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Abuse Of Alcohol

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW:

Alcohol abuse is when you drink large amounts of alcohol often to change your mood or behavior.

CARE AGREEMENT:

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

RISKS:

Medicines to treat alcohol abuse may cause vomiting, stress, anxiety, headaches, or dizziness. Alcohol abuse puts you at risk for disease and injury. Alcohol can damage your brain, heart, kidneys, lungs, and liver. The risk of stroke is greater if you have 5 or more drinks each day. You may act out violently when you abuse alcohol. You may harm yourself and others. Risky sexual behavior could lead to sexually transmitted infections. If you are pregnant and drink alcohol, you and your baby are at risk for serious health problems. Alcohol abuse may put you in a coma and may be life-threatening.

WHILE YOU ARE HERE:

Informed consent

is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.

Psychiatric assessment:

Caregivers will ask if you have a history of psychological trauma, such as physical, sexual, or mental abuse. They will ask if you were given the care that you needed. Caregivers will ask you if you have been a victim of a crime or natural disaster, or if you have a serious injury or disease. They will ask you if you have seen other people being harmed, such as in combat. You will be asked if you drink alcohol or use drugs at present or in the past. Caregivers will ask you if you want to hurt or kill yourself or others. How you answer these questions can help caregivers decide on treatment. To help during treatment, caregivers will ask you about such things as how you feel about it and your hobbies and goals. Caregivers will also ask you about the people in your life who support you.

Pulse oximeter:

A pulse oximeter is a device that measures the amount of oxygen in your blood. A cord with a clip or sticky strip is placed on your finger, ear, or toe. The other end of the cord is hooked to a machine. Never turn the pulse oximeter or alarm off. An alarm will sound if your oxygen level is low or cannot be read.

Vital signs:

Caregivers will check your blood pressure, heart rate, breathing rate, and temperature. They will also ask about your pain. These vital signs give caregivers information about your current health.

Intake and Output:

Caregivers will keep track of the amount of liquid you are getting. They may also need to know how much you are urinating. Ask your caregiver how much liquid you should have each day. You may need to increase or decrease the amount of liquid you have each day. Ask caregivers if they need to measure or collect your urine before you dispose of it.

An IV

is a small tube placed in your vein that is used to give you medicine or liquids.

Medicines:

  • Sedative: This medicine is given to help you stay calm and relaxed.

  • Anticonvulsant medicine: This medicine is given to control seizures. Take this medicine exactly as directed.

  • Antinausea medicine: This medicine may be given to calm your stomach and prevent vomiting.

  • Glucose: This medicine may be given to increase the amount of sugar in your blood.

  • Vitamin supplement: Alcohol can make it hard for your body to absorb enough vitamin B1. You may be given vitamin B1 if you have low levels. It is also given to prevent alcohol related brain damage. You may also need other vitamin supplements.

Tests:

  • Blood and urine tests: Samples of your blood or urine are tested for alcohol. Tests can also show signs of liver, kidney, or heart damage caused by alcohol. You may need to have these tests more than once.

  • Neurologic exam: This is also called neuro signs, neuro checks, or neuro status. A neurologic exam can show caregivers how well your brain works after an injury or illness. Caregivers will check how your pupils (black dots in the center of each eye) react to light. They may check your memory and how easily you wake up. Your hand grasp and balance may also be tested.

  • EKG: This test records the electrical activity of your heart. It will be used to check for damage or problems caused by alcohol.

  • Chest x-ray: This is a picture of your lungs and heart. Caregivers may use the x-ray to look for heart damage, injuries, or signs of infection, such as pneumonia.

  • CT scan: This test is also called a CAT scan. An x-ray machine uses a computer to take pictures of your brain. The pictures may show damage caused by alcohol abuse. You may be given a dye before the pictures are taken to help caregivers see the pictures better. Tell the caregiver if you have ever had an allergic reaction to contrast dye.

Treatment:

  • Brief intervention therapy: A caregiver meets with you to discuss ways to control your risky behaviors, such as drinking and driving. This therapy also helps you set goals to decrease the amount of alcohol you drink.

  • Breathing support:

    • You may need extra oxygen if your blood oxygen level is lower than it should be. You may get oxygen through a mask placed over your nose and mouth or through small tubes placed in your nostrils. Ask your healthcare provider before you take off the mask or oxygen tubing.

    • A ventilator is a machine that gives you oxygen and breathes for you when you cannot breathe well on your own. An endotracheal (ET) tube is put into your mouth or nose and attached to the ventilator. You may need a trach if an ET tube cannot be placed. A trach is a tube put through an incision and into your windpipe.

© 2014 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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