Approximately 22 million Americans are currently addicted to one or more mind-altering substances. Out of that 22 million Americans, 16 million are addicted to alcohol.
Alcohol comes in several forms, such as wine, liquor, and beer. It is regularly included in people’s everyday lives. From after-work happy hours and family dinners to holidays and weddings, alcohol is more prevalent today than ever before. It is so popular, in fact, that more than 86% of Americans have drank alcohol at least once in their lives. Unfortunately, about twelve percent of those who drink alcohol develop alcohol use disorder.
What is Alcohol Use Disorder?
Alcohol use disorder, or AUD, is a disease characterized by compulsive alcohol use. Those experiencing AUD will struggle to control their alcohol intake and become irritated when not using. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V), people with AUD experience two or more of the following:
- Alcohol is often taken in larger amounts and/or over a longer period than the patient intended
- Persistent attempts or one or more unsuccessful efforts made to cut down or control alcohol use
- A great deal of time is spent in activities necessary to obtain, use, or recover from alcohol
- Craving or a strong desire or urge to use alcohol
- Recurrent substance use resulting in failure to fulfill major role obligations at work, school, or home
- Continued alcohol use despite having persistent or recurrent social or interpersonal problems caused or exacerbated by effects of alcohol use
- Important social, occupational, or recreational activities given up or reduced because of alcohol use
- Recurrent alcohol use in situations in which it is physically hazardous
- Alcohol use is continued despite knowledge of having a persistent or recurrent physical or psychological problem that has been caused/exacerbated by alcohol
In addition to these includes symptoms of tolerance, which include:
- Needing to consume more alcohol to achieve the desired effect
- Noticeably diminished effects when continuing to use the same amount of alcohol
- Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when not using
- Continuing to use to prevent withdrawal symptoms
Individuals experiencing 2-3 of the above-listed symptoms are classified as having a mild AUD. Those with 4-5 symptoms have moderate AUD and people with 6 or more symptoms have a severe AUD.
How Do I Know If I Am Abusing Alcohol?
Alcohol is so widely accepted throughout the country that it is hard for some people to determine if they are abusing it or not. One serving of alcohol equals one of the following:
- 12 oz regular beer
- 8-9 oz of malt liquor
- 5 oz of wine
- 1.5 oz of 80-proof distilled spirits
Consuming multiple servings of alcohol in one period of time is considered alcohol abuse. Continuing to partake in alcohol abuse on a weekly or daily basis can constitute AUD, however, there are several other factors that go into making that diagnosis.
The first thing you can do to determine if you are abusing alcohol is to see if any of the diagnostic criteria from the DSM-V are applicable to you. Remember, you only need to be experiencing two of those symptoms to have AUD. There are other things in your life that you should evaluate when considering if your alcohol use is abusive. They include:
Specific to alcohol, abuse often causes several psychological side effects that tend to include both anxiety and depression. Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant, meaning that it slows your nervous system down. It also means that it can promote feelings of sadness, worthlessness, and hopelessness. Not being able to drink when you are used to abusing alcohol can promote anxiety. This can happen for several reasons, including because of the constant getting drunk/being hungover cycle. Going from being drunk to hungover often triggers the onset of anxiety.
The DSM discusses withdrawal symptoms in relation to alcohol tolerance. If you are tolerant and/or dependent on this substance because of your alcohol abuse, you will experience withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms can include chills, sweats, tremors, vomiting, headaches, hallucinations, and a fast heart rate. Your alcohol use has definitely become a problem if you are experiencing withdrawal symptoms.
Change in quality of life
Alcohol abuse leads to changes in all areas of your life. Your alcohol abuse has the potential to cost you your job, placement in school, and good standing among your family. As a result, you may begin seeing financial, legal, and interpersonal issues develop. One of the most prominent signs of alcohol abuse is when individuals put alcohol above everything else in their lives.
What Do I Do If I Have Alcohol Use Disorder?
If you are abusing alcohol, the most important thing that you can do is reach out for help. You can do things by going online and researching treatment centers. You can call your primary care doctor and set up an appointment to obtain a referral. Reaching out to a therapist, a friend, or a family member is also an option if you want to get help.
Depending on the severity of your alcohol abuse, you will receive treatment that corresponds with your need level. Inpatient treatment, partial hospitalization programs, intensive outpatient programs, and outpatient treatment are all options for professional treatment. Local alcohol rehab is often an excellent place to start if you are ready to stop abusing alcohol.
It is critical to note that going from full-blown alcohol abuse to not using at all can be deadly. If you abuse alcohol and experience withdrawal symptoms when unable to use, get professional help immediately. By doing so, you are ensuring your physical wellbeing.
Enroll in Alcohol Rehab Right Now
Abusing alcohol may seem like a minor problem, however, it is anything but. Continuing to abuse alcohol can put your life in jeopardy and hurt those around you. Reaching out for help at our alcohol rehab can save your life.
Do not waste another minute wondering when is the best time to ask for help. There is no better time than right now. Call us today. We can help you.