The Physical Effects of Alcohol

The physical effects of alcohol can be dangerous.

The Physical Effects of Alcohol Explained

Alcoholism is a disease that affects millions of people worldwide. To better understand the physical effects of alcohol, it is vital to know how alcoholism starts and progresses.

Alcohol can cause mental and physical addiction. Sometimes, there are fatal consequences as a result of consuming alcohol. Alcohol affects some aspects of a person’s life, including finances, legal, relationships, and personal life.

A dependence upon alcohol should always be taken seriously.

 

Early Stages of Alcoholism

Consuming alcohol is common in the United States. Most people have had at least one alcoholic beverage in their life. Some will drink moderately. Others may binge drink or begin to drink alcoholically. Heavy drinking does not always indicate alcoholism however. A person also does not need to down half a bottle of scotch or more every night to be an alcoholic.

Alcohol impacts a person’s judgment quickly. For some people, just one alcoholic beverage can affect their ability to make healthy decisions. Almost everyone who has an alcohol use disorder diagnosis began their drinking safely.

How Does Alcoholism Start?

What can cause someone to become an alcoholic? The shift from normal drinking to alcoholism generally happens when someone changes why or how they consume alcohol. For example, someone might go from drinking with their friends to drinking to relieve pain. When the change occurs, there is usually an increase in cravings. From there, the person will likely start drinking more and more.

It has as much to do with their relationship with alcohol as it does behavior. A true alcoholic will not put down the drink in the face of consequences. Many people drink to excess in college for example. Someone who binge drinks in college may be exhibiting an alcohol use disorder at the time, but if that person is able to simply quit on their own or cut back substantially and drink only lightly after that, then that person isn’t typically what you’d call and alcoholic.

Many people don’t get the effects they are looking for when drinking alcohol, so they turn to harder liquor or increase their alcohol intake. A lot of people that struggle with alcohol abuse slowly increase the amount they drink. When someone drinks a lot of alcohol, especially for a longer time, they will likely start experiencing the physical effects of alcohol use.

If someone doesn’t get addiction rehab help, the physical effects could cause significant health issues. Alcoholism could take their life via drunk driving or deterioration of body organs, as well.

 

Immediate Effects from Abusing Alcohol

Alcohol can consume a person’s life. It can lead to severe health issues. Some of the health issues will take longer to develop. However, other effects can happen right after someone starts drinking.

Some immediate effects from abusing alcohol include:

  • Getting into an accident or having an injury
  • Having an arrest for reckless or irresponsible behavior
  • Higher chance of engaging in risky sexual behaviors
  • Relationship damage
  • Severe dehydration
  • Blackouts
  • Damage to fetus
  • Alcohol poisoning

These are just some immediate effects of abusing alcohol. Some long-term effects could occur with alcoholism, as well.

 

Long-Term Physical Effects of Alcohol Abuse

If someone keeps abusing alcohol for longer, they will start experiencing more severe health effects. In addition to the effects above, long-term abuse of alcohol can lead to:

  • High risk of neurological issues
  • Increased risk of having a stroke
  • Digestion issues
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Cancer
  • High blood pressure
  • Increased risk of developing mental health issues
  • Liver cirrhosis
  • Alcoholic hepatitis
  • Brain damage

These are just a few of the many long-term physical effects that could occur from alcohol abuse. If you or someone you know has alcohol addiction, don’t wait. Getting treatment now could help to prevent some or all of these long-term effects.

 

Other Issues Caused by Alcohol Abuse

The immediate and long-term effects above can happen to anyone.

There are some other issues caused by alcohol abuse, as well. Some of these issues may include:

  • Malnutrition
  • Higher risk of getting anemia
  • Immune system function issues
  • Higher risk of getting pancreatitis
  • Seizures

The only way for someone to fight against these health problems is to quit drinking. The best way to overcome alcoholism is to get professional rehab help. The rehab team members can help you work through obstacles, triggers, personal issues, and much more. They can help you manage any health issues you already have, as well.

 

Most people who succeed in an alcohol addiction program don’t miss their drinking days. They may have cravings and triggers, but they realize their life is better in recovery than drinking. It may take some time before you feel like this. However, once you start getting treatment, you can find more meaning in life when you are sober.

Get Help for the Physical Effects of Alcohol

Millions of Americans are living with alcoholism or an Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD).  A lot of the people who have an alcohol addiction experience immediate physical effects of alcohol use. The people who continue drinking for years may start experiencing the long-term effects, as well. Alcohol addiction comes with serious psychological effects as well.

