Drinking too much alcohol can cause negative effects such as slurred speech or difficulty with standing or walking, but it can also affect someone’s social life. Even their safety and the safety of the people around them can be compromised.
On average, alcoholism often begins in a person’s early 20’s and is accompanied by frequent heavy drinking. This behavior leads to increased tolerance to alcohol and eventually can result in social and health problems. Being able to recognize when someone is abusing alcohol can be useful in determining if they require help.
Causes of Alcoholism
Alcoholism is something that develops slowly and without warning. Consequently, many individuals are in denial or do not realize they are already alcoholics. In most cases addiction started from one or more of the following:
- Social pressure: For some alcoholics, addiction started through social pressure from friends who encouraged them to drink even if they didn’t want or intend to drink. Eventually, by giving in to peer pressure, drinking becomes a normal part of their lives.
- Mental illness: For others, alcohol is a way to deal with mental illnesses like anxiety or depression. Some even go as far as combining medications such as Klonopin or Oxycodone with alcohol (polysubstance abuse) in an attempt to self-medicate. Even if this seems to work in the beginning, their mental issues can worsen, especially once they become dependent on alcohol.
- Genetics: Research from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) suggests that alcoholism can be linked to an individual’s genes. Because some individuals have a genetic predisposition that allows them to have more tolerance to alcohol than others, this makes it more likely that they may develop alcoholic tendencies.
- Environmental factors: The environment an individual lives in can also contribute to alcoholism. For example, a child who grows up among alcoholic family members would perceive drinking as a normal way to cope with stress. Or they would simply see it as socially acceptable. As a result they may be more likely to become an alcoholic.
Signs of Alcohol Abuse
Common signs of alcohol abuse include the following:
- Slurry/incoherent speech
- Lack of body coordination (unable to walk in a straight line)
- Disorientation and confusion
- Recklessness and inability to control emotion
- Spacing out (staring blankly into space)
- Experiencing alcohol withdrawal symptoms when not drinking (anxiety, sweats, agitation, nausea)
- Drinking more often or in greater amounts because of an increased tolerance to alcohol
Meanwhile, some people may not experience the above signs after drinking too much alcohol. However, an individual can still be considered as an alcoholic if they do the following:
- Drink at least one alcoholic beverage per day
- Drink alcohol just because they feel the need to
- Drink an excessive amount of alcohol, especially during social events, gatherings, etc.
- Their drinking becomes a major concern of their loved ones
- Their drinking affects their job, quality of work, or home and personal life
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The Dangers of Alcohol Abuse
As mentioned, drinking is a normal part of our culture, regardless of whatever alcoholic beverages one prefers. However, many people don’t realize the long-term effects of excessive alcohol use. Whether you are a frequent, a social or occasional, or a first-time drinker, the effects of alcohol are undeniable.
Several studies have also revealed that the younger a person is when they begin to consume alcohol, the higher their risk of developing an alcohol dependency. Brains are still developing into a person’s mid-20’s, so too much alcohol consumption can interfere with the process. Moreover, alcoholism can take a toll on a problem drinker’s overall health. In addition to affecting the brain’s development, heart and liver health risk being compromised.
Long-term alcohol abuse can lead to:
- Liver cirrhosis
- Chronic pancreatitis
- Anxiety/panic attacks
- Uncontrollable bursts of emotion
- Skin problems
- Neurological and cognitive issues
- Immune system problems
Commonly Abused Drinks
By definition, an alcoholic beverage is a drink that contains ethanol, a type of alcohol produced by fermentation of grains, fruits, or other sources of sugar. There are different types of alcoholic beverages, all of which are prone to be consumed excessively.
Commonly abused alcoholic drinks or beverages include:
- Beer (lager, ale, wheat-based, or fruit-flavored)
- Wine (red, white, rose, champagne/sparkling, and fortified)
- Hard liquor/spirits (vodka, whiskey, rum, gin, tequila, absinthe, and liqueurs)
Alcoholic beverages vary on alcohol by volume (ABV) levels. For example, beer can range around 2-12% ABV, while spirits typically have as much as 20-80% ABV levels.
Beer Addiction and Abuse
Beer is usually made from water, barley, hops, and yeast and its Alcohol by Volume (ABV) ranges from 2-12%, making it the drink with the lowest percentage of alcohol. (Some craft beers can be stronger than wines, however.)
Beer has become a significant part of several activities in American culture, from sporting events to countless games at parties. Now that microbreweries and home brewers have created a wide variety of new flavors, drinking beer has become more fashionable. Unfortunately, one side effect of this new trend is that craft beer has a significantly higher amount of alcohol.
Nevertheless, regardless if you prefer a craft beer or a traditional one you can be susceptible to an alcohol use disorder. For this reason, it’s important to be aware of signs that mean you could have alcohol use disorder. These include continuing to drink when everyone else has stopped or feeling the need to drink during uncomfortable or boring situations.
