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What Is Alcohol Addiction Definition

Psychological Signs Of Alcohol Abuse

What is Alcohol Abuse Definition – 24/7 Addiction Helpline Call 1(800)-615-1067

The psychological signs of alcohol abuse emerge when the substance interferes with usual brain functioning. The most common emotional include:

  • Rapidly changing moods
  • Increased irritability, anger and aggression
  • Failing to follow throughout on responsibilities
  • Problems with memory, concentration and attention
  • New or worsening anxiety
  • Possible hallucinations or delusional thinking, especially during periods of withdrawal

Alcohol addictions psychological signs can either mask a mental health condition by covering up its symptoms or intensify symptoms of a co-occurring disorder. Accurately identifying all present psychological disorders is extremely challenging when alcohol abuse is still happening.

Who Is Alcohol Dependent

People who are alcohol-dependent exhibit some or all of the following characteristics.

  • Alcohol tolerance: Needing to drink increasing amounts over time to achieve previous effects. For example, you used to drink three cocktails every night, but now you need five to get the feeling you’re looking for.
  • Withdrawal symptoms: Experiencing physical symptoms, such as insomnia, tremors, and mood swings. after going for a short period without drinking.
  • Drinking to relieve or avoid withdrawal symptoms,such as drinking to stop the shakes or to “cure” a hangover.
  • Awareness of the compulsion to drink or craving for alcohol, regardless of whether you admit it to others.
  • Drinking larger amounts or over a longer period than intended and making unsuccessful efforts to cut down.

Alcohol Addiction Or Physical And Psychological Dependence

Alcohol addiction is marked by the obsessive desire to consume alcohol, regardless of the negative consequences. Dependence is a physical process, while addiction is a form of psychological dependence. At this point, the person engaging in alcohol abuse will likely experience many negative side effects from drinking such as financial trouble or legal trouble but cannot stop themselves from continuing to drink.

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How Much Alcohol Is Safe To Consume

Drinking alcohol inherently carries a certain level of risk to ones own health as well as the health of others. These risks are minimized to a certain extent by things such as laws, like those designed to curb people from drinking under the influence, as well as health guidelines developed by doctors and researchers.

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans, for example, states that moderate alcohol use means men should not have more than 2 standard drinks per day, and women should not have more than 1 standard drink per day.2 Drinking beyond the level of daily alcohol intake defined in the Dietary Guidelines can increase the risk of serious health consequences, however, any level of drinking at all can cause health problems.2 In other words, drinking less is always better than drinking more.

Is Alcohol Use Disorder A Disease

Alcohol Abuse Definition

Alcohol use disorder is a medical condition. Its a disease of brain function and requires medical and psychological treatments to control it.

Alcohol use disorder can be mild, moderate or severe. It can develop quickly or over a long period of time. Its also called alcohol dependence, alcohol addiction or alcohol abuse.

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What Causes Alcohol Use Disorder

Scientists are still trying to understand what causes alcohol use disorder. It appears to be a combination of one or more of the following:

  • Genetics.
  • Attempts to relieve emotional pain.

People are more likely to become an alcoholic if they:

  • Consume alcohol often, in large amounts or start early in life.
  • Experienced trauma, such as physical or sexual abuse.
  • Have a family history of alcohol problems.
  • Have mental health issues, such as grief, anxiety, depression, eating disorders and post-traumatic stress disorder.
  • Have had stomach bypass surgery for weight issues.

When Should Someone Seek Help

Individuals often hide their drinking or deny they have a problem. How can you tell if you or someone you know is in trouble? Signs of a possible problem include having friends or relatives express concern, being annoyed when people criticize your drinking, feeling guilty about your drinking and thinking that you should cut down but finding yourself unable to do so, or needing a morning drink to steady your nerves or relieve a hangover.

Some people with drinking problems work hard to resolve them. With the support of family members or friends, these individuals are often able to recover on their own. However, those with alcohol dependence usually can’t stop drinking through willpower alone. Many need outside help. They may need medically supervised detoxification to avoid potentially life-threatening withdrawal symptoms, such as seizures. Once people are stabilized, they may need help resolving psychological issues associated with problem drinking.

There are several approaches available for treating alcohol problems. No one approach is best for all individuals.

