Most people drink to relax and unwind. For them, it is nothing more than a pleasant way to beat the stress. However, those with alcohol use disorders drink too much, causing trouble and danger for themselves and others.
The problem is far deeper rooted and widespread than you can imagine. More than 5% of the population in the US, age 12 and older, are suffering from alcohol addiction. It also includes 2% of adolescents between the ages of 12 and 17.
Furthermore, one out of ten children has a parent who has an alcohol disorder, one out of ten deaths every year is due to over-drinking of alcohol. Alcohol addiction doesn’t just affect the person consuming it, but it equally affects those close to them.
What is alcohol addiction?
“Alcohol use disorder” (AUD) describes alcohol addiction. Whether mild, moderate, or severe, no matter what form the condition is in, AUD is recognized as a brain disorder. When a person suffers from alcohol addiction, some changes occur in the brain that prolongs the condition and causes relapse in the individual. People suffering from the condition find it hard to stop or control the consumption of alcohol, even though they suffer from the consequences that manifest in their social, health, and occupational life.
The main characteristic of AUD is the act of drinking that puts the individual at risk of harm or distress. The defining signs and symptoms of alcohol addiction include:
• Drinking in more quantities and more frequently, with growing tolerance for alcohol
• Uncontrollable craving or urge to drink alcohol and to seek out ways to consume it
• Being unable to reduce or stop alcohol consumption
• Withdrawal symptoms include irritability, sweating, nausea, and sleep disturbance
• Memory fog, or blackouts. Unable to recall what happened during their drunken state, even though being fully conscious and functioning
• Drinking despite suffering from anxiety, depression, or being unwell
When does drinking start becoming a problem?
In general, moderately drinking adults do not have more than two drinks a day a few days a week if you are a man, and one drink for women and older folks. That is a safe level of consumption.
The range of alcohol consumption ranges from moderate consumption at one end of the spectrum and moves through alcohol abuse and culminates in dependence on alcohol.
The debilitating condition happens in a pattern that results in considerable and frequent adverse consequences. Those suffering from alcohol abuse do not fulfill their school, occupation, or family life responsibilities. They may have frequent run-ins with law enforcement and have problems staying in relationships due to their drinking.
Those with alcohol dependence, or alcoholism, do not have control over their alcohol consumption. They find it difficult to stop drinking once they begin. People with alcohol dependence have increased tolerance to alcohol and need to drink more and attain the feeling of ‘drunk’ and struggle with withdrawal symptoms when it is suddenly stopped.
What are the effects of alcohol disorder on people?
Even though it is suggested that consuming alcohol in limited quantities could benefit heart function, it is widely agreed that heavy drinking could have serious consequences on health.
Some of the short-term effects of alcohol addiction are hangovers, memory loss, and blackouts. Heavy drinkers could face long-term issues such as heart problems, stomach disorders, brain damage, cancer, serious memory loss, and liver cirrhosis.
Furthermore, heavy drinkers are more likely to die from homicide, automobile accidents, and suicides.
Though men are more likely to develop alcoholism, women are more affected by health problems due to alcohol disorders, even if their consumption levels are lower.
Existing mental health conditions such as anxiety, memory loss, and depression can worsen due to alcohol abuse and alcoholism.
The biggest sufferers of alcohol problems are the spouses and children of those suffering from the condition. They could be victims of family violence and neglect; children could suffer from abuse and are susceptible to developing psychological problems.
Treatment of alcohol use disorder
Alcoholics can be in denial and could be the last to realize that they have a problem. They could be drinking in the morning or hiding their alcohol habit; they do not know or accept that they need help.
Even if family and friends can try to help, the decision to quit and overcome the addiction should come from the addicted individual themselves.
Some medications help with the withdrawal symptoms, decreasing drinking and averting relapse. Some drugs can cause an unsavory reaction when the patient consumes alcohol, such as vomiting, nausea, headaches, etc. – which makes the drinking unpleasant, and the drinker begins to avoid it.
Some other medications can block the rewarding sensations of drinking alcohol, decreasing the urge to drink. Stopping drinking suddenly can cause withdrawal symptoms in the drinker, including seizures, confusion, and very unpleasant hallucinations. Medications can also help in managing such symptoms and aid detoxification.
Along with medications, therapy and behavioral treatment can effectively treat alcohol addiction. These treatment modalities are designed to change the patterns of behavior that cause problem drinking.
The patients can identify triggers that can bring about relapse and help create social support. Cognitive-behavioral therapy can help manage stress and feelings that lead to alcohol addiction, deal with deep-lying disorders like anxiety and depression, and help cope with and address the problems in personal and professional relationships caused by the drinking problem.
People suffering from alcohol-related disorders are often severely impaired in their health and functioning. But those who seek help and alcohol addiction treatment from appropriate sources have more chances of successfully resolving their long-term problems. If you or someone you know is suffering from alcohol-related disorders, please contact Nulease Medical Solutions.