More formally known as an alcohol use disorder, the symptoms of alcoholism may not always be completely obvious. Having an alcohol use disorder is not just about how much you drink, but it can also be about how often you drink, how you respond to the alcohol, and your symptoms when you attempt to stop drinking.
If you believe that you, or someone you care about, is suffering from the symptoms of alcoholism or an alcohol use disorder you need to be aware of the signs.
What is Alcohol Use Disorder?
There are many forms of alcohol use disorder. In some cases, it can be described as alcoholism. Also referred to as an AUD, this type of disorder is a pattern of alcohol use that causes problems. It may include an inability to control your drinking, preoccupation with alcohol, and continuing drinking despite problems arising from alcohol use.
If you need to drink more to get the same effect or begin having withdrawal symptoms, then you may be suffering from an AUD, but reach out to Icarus and we can provide a no-cost evaluation without any obligations and completely confidentially.
When alcohol use becomes unhealthy, it means that your safety is being put at risk. It may also be causing other alcohol-related problems. Should you be binge drinking this can also be considered an alcohol-related problem.
Pattern drinking can be something that defines an AUD as well. If you have stress in your life and you solve it with drinking, then this is unhealthy. There are mild disorders and severe, but any type of negative impact on your daily life is not healthy.
What are the Signs of an Alcohol Use Disorder?
Alcohol use disorder can be mild, moderate, or severe. Understanding your degree of alcohol use disorder is based on the number of symptoms you experience. Signs of an alcohol use disorder may include:
- Not being able to limit the amount of alcohol you drink
- Wanting to stop drinking but not being unable to
- Spending too much time drinking
- Spending a lot of time to get alcohol or recovering from drinking
- Having cravings to drink alcohol
- Being unable to fulfill normal everyday obligations due to alcohol use
- Drinking even though it causes negative impacts on your life
- Reducing activities you once loved due to alcohol use
- Using alcohol in situations where it’s not safe
- Developing a tolerance to alcohol meaning you need more to feel the same effects
- Experiencing withdrawal symptoms
What are the Risk Factors for Alcohol Abuse?
There are many risk factors involved in the possibility of developing alcoholism or an alcohol abuse disorder. Most of the health concerns with alcohol use disorders are due to actual abuse. If you develop a drinking problem, it may be because you are at risk with one of the below factors.
- Drinking early on: For those who begin using alcohol at a young age, it can lead to addiction later in life. This is specifically true when it comes to binge drinking. You may wonder, can damage from alcohol be reversed? It can, but must be met with treatment.
- Family history of alcohol addiction: Growing up around family members and close relatives who also show alcoholic behaviors, increases the risk of alcohol abuse. By being surrounded by people who drink often or excessively, you may look at alcohol use differently and see excessive use as something that is normal.
- High stress: Drinking in order to avoid stress can turn problematic. When it comes to careers that generally take on emotional or strenuous tasks, such as doctors, nurses, emergency rescue workers, construction workers, and military, it puts you at a higher risk for alcoholism.
- Peer pressure: If someone in your life who is close to you often drinks, you may want to join them. This can become a dangerous pattern.
- Frequent alcohol consumption: When you drink too much, you increase your chances of developing alcohol disorders. When you drink more, you build a tolerance, and that means you will need more to feel the same effects.
Known as being a dangerous form of drinking, binge drinking is a pattern where a male consumes five or more drinks within two hours, or a female has at least four drinks within two hours. Binge drinking is known to cause major health and safety risks.
One drink is considered the following:
- 12 ounces (355 milliliters) of regular beer (about 5 percent alcohol)
- 8 to 9 ounces (237 to 266 milliliters) of malt liquor (about 7 percent alcohol)
- 5 ounces (148 milliliters) of unfortified wine (about 12 percent alcohol)
- 5 ounces (44 milliliters) of 80-proof hard liquor (about 40 percent alcohol)
Other Risk Factors
There are also other risk factors when it comes to alcoholism.
