Signs Of Alcohol Abuse
An alcohol abuse disorder is a serious and progressive condition. But it is treatable. If you think you or someone you care about has a problem with alcohol, learn more about the disease and ask your doctor for help.
Early symptoms of an alcohol abuse disorder include drinking more than planned, continuing to drink alcohol despite the concerns of others, and frequent attempts to cut down or quit drinking. As alcohol abuse progresses, the individual develops a tolerance to alcohol. He or she must drink more alcohol to get the desired good feeling or to get intoxicated.
When a person becomes dependent on alcohol, and can’t get a drink, he or she develops withdrawal symptoms such as headache, nausea and vomiting, anxiety, and fatigue.
As alcohol abuse worsens, the person becomes preoccupied with alcohol and can lose control. He or she may have blackouts, which are episodes in which a person completely forgets what occurred when he or she was drunk even though he or she was conscious at the time.
Finally, personality changes occur. Someone suffering from alcohol abuse can become more aggressive and his or her ability to function can seriously deteriorate. Heavy drinkers may experience tremors, panic attacks, confusion, hallucinations, and seizures.
Binge Drinking And Heavy Drinking
- Binge drinking is excessive drinking that is defined as 5 or more drinks in 2 hours for a man and 4 or more drinks for a woman. Most people who are binge drinkers are not identified as alcohol dependent.
- One in 6 U.S. adults report binge drinking approximately 4 times each month, and binge drinking occurs most commonly among adults aged 1834. Binge drinking can lead to numerous health problems and damaging effects, including alcohol poisoning, alcohol overdose, car accidents, violence, sexually transmitted diseases, cancer , and memory and learning problems.12
How Long Does It Take To Get Addicted To Alcohol
Whether or not someone can become addicted to alcohol depends on individual circumstances. And even though alcoholism, an alcohol use disorder ,evolves in stages, there is no set timeline for how long an addiction could take to emerge.
âThe process of addiction to alcohol can vastly differ from person to person. An individual can become addicted to alcohol after the first sip… or on a more gradual basis after a series of events involving alcohol,â says Michelle English, LCSW, clinical director of San Diego-based rehab center Healthy Life Recovery.
In order to stop alcoholism before it causes further harm, itâs important to know the risk factors and stages of the disease.
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Reducing Or Stopping Use Of Alcohol Or Other Drugs
Cutting down on alcohol or other drugs is hard to do because repeated alcohol or drug use makes the body more dependent and changes the brain. Brain scans of people who are dependent on alcohol or other drugs often show changes in the areas of the brain that help you learn and remember and make decisions.
The best thing you can do is to talk to someone you trust so you do not have to deal with this challenge alone.
Stages Of The Addiction Cycle
Addiction can be framed as a repeating cycle, with three stages. Each stage is linked to and feeds on the others. These stages primarily involve three domains: incentive salience, negative emotional states, and executive function. The domains are reflected in three key regions of the brain: the basal ganglia, the extended amygdala, and the prefrontal cortex, respectively. A person may go through this three-stage cycle over the course of weeks or months, or progress through it several times in a day.3,4,5 Note also that a person can enter the cycle of addiction at any one of the following stages:
1. Binge/Intoxication Stage: reward, incentive salience, and pathological habits
2. Negative Affect/Withdrawal Stage: reward deficits and stress surfeit
3. Preoccupation/Anticipation Stage: craving, impulsivity, and executive function
- This is the stage at which an individual seeks alcohol again after a period of abstinence. A person becomes preoccupied with alcohol and how to get more of it, and looks forward to the next time he or she will consume it.
- The prefrontal cortexan area of the brain responsible for executive function, including the ability to organize thoughts and activities, prioritize tasks, manage time, and make decisionsis compromised in people experiencing alcohol addiction. As a result, this area of the brain plays a key role in this stage.
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Whats The Difference Between Alcohol Abuse Dependence And Addiction
May 23, 2020
Alcohol abuse, alcohol dependence, and alcohol addiction are all terms that can be used to describe a persons drinking problem. Knowing the difference between these 3 terms can help you understand more about substance use disorders in general and empower you to seek the right alcohol rehab program for you or a loved one who may have a drinking problem.
Signs Someone Is Addicted To Alcohol: Who Is Someone
So if Americans consume that much alcohol, and alcohol does those things to your brain, why isnt everyone who drinks showing signs someone is addicted to alcohol? Good question. Obviously, not everyone who drinks is an alcoholic. The simple answer is that some brains are biologically and genetically more predisposed to addiction than others. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse , the spikes in those feel-good chemicals result in reinforcement to repeat the consumption of drugs and alcohol that produce those spikes, and as a person continues to use drugs, the brain adapts by reducing the ability of cells in the reward circuit to respond to it. This reduces the high that the person feels compared to the high they felt when first taking the drug an effect known as tolerance. They might take more of the drug to try and achieve the same high. These brain adaptations often lead to the person becoming less and less able to derive pleasure from other things they once enjoyed, like food, sex, or social activities.
