What Is Alcohol Abuse

Alcohol, commonly enjoyed by individuals at parties or special events, can play a role in social status of many cultures. When is the consumption of alcohol considered too much? When does drinking alcohol go from an occasional event to the abuse of the substance? The official term for an individual when diagnosed with an alcoholic problem is AUD or Alcohol Abuse Disorder. Specific criteria is determined before a medical professional will diagnose an individual with AUD, but the disorder is recognized as a disease effecting the brain, causing an uncontrollable drive towards alcohol, the inability to resist intake of the substance, and emotional behaviors when the individual is not using the substance.

Risk Factors for Alcohol Disorder

There are many different risk factors that correlate with an individual’s history of abusing alcohol. Studies have recognized that genes and psychological disorders can influence a person’s drive toward alcohol, but exposure and social factors play a role as well.

Exposure and social influence : When individuals are exposed to alcohol at an early age in life, they are at a higher risk of alcohol use disorder. Therefore, just a first exposure to alcohol can play a significant role. Social gatherings commonly present this first exposure of alcohol, but also consistently associating with other people who drink regularly can have an influence towards drinking. Television shows and different social settings may portray a message that drinking is part of a status or a common daily activity.
Genetics : Individuals who are related to someone with an alcohol use disorder are at higher risk of following in their footsteps. Therefore, genetic factors are recognized in terms of a risk factor for alcohol use.
Psychological disorders : Mental health disorders are commonly in association with with alcohol use disorder. What can become difficult when medical professionals diagnose alcohol use disorder is determining if alcohol use coincided, caused or resulted from the psychological diagnosis. Some common mental health disorders that have shown to cause alcohol use are personality disorders, anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and schizophrenia.

Do I Have A Drinking Problem?

  • Do you crave alcohol?
  • Have you tried to set a goal to stop drinking and failed?
  • Has drinking affected your family or social life?
  • Even though your family or social life has been affected have you continued to drink?
  • Do you need to drink more than you used to in order to have the same effect you once felt from alcohol?
  • Do you go through withdrawal if you do not drink your alcohol?

drink in hand

The Effects Of Alcohol Abuse

The Brain : Alcohol has an effect on the brain, specifically the communication pathway. When this pathway is disrupted, an individual’s ability to think and their body’s coordination abilities are affected. Alcohol’s effects on the brain are specific to the individual, and not all people are affected equally. A person’s behavior is assessed to determine his/her brain’s impairment due to alcohol. The seriousness of impairment may be caused by continuously drinking alcohol for a long period of time and dependent upon other risk factors the individual already has.
Your Health : Alcohol poses health risk both short-term and long-term. Short-term health risks occur from the higher risk of accidents potentially occurring in association with individuals under the influence of alcohol (car accidents, drowning, falls, violence among partners). The more alcohol consumed can lead to a higher blood alcohol level leading to the risk of poisoning or emergencies. Risky sexual behaviors are more common when under the influence of alcohol. Long-term health risks include liver disease, cardiovascular disease, cancer, weakened immune system, mental health problems, difficulties with memory, and social difficulties.
Fetal health : Women who become pregnant and continue to drink during their pregnancy are at risk of miscarrying the baby. Also, the risk of fetal alcohol syndrome, a syndrome causing physical and developmental complications, is higher as pregnant women continue to drink.

man with alcohol addiction

Treatment For Alcohol Addiction

Treatment types for alcohol use disorder include inpatient or outpatient rehabilitation, behavior therapies, medications, and ongoing recovery through support groups and local programs. Rehabilitation treatments usually require the patient to stay at a facility (inpatient) for a period of time or allow the patient to continue with daily responsibilities while getting care (outpatient). Behavioral therapies allow the patient to work closely with a counselor and recognize the behaviors leading up to the alcohol use disorder. Gaining insight on what needs to change in order to recover, seeking out a support group, and continuously reaching towards goals of staying clean while resisting the urge to relapse are all benefits of behavioral therapies. The medications used for alcohol addiction can help decrease the cravings for alcohol and the chance of relapse, decrease symptoms experienced during withdrawal, and, for some people, help avoid alcohol all together. Support groups are found locally in one’s area where he/she can go and talk to other addicts who are continuing to choose the road of sobriety. These support groups can help individuals connect and meet others, but also stay in touch with familiar patients from rehab clinics. The right treatment is out there for you to begin the road to recovery. Search your local area and start the journey that will benefit your future.