- Biological Factors
- Genetics and physiology
- Some people have impulses to drink due to their biology
- Alcohol provides the sensation of pleasure, encouraging the brain to seek it again (and again)
- Chemicals in the brain can make you more susceptible to alcohol abuse.
- Alcoholism may be associated with up to 51 genes in various chromosome regions.
- Environmental Factors
- Possible connections between yourself and the environment
- Researchers have examined whether or not the proximity to alcohol retail stores or bars affect chances of alcoholism
- Living closer to alcohol establishments may lead to more drinking
- Living below the poverty line
- Social Factors
- Culture and religion
- Family holds the largest role in the development of alcoholism
- Children exposed to alcohol abuse from an early age are more at risk of falling into a dangerous drinking pattern
- Stress at work can contribute to a drinking problem
- Psychological Factors
- How someone copes with their feelings
- Coping with stress, anxiety, depression, and other mental health conditions may be more vulnerable to developing alcoholism
- Sometimes people use feelings to relieve the symptoms of psychological disorders
- Drinking can become habitual and lead to an AUD
- The more alcohol is used to soothe feelings, the more your body will become tolerant to the effects
- People with depression, bipolar and schizophrenia, commonly abuse alcohol
The Physical Impact of Alcohol Use
There are two main forms of physical impact when it comes to extreme alcohol use. One of the physical impacts is alcohol intoxication. This occurs because of the alcohol in your bloodstream. When the alcohol increases, there will be more of a concentration in your bloodstream. This type of intoxication will cause both behavior problems and mental changes.
Intoxication can also lead to:
- Inappropriate behavior
- Unstable moods
- Impaired judgment
- Slurred speech
- Impaired attention or memory
- Poor coordination
- Coma or death in severe cases
When it comes to alcohol abuse alcohol withdrawal is also a physical symptom. It can occur when alcohol use has been heavy, or for a long time. When you stop drinking or greatly reduce, you may notice withdrawal symptoms within several hours to four or five days later. Signs and symptoms may include:
- Rapid heartbeat
- Hand tremors
- Problems sleeping
- Nausea and vomiting
- Restlessness and agitation
- Seizures in severe instances
Prevention and Education for AUDs
The stigma of alcoholism as a term is something that many alcoholics wish to stay away from. Despite this, twelve-step programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous, known to many as AA, work to prevent and educate people against this disease. For example, drunk driving and AUDs are extremely common, therefore once people are of legal drinking age, alcohol education programs are essential to prevent them.
These programs help to inform young adults about responsible drinking behavior, as well as promote healthier cultural approaches to alcohol. They may also encourage people to reduce the amount of alcohol they drink, and avoid longer-term health problems.
Dual Diagnosis Treatment in Albuquerque and Alcohol Use
Dual diagnosis is when someone has both a drug problem as well as an alcohol problem. It is important to help educate alcohol abusers regarding the possibility of dual diagnosis because there are many risks associated with specific drugs.
This can include short-term risks like overdose, but also longer-term risks like dependence. Sometimes this can be due to the method of injecting drugs or using them.
Clinical Diagnosis of AUD
In order to provide a clinical diagnosis of AUD, you may look into the following which is the dsm 5 definition of alcohol use disorders. If you’ve had two or three of those symptoms in the past year, then you are considered to have a mild alcohol use disorder. If you have had four or five, it would be considered a moderate disorder. For anyone with six or more, it is severe.
How to Help a Loved One with Alcoholism in Albuquerque
For anyone that is seeking treatment for alcohol use disorders, long-term sobriety from alcohol is possible, but they will need help. In most cases, many people with alcohol use disorder avoid getting treatment either because they do not recognize they have a problem, or because they are embarrassed to admit it.
If you or someone you love needs professional help, then contact the compassionate staff at Icarus Behavioral Health to learn more about our programs for recovery from even the most severe alcohol use disorders.
We will answer any questions and concerns about treatment, and will begin crafting a personal plan of treatment for you or your loved one immediately, so please don’t hesitate to call, and let us help you on the road to healing.