What is the definition of alcohol addiction?
Alcohol addiction – also known as alcoholism (or alcohol use disorder), is an addiction disease that can affect anyone, regardless of age, race, gender or location.
Alcohol abuse and alcoholism shows itself in various ways and depends mostly on the severity of the addiction.
Since alcohol is legal, inexpensive, socially acceptable and easy to access, alcohol use disorders are arguably one of the most common forms of drug addiction worldwide.
The impact of alcohol abuse and alcoholism
In 2017, there were 35,823 alcohol-related deaths in the United States alone, and 22,246 of those deaths were liver-related fatalities.
Alcohol abuse and addiction
For many people, alcohol addiction can take the form of having one drink per day.
For others, drinking alcohol to excess turns into frequent binge drinking sessions that cause destructive behaviors- unfortunately, all this sets people up for becoming an alcoholic.
However, regardless of how alcohol problems take shape, people who suffer from alcohol addiction often face widespread issues.
All this has a detrimental impact on almost every aspect of their lives, including:
- Personal relationships
- Career and finances
- Personal goals and levels of motivation
- Mental and physical health
Over time, as a person’s drinking problem becomes harder to manage, the negative impact is often long-lasting, resulting in many complications (such as intense withdrawal symptoms when not using).
All this can affect the rest of a person’s life, even if they eventually stop drinking.
Therefore, receiving the right treatment for alcohol addiction (such as alcoholism treatment) as early as possible is crucial to combat the effects of alcohol.
Warning signs and symptoms of alcohol addiction
Some of the symptoms associated with substance use disorders such as alcohol addiction are incredibly noticeable. Unfortunately, alcoholism is an addiction that can quickly spiral out of control, causing significant harm to the addict and their family members.
Some of the symptoms associated with alcohol addiction include:
- Temporary blackouts or short-term memory loss
- Irritability and severe fluctuations in mood
- Making excuses for excessive drinking such as to relax, deal with stress or to feel normal
- Becoming socially reclusive and isolated from friends and family
- Drinking alone or hiding the habit from a close loved one or family member
Other warning signs that someone might have a drinking problem include:
- Failure to control the consumption of alcohol
- A craving to drink alcohol and building a high alcohol tolerance level
- Failing to stop drinking at an appropriate time and wanting more
- Getting into financial problems because of alcoholism
- Being at risk of heart disease
- Developing mental health problems such as depression and anxiety
- Experiencing alcohol-related withdrawal symptoms
Alcohol dependence: a preventable disease
There are, of course, many other signs and symptoms of alcohol abuse and alcoholism.
While an estimated 88,000 people die each year from alcohol-related causes, it is an extremely preventable disease with the right help.
What causes a person to be an alcoholic?
There is a wide range of reasons why someone may consume alcohol regularly. For example:
- To relieve stress: Many people turn to substance abuse such as alcohol to reduce life stressors. When we drink alcohol, even though it produces temporary feelings of pleasure is still considered a depressant- meaning that any good feelings experienced are only present for a short period of time.
- To feel good: For many, drinking feels good. And when done in moderation, the harmful effects that alcohol has on the body and mind are almost non-existent. Although using alcohol consistently to ‘escape reality’ is an issue that needs to be addressed by a health professional.
- Shame: Yes, shame is a significant factor as to why some people drink. We’ve all done things we’re not proud of, and many people use alcohol as an excuse for reckless, more erratic behavior, thus making them feel shameful the next morning when they’re sober. This cycle is self-perpetuating and has a severe impact on a person’s mental health.
- Trauma: For many, alcoholism is a way of avoiding bad memories or past situations. ‘Trauma drinking’ is one of the most common reasons people drink, but this form of alcohol use is a painful albeit unhelpful way to deal with past experiences. When recovering from alcohol addiction, any traumatic events must be addressed and overcome during the alcohol treatment phase.
Treatment for alcoholism: the recovery process
Deciding to seek help for alcoholism is a significant first step to stop drinking and overcoming addiction.
It takes courage to step forward and get help. With that courage, a person can begin to move forward and overcome the barriers standing in the way of sobriety.
There are many treatment options available for alcohol addiction and alcoholism, and treatment providers all offer a different level of frequency and severity.
Treatment for alcohol abuse
Some of the treatment options to help you stop drinking include:
The first and most crucial step to alcohol addiction recovery is to detoxify from the substance.
In severe cases, treatment programs will require medical professionals’ assistance to ensure that the detoxification process gets performed safely.
Withdrawal symptoms from alcohol and drug abuse can be severe, and people may need medication to alleviate detoxifying painful side effects.
Counselling (whether it’s a support group or individual), 12-step programs, and other holistic approaches such as wellness programs are effective ways to overcome initial addiction to alcohol whether the symptoms are mild to severe.
In a rehabilitation environment (similar to Alcoholics Anonymous), you will get surrounded by other people going through similar experiences to you, which may help in long-term recovery.
Professional staff (such as a treatment provider) are always on hand to guide you every step of the way.
When it comes to treatment programs, you will be in an environment that gets detached from your everyday life, your loved ones, and the negative triggers that fuel your drinking.
Even though overcoming alcohol addiction can be tricky, with expert guidance, the right treatment professionals and a safe, tranquil and secluded environment at your disposal, recovery from an alcohol addiction is possible.
There is no cure for alcohol addiction.
Chances are, you’ll get the urge to drink for the rest of your life, and substance abuse and alcoholism requires ongoing management to ensure that you avoid succumbing to past negative habits.
Therefore, Ongoing aftercare is essential for long-term happiness and sobriety.
With a rehab program, many clients get access to ongoing aftercare, including things like support groups, mental health initiatives, and a selection of recovery resources.
In severe cases, the opportunity to attend a transitional living facility to ease people back into reality is also an invaluable treatment option.
In 2014, roughly 16.3 million adults in the United States had an alcohol use disorder (AUD), and of those with an AUD, only 8.9 per cent received treatment. Don’t fall victim to your addiction.
National Institute on alcohol abuse
The National Institute on alcohol abuse reported that an estimated 14.1 million adults ages 18 or over had an alcohol use disorder (AUD).
All this is a testament to the prevalence of alcohol abuse worldwide.
According to the Mayo Clinic, alcohol use disorders occur more frequently when people hit their 20’s and 30’s, although addiction can start at any age.
In the state of New Jersey, there were an estimated 70,121 admissions for alcohol and drug abuse in 2010 in state, local, private and non-profit substance abuse treatment facilities.
We encourage you to seek professional help as soon as you can and get control of your life so that your future can go back to being happy, fulfilled and sober.
All this allows you to enjoy the fullness that life has to offer, one that is free from the clutches of addiction.
To find out more about how Tikvah Lake Recovery can help you or your loved one with alcohol addiction, contact us today.