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.
The path from alcohol abuse to alcoholism
Not all alcohol abusers become full-blown alcoholics, but it is a big risk factor. Sometimes alcoholism develops suddenly in response to a stressful change, such as a breakup, retirement, or another loss. Other times, it gradually creeps up on you as your tolerance to alcohol increases. If youre a binge drinker or you drink every day, the risks of developing alcoholism are greater.
Finding Effective Alcohol Treatment
Since the mid-1970s, research has pointed to a number of key principles that are necessary to form the basis of any effective alcoholism treatment program.12
Treatment may involve medications to ease withdrawal symptoms, therapy through a rehabilitation program to understand the addiction and change behaviors, and long-term aftercare programming such as peer support groups to help maintain sobriety and avoid relapse.12
It should also be noted that no single treatment is appropriate for everyone and plans must be reviewed and modified according to a patients changing needs.
Effective treatment will also focus on more than just a persons alcohol abuse and will seek to address other possible mental disorders.12 Research indicates that remaining in treatment for at least 90 days allows for better outcomes.13
Types Of Behavioral Treatments
CognitiveBehavioral Therapy can take place one-on-one with a therapist or in small groups. This form of therapy is focused on identifying the feelings and situations that lead to heavy drinking and managing stress that can lead to relapse. The goal is to change the thought processes that lead to alcohol misuse and to develop the skills necessary to cope with everyday situations that might trigger problem drinking.
Motivational Enhancement Therapy is conducted over a short period of time to build and strengthen motivation to change drinking behavior. The therapy focuses on identifying the pros and cons of seeking treatment, forming a plan for making changes in ones drinking, building confidence, and developing the skills needed to stick to the plan.
incorporates spouses and other family members in the treatment process and can play an important role in repairing and improving family relationships. Studies show that strong family support through family therapy increases the chances of maintaining abstinence , compared with patients undergoing individual counseling.
Brief Interventions are short, one-on-one or small-group counseling sessions that are time limited. The counselor provides information about the individuals drinking pattern and potential risks. After the client receives personalized feedback, the counselor will work with him or her to set goals and provide ideas for helping to make a change.
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Warning Signs Of Alcoholism
Outlined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders , alcohol use disorder is a treatable, chronic disease that is diagnosed based on an individual meeting certain criteria to merit a diagnosis.
These criteria can also be used as warning signs of problematic alcohol abuse. To be diagnosed with AUD, individuals must meet at least 2 of the below criteria within the same 12-month period:1
- Spending a lot of time obtaining, using, and recovering from the effects of alcohol.
- Being unable to cut down on alcohol use despite a desire to do so.
- Cravings, or a strong desire to use alcohol.
- Having a tolerance .
- Developing symptoms of withdrawal when efforts are made to stop using alcohol.
- Using alcohol in higher amounts or for a longer time than originally intended.
- Giving up previously enjoyed social, occupational, or recreational activities because of alcohol use.
- Being unable to fulfill major obligations at home, work, or school because of alcohol use.
- Continuing to abuse alcohol despite negative interpersonal or social problems that are likely due to alcohol use.
- Using alcohol in physically dangerous situations .
- Continuing to abuse alcohol despite the presence of a psychological or physical problem that is probably due to alcohol use.
You Want To Stop But Can’t
Maybe you’ve been concerned enough that you’ve already thought about or actually tried to cut down on your drinking — and it didn’t happen. Alcohol masks unhappy emotions, so those feelings may come back when you quit drinking, making it harder to stick to your goal. If you try to abstain, but then obsess over alcohol or switch to another drug or behavior, that’s a red flag.
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Am I An Alcoholic How To Tell If You Have An Addiction
Does the question Am I an alcoholic? pop into your mind occasionally?
People have been struggling with alcoholism for ages and although they have been using alcohol for tens of thousands of years, the earliest recorded abuse of alcohol dates from 7,000 BCE , so we can imagine that thousands upon thousands of people have been questioning whether they are an alcoholic or problem drinker over that period of time.
Learn common signs that you might be struggling with alcoholism.
