Blurred Lines: Alcohol Abuse or Addiction
A Culture of Drinking
In a drinking centered culture, spectrum alcohol abuse is not something many people understand. It is not even something most people have even heard about. That is not a reflection on them so much as a society that laughs about phrases like ‘Wine O’Clock’ regularly.
Our Love Affair With Alcohol
“Eat, Drink, and Be Merry!”
“I’ll toast to that!”
“It’s 5 o’clock somewhere!”
These are common phrases we have all heard from time to time. Alcohol has been a part of our shared culture for generations. It is something seen not only as normal but as a rite of passage.
Even small children are given a sip of wine or beer in many families as adults smile and laugh. This introduction to the culture of drinking at such a young age can be problematic. It often reinforces the connection between drinking alcohol and having a good time.
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When Love Turns Sour
This deep-rooted connection between alcohol and celebration creates several problems. First, it implies you need alcohol to have a good time. Secondly, it lionizes people who drink to excess.
Phrases like ‘they can hold their drink’ or ‘they know how to have a good time’ make drinking more appealing. Finally, it makes it difficult for people to recognize the warning signs of a problem. Not recognizing warning signs, in turn, makes it even harder for them to seek help for alcohol addiction.
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Beyond Black and White
When you think about alcoholism, what comes to mind? You may imagine people who drink in the morning or who are often drunk in public. These are common hallmarks of advanced alcohol abuse. But they are not the only way this addiction manifests itself.
While alcohol abuse was once seen as a black and white issue, experts now agree it occurs on a spectrum. Someone who struggles to limit their alcohol intake may not think of themselves as being addicted. Simultaneously, not being able to limit yourself is a red flag that should not be ignored.
What is Spectrum Alcohol Abuse?
Spectrum alcohol abuse encompasses everything from drinking concerns to advanced alcoholism. By viewing alcohol consumption on a spectrum, we see problems sooner. People can be struggling long before they receive the label: ‘problem drinker.’
On one end of the spectrum is a moderate drinker and on the other is someone with advanced alcohol abuse. Between those two extremes, there is plenty of grey area. While these do not always indicate an issue, they can provide a way to make a clear assessment.
Determining Where You Are on the Spectrum
When considering where someone falls on that spectrum, we look at 10 different issues. Taking a close look at these behaviors is helpful in many ways. It helps put someone’s drinking in perspective without judgment. It can also show how easy it is to go from being a moderate drinker to exhibiting addictive behaviors. These indicators give them a warning if they are developing an issue.
- Desire to Limit Use – When you say you only want to have a single drink, are you able to stick to it?
- Lack of Control – Does drinking seem like less of a choice and more of a need? Do you sometimes lose track of how many drinks you have had?
- Time Spent with Acquisition – Do you spend more time than usual trying to get that extra bottle of liquor or wine?
- Cravings – When a certain time of day or a stressful situation arises, do you find yourself craving alcohol? Do you wake up wanting a ‘hair of the dog’ drink?
- Changed Priorities – Does having a drink take priority over other obligations? Are you avoiding time with family, work, or other engagements?
- Impacting Relationships – Has drinking been the focus of arguments or disagreements with close family and friends?
- Reckless Behavior – Do you have a drink before heading to a family gathering? Have to ‘pre-party’ ahead of a concert or sporting event even when you know you need to drive?
- Loss of Interest – Is spending a night home with the bottle becoming more appealing no matter what? Is a night of drinking the preference over hobbies or pastimes that once brought you joy?
- Tolerance – Does finishing off a bottle of wine over dinner seem like no big deal?
- Withdrawal Symptoms – This is beyond a hangover. Even mild withdrawal symptoms such as nausea and interrupted sleep patterns are a red flag.
This is not a comprehensive list of red flags when it comes to drinking. It does, however, show how gradually the issue can develop.
Removing Shame from Alcohol Abuse
Unfortunately, there is still a stigma associated with alcohol abuse and addiction. Due largely to how we view alcohol use culturally, some people think alcohol abuse is not a cause for concern. The assumption that someone can get their drinking under control alone discounts the power of addiction.
This attitude also minimizes the underlying issues which often feed into addictive behaviors. Doctors, psychologists, and addiction specialists all agree this attitude is downright dangerous. It is woefully misinformed and can do real damage to people dealing with addiction.
The fact is that there is no shame in having an addiction. The only shame is mocking or trivializing the experience of those who do.
Detoxing from Alcohol Abuse
Going through an alcohol rehab program can seem overwhelming at first. Concerns about the physical aspects of withdrawal are a major concern. Detoxing from alcohol abuse is about more than the physical discomfort, however.
Addiction is a multi-faceted issue. Psychological or emotional dependency plays a large role. A comprehensive detox plan will include help with both the physical and mental aspects of alcohol addiction.
When you are ready to take the first step on a journey to recovery, insurance concerns can be a roadblock. Many people do not know what benefits they have under their insurance plan and are often unsure where to start. At Resurgence Behavioral Health, we understand the complexities of insurance coverage.
We offer a free and no-obligation insurance verification process to empower people who are ready to begin recovery. We work with most major insurance companies, and so we can offer help, guidance, and insight.
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Help for Alcohol Addiction
There is no right or wrong time to seek help for alcohol addiction. No matter where you are on the spectrum of alcohol abuse, there is a program that can help. Alcohol rehab programs are not only for those at the extreme end of the spectrum.
Recognizing early warning signs can often help address the underlying issues of addiction. At the same time, there is simply no such thing as someone who is ‘beyond help.’ Addiction recovery is not simple, but it is achievable for those willing to put in the work.
The staff at Resurgence Behavioral Health is experienced in helping people in all stages of recovery. No matter what experience you have had in the past, or the concerns you have about the future, we are here to help.
The only thing you need to do is reach out and ask for help, and a brighter future can be yours.