Risk Factors For Alcoholism
There is no one single cause of alcoholism, but there are factors that make some people more susceptible to developing it. Addiction is an illness that can affect anyone, no matter what age they are, where they come from, or whether they are male or female. There is no way to tell who will and who will not develop an alcohol addiction, but there are ways to determine if a person is more likely to be affected.
Alcohol Abuse Or Alcohol Dependence
The terms alcohol abuse and alcohol dependence are often used interchangeably, when in fact medically speaking, there is clear distinction between the two. Both involve the serious misuse of alcohol likely to cause real damage to health and wellbeing. But while people with alcohol abuse problems usually manage to carry on their lives with some semblance of normality, once dependence kicks in, the alcohol takes over.
Alcohol abuse refers to regular excessive drinking which has a more tangible negative effect on peoples lives2. Examples of this include failing to fulfil work, family or social obligations as a result of recurrent drinking encounters with the law or emergency services arising from excessive alcohol use or regularly combining alcohol with physically hazardous situations, such as driving or operating machinery.
If you are worried that you are abusing or misusing alcohol, visit our page on binge drinking.
Alcohol Dependence Vs Alcohol Addiction
According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, dependence is a state in which the brain functions normally only in the presence of a drug. Within hours or a few days of having their last drink, people dependent on alcohol will experience alcohol withdrawal symptoms that may include hand tremors, nausea or sweating.
Addiction to alcohol, however, is a disease characterized by a compulsion to drink and an inability to control ones alcohol intake. People who are dependent on alcohol are often addicted to the substance, but it is possible to be dependent and not addicted.
While the American Psychiatric Association used to separate alcohol abuse and alcohol dependence into two distinct disorders, both are now categorized into a single diagnosis called alcohol use disorder. An alcohol use disorder, which can range from problem drinking to alcoholism, can be classified as mild, moderate or severe, depending on a persons symptoms and drinking behaviors.
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How Much Alcohol Is Too Much
If youre trying to determine whether your drinking habits are worrisome, its good to know the threshold for harmful drinking.
How much alcohol can you drink without putting your health at risk? What is the threshold for dangerous drinking patterns? When are you at risk of developing alcohol addiction?
Safe Drinking Limits
TheNIAAA defines moderate drinking as up to two drinks a day for men and up to one drink a day for women. The recommendation is for men to drink no more than four drinks on any single day and no more than 14 drinks a week. For women, the drinking limits are no more than three drinks on any single day and no more than 7 drinks per week.
The limits for men and women are different because due to a variety of biological factorsalcohol-related problems in women can occur with lower levels of alcohol consumption than men.
The good news is that people who drink within these limits have an extremely low risk of developing alcohol use disorders.
In other words, if you stick to these safe drinking limits, the answer to the question how long does it take to develop alcohol dependence? can be never.
Remember, to remain in the low-risk category, you must stick to both the daily as well as weekly guidelines. For example, if youre a woman and you have three drinks a day five days a week , youre drinking more than double the recommended weekly safe limit for women .
Signs And Symptoms Of Alcohol Dependence
If you’re worried that you may be becoming alcohol dependent or are concerned about someone else’s drinking, look out for these four warning signs and symptoms:
If youre worried that you have any of these symptoms of alcohol dependence, talk to your GP or seek further information from one of the organisations at the bottom of this page.
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Why Do People Get Addicted To Alcohol
Addiction is common: approximately 10 percent of Americans suffer from a drug use disorder at some point in their life1. If youre struggling with alcohol or any other substance, youre certainly not alone.
But why do people get addicted to alcohol, and what makes this such a common issue in our society?
Since we dont talk openly enough about alcoholism and what it means to be an alcoholic, many people might not even realize they need help. For me, I had never even heard the word alcoholic or addict until I entered treatment. When I first started drinking, it was fun. All of my friends did it, and it didnt seem like a big deal.
What I didnt realize was that my thoughts about alcohol and my relationship with alcohol were almost immediately different than that of my friends. I was always waiting for the next time I could drink. I almost always got drunk or blacked out and made decisions I would never have made when I wasnt drinking.
Addiction presents itself differently in everyone, but there are several common reasons people get addicted to alcohol. Its also interesting to note that alcohol is one of the most accepted substances to use in the United States. This fact makes it difficult for many people to realize that they could even have a problem with alcohol.
How Severe Is The Alcoholism Problem
Alcohol is easily available and a fundamental part of popular culture. Yet, when you look at the statistics on the effects of excessive drinking, they are eye-opening.
According to the World Health Organization , the harmful use of alcohol is responsible for 3 million deaths worldwide, which is more than 5 per cent of all deaths. Even more worrisome is the fact that more than 13 per cent of deaths in young adults between the ages of 20 and 39 years can be attributed to alcohol.
