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Medical Information on Interventions for Alcoholics

medical information on interventions for alcoholics

When considering a detox or treatment program for those with alcohol addiction, medical information on should be thoughtfully assessed due to the dangers of alcohol withdrawal.

Interventions on Alcoholics require medical, psychological and physiological understanding.  Before anyone considers intervening on an alcoholic, a skilled and trained expert in interventions must understand the biological, psychological, and physiological effects that the alcohol addiction has caused in the person using alcohol. Listed below we have provided some basic “technical” information about alcohol for those who are curious about this.  Although Intervention Services has conducted many interventions on an alcohol abuser, this doesn’t mean that every person is the same. Generally speaking alcohol affects everyone “mostly” the same, but there are an infinite amount of differences in a case by case basis.

Improper Information when Intervening on an Alcoholic can be fatal

Intervention Services has sought to include some technical information usually necessary to understand about alcoholism, especially when someone is looking to do an intervention on someone who abuses alcohol.   For those wishing more information about an actual alcohol intervention and not the technical details about alcohol and it’s effects, this information can be found by clicking here.

Alcohol, Ethyl Alcohol, Ethanol, Booze, Brew, Hooch

There are two common forms of alcohol that the average person uses, ethyl alcohol and propyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol).  Ethyl Alcohol is what we commonly find in liquor, beer and wine.  Propyl Alcohol is extremely harmful and should never be ingested.  Pharmacologically, ethyl alcohol is a water soluble liquid that is produced by primarily two methods. Fermentation is the oldest method of producing ethyl alcohol. The fermentation of fruits or grains will produce wines and beers. The highest concentration of ethyl alcohol obtained from this process is about 12% or 24 proof. The second method is distillation. Distillation can produce up to a 95% or 190 proof concentration of ethyl alcohol. This process is used to produce liquors and whiskeys.

Percentage of Alcohol in Certain Beverages


  • Light lager or dark ale 6%
  • Malt or stout 8%

 Liquors & Whiskeys

  • Bourbon, whiskey, scotch, vodka, gin, brandy, rum 43%
  • Tequila, cognac, Drambuie 40%
  • Amaretto, Kahlua, etc. 28%
  • Everclear 95%


  • Red, white, rose, champagne 12%
  • Sherry 20%
  • Vermouth 18%
  • Wine Cooler 12%

Physiological Effects of Alcohol

Understanding how alcohol effects the body is critical when performing an intervention on an alcoholic.  Alcohol starts affecting the body immediately upon consumption with the severity being determined by body size and sex, the type and proof of alcohol, how quickly it is consumed, and what other drugs have been taken with it. Alcohol affects nearly every organ of the body with the only exception being the ear.

 Short-Term Effects of Alcohol

  • Alteration of sensation and perception
  • Lowered inhibitions, feeling of no fear
  • Sleepiness
  • Increased urine output
  • Elevated heartbeat
  • Lowered motor coordination

Long-Term Effects of Alcohol

  • Mouth–oral lesions run risk of becoming cancerous
  • Bronchi (wind pipes)–alcoholics who also smoke run a 15 times greater chance of contracting cancer than non-
    smokers and non-drinkers.
  • Stomach–excessive overflow of hydrochloric acid deteriorates the stomach lining and can cause hemorrhage and ulcerations (Alcoholic Gastritis can be fatal) Often the damaging effects are no longer felt after a period; therefore, more alcohol is consumed and damage to intestine intensifies.
  • Kidneys–inflammation and possibility of waste accumulating in body when urinary tract is blocked.
  • Liver–alcohol takes its greatest toll on the liver which, when healthy, is responsible for several essential body functions. Liver disease is the number one cause of death in alcoholics. Alcohol causes excessive fat in the liver which prohibits the liver from functioning properly. Some common liver conditions are:
    • Inflammation of the liver.
    • Cirrhosis of the liver (swollen, scarred, or dead tissue).
    • Jaundice–bile enters the bloodstream when the liver doesn’t work.
  • Alcoholic diabetes–pancreas’ ability to produce insulin is affected.
  • Circulatory System–alcoholics have an increased risk of high blood pressure, strokes, and arteriosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) which may eventually weaken the heart muscle walls. The heart won’t pump enough blood, and this causes breathing difficulties and irregular rhythm of the heart which can eventually be fatal. It is estimated that 30% of all high blood pressure is a result of alcohol consumption.
  • Nervous System–alcohol alters brain cells which causes blackouts, memory loss, loss of control, slowed reflexes,
    poor vision, and slurred speech.
  • Skeletal System–calcium depletion causes brittle bones, fractures, and back pain. Alcohol also destroys the white
    blood cells found in the bones which leaves the body more receptive to anemia, diseases, and slow-healing wounds.
  • Muscular System–muscles lose tone, which results in less energy and flabby appearance.
  • Reproductive System
    • Male–testicles may shrink; impotence.
    • Female–the ovary may atrophy.
  • Alcoholism and Pregnancy–alcoholic mothers run the risk of having more difficult labor, spontaneous abortions, and having babies with birth defects (Fetal Alcohol Effects, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome) including under weight and size, small eyes and heads, upturned noses, and mental retardation. Alcoholic mothers who nurse pass alcohol to their babies through their milk.
  • Duodenum (small intestine)–2/3 of alcohol is absorbed here; ulcers here can damage nerves so badly that pain is

Psychological Effects

These effects include delusion, denial, loss of memory, loss of control, inability to predict outcome, euphoria, impaired judgment, feeling of decreased inhibition, decreased fear, increased risk taking behavior, and aggressive humor.

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