Even if you don’t have any of the long-term physical effects of alcohol yet, it is still best to get treatment now. Many of the physical effects of alcohol which occur later are irreversible. Other than these effects of alcohol there are the consequences of behavior while drinking. Driving while intoxicated, fights, destroyed relationships, high-risk sexual behaviors. The results can be tragic. But they don’t need to be. You can also take back control over your life with the right kind of help.

Contact us at Harmony Treatment and Wellness today. We can answer your questions and explain how our alcohol treatment program can help.

 

Mixing Klonopin and Alcohol

mixing Klonopin and alcohol

Klonopin and Alcohol

Klonopin is a benzodiazepine that many doctors prescribe to people who have moderate to severe anxiety. There have been many cases where people were mixing Klonopin and alcohol. The dangers of doing this are serious.

 

If you have a prescription for Klonopin, it is vital to know the drug can be addictive. It becomes more of a problem when mixing it with other substances. The good news is there are treatment programs for people who need to stop using Klonopin and alcohol.

 

For now, it might be a good idea to learn more about the symptoms of mixing these substances, the withdrawal process and other aspects of this type of addiction.

Symptoms of Mixing Klonopin and Alcohol

Klonopin like alcohol and all depressants, causes depression of the central nervous system. If you have both these substances in your system, the effects will be amplified. Sometimes, the consequences can be deadly.

 

Some symptoms of mixing Klonopin and alcohol include:

  • Slower breathing
  • Reduced heart rate
  • Coordination issues
  • Dizziness
  • Slurred speech
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Memory issues
  • Cognitive function issues
  • Moderate to severe headache
  • Loss of appetite
  • Sleep problems

In most cases, Klonopin is a safe prescription drug. Doctors control how much of this medication each patient gets. The problem is that many people mix it with other substances such as alcohol. Some people will buy more Klonopin from others when they don’t get the effects they want from their prescription.

 

If you have been mixing alcohol with Klonopin and you’re struggling to quit, we can help.

Who Abuses Klonopin and Alcohol

Anyone can be at risk of abusing Klonopin and alcohol. However, studies show that undergraduate students have the highest rates of mixing Klonopin and alcohol. In the studies, 12.1% of the students were abusing one or more medications and alcohol.

 

Some of the others who commonly abuse alcohol and Klonopin include:

  • People 25 and younger
  • Those who don’t have their high school diploma
  • Single people
  • People who have a history of drinking a lot

If you have been abusing these substances, you aren’t alone. You can get the help you need to stop using alcohol and Klonopin.

Signs of Addiction

Many people who mix alcohol and a benzodiazepine like Klonopin don’t think there is a problem with what they are doing. Do they all have an addiction? There is no guarantee that everyone who takes these substances at the same time has an addiction. However, it is still dangerous to do so.

 

There are so many risks of mixing harmful substances such as alcohol and benzodiazepines. People who continue to mix them may have an addiction.

 

If you combine these substances and can’t seem to stop, contact us today. We can help diagnose whether you have an addiction. If so, don’t worry. We can get you the treatment you need to overcome that addiction.

Benzodiazepine Withdrawal Symptoms

Some people avoid going to a treatment program because they worry about withdrawal. It can be tough to go through this process on your own. However, you can get help managing the symptoms of withdrawal when attending a treatment program.

 

Some withdrawal symptoms a rehab center team can help you manage include:

  • Raised body temperature
  • Hallucinations
  • Coordination problems
  • Irritability
  • Insomnia
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Rebound anxiety
  • Profuse sweating
  • Seizures
  • Increased heart rate
  • Panic attacks
  • Tremors

Thinking about these withdrawal symptoms can be scary. However, if you enroll in a treatment program, you won’t have to deal with these symptoms yourself. You will get around-the-clock care if you go to an inpatient rehab center. There are other treatments you can receive, as well.

Get Help to Stop Using Klonopin and Alcohol

Mixing alcohol and a benzodiazepine can be dangerous. The side effects will be much worse if you have both substances in your system simultaneously. You could have side effects such as nausea and vomiting to tremors and seizures. Even if you don’t experience most of the side effects above, the damage these substances do to your body can be substantial.

 

The important thing is to get help to stop using these substances if you need to do so. Many professionals have experience and training to deal with addiction such as this one. Once you detox from these substances, the treatment program can help you learn techniques to manage your anxiety. Those techniques can give you a natural way of managing anxiety, so you don’t feel the need to use Klonopin and alcohol.

 

Have you been mixing alcohol and a benzodiazepine? We don’t want to see you struggle with substance abuse. Contact us today to get help with your Klonopin and alcohol addiction.