Alcohol is implicated as a causative factor in more than 200 diseases. It is responsible for significant social and economic losses.
Addiction to alcohol can take you by surprise. Before you know it, what starts as social drinking can turn into cravings and addiction. If you and your loved ones enjoy drinking occasionally, its good to know how long does it take to develop alcohol dependence. That way you are aware of risky drinking patterns. You know when youre crossing the line and when to cut back. And you know how tohelp a friend or family member who may be alcoholic.
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What Is Alcohol Dependence
Alcohol dependence, sometimes known as alcoholism, is the most serious form of drinking problem and describes a strong, often uncontrollable, desire to drink.
Drinking plays an important part in the day to day life of alcohol dependent people, which could lead to building up a physical tolerance or experiencing withdrawal symptoms if they stop.
There are varying degrees of alcohol dependence and they dont always involve excessive levels of drinking. If you find that you need to share a bottle of wine with your partner most nights of the week, or always go for a few pints after work, just to unwind, youre likely to be drinking at a level that could affect your long-term health.
You could also be becoming dependent on alcohol. If you find it very difficult to enjoy yourself or relax without having a drink, you could have become psychologically dependent on alcohol. Physical dependence can follow too, that is your body shows withdrawal symptoms, such as sweating, shaking and nausea, when your blood alcohol level falls.
What Could Raise Your Risk
Several things may might make you more likely to develop an alcohol use disorder , which can vary in severity. Mayo Clinic says the risk factors include:
Long-term heavy drinking.If you drink a lot of alcohol regularly, youâre at higher risk for getting an AUD.
Binge drinking at an early age. You can develop an AUD at any age, but youâre risk goes up if you start binge drinking earlier in life. This typically involves having four or more drinks if youâre a woman and five or more drinks if youâre a man in about 2 hours.
Mental health problems or trauma.âSubstance use and alcohol is often used to self-medicate for both physical and mental health problems,â says Margie Skeer, ScD, associate professor of public health and community medicine at Tufts University School of Medicine. Thatâs why alcohol use disorder sometimes happens in people who also have a history of trauma, schizophrenia, anxiety, depression, or bipolar disorder.
Other influences. If your family, social circle, or partner drink in excess, you may be at higher risk for developing an alcohol use disorder.
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Can Drug Addiction Be Cured Or Prevented
As with most other chronic diseases, such as diabetes, asthma, or heart disease, treatment for drug addiction generally isnt a cure. However, addiction is treatable and can be successfully managed. People who are recovering from an addiction will be at risk for relapse for years and possibly for their whole lives. Research shows that combining addiction treatment medicines with behavioral therapy ensures the best chance of success for most patients. Treatment approaches tailored to each patients drug use patterns and any co-occurring medical, mental, and social problems can lead to continued recovery.
More good news is that drug use and addiction are preventable. Results from NIDA-funded research have shown that prevention programs involving families, schools, communities, and the media are effective for preventing or reducing drug use and addiction. Although personal events and cultural factors affect drug use trends, when young people view drug use as harmful, they tend to decrease their drug taking. Therefore, education and outreach are key in helping people understand the possible risks of drug use. Teachers, parents, and health care providers have crucial roles in educating young people and preventing drug use and addiction.
Can You Be Physically Addicted To Alcohol
Yes. Alcohol changes the way the brains communication pathways work. This drug can change a persons mood, behavior, and physical abilities. Alcohol also causes a chemical reaction with the brains gamma-aminobutyric acid receptors. This stimulates the brains pleasure and reward center and causes endorphins to release.
Endorphins lead to feelings of relaxation, pleasure, and satisfaction. Some peoples brains produce higher levels of these hormones. Over time, the body may begin to crave this euphoric reaction.
People may begin to have intense cravings or lose the ability to control how much they drink. Heavy or frequent alcohol use can result in physical dependence. When this happens, a persons body requires the drug in order to function properly.
People who are physically dependent on alcohol may display signs, including:
- memory blackouts
- shaky hands
- change in sex drive or ability
- dizziness or falling
- problems at work, home, or with the legal system
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Warning Signs Of Addiction
Addictions begin with experimentation with a substance. There are many reasons someone might initially try a drug: curiosity, peer pressure, stress, and problems at work or home being some of them.
If you are concerned someone you care about is struggling with addiction, there are several red flags you can look for. However, its important to remember everyone is different it may be harder to detect an addiction in some people than in others. That being said, here are some general warning signs to be aware of:
- Ignoring commitments or responsibilities
- Staying up later than usual or sleeping in longer
- Lapses in concentration or memory
- Being oddly secretive about parts of personal life
- Withdrawal from normal social contacts
- Sudden mood swings and changes in behavior
- Unusual lack of motivation
- Weight loss or changes in physical appearance
No one expects to develop an addiction when they begin experimenting. But continued experimentation can lead to addiction, often without the person realizing they have become addicted until they try to stop.