Wine Addiction and Abuse
Wine is produced by fermenting fruits such as grapes, pomegranates or berries. Depending on the grape type, wines are usually classified as reds such as Merlot, Cabernet, Pinot Noir, and Zinfandel. White wines include Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, Riesling, and Moscato.
Regardless of the type, wine is considered a “classy” drink that is commonly consumed at dinner parties together with appetizers or even the main courses. Nevertheless, wine often (but not always) has a more concentrated amount of alcohol than beer. For example, 5 ounces of wine normally has the same amount of alcohol as some leading beer brands’ 12-ounce bottles.
Another interesting fact about wine is that 59% of wine drinkers in the United States are women. However, either gender can abuse this drink. Hence, it is important to limit the amount of wine you are drinking to avoid the potential effects of alcohol abuse.
Liquor Addiction and Abuse
Rum, vodka, tequila, whiskey, and gin are some of the most popular liquors for both men and women. Because they can be combined with juice and sodas, or consumed “on the rocks,” as is, it gives the drinker a wide variety of flavors and cocktails to choose from.
Unfortunately, liquor has the highest ABV levels among the three major types of alcoholic beverages. As a result, people can get drunk faster and easier than with wine or beer, especially when it’s a mixed drink, because those tend to mask the flavor of alcohol. Regardless of the type of liquor consumed, alcohol of any kind possesses serious addiction potential.
Recognizing an Alcohol Addiction
It is said that there are 11 ways to recognize an addiction, as per the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). These include the following:
- Lack of control – drinking larger amounts than originally planned for.
- Desire to limit use – having the desire to stop abusing alcohol but fails.
- Time spent – the person spends a significant amount of time to get his/her hands on the said substance.
- Cravings – uncontrollable urge to consume alcohol
- Lack of responsibility – alcohol now takes over someone’s life and is even prioritized over other important daily activities
- Relationship problems – social and personal relationships are greatly affected due to excessive alcohol usage
- Loss of interest – favors alcohol consumption over nurturing social and personal relationships
- Dangerous use – continues to consume alcohol despite awareness of its harmful consequences
- Worsening situations – continues to consume alcohol despite the presence of overall health problems
- Tolerance – more amount of alcohol is consumed to achieve its desired results
- (Alcohol) Withdrawal – affects physical and emotional health (ex. anxiety, nausea, vomiting, etc.)
A person is considered to have a severe alcohol disorder when more of the criteria above are met.
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Treatment for Alcoholism
When alcohol is taking over your life or the life of someone you care about, it is important to take back control before it is too late. Thankfully, Mountain Springs Recovery is here to help. Our alcohol detox facility can help you or someone you love recover from alcohol addiction and abuse.
Alcohol rehab facilities employ effective and safe treatments to help the patient recover. An assessment will be done to determine the history behind a patient’s struggle with alcoholism. Such treatment centers are readily equipped with methods to help patients manage their alcoholic tendencies.
In treating alcohol addiction, one must look for a reliable rehabilitation and treatment center that can help you get free from the shackles of addiction. Mountain Springs Recovery is a reputable rehabilitation facility that can help you or someone you love deal with alcohol addiction. Our friendly personnel will guide you on your way to recovery.
The First Step of Recovery from Alcohol
Every journey starts with the first step. In the case of recovering from alcohol addiction, the first step is alcohol detox. Patients with alcoholic tendencies are prone to having strong withdrawal symptoms. That is why it is important for patients to undergo professional and supervised detoxification.
A medically supervised detoxification can help prevent discomfort during the process of alcohol withdrawal. Likewise, this can also help prevent life-threatening complications among patients.
Alcohol Addiction Medications
Patients may undergo treatment via prescription drugs. Combining prescription medications with therapy can increase the recovery success rate by up to 50%. Moreso, it can also help relieve symptoms of alcohol withdrawal and prevent relapse.
Commonly prescribed drugs used during treatment include Acamprosate, Naltrexone, and Disulfiram. These medications mostly aid in reducing alcohol cravings.
Your Journey to Sobriety Starts at Mountain Springs Recovery
Challenges are part of the process of every journey. Our rehab facility can help you overcome those challenges and lead you on your road to recovery. It’s simply a phone call away. Contact Mountain Springs Recovery today to find out more information about our facility and how we can help you beat alcohol addiction today.
Mountain Springs Recovery strives to help people who are facing substance abuse, addiction, mental health disorders, or a combination of these conditions. It does this by providing compassionate care and evidence-based content that addresses health, treatment, and recovery.
Licensed medical professionals review material we publish on our site. The material is not a substitute for qualified medical diagnoses, treatment, or advice. It should not be used to replace the suggestions of your personal physician or other health care professionals.
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