AA has been around for almost 80 years and has a long track record of helping alcoholics quit drinking and staying sober through peer-support and understanding. Many members of AA groups are prior alcoholics who continue going to the meetings to help themselves stay sober, so it’s not just for those who are currently struggling. The goal of these programs is to offer support and experiences from multiple sources and to create a safe, healthy environment for healing. Because of its anonymity many feel comfortable with this option, knowing that they are safe and surrounded by others who know their struggle.

Medicine has provided an astronomically high standard of living for many and has helped to increase the human life-span by decades. Modern medicine continues to develop new ways to help protect our bodies and prevent illnesses, now even to the point it can help reduce cravings and withdrawal symptoms from alcohol. Medicines such as Vivitrol have shown some success in reducing withdrawal symptoms and cravings for alcohol-abuse-recoverees. This is an absolutely crucial option to consider and speak with your health-care physician about during recovery, as withdrawal symptoms can be incredibly unpleasant.

Detox and Withdrawal

Detox is the process of removing the harmful chemicals and toxins present in alcohol that have infested the body during the stages of abuse. While going through detox your body is no longer consuming alcohol, and as a result of this the body, depending on how severe its dependence on the substance was, goes through withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal from alcohol can present several different symptoms, none of which are pleasant by any means.

Withdrawing from alcohol abuse can cause liver disease, heart trouble, high blood pressure, memory loss, agitation, extreme confusion, seizures, and/or delirium tremens (DT). DT is probably one of the most severe side effects of alcohol withdrawal and requires immediate medical attention, much like alcohol poisoning. DT can present itself in a myriad of different effects such as auditory, visual and/or tactile hallucinations, seizures, or heart attacks. DT can and often is fatal, so if you suspect someone of these symptoms call 911 immediately.

Intervention: Does It Work?

(seems like an abrupt intro to the section-either change the first half of the sentence, or give a bit more of an intro to this section) The long story short, intervention absolutely works when it is done properly. The only time it doesn’t is when the alcoholic becomes highly defensive, which they sometimes will, thinking that everyone is against them. The best thing you can do is to contact an interventionist: a specialist knowledgeable in matters of substance abuse and treatment who can help your event stay on track. Interventionists are an incredible resource for those wishing to help a loved one see the light and realize that they have a problem. They will have all the information necessary to host a successful, appropriate intervention for your friend or loved one.

When it comes to interventions we’ve all seen them done via Hollywood in television and movies: family and friends gather in order to take turns telling the alcoholic how their drinking has affected each and every family member and friend. While this method is a form of intervention, it is by no means the only way to conduct one and is actually only effective under certain circumstances. This is the other reason interventionists are so important. They will guide you in creating the perfect approach to your loved one’s addiction in order to get them the help that they deserve.

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