 

What is the Difference Between Alcohol Misuse and Abuse?

man in a hooded sweatshirt drinking alcohol outside

Although many people use terms like ‘addiction,’ ‘abuse,’ ‘problem drinker’ as though they were interchangeable, they can mean different things. This can lead to a variety of difficulties– especially when considering an intervention– so it is imperative that everyone understand these nuances of meaning. Toward that end, this post will discuss alcohol misuse vs. abuse.

The Drinking Spectrum

While there are certainly large areas of overlap, any discussion of alcohol misuse vs. abuse should begin with specific definitions of the two terms. However, before we can do that, it will be helpful to summarize the symptoms of alcohol use disorder. Here are the criteria the DSM-5 has established for diagnosing someone with an alcohol use disorder:

  • Consuming more alcohol for a longer period than intended
  • Making failed attempts to stop drinking
  • Excessive time and energy to facilitate drinking
  • Alcohol cravings or preoccupation
  • Repeated neglect of important responsibilities due to alcohol use
  • Person continues to drink excessively despite negative social, legal, or interpersonal consequences
  • The drinker becomes so preoccupied with alcohol consumption that formerly important recreational, social, and work-related activities are neglected
  • Continued use of alcohol in dangerous environments or situations
  • A person who has a physical or mental health condition that was brought on or worsened by alcohol continues to drink excessively
  • A significant increase in alcohol tolerance
  • The drinker begins to experience withdrawal symptoms when they go too long without drinking, typically symptoms that can only be alleviated by more alcohol

As you can see, these are not the reactions of a social or moderate drinker. Social or moderate drinkers typically do not experience more than an occasional negative consequence because of their alcohol consumption. If one or more of these are present in you or a loved one’s behavior, the only real question is whether you are dealing with alcohol misuse or abuse.

Alcohol Misuse Vs. Abuse: How to Tell the Difference

It might seem a bit overly clinical, but the best way to discern between problem drinking and alcohol abuse is to use the symptoms listed above as a barometer. These tendencies just don’t show up in the temperate drinker. So how do you use these symptoms to differentiate between the two higher levels of drinking?

Here is the short version. Alcohol abuse applies to anyone who has experienced two or more of the above symptoms over the course of a year. If these symptoms manifest with less frequency, you are probably dealing with a case of alcohol misuse.

Obviously, the discussion of alcohol misuse vs. abuse involves fluid categories that can make it difficult to make an accurate diagnosis. Fortunately, you can look at other factors as well. The amount of alcohol someone consumes is a great indicator of where they stand on the drinking spectrum:

  • For men, drinking more than an average of two drinks a day is considered alcohol misuse. Treatment may be necessary at this point.
  • If a man consumes an average of 4 or more drinks a day, he is engaging in alcohol abuse and needs immediate treatment.
  • For women, drinking more than one drink a day is considered alcohol misuse. Depending on how their drinking affects their lives, these women may or may not be in need of treatment.
  • A woman who consumes more than 3 drinks a day is abusing alcohol and should seek help immediately.

This is an incomplete guide to the alcohol misuse vs. abuse debate, but it is certainly a great place to start if you’re concerned about someone’s drinking. Please consider treatment options if you or a loved one falls into the misuse or abuse category.

What Does Alcohol Abuse do to the Body?

alcohol being poured into a glass

Excessive drinking– whether it’s the occasional binge or an everyday occurrence– has a profoundly negative effect on a variety of major life areas. One of these areas that are often ignored is the alcohol abuse effects on the body. Needless to say, this lack of attention can lead to life-altering or even fatal consequences.

This post is intended to draw the problem drinker’s attention to the health problems associated with chronic alcoholism. Read on for a detailed look at alcohol abuse effects on the body.

Moderate vs Excessive Drinking

How much is too much when it comes to alcohol consumption and its effects it has on your body? Obviously, the answer to this question depends on a variety of highly individualized factors. However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website contains a very revealing discussion of the differences between moderate and heavy drinking.

Here’s a quick summary of these differences:

  • Anyone who drinks less than one or two drinks a day (the number is usually lower for women than men) is considered a moderate drinker.
  • It’s important to remember, however, that moderate drinkers sometimes increase their consumption and begin to drink excessively in a relatively short amount of time.
  • Both binge drinking and chronically heavy drinking are considered excessive and can lead to profoundly negative health outcomes
  • Binge drinking is defined by consuming more than 4-5 drinks during a single day or session
  • A man who regularly consumes more than 15 drinks a week is considered a heavy drinker, while a woman who consumes over 8 drinks a week qualifies.
  • While this type of heavy drinking does not make someone an alcoholic, it can still lead to a number of health problems.