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Addiction And The Brain

Excessive substance abuse affects many parts of the body, but the organ most impacted is the brain. When a person consumes a substance such as drugs or alcohol, the brain produces large amounts of dopamine this triggers the brains reward system. After repeated drug use, the brain is unable to produce normal amounts of dopamine on its own. This means addicted people may struggle to find enjoyment in pleasurable activities, like spending time with friends or family, when they are not under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

If you or a loved one is struggling with a drug dependency, its vital to seek treatment as soon as possible. All too often people try to get better on their own, but this can be difficult and in some cases dangerous.

Social Signs Of Alcohol Abuse

What is Alcoholism? | Signs of Alcoholism | Alcoholism Definition

Alcohol abuses effects extend beyond the physical and psychological to include social influences. The most common social signs of alcohol abuse include:

  • Spending less time around friends and isolating oneself
  • Spending more time in new and changing social groups
  • Increased lying and deceitfulness
  • Failing to follow through on plans
  • Increasing conflicts with friends, family and coworkers

Socially, a person with an addiction to alcohol will likely be very inconsistent. One day, they could be happy and outgoing. The next day, they could be feeling down, angry and hostile. Unpredictable social interactions are a strong indicator of substance use disorders.

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Reasons To Live Life Free From Addiction

As a nation, we drink more alcohol now than ever before. Drug consumption has also drastically increased, with more than 1 in 11 adults admitting to taking drugs at least once a year. Sadly, consuming larger quantities of alcohol and administering drugs harms our physical and psychological health and contributes to an increase in the

Statistics On Alcohol Addiction & Use In The Us

According to the 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health , 51% of the population aged 12 and older reported binge drinking in the past month.

Binge drinking is defined as 5 or more drinks for males and 4 or more drinks for females on at least one day in the past month heavy alcohol use means binge drinking for 5 or more days in the past month.3

Most binge drinking occurs among people aged 1834 and is twice as common among men than women. One in 6 adults binge drinks around 4 times per month.5 Among 12- to 17-year-olds, 5.3% reported binge drinking in the past month, with 0.7% reporting heavy alcohol use in the past month.4

While not everyone who binge drinks has an AUD, binge drinking can be a very significant risk factor for the development of an AUD.

The NSDUH reports that more than 14 million people aged 12 and older had an AUD in 2017, with AUD occurring in 7% of males and 3.8% of females aged 12 and older.4

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What Is Moderate Drinking

The Dietary Guidelines for Americansrecommends that adults of legal drinking age can choose not to drink, or to drink in moderation by limiting intake to 2 drinks or less in a day for men or 1 drink or less in a day for women, on days when alcohol is consumed.4 The Guidelines also do not recommend that individuals who do not drink alcohol start drinking for any reason and that if adults of legal drinking age choose to drink alcoholic beverages, drinking less is better for health than drinking more.4

There are some people who should not drink any alcohol, including those who are:

  • Younger than age 21.

Effects Of Alcohol Dependence On The Body

The Definition Of Alcohol Abuse

Being alcohol dependent can lead to a whole range of serious health problems. If youre dependent on alcohol, you increase your risk of developing high blood pressure, stroke, coronary alcohol-related heart disease and alcohol-related liver disease.

Prolonged heavy drinking damages your liver. An estimated seven out of 10 people with alcoholic liver disease have an alcohol dependency problem5.

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Alcohol Dependence And Withdrawal

Common signs of alcohol addiction, the physical and psychological effects and where to go for help.

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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.

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.

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Persistent Use Of Alcohol Despite Awareness Of Problems

They include trouble sleeping, shakiness, irritability, anxiety, depression, restlessness, nausea, and sweating. In severe cases, you could have a fever, seizures, or hallucinations. Warner LA, White HR, Johnson V. Alcohol initiation experiences and family history of alcoholism as predictors of problem drinking trajectories.

  • However, if you consume alcohol to cope with difficulties or to avoid feeling bad, youre in potentially dangerous territory.
  • In 1979, the World Health Organization discouraged the use of alcoholism due to its inexact meaning, preferring alcohol dependence syndrome.
  • Folate and magnesium are often given to individuals with alcoholism, as well.
  • The person suffering from alcohol use disorder must first make the decision to stop using alcohol.
  • When a person drinks alcohol, the drug causes their brain to release the neurotransmitters, which are chemicals responsible for signaling pleasure and reward.

If you are the one suffering from alcohol abuse, the first step is recognizing you need help. Many studies show that people struggling with alcohol abuse can benefit from some form of treatment. Alcohol abuse can lead to physical dependency on alcohol, or alcoholism.

