Do You Have an Addictive Personality?
Many people can enjoy alcohol in moderation, but for other people, drinking even one glass of wine leads to alcohol abuse. 18 million people in the United States struggle with an alcohol use disorder. Moderate drinking is one drink per day for women and as many as two drinks per day for men.
If you end up drinking too much alcohol too often or cannot control your alcohol consumption, it can lead to problems. Whether this is alcohol abuse or alcoholism, it is good to understand the difference between them and realize the signs beforehand.
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Alcohol Abuse vs. Alcoholism
Although most people use alcohol abuse and alcoholism interchangeably, there are major differences between the two. Alcohol abuse is when people drink too much alcohol on occasion, resulting in risky behavior. Typically, alcohol abusers are not dependent on alcohol.
Alcoholism means a person requires alcohol to get through their day or week. Both alcohol abuse and alcoholism can cause serious health conditions. Alcohol makes symptoms of other disorders worse, such as osteoporosis, leading to cancer development. Alcohol abuse makes it difficult to diagnose heart disease because of how alcohol affects the circulatory system.
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Symptoms of Alcohol Abuse
Because alcohol abuse typically involves a high concentration of alcohol in the blood, the following behaviors often occur:
- Slurred speech
- Slow reflexes
- Decreased ability to control body
- Difficulty concentrating
- Partial memory loss
- Poor decision-making
- Risky behavior
- Staying conscious but having no memory
Extremely high alcohol concentrations in the blood can also cause breathing problems, coma, or even death.
Drinking Alcohol, in General, Can Also Lead to:
- Falling down
Symptoms of Alcoholism Include:
- Craving to drink
- Inability to control cravings
- Inability to stop drinking
- High tolerance for alcohol
- Lying or being sneaky about drinking
- Inability to get through normal activities without drinking
The Symptoms of Alcohol Abuse Include:
- Drinking to “relax”
- Driving under the influence of alcohol
- Problems with family and friends
- Neglecting responsibilities
- Having legal problems
Most of the time, people who abuse alcohol deny that they have a problem. Recognizing the signs of alcohol abuse can help prevent it from leading to addiction.
Who Is at Risk for Alcohol Abuse?
For many people, alcohol abuse stems from psychological or social factors. Whether you are drinking to calm down, reduce anxiety, or deal with stress, it is not healthy. Genetics and family history can also be cause for alcoholism. The exact causes of alcohol abuse and alcoholism are unknown. But there are certain circumstances in life where alcohol abuse is known to begin. This can be while in college, as a male in general, or after serious traumatic events.
Those who experience depression, loneliness, emotional stress, or boredom are also at risk for alcohol abuse. Although alcohol abuse is not dangerous when done occasionally, it is dangerous because it can eventually be alcoholism.
Alcohol Abuse is a Mental Illness
Alcoholism is a mental illness, and diagnosing it can be difficult. Sometimes, concerned family and friends may try to help you understand you have a problem. The trouble with this is that drinking habits have been normalized for centuries. Many people enjoy grabbing after-work drinks, but it is concerning when it becomes five drinks every night.
Co-Occurring Mental Health Disorders
When you are struggling with either an alcohol use disorder or alcoholism and a mental illness, you have co-occurring disorders. Co-occurring disorders are also known as a dual diagnosis.
- Individuals with depression are more likely to drink alcohol to self-medicate.
- Symptoms of irritability, insomnia, and feelings of helplessness are also often self-medicated with alcohol.
- Excessive alcohol consumption does not necessarily create mental illnesses, but drinking can make mental illness worse or more obvious.
Common Dual Diagnosis
- Depression: Characterized as a mood disorder that affects your thoughts and actions, depression is the most common mental illness in the United States. Alcohol helps mask feelings of depression, but the trouble comes when addiction occurs.
Symptoms of depression can include:
- Feeling restless
- Loss of interest in life
- Difficulty concentrating
- Decreased energy
- Being short-tempered
- Inability to sleep or stay asleep
- Bipolar Disorder: Manic-depressive illness, also known as bipolar disorder, involves extreme mood swings. These can be either extremely high to extremely low or simply low. Around six million people in the United States are diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Many people with bipolar disorder use alcohol to soothe their emotions or as a veil to avoid it.
Symptoms of bipolar disorder can include:
- Acting abnormally upbeat
- “Too much” unusual energy
- Feeling overly confident
- Highs and lows
- Loss of interest
- Unpredictable symptoms
- Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder: Known as OCD, obsessive-compulsive disorder is an anxiety disorder. Twenty-four percent of individuals with OCD also suffer from a substance use disorder. Alcohol is a method for those with OCD to avoid their symptoms. Relying on alcohol is not healthy and is not a good way to treat OCD. It can cause various health complications and emotional problems.
Symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder can include:
- Counting items multiple times over
- Excessive hand washing
- Constantly arranging items to make them “perfect”
- Extreme anxiety
- Compulsive actions
What is Alcoholism Relapse?
Relapse is an occurrence of drinking alcohol after committing to being sober. After a relapse, you may feel shameful or regret. You also may feel like giving up your quest for sobriety. This is not the right answer.
Forty to sixty percent of people aiming for sobriety fall into a relapse. Rather than give up, you can use relapse as a tool to understand your addiction triggers. If you press on, then you can focus on creating a drug-free life and be stronger than before.
Treatment for Alcohol Abuse
It may be hard to accept an abuse disorder or to admit you are an alcoholic. But treatment is the first step to getting healthy. There are many different treatment options for alcohol abuse and drug addiction. Most of these methods will help you understand how to control addiction and remove yourself from your old drinking lifestyle.
After any treatment, the hope is that you can continue to use these strategies to maintain a stress-free life. These methods should also help you stop using alcohol to cope with depression, grief, anxiety, or anger. The end goal of all alcohol treatment programs is to become