Alcohol Abuse Effects on the Body

Contrary to a once-popular belief, alcohol-related health problems don’t stop in the liver. Yes, excessive drinking can do permanent damage to the liver, but that doesn’t mean you can ignore the rest of your body. Here are some of the ways that heavy or alcoholic drinking can negatively affect the body:

Brain functioning

Excessive drinking can lead to speech problems, depression, erratic behavior, and cognitive dysfunction.

Heart problems

Not surprisingly, heavy drinkers often experience heart conditions such as high blood pressure, stroke, and arrhythmia.

Cancer

Study after study has shown researchers that there is a strong correlation between high levels of drinking and several different forms of cancer. Cancers of the neck, head, and liver are commonly associated with problem drinking. Heavy drinkers are also more likely than the average person to develop breast and esophageal cancers.

An Important Reminder

The purpose of this post was twofold. First, we wanted to provide a detailed account of the physical dangers of excessive drinking and help drinkers remain self-aware. Obviously, this is potentially life-saving knowledge for the true alcoholic.

However, it’s important that excessive drinkers and their families understand that you don’t have to qualify as an alcoholic to experience alcohol abuse effects on the body. Keep this uncomfortable fact in mind when you find yourself drinking more than you’d like and you’ll have a much better chance of avoiding alcohol-related health problems.

5 Of The Most Common Signs of Late-Stage Alcoholism

man suffering from end-stage alcoholism with his head down on a table

Alcoholism is the layperson’s name for alcohol use disorder. It is a disease marked by excessive alcohol consumption and, eventually, dependence. Alcoholism affects every bodily system, including the brain and a person’s decision-making abilities. Alcohol use disorder is not necessarily considered a disease by most people, but no one would deny that it has disastrous effects.

Late-Stage Alcoholism

This is especially true of late-stage alcoholism. Late-stage alcoholism (or end-stage alcoholism) is the final stage of alcohol use disorder. Alcoholism is a chronic, progressive condition that tends to get worse and worse over time. It typically starts with social drinking and then worsens as the person starts to need alcohol in order to feel normal. If this continues long enough, it becomes alcohol dependence. This means that the drinker begins to experience withdrawal symptoms when alcohol isn’t available.

Finally, the addiction to alcohol progresses to late-stage alcoholism. This is when the drinker starts to experience shattered relationships, financial hardship, and a variety of grave physical ailments. The immune system becomes compromised, for instance, a situation that leaves the victim open to a number of serious illnesses. Brain, heart, and liver damage can also occur during this final stage of alcohol use disorder. Eventually, if left untreated, it can also lead to premature death.

Five Common Signs of Late-Stage Alcoholism

Because of the inherent dangers of late-stage alcoholism, the ability to identify it is critical to any possible recovery. Contrary to many opinions, it is never too late to treat alcoholism and begin to reverse its negative effects. Here are five signs that can help you identify when you or a loved one has entered late-stage alcoholism.

  • Risky behavior. Because alcoholism affects decision-making abilities, an addict might take dangerous risks. Drinking and driving, or binge-drinking are examples of this behavior.
  • Damaging relationships. Alcohol abuse can cause a person to neglect important relationships and responsibilities. They might miss work, or lie to loved ones. This also isolates the addict.
  • Severe withdrawal. By the final stage of alcoholism, the brain is dependent on alcohol. Trying to stop drinking might cause reactions such as tremors, anxiety, and even seizures.
  • Physical changes. Late-stage alcoholism can cause physical symptoms. Extreme weight changes, puffy face, low energy, red eyes, shaky hands, and lax hygiene are all serious warning signs.
  • The development of alcohol-related illnesses. Over time, alcohol scars the liver, causing cirrhosis. Brain damage is also possible, leading to blurred vision, or trouble walking. Late-stage addiction can also cause heart attacks, strokes, and various types of cancer.

Recognition is Key

Alcoholism progresses through different stages, eventually leading to dependency and addiction. Late-stage alcoholism is the final stage of alcohol use disorder. People at this stage often suffer great mental and physical hardships as a result of their addiction. If not treated, late-stage alcoholism may even result in death.

Late-stage alcoholics are dangerously dependent on alcohol, making alcohol withdrawal very uncomfortable and painful. Because of this, it is hard to stop drinking without help. Luckily, alcohol addiction is always a treatable condition. This is why it is important to recognize the signs that late-stage alcohol brings with it. The five red flags we’ve discussed can detect when ‘simple dependence’ has become an emergency.