How To Get Help For Addiction

What Is Addiction? Definition, Simple Test and Causes

Some of the ways you can get help for alcohol addiction include:17,18

  • Asking for support from a friend or loved one.
  • Asking friends and family to avoid offering you alcohol.
  • Getting rid of the alcohol in your home.
  • Going to mutual support groups, such as 12-step meetings like Alcoholics Anonymous, or non-12-step meetings like SMART Recovery.
  • Talking to a counselor.
  • Checking your insurance coverage to see if treatment is covered.
  • Asking your doctor for referrals to rehabs.
  • Researching treatment centers online.
  • Entering treatment.

Treatment isnt based on a one-size-fits-all approach it should take into account your specific and unique treatment needs. When considering a treatment facility, you may wish to ask specific questions, such as:17

  • What kind of programs do they offer?
  • What is their treatment approach/philosophy?
  • Do they offer individualized treatment plans?
  • How do they measure treatment success?
  • What do they expect of you during treatment?
  • How does the program handle/address relapse?

In general, the recovery process typically begins with detox, where alcohol is cleared from your body. This may involve medication or other interventions as needed so that you are medically stable so you can enter treatment.10,17 Depending on your specific needs, youll then enter either an inpatient or residential treatment facility or an outpatient rehab program so you can learn the skills youll need to avoid relapse and live a healthier, alcohol-free life.17

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Ways To Reduce The Burden From Harmful Use Of Alcohol

The health, safety and socioeconomic problems attributable to alcohol can be effectively reduced and requires actions on the levels, patterns and contexts of alcohol consumption and the wider social determinants of health.

Countries have a responsibility for formulating, implementing, monitoring and evaluating public policies to reduce the harmful use of alcohol. Substantial scientific knowledge exists for policy-makers on the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of the following strategies:

  • regulating the marketing of alcoholic beverages
  • regulating and restricting the availability of alcohol
  • enacting appropriate drink-driving policies
  • reducing demand through taxation and pricing mechanisms
  • raising awareness of public health problems caused by harmful use of alcohol and ensuring support for effective alcohol policies
  • providing accessible and affordable treatment for people with alcohol-use disorders and
  • implementing screening and brief interventions programmes for hazardous and harmful drinking in health services.

The Most Common Addictions

Millions of people around the world struggle with SUDs. Some of the most common drugs that impede peoples lives include:

  • Nicotine
  • About

Jeffrey Juergens earned his Bachelors and Juris Doctor from the University of Florida. Jeffreys desire to help others led him to focus on economic and social development and policy making. After graduation, he decided to pursue his passion of writing and editing. Jeffreys mission is to educate and inform the public on addiction issues and help those in need of treatment find the best option for them.

Clinically Reviewed:

David Hampton

  • About

All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.

David embarked on his journey into sobriety in June of 2005, which led him to his current career path as a Certified Professional Addiction Recovery Coach in private practice in Greater Nashville. David is also a public speaker and the author of two books. David is cohost of the weekly Positive Sobriety Podcast, as well as being a frequent contributor to various articles and recovery based materials. As a member of the National Association of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselors , David works closely with Nashville area treatment centers, nonprofit recovery organizations, and consulting with faith-based groups trying to bridge the gap between the recovery communities and faith-based organizations who wish to understand addiction.

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Alcoholism Definition: What Is Alcoholism

Alcoholism is when one can no longer control their use of alcohol, compulsively abuse alcohol, despite its negative ramifications, and/or experience emotional distress when they are not drinking.1

AUD or alcoholism is a chronic, relapsing disease that is diagnosed based on an individual meeting certain criteria outlined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders .

To be diagnosed with alcoholism, individuals must meet any two of the below criteria within the same 12-month period:2

  • Using alcohol in higher amounts or for a longer time than originally intended.
  • Being unable to cut down on alcohol use despite a desire to do so.
  • Spending a lot of time obtaining, using, and recovering from the effects of alcohol.
  • Cravings, or a strong desire to use alcohol.
  • 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.
  • Giving up previously enjoyed social, occupational, or recreational activities because of 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.
  • Having a tolerance .
  • Developing symptoms of withdrawal when efforts are made to stop using alcohol.

For men, this low-risk range is defined as no more than 4 drinks on a given day and no more than 14 per week.

  • How to Stop Drinking
  • What Is Alcohol Dependence

    Figuring Out the Addiction Definition

    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.

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