Why do some people become addicted and some dont? A number of reasons, the NIDA continues:
Any consumption above moderate drinking may be considered problematic. What are those?
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Studying Alcohol Relapse Behavior
Relapse may be defined as the resumption of alcohol drinking following a prolonged period of abstinence. Clinically, vulnerability to relapse commonly is associated with an intense craving or desire to drink. Although a precise definition for craving remains elusive , and there even is some debate about the role of craving in relapse , there is no question that relapse represents a prevalent and significant problem in alcoholism. In fact, given the high rate of recidivism in alcoholism, relapse clearly is a major impediment to treatment efforts. Consequently, substantial research efforts have been directed at modeling relapse behavior, as well as elucidating neural substrates and environmental circumstances that are associated with or promote excessive drinking.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, animals used in all of these models generally have demonstrated sensitivity to treatment with various medications that have been shown to be clinically effective in preventing and/or retarding alcohol relapse . From a clinical standpoint, this is important because it underscores the value of these models in identifying and evaluating new treatment strategies that may be more effective in battling the problem of relapse.
Signs Of Alcohol Or Other Drug Dependence
Some signs that you may have an alcohol or other drug problem are:
- changed eating or sleeping habits
- caring less about your appearance
- spending more time with people who drink or use drugs to excess
- missing appointments, classes or work commitments
- losing interest in activities that you used to love
- getting in trouble in school, at work or with the law
- getting into more arguments with family and friends
- friends or family asking you if you use alcohol or other drugs
- relying on drugs or alcohol to have fun or relax
- having blackouts
- drinking or using drugs when you are alone
- keeping secrets from friends or family
- finding you need more and more of the substance to get the same feeling.
Often it is family and friends who first recognise that a person they care about has an alcohol or drug problem. They may have noticed them acting differently being withdrawn, always tired, increasingly hostile or easily upset. They may ask the person straight out if they are using alcohol or other drugs.
If that happens to you, you might feel threatened or criticised. Try to remember that theyre trying to look out for your wellbeing. A positive first step would be to listen, reflect, and be honest with yourself about what they had to say.
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Treatment Services For Alcoholism And Codependency
Whether youre a person with alcohol addiction or have codependent relationships, you have the power to take action and change your life. Our recovery center provides members with a variety of treatment services and resources. To treat alcoholism and codependency, there must be a high-quality approach to treatment.
We offer a variety of evidence-based methods, as well as a supportive and encouraging community. At Sana Lake Recovery Center, we are a team thats in this together. Some of the alcohol addiction treatment services you can expect to receive include:
- Inpatient treatment
- Holistic therapies
Effects Of Alcohol On Different Populations
Alcohol affects everyone in different ways. Genes, environment and diet can influence whether a person is prone to develop an alcohol-related disease, while factors such as age, weight and sex can impact alcohols more immediate effects.
Women tend to be more vulnerable than men to the effects of alcohol due to differences in how their bodies absorb and metabolize alcohol. For women, binge drinking is defined as consuming four or more drinks during a single occasion, while heavy drinking is defined as eight or more drinks per week. For men, binge drinking is defined as five or more drinks during a single occasion, while heavy drinking is 15 or more drinks per week.
The effects of alcohol addiction may also have a more serious impact on seniors, as aging changes how the body handles alcohol consumption. Alcohol abuse may worsen some health problems like diabetes, osteoporosis, memory loss, high blood pressure and mood disorders. It may also increase the likelihood of accidents such as falls and fractures.
To get help with a possible alcohol use disorder or other substance use disorder, learn more about our treatment program options or give us a call at .
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Risk Factors For Drinking Problems And Alcoholism
Risk factors for developing problems with alcohol arise from many interconnected factors, including your genetics, how you were raised, your social environment, and your emotional health. Some racial groups, such as American Indians and Native Alaskans, are more at risk than others for developing drinking problems or alcohol addiction. People who have a family history of alcoholism or who associate closely with heavy drinkers are more likely to develop drinking problems. Finally, those who suffer from a mental health problem such as anxiety, depression, or bipolar disorder are also particularly at risk, because alcohol is often used to self-medicate.
What Is Alcohol Use Disorder
People who use alcohol excessively may have alcohol use disorder. Signs of the condition include characteristics that were previously labeled as either abuse or dependence. Some common symptoms include:
- Drinking more alcohol over a longer time than the person intended
- Wanting to cut back on drinking but being unable to do so
- Spending a lot of time obtaining alcohol, consuming it, and then recovering
- Alcohol use interferes with a person’s ability to function normally in important areas of their life
- Strong cravings for alcohol
- Giving up important activities because of alcohol use
- Using alcohol in situations where it may be hazardous
- Continuing alcohol consumption despite negative consequences
- Experiencing tolerance, or a need to drink more to experience the same effects
- Experiencing symptoms of withdrawal when alcohol use is reduced or stopped
Those with moderate to severe alcohol use disorders generally require outside help to stop drinking. This could include detoxification, medical treatment, professional rehab or counseling, and/or self-help group support.