Is Alcoholism a Disease or a Choice?

man pouring beer from a tap

Humanity’s relationship with alcohol is almost as old as civilization itself. Almost as soon as people discovered fermentation, it became apparent that some people could become dependent on alcohol. In 1784, physician and father of the American temperance movement, Benjamin Rush, identified an “uncontrollable and irresistible desire to consume alcohol” among certain people.(1) For most of human history, however, alcoholism was seen as a moral shortcoming or a lack of discipline.

People suffering from alcoholism were said to be “unable to hold their liquor”. This misconception has stubbornly persisted into the present day, unfortunately. Why laypeople might view alcoholism this way is somewhat understandable. Most of us are still conditioned to think of disease only as an acquired infection like influenza or an illness like cancer. Others see the disease model as a “cop-out” or an attempt by the addict or alcoholic to shirk responsibility. Mental illness in general, is still widely misunderstood and unfortunately can carry a certain stigma.

Alcoholism is Classified as a Disease

Some may be surprised to know that the debate over whether to categorize alcoholism and addiction as a disease was largely settled in the medical and scientific community more than 60 years ago. In fact, the American Medical Association formally recognized alcoholism and addiction as a disease as early as 1956. (2) The AMA’s position was even cited in the U.S. Supreme Court case (Budd v. California, 385 U.S. 909 (1966) (3). Dr. William Silkworth of New York City’s Towns Hospital is widely recognized as the first clinician to study and endorse the disease model of alcoholism. His pioneering work in treating alcoholics and advising the founders of Alcoholic Anonymous was directly responsible for transforming the way the medical community viewed alcoholism.

As Alcoholics Anonymous grew as a new resource for people struggling with alcohol, clinicians and scientists began to study the phenomenon of alcoholism and addiction from a different point of view. In the past, most chronic relapse patients were seen as “lost causes”, destined to be institutionalized for what was left of their lives. Following the work of Dr. Silkworth and others, they recognized that medical treatment combined with social intervention and therapy was yielding more promising results than anyone had seen with traditional methods alone. Today alcohol dependence is understood as a disease and listed as such in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) published by the American Psychiatric Association (APA).

Treatment for Alcoholism is Still Evolving

Thanks to the revolution in gene research, we are beginning to unravel the genetic component which makes some people so much more susceptible to chronic alcohol abuse. Two genes related to alcohol metabolism, ADH1B and ALDH2 have shown the strongest correlation with the risk of alcoholism. (4) The greater scientific understanding of the roots of alcoholism paired with a more data-driven approach to treatment has brought a new era in addiction treatment to fruition. Perhaps more than ever, the medical and recovery communities are working as partners and the long-term efficacy of treatment for alcoholism is the focus. It’s widely accepted that recognizing alcoholism as a disease was the essential sea change that needed to occur for more effective treatment to begin to be developed.

(1) https://academic.oup.com/alcalc/article/35/1/10/142396
(2) https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/article-abstract/318639
(3) https://www.ama-assn.org/delivering-care/public-health/court-listened-ama-defining-alcoholism-disease-not-crime
(4) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4056340/

Rebuilding Foster Care Families in the Aftermath of Addiction

Foster Care and Addiction

It’s no secret that addiction tears families apart, this is especially true in the case of foster care. Studies have shown one in three children in the program were admitted due to parental substance abuse. But what happens when parents are in recovery and their children are able to come home. How do you heal the trauma that tore the family apart? 

 

Communicate 

Talk about what has happened, apologize, listen to their feelings. Depending on their age, this may be the time to have an open discussion with them and communicate honestly. Make sure they know that their feelings are valid, that you hear them, and of course, that you love them. 

 

Create a “New Normal” 

Children and families thrive on consistency. Try to create routines in your everyday life, maybe every night you have dinner at 6pm together. Or every morning you listen to the radio. Small things can make a difference in creating a feeling of consistency. Consider creating new traditions. Maybe every Saturday morning you take a walk together as a family or every Sunday you make pancakes. Making traditions make ordinary days feel special and make memories that last. 

 

Be Patient and Don’t Play the Guilt Game

Just because you’re in a different place now doesn’t mean you can expect things to change overnight. You may feel closed out or be frustrated by how your relationship building is going, but remember to be patient. This process takes time, particularly with older children. Don’t guilt them for holding a grudge or not responding the way you want them to. With time and consistency you can rebuild, but don’t put your expectations onto them. 

 

Keep Showing Up

It might be hard to face the circumstances, and new requirements such as supervised visitation however no matter what, continue to be there for them. It might take weeks, months, or even years for them to recover, feel safe, and accept the “new normal.” Regardless of how distant they may be, even when they act out or misbehave, stay with them. They need you and are likely testing your limits to see if you are here to stay. Be truly there for them. Show up, every day, in whatever way you can. 