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
- feel physical effects like nausea, sweating, shakiness and anxiety if they stop after a period of heavy drinking
- 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 for no obvious reason
- 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
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Choose A Time To Talk
Committing to getting sober and seek treatment for alcoholism takes courage.
Yet, often times, those who need help with a drinking problem may not immediately be receptive to discussing treatment or admitting that they have a problem. Because of this, it may take a few conversations before they are willing to discuss treatment.
Before talking with them, it may be helpful to speak with a healthcare provider who specializes in addiction to obtain guidance. Once youve done that, choose a time to sit down with them when they are sober so they can better process what you are saying.
Be careful in your word choices and try and remain calm while sharing how their drinking has affected you. Remember, this is not an issue they can control anymore.
If they remain in denial and arent ready to seek alcohol addiction help, it may be time to consider an intervention. An intervention is a process that typically involves a drug and alcohol counselor, physician, or an intervention specialist along with family and friends.
Relapse Is Part Of The Process
Relapse is common among people who overcome alcohol problems. People with drinking problems are most likely to relapse during periods of stress or when exposed to people or places associated with past drinking.
Just as some people with diabetes or asthma may have flare-ups of their disease, a relapse to drinking can be seen as a temporary setback to full recovery and not a complete failure. Seeking professional help can prevent relapsebehavioral therapies can help people develop skills to avoid and overcome triggers, such as stress, that might lead to drinking. Most people benefit from regular checkups with a treatment provider. Medications also can deter drinking during times when individuals may be at greater risk of relapse .
Mental Health Issues and Alcohol Use Disorder
Depression and anxiety often go hand in hand with heavy drinking. Studies show that people who are alcohol dependent are two to three times as likely to suffer from major depression or anxiety over their lifetime. When addressing drinking problems, its important to also seek treatment for any accompanying medical and mental health issues.
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To Book An Appointment
If you have any questions or would like to contact us by email, you can complete a brief confidential contact form here. Once you submit the contact form, a Cobb & Associates intake staff member will respond as soon as possible.
Cobb & Associates Inc. is located in southwest Calgary . Please click here for our full address and a map to our location. We are currently accepting new clients and warmly welcome self-referrals and referrals from physicians and other professionals.
We appreciate your interest in our services and hope this information has been helpful to you. Please do not hesitate to call if you have any questions.
How Common Is Alcoholism
Alcohol use disorders are more common than may be imagined. Notes Psychology Today, studies have revealed that 29.1 percent of the US population has experienced an alcohol use disorder at some point in their lifetime. Within a 12-month period, approximately 13.9 percent of the US population experiences an alcohol use disorder. About 19.8 percent of the adults who have experienced an alcohol use disorder in their lifetime seek treatment or ask for help at some point.
As Psychology Today points out, about 75 percent of the alcohol that Americans drink occurs in the form of binge drinking. The symptoms of binge drinking include blackouts and memory lapses. Over time, a chronic binge drinker can develop serious liver damage and/or brain damage.
A lesser-known but just as severe consequence is cardiovascular disease. This disease can arise because a high volume of alcohol causes stress on the heart, leading to heart attack or stroke.
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How Do I Know If I Have An Alcohol Use Disorder
You may have an AUD if you can answer yes to two or more of these questions:
In the past year, have you:
- Ended up drinking more or for a longer time than you had planned to?
- Wanted to cut down or stop drinking, or tried to, but couldn’t?
- Spent a lot of your time drinking or recovering from drinking?
- Felt a strong need to drink?
- Found that drinking – or being sick from drinking – often interfered with your family life, job, or school?
- Kept drinking even though it was causing trouble with your family or friends?
- Given up or cut back on activities that you enjoyed just so you could drink?
- Gotten into dangerous situations while drinking or after drinking? Some examples are driving drunk and having unsafe sex.
- Kept drinking even though it was making you feel depressed or anxious? Or when it was adding to another health problem?
- Had to drink more and more to feel the effects of the alcohol?
- Had withdrawal symptoms when the alcohol was wearing off? They include trouble sleeping, shakiness, irritability, anxiety, depression, restlessness, nausea, and sweating. In severe cases, you could have a fever, seizures, or hallucinations.
