Alcohol Addiction

Alcohol addiction affects people across all demographic categories: age, race, gender, ethnicity, education, income level, and marital status. It’s not an exaggeration to say that alcohol abuse is a worldwide epidemic.

More than 140,000 Americans die from excessive alcohol use yearly. And 60% of Americans increased their alcohol consumption during the Covid-19 lockdowns. Worldwide, up to 3 million people die every year as a result of alcohol abuse.

In most United States, alcoholic beverages can be legally purchased, and drinking is socially acceptable. As a result, an individual’s misuse of alcohol may remain “under the radar” for many years.

Such a person may not even realize that they have a problem with alcohol. They may assume that their habit is no more than “social drinking”—even as it drifts into an alcohol use disorder. This is what makes alcohol addiction sneaky-dangerous.

The habitual misuse of alcohol is nothing to ignore or underestimate. Alcohol can negatively impact a person’s physical and mental health. Drinking alcohol daily or binge drinking can severely impact a person’s life.

The physical and psychological effects of alcohol addiction can be devastating. Addiction to a substance can wreak havoc on every aspect of a person’s life. In the worst cases, when addiction is left untreated, it can cause death. Learn more about Turning Tides’ alcohol rehab in Irvine, CA.

What is Alcohol Use Disorder?

Alcohol use disorder (AUD) is the official term doctors, and mental health professionals use to diagnose alcohol addiction. It covers a range of conditions known as alcohol abuse, alcohol dependence, alcohol addiction, and alcoholism.

Alcohol Use Disorder is both a physical and a mental health disorder. The primary symptom of AUD is an impaired ability to stop or control the use of alcohol. People with alcohol addiction will not be able to quit drinking independently, regardless of the negative consequences.

It means that a person’s drinking causes severe problems in their life, yet they continue to drink. The person may also need increasing amounts of alcohol to feel drunk and experience withdrawal symptoms if they stop drinking suddenly.

Signs & Symptoms of Alcohol Addiction

It is essential to recognize the signs and symptoms associated with alcohol addiction. If someone shows signs of an alcohol use disorder, they should seek help to recover and manage their alcohol abuse. 

Dietary Guidelines for Alcohol Consumption

The first step in knowing whether someone is misusing alcohol is clearly understanding what healthy alcohol consumption looks like.

The dietary guidelines from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommend that adults refrain from drinking. However, if they do drink, it is recommended that they drink in moderation. 

Drinking in moderation means:

These criteria offer a very straightforward way of evaluating drinking behavior. If a man or woman is consuming alcohol outside the dietary guidelines regularly, there might be a problem.

There are many other physical, behavioral, and mental-emotional symptoms of alcohol addiction. Strong physical cravings for alcohol are just one of many warning signs of an alcohol use disorder.

There’s a full range of symptoms of alcoholism to be on the lookout for. These symptoms are clearly articulated in the alcohol use disorder (AUD) section of the DSM-5.

DSM-5 Criteria for Alcohol Use Disorder

When a mental health professional wants to find out if a person has an alcohol use disorder, they use the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition (DSM-5). This manual gives professionals guidelines for making an official diagnosis of alcohol addiction.

The DSM-5 lists 11 possible symptoms of alcohol use disorder. To be diagnosed with AUD, an individual must have experienced at least two of these 11 symptoms within the previous year. The more symptoms they have experienced, the more serious the addiction is.  

These 11 symptoms are categorized into four groups, which describe specific aspects of addictive behavior and signs of alcohol addiction:

  1. Impaired control over substance use.
  2. Social impairment.
  3. Risky use.
  4. Pharmacological.

The Dangers of Alcohol Addiction

One of the gravest risks of alcohol abuse is death. Around 10% of deaths among those aged 15 to 49 are attributable to alcohol. Alcohol abuse is responsible for over half of all chronic substance misuse deaths.

Here are some of the short-term and long-term risks associated with alcohol use:

Short-Term Effects & Dangers of Alcohol Use

The short-term effects and dangers of alcohol abuse include: 

Long-Term Effects & Dangers of Alcohol Use

Adverse effects associated with long-term abuse of alcohol include:

Treatment for Alcohol Addiction

No matter how severe the problem may seem, most people with alcohol use disorder (AUD) can benefit from substance abuse treatment. Examples of treatment include treatment with behavioral therapies, medications, and/or complementary therapies. It is essential to take any medical advice from an experienced medical professional.

Psychotherapy for Alcohol Use Disorder

After alcohol detox, a person recovering from alcohol addiction will likely participate in individual and/or group therapy. During these sessions, the client can explore the root causes of the addiction; and learn strategies for maintaining lasting sobriety.

People recovering from alcohol addiction may find help in therapeutic support groups and specialized treatments. Treatment professionals can help those struggling find the best treatment approach for their needs. 

Behavioral therapies can be particularly effective in helping to prevent relapse and treating alcohol use disorder. These therapies can be essential for establishing new healthy habits and self-care rituals. 

Such therapies include:

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy
Motivational Enhancement Therapy
Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy
Dialectical Behavioral Therapy

Begin Your Healing Journey

Alcohol withdrawal can be a scary and unsettling experience. For this reason—and because there are genuine dangers involved—a person should never attempt to detox from alcohol alone.

At a residential addiction treatment center such as Turning Tides, trained professionals can monitor and treat withdrawal symptoms. Treatment professionals are prepared to administer necessary medications for a safe and comfortable detox experience. Skilled counselors can guide the client through all the remaining steps of the rehab and recovery process.

Begin your healing journey today!

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