 

Every scenario looks different. The ultimate goal is to heal, and let go of resentments and the shame. If you or a loved one are struggling with addiction and their children have been placed in foster care our case managers might be able to help. Contact us below or click here.

What Is an Alcohol Urine Test?

What Is an Alcohol Urine Test?

The EtG test is commonly used to identify the presence of ethyl glucuronide in the urine of a person who may have consumed alcohol. Ethyl glucuronide (EtG) is a metabolite of ethanol, the intoxicating component in alcohol. It can also be screened for in blood, hair, and nails, but the alcohol urine test is the most commonly used because it is cheaper than other tests and, when compared to blood screens, much less invasive.

Who Takes EtG Tests?

EtG tests are used to detect alcohol abstinence or non-compliance under circumstances in which drinking is not allowed, including the following:

  • Alcohol treatment programs
  • As legally required for a DUI/DWI probation
  • Liver transplant patients
  • Schools
  • Military
  • Professional monitoring programs (e.e, airline pilots, healthcare professionals, etc.)
  • Court cases (e.g., child custody)

EtG test is not typically used in workplace testing programs as it does not measure a person’s current level of impairment from alcohol. Furthermore, because alcohol is legal in most areas of the U.S., it’s not a commonly administered test because alcohol could have been consumed days before a person is required to work. And if they show signs of impairment, it is not really a helpful tool on the spot.

What Is an Alcohol Urine Test?

Detection Window

Urine tests are quite sensitive and can detect very low levels of alcohol, and can do so up to five days after consumption. In studies of subjects who did not have alcohol use disorders, EtG was identified in urine samples for as long as 80 hours (or 3.3 days) after heavy alcohol consumption.

Limitations

One drawback of the EtG testing method is that it can sometimes produce a positive result from exposure to alcohol that’s present in many common household goods, including mouthwash. Other examples of environmental or home products that contain alcohol include the following:


  • Foods prepared with alcohol
  • Cleaning products
  • Breath sprays
  • Hand sanitizers


  • Hygiene products
  • Aftershave lotion
  • Cosmetics
  • Hair color dye


In reality, there are hundreds of household goods that contain ethanol, and exposure to them could potentially lead to a false positive on an EtG screen.

Interpreting Alcohol Consumption Results

high positive EtG test (>1,000ng/mL) may indicate the following:

  • Excessive drinking on the testing day or the day before
  • Light-moderate drinking on the testing day

low positive EtG test (500 to 1,000ng/mL) may indicate the following:

  • Excessive drinking within the previous three days
  • Light alcohol consumption within the past day
  • Recent heavy exposure to environmental products containing alcohol with the last day

very low positive EtG test (100 to 500 ng/mL) may indicate the following:

  • Excessive drinking within the past three days
  • Light alcohol consumption within the past 12-36 hours
  • Recent incidental exposure to environmental products that contain alcohol

EtG is a test that can help determine if a person has been recently exposed to alcohol in some way. Therefore, it offers law enforcement and others the ability to determine if a person is compliant with alcohol abstinence or not, and can do so accurately at least 70-85% of the time.

All in all, the EtG test is considered a highly useful test for detecting recent alcohol consumption. But due to the possibility of exposure to alcohol-laden environment products, in some cases, a separate verification may be warranted. This may include a blood or breathalyzer test, depending on the situation.

Other Testing Methods for Alcohol Consumption

Two other commonly drug screening tests that can be used to detect alcohol include the following:

BAC Blood Test

For a blood test, consent to have blood drawn and tested is usually required. Moreover, refusal to take a blood test in some cases can have legal consequences, including a suspension of one’s driver’s license. In fact, people who refuse to undergo blood alcohol tests tend to incur higher fines and longer jail sentences than those who are compliant.

Blood sample screening is believed to be more accurate than breath and urine tests, but testing errors can occur and lead to inaccurate results.

BAC Breathalyzer Test

Law enforcement most commonly uses breathalyzer tests is to estimate a person’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) because breathalyzer devices are lightweight, easy to use, and produce immediate results. Breathalyzer results are usually considered to be admissible in a DUI/DWI prosecution case.

Getting Help for Alcoholism

If you have an alcohol abuse or addiction problem, you may be afraid that you are going to fail a urine test or other alcohol screening test. Regardless of whether or not this is true, if you are an alcoholic and ready to reclaim your life, we urge you to seek treatment as soon as possible.