If you have any of these symptoms, your drinking may already be a cause for concern. The more symptoms you have, the more serious the problem is.
Staying Healthy And In Control
Cutting down or stopping drinking is usually just the beginning, and most people will need some degree of help or a long-term plan to stay in control or completely alcohol free.
Getting the right support can be crucial to maintaining control in the future. Only relying on family, friends or carers for this often is not enough.
Ask a GP or alcohol service about what longer-term support is available in your area.
Self-help or mutual aid groups are accessible in most areas.
Alcohol Addiction Treatment Options
Some people are able to stop drinking on their own or with the help of a 12-step program or other support group . Others need medical supervision in order to withdraw from alcohol safely and comfortably. Which option is best for you depends on how much youve been drinking, how long youve had a problem, the stability of your living situation, and other health issues you may have.
The first step is often to consult your primary care doctor or GP. Your doctor can evaluate your drinking patterns, diagnose any co-occurring disorders, assess your overall health, and offer treatment referrals. They may even be able to prescribe medication to help you quit.
|Examples of alcohol treatment programs|
Residential treatment involves living at a treatment facility while undergoing intensive treatment during the day. Residential treatment normally lasts from 30-90 days.
Partial hospitalization is for people who require ongoing medical monitoring but have a stable living situation. These treatment programs usually meet at the hospital for 3-5 days a week, 4-6 hours per day.
Intensive outpatient programs focus on relapse prevention and can often be scheduled around work or school.
Therapy can help you identify the root causes of your alcohol use, repair your relationships, and learn healthier coping skills and how to deal with triggers that could cause you to relapse.
The Dangers Of Alcoholism
Alcohol abuse can lead to an array of issues, affecting both your personal and professional life. Prolonged drinking puts you at risk for developing serious health complications and can cause other potentially life-threatening consequences.
Denial is one of the main reasons why millions of people do not receive treatment for alcoholism. Some individuals will try to rationalize their drinking behaviors. For instance, you may blame other people or certain circumstances for your drinking. Rather than acknowledge the problems youve experienced from alcohol, you become defensive when someone mentions your excessive drinking pattern. By refusing to recognize the negative consequences of alcohol, youre preventing yourself from living a healthy, sober life.
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Advice For Friends And Family Members
Caring for a person who has problems with alcohol can be very stressful. It is important that as you try to help your loved one, you find a way to take care of yourself as well. It may help to seek support from others, including friends, family, community, and support groups. If you are developing your own symptoms of depression or anxiety, think about seeking professional help for yourself. Remember that your loved one is ultimately responsible for managing his or her illness.
However, your participation can make a big difference. Based on clinical experience, many health providers believe that support from friends and family members is important in overcoming alcohol problems. But friends and family may feel unsure about how best to provide the support needed. The groups for family and friends listed below may be a good starting point.
Remember that changing deep habits is hard, takes time, and requires repeated efforts. We usually experience failures along the way, learn from them, and then keep going. AUD is no different. Try to be patient with your loved one. Overcoming this disorder is not easy or quick.
Pay attention to your loved one when he or she is doing better or simply making an effort. Too often we are so angry or discouraged that we take it for granted when things are going better. A word of appreciation or acknowledgement of a success can go a long way.
Five Steps To A Sober Lifestyle
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How Do You Tell Someone They Have A Drinking Problem
This may vary from person-to-person and you may need a substance abuse counselor or the advice of someone who does interventions to guide your approach. Some signs that an individual may have a problem include: negative social, physical, and emotional changes as the disease of alcohol use disorder progresses.
You Struggle To Find True Balance In Life
If youve tried several times to find moderation while drinking but always go back to drinking in an unhealthy way, its safe to say you are misusing alcohol. This is one of the classic signs of needing to get sober. I had the desire to find a true balance with my drinking for years, but I could never find it. Trying to regulate my drinking made me unhappy, desperate, and I felt like a failure when it didnt work. It drove me crazy to know I couldnt find a happy medium when it came to alcohol. It wasnt until I got sober that I learned how hard this actually is. If youre feeling bad about yourself for not finding a balance, you are not alone. Its impossible for many of us and sobriety helps to relieve that pressure.
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