Urine And Blood Tests
There are reliable tests for the actual use of alcohol, one common test being that of blood alcohol content . These tests do not differentiate people with alcohol use disorders from people without however, long-term heavy drinking does have a few recognizable effects on the body, including:
With regard to alcoholism, BAC is useful to judge alcohol tolerance, which in turn is a sign of alcoholism. Electrolyte and acid-base abnormalities including hypokalemia, hypomagnesemia, hyponatremia, hyperuricemia, metabolic acidosis, and respiratory alkalosis are common in people with alcohol use disorders.
However, none of these blood tests for biological markers is as sensitive as screening questionnaires.
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Alcohol Dependence And Withdrawal
Common signs of alcohol addiction, the physical and psychological effects and where to go for help.
On this page
For some people alcohol can be part of many occasions but like many drugs its addictive, both physically and psychologically.
The NHS estimates that around 9% of men in the UK and 3% of UK women show signs of alcohol dependence1. This means that drinking alcohol becomes an important, or sometimes the most important, factor in their life and they feel theyre unable to function without it.
Handling Setbacks In Your Recovery
Alcohol recovery is a processone that often involves setbacks. Dont give up if you relapse or slip. A drinking relapse doesnt mean youre a failure or that youll never be able to reach your goal. Each drinking relapse is an opportunity to learn and recommit to sobriety, so youll be less likely to relapse in the future.
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Do You Know Whats In Your Drink
First, lets get the basics sorted. Do you know whats a standard drink?
Is it a pint of beer , a can of beer , or a glass of beer ?
Does a glass of whiskey with 40 per cent alcohol by volume count the same as a glass of wine with 12 per cent alcohol or a glass of beer with 4.5 per cent alcohol?
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism , a leading authority on alcoholism, one standard drink contains 14 grams of pure alcohol, which translates to:
- 12 fluid ounces of regular beer
- 9 fluid ounces of malt liquor
- 5 fluid ounces of wine
- 1.5 fluid ounces of distilled spirits
Now that you know how much alcohol is in your drinks and what constitutes a standard drink, lets find out how many standard drinks you can safely drink without worrying about how long does it take to develop alcohol dependence.
The Controlled Substances Act
The Controlled Substances Act is a law that regulates legal and illegal drugs in the United States. Under the CSA, drugs are categorized into different schedules according to a drugs perceived danger and potential for dependence. For example, Heroin is classified as a Schedule I drug because of its illegal status and extremely addictive qualities. Legal medications on the other hand, such as over-the-counter Painkillers and cough Suppressants, are categorized as Schedule V because of their low chances for abuse.
The CSAs drug scheduling system exists for several reasons. In common cases, the system is used by judges to help them determine sentences for drug-related crimes. It is also helpful for medical professionals when writing prescriptions.
Helping A Friend With Addiction
If you’re worried about a friend who has an addiction, you can use these tips to help him or her. For example, let your friend know that you are available to talk or offer your support. If you notice a friend backsliding, talk about it openly and ask what you can do to help.
If your friend is going back to drugs or drinking and won’t accept your help, don’t be afraid to talk to a nonthreatening, understanding adult, like your parent or school counselor. It may seem like you’re ratting your friend out, but it’s the best support you can offer.
Above all, offer a friend who’s battling an addiction lots of encouragement and praise. It may seem corny, but hearing that you care is just the kind of motivation your friend needs.
Stats About Alcohol Addiction In Massachusetts
Alcohol addiction can affect anyone. People of all races, genders, education levels, and professional status seek help for alcohol addiction. In Massachusetts, about 1/3 of people who enter treatment for alcohol addiction are women, and the other 2/3 are men.
In Massachusetts, 18.2% of residents report that they drink chronically or have binge drank in the last 30 days. Bring drink is having 4 or more drinks for a woman or 5 or more drinks for a man in one sitting. Chronic drinking refers to 8 or more drinks per week for women or 15 or more drinks per week for men.
Compared to the rest of the country, Massachusetts has one of the highest rates of fatal auto accidents caused by alcohol. Close to 15% of fatal accidents in Massachusetts involve alcohol.
Massachusetts also has the highest rate of underage drinking in the country. About 29% of Massachusetts residents between ages 12 and 20 drink alcohol. The next highest states only have a rate of 25%. Additionally, over 19% of minors binge drink.
Alcohol addiction is surprisingly prevalent.
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