Harmony Treatment and Wellness features personalized, comprehensive alcohol addiction treatment programs and services intended to treat all aspects of a person’s health and wellness. Our programs are based around behavioral therapy, counseling, and group support, which can help patients uncover the underlying causes of their addiction and identify healthier, more effective ways of coping with life’s stresses and temptations.

Contact us today if you or someone you love is ready to break the destructive cycle of alcoholism and reclaim the fulfilling life you deserve!

⟹ READ THIS NEXT: How to Help an Alcoholic

Valtrex and Alcohol: Safe to Mix?

Valtrex and Alcohol | Harmony Treatment and Wellness

Valtrex and Alcohol | Harmony Treatment and Wellness

When taking certain medications, whether they’re prescription or over-the-counter, it’s essential to know the risks, side effects, and potential interactions with other drugs or alcohol. Many medications do have interactions with alcohol or are generally unsafe to combine with drinking.

According to the Mayo Clinic, it’s best to avoid mixing alcohol with antiviral drugs. While they are no specific warnings included in the labels of these products, alcohol can compromise the effectiveness of some medications. It can also increase the risk of side effects, including dizziness, with older adults being the most susceptible.

What Is Valtrex?

Valtrex (valacyclovir) is an oral antiviral prescription drug that is used to treat shingles and the herpes virus, genital herpes, and cold sores. Valtrex is not a cure for herpes, though it does effectively reduce symptoms by impeding its spread and growth. 

NOTE: The herpes virus is much more common than many people realize. According to the World Health Organization, two-thirds (67%) of the world’s population is infected with the herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1).

Valtrex also helps a person’s immune system in its fight against the infection and reduces the frequency of outbreaks. When someone uses Valtrex, it can promote the healing of cold sores and genital warts and prevent new ones from developing. It can also relieve pain and itching often associated with skin lesions.

People using Valtrex should be warned that it will not prevent herpes from spreading to another individual. It can be transmitted even when a person is asymptomatic.

Valtrex Side Effects

Side effects of Valtrex can include the following:


  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea


  • Stomach pain
  • Dizziness
  • Headache


Less common side effects include the following:


  • Mood swings
  • Agitation
  • Confusion


  • Shakiness
  • Changes in urination
  • Trouble speaking


Rarely, Valtrex can cause a condition that affects the blood cells and kidneys, which can be lethal. This disorder is more likely to occur in people who have a weakened immune system, perhaps as a result of a kidney transplant or HIV.

Valtrex and Alcohol | Harmony Treatment and Wellness

Valtrex and Alcohol: Other Factors to Consider

It may be relatively safe to combine Valtrex and alcohol when a person is drinking in moderation. However, you should always consult your health provider before combining Valtrex with alcohol or any other medications or drugs.

There are also other significant factors to consider before combining Valtrex and alcohol. For one, Valtrex can cause side effects such as nausea and vomiting, which are relatively common. If you use Valtrex with alcohol, it can make side effects worse. For example, a person may be more likely to experience nausea than he or she would if Valtrex was being used on its own.

As noted, there is a chance for side effects such as dizziness with the use of Valtrex. Alcohol use can also cause dizziness, so consuming it while using Valtrex can cause this side effect to be more intense. For this reason, people who use these two substances should probably avoid certain activities while doing so.

A Word on Shingles

If a person is using Valtrex for the treatment of shingles, it is best to avoid alcohol altogether. Shingles is an infection that is caused by the same virus as chickenpox. Although shingles can occur anywhere on your body, it most often appears as a band of blisters or lesions that wraps around a person’s torso.

Unfortunately, the pain caused by shingles can be excruciating. Regular alcohol can compromise a person’s immune system and also reduce the effectiveness of medication. As with any viral infection, the immune system should ideally be operating at peak efficiency, and when alcohol is being consumed, this may not be possible.

Getting Treatment for Alcohol Abuse

There are no specific warnings against the use of alcohol with Valtrex, but it is probably best to avoid drinking while using this medication. If you have been prescribed Valtrex and have been unable to refrain from alcohol consumption, it may be time to seek professional treatment for alcohol use disorder or alcoholism.

Harmony Treatment and Wellness is a family-oriented team of highly-skilled professionals who provide individuals with the treatment and support they need to recover from substance abuse. Our caring staff specializes in customized, evidence-based treatment that is intended to offer our clients the best chances for success in the sustainment of long-term sobriety and wellness.

We offer comprehensive programs in both partial hospitalization and outpatient formats. Therapeutic services that we provide include, but are not limited to, the following:


  • Behavioral therapy
  • Individual and family counseling
  • Peer support groups
  • Music and art therapy


  • Adventure therapy
  • Health and wellness programs
  • Substance abuse education
  • Aftercare planning


We understand there is still a stigma that surrounds substance abuse. Modern addiction treatment is based on the disease model, and no longer focuses on an individual’s so-called moral failings or lack of willpower. This fact is important to stress because many people are reluctant to enter treatment, in fear that they will be judged, stigmatized, or shamed in some way.

We sincerely want to help those who need it most by giving them the tools and support they need to recover and reclaim the happy and healthy lives they deserve. If you or a loved one is struggling to quit using substances, contact us today to discuss treatment and learn how we can help!

Alcohol Relapse Causes, Prevention, and Treatment

Alcohol Relapse | Harmony Treatment and Wellness

It doesn’t matter how committed you are to being sober or how long you have been sober because there is always the potential for an alcohol relapse at some point. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), relapse rates range between 40-60%—about half of all people in recovery.

Alcohol Relapse

Following a relapse, many people have feelings of guilt or regret. They may feel like giving up and succumbing to addiction rather than starting over and working hard to prevent a relapse from happening again. These feelings are normal, but they add more challenges to maintaining an alcohol-free lifestyle.

The best approach is to use this relapse as an event from which you can learn. You can alter your relapse prevention plan as needed and re-identify triggers. By delving deeper into the factors that contributed to the relapse, you can build a new foundation for recovery that will enable you to bounce back stronger than before.

Causes of Relapse

Relapsing after a period of abstinence is, unfortunately, a very common event. As noted, around half of all recovering addicts will have a moment of weakness that leads to alcohol use again. Fortunately, knowing some of the signs can help you prevent this from happening.

Signs that may foretell an imminent relapse include, but are not limited to, the following:

Failing to Make Sobriety a Priority

Without a steadfast commitment to long-term recovery, you are more likely to relapse. In order to be successful, you must be ready to embrace the hard work required to remain sober. Activities should include attending 12-step meetings, having a sponsor, and receiving therapy or counseling for co-occurring mental health disorders such as depression.

Not Having a Support Network in Place

A newly sober person requires a solid support system, and this can make the difference between sustained recovery and relapsing back into alcoholism. Ask friends and family to hold you accountable and engage in sober group activities.

Not Quitting for Yourself

In some instances, a person will enter treatment primarily to please their family or friends or because they must meet the terms of probation or other legal problems. Instead of being committed to being sober for their own sake, they feel pressure to do something they would not otherwise do. Moreover, if a person does not truly want to quit for themselves, the chance of relapse is much higher.

Being Unprepared for Life After Treatment

It’s crucial to devise a relapse prevention plan for transitioning back to the real world after treatment. Certain things can undermine sobriety, such as family dysfunction, toxic friendships, isolation, and unhealthy daily habits. By recognizing triggers early on, you can help defend your newfound sobriety.

Alcohol Relapse | Harmony Treatment and Wellness

What to Do After a Relapse

First, you need to decide whether or not you need to go back into treatment. If it was an isolated episode, and you’re dedicated to examining and adjusting your recovery plan, you may not need to go into an intensive treatment program. There are outpatient treatment programs that can help when you don’t require an inpatient stay or around-the-clock supervision.

If you’ve retreated back into an extended pattern of alcohol abuse, however, you will want to consider returning to a more strict treatment program. Moreover, if you have been talking about using substances or hanging out with people who enable or encourage your drinking, these are signs of a bigger problem. Likewise, if you recommence using alcohol as a coping mechanism, you need to seek treatment as soon as possible.

The return to treatment should have a strong emphasis on psychotherapy, which has been remarkably successful in instructing recovering addicts how to engage in new behavioral responses to unhealthy thoughts and feelings.

Other therapies include art and music therapy, meditation techniques, and physical fitness. Following treatment, you can continue to apply these strategies and tools to maintain a low-stress life, as well as cope with depression, anxiety, and anger.

From the minute you begin treatment after an alcohol relapse, your focus should be on the transition back to normal life. Your best option may be to reside in a sober living home, in which accountability can help during those first few vulnerable months after treatment. Also, it would be beneficial to be equipped with an outpatient plan for ongoing therapy or counseling after you are discharged from treatment.

Getting Help for Alcohol Addiction

If you have already undergone treatment and are struggling with an alcohol relapse, there is help available. Harmony Treatment and Wellness offers integrated, research-based treatment for people who suffer from alcohol or drug addictions. Our programs feature vital recovery services such as psychotherapy, counseling, group support, and more.

If you have relapsed or fear you will relapse, contact us today! We can help you get back on the road to long-term recovery and reclaim the happy and healthy life you deserve!

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