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What Are The Signs Of Harmful Alcohol Use
You or someone you know might be drinking too much if they:
- have a strong urge to drink
- cannot control how much they drink
- need to drink more over time to get the same good feeling
- drink while alone, or hide alcohol from members of the household
- struggle with work, education or relationships
- lie about how much they drink
- drink early in the day or are anxious about when they will be able to drink
- forget what they said or did while they were drinking
After a period of heavy drinking, they may also experience physical effects such as:
If you are a carer, you can seek help from carers associations in your state or territory. They can provide counselling and help to organise respite care.
Visit the Carer Gateway website or call 1800 422 737 for more information.
Am I Drinking Too Much Alcohol
You could be misusing alcohol if:
- you feel you should cut down on your drinking
- other people have been criticising your drinking
- you feel guilty or bad about your drinking
- you need a drink first thing in the morning to steady your nerves or get rid of a hangover
Someone you know may be misusing alcohol if:
- they regularly drink more than 14 units of alcohol a week
- they’re sometimes unable to remember what happened the night before because of their drinking
- they fail to do what was expected of them as a result of their drinking
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Alcohol Addiction Treatment Programs
Inpatient treatment allows patients to receive care in a structured, controlled environment.3 With housing, medical care, and various forms of therapy, inpatient treatment can be best for those who do not have effective home support systems or who are dealing with more severe alcohol misuse problems.3
Outpatient treatment is also an option for many individuals. Outpatient treatment centers are designed to provide those in recovery with a place to explore their behaviors. Many outpatient treatment centers provide anonymous group meetings, such as Alcoholics Anonymous, as well as other programs, to help recovering individuals overcome their issues.3 With outpatient treatment, individuals are not placed in a controlled environment, so it is important that people who use outpatient treatment have a strong support system to rely on outside of treatment.
Rehab facilities are located throughout the U.S., and many offer specialized treatment that can cater to individual needs. You can use SAMHSAs Behavioral Services Locator to search for treatment centers. Many state government websites will also provide local drug and alcohol resources to those in need. To find your state governments website, do a web search for your state name and .gov. Once your state website is located, substance use resources shouldnt be hard to find, and they should provide further phone contacts for your assistance.
How Can Codependency Be Potentially Dangerous
Though weve given examples of symptoms and habits, there remains a baseline question: How can codependency be dangerous? Alcoholic codependency can be destructive because it allows alcoholism to continue without consequences. These are the consequences necessary to see the need and start the process of change.
Without help, untreated alcoholism is a chronic and progressive illness. It will inevitably evolve into end-stage alcoholism and possibly end with the death of the alcohol user and an emotional breakdown for the family.
The inaction of family members allows the alcoholic to forge ahead with insanity and few reasons to stop. There will always be an intervention at some point. A family may want to consider whether you allow them to have an alcoholic intervention stemming from the consequences or to stage a family intervention with love.
Amplification of unhealthy behaviors: Both addictive habits and other personality disorders can become exponentially worse when codependency disorder is present in a relationship. A big part of codependency is making excuses for poor behavior, and it becomes the routine to react quickly and maladaptively.
Mutual addiction and enabling: Many times, addiction can lead to a partner falling into the same trap. Any relationship can be stressful, and one that is controlling and manipulative, including alcohol, can provide a damaging experience with little to no respite.
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Alcohol Combined With Other Drugs
Alcohol use disorder often occurs in the presence of another substance use disorder. In 2017, 16% of individuals entering treatment for substance use used alcohol alone vs. 37% entering treatment for AUD along with a co-occurring or dual diagnosis substance use disorder.18
Some people combine alcohol use with prescription or illicit drugs. Combining alcohol with other drugs is never safe. The substances strength and predictability can be significantly affected, and even deadly. Alcohol, in particular, is dangerous to mix with other substances since it is a depressant. Severe damage to the heart, brain, and other organs can occur, as well as overdose.
How Can A Psychologist Help
Psychologists who are trained and experienced in treating alcohol problems can be helpful in many ways. Before the drinker seeks assistance, a psychologist can guide the family or others in helping to increase the drinker’s motivation to change.
A psychologist can begin with the drinker by assessing the types and degrees of problems the drinker has experienced. The results of the assessment can offer initial guidance to the drinker about what treatment to seek and help motivate the problem drinker to get treatment. Individuals with drinking problems improve their chances of recovery by seeking help early.
Using one or more of several types of psychological therapies, psychologists can help people address psychological issues involved in their problem drinking. A number of these therapies, including cognitive-behavioral coping skills treatment and motivational enhancement therapy, were developed by psychologists. Additional therapies include 12-Step facilitation approaches that assist those with drinking problems in using self-help programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous .
These therapies can help people boost their motivation to stop drinking, identify circumstances that trigger drinking, learn new methods to cope with high-risk drinking situations, and develop social support systems within their own communities.
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