Alcohol addiction is something that, if left untreated, can plague an individual throughout an entire lifetime. This makes it hard for someone to function in their everyday life, not to mention the neurological and physical damage it can have alongside the emotional distress it can bring upon the addict, their family, and their friends. Addiction leaves nothing standing in its rampant existence, so it’s important to recognize when it’s time to do something about it.
The first step is coming to terms with addiction, and in this blog, we’re going to go over what that looks like.
When Does Drinking Become an Issue?
Alcohol consumption in moderation is no cause for concern; it’s generally harmless if you’re having a drink or two at an event, on the weekend, or during a special occasion. However, there comes a tipping point with alcohol consumption, and if you’re exceeding two drinks and at that drinking more frequently, it may be a sign that you’ve developed an addiction.
What Alcohol Abuse Looks Like: Addiction is a pattern that results in significant and recurrent adverse consequences, such as failure to fulfill primary school, work, and family obligations. Repeated legal issues like multiple arrests and relationships issues are also indicators of addiction.
Alcoholism, or alcohol dependence, makes individuals lose control of their alcohol consumption. Alcoholism can be seen in individuals who cannot stop drinking after starting, no matter how many drinks they consume. Alcohol dependence is characterized by tolerance and withdrawal symptoms after an individual suddenly stops. These symptoms can include nausea, restlessness, sweating, tremors, irritability, hallucinations, and convulsions.
Alcohol Addiction Levels of Severity
Severe alcoholism gets the most public attention, but even mild to moderate abuse can cause significant damage to individuals, their friends and family, and the community. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism reported that 6.2% of adults in the United States over 18 had developed an alcohol abuse problem. These cases could range in severity, and it’s crucial to catch them in the earlier stages to mitigate the damage that can come from advanced levels of addiction.
Alcohol Addiction and Its Link with Disorders
Genetics, psychological health, and social behaviors all play a role in alcohol abuse; each case affects an individual differently. Some individuals may start their path to alcohol addiction due to psychological traits such as impulsiveness, low self-esteem, and a need for approval. Others drink to cope with emotional trauma and even go as far as to believe they are medicating. Younger individuals may drink if they are pressured while in social settings or to prove a point to an older individual or crowd; to fit in. More severe factors include growing up and living in poverty and physical abuse.
As for genetic factors, it is not guaranteed that a family history of alcohol dependency will mean that children will grow up to suffer from addiction. On the other hand, the absence of alcohol abuse in a family does not guarantee that a child won’t develop a habit, either.
Social myth: Being able to hold your liquor, contrary to popular belief, actually puts you at a higher risk of developing a dependency on alcohol. This is because an individual will have to drink more to feel buzzed or drunk.
Once an individual begins drinking excessively, physiological changes will make drinking feel like the only way to avoid discomfort. Individuals with an addiction may drink mild amounts to prevent withdrawal symptoms.
The Effects of Alcohol Addiction
The effects of alcohol encompass a wide area of symptoms. While short-term effects may include memory loss, hangovers, and blackouts, long-term effects can bring severe complications such as stomach ailments, cancer, heart problems, brain damage, liver cirrhosis, extreme memory loss, and brain matter deterioration. Heavy drinking has also been linked to higher rates of death caused by automobile accidents, homicide, and suicide. Though men are more likely to develop an alcohol addiction, women suffer more at lower consumption levels.
Mental Health and Abuse: Alcohol abuse and addiction can worsen existing mental conditions such as depression and anxiety and breed new issues like memory loss and the development of depression and anxiety if you don’t already suffer from them.
Effects of Addiction on Others: The addict isn’t the only one who suffers from addiction. Spouses and children of alcoholics are at risk of family violence like physical abuse and neglect, making them more likely to develop psychological problems. Women who drink while pregnant run a risk of doing detrimental damage to the baby. Family members, friends, and even strangers are also at risk of severe injury or death due to alcohol-related accidents.
How to Address Alcohol Addiction
Often, individuals will deny that they have a problem out of shame or denial. When faced with a situation where you’re having a hard time getting through to the individual, it’s best to show them what alcohol addiction is doing to the environment around them. Signs of alcohol addiction can include things like having friends or relatives express concern, feeling annoyed when someone criticizes your drinking, feeling guilty about your drinking, or needing a drink to calm your nerves. Find productive and considerate ways to help the individual see that they should consider getting professional help, and remind them that you’re doing it out of love and concern for their well-being.
Get the Help You Need at Ardu Recovery Center
If you or someone you know has begun the journey of addressing an alcohol addiction, let us help. At Ardu Recovery Center in Provo, Utah, we recognize that addiction recovery requires extensive knowledge and experience from professionals in recovery, and we offer that and more. Our state-of-the-art detox and residential treatment center provide alternative holistic and medical therapies that will help you or someone you know battling addiction overcome the struggle. Give us a call today or fill out our consultation form to get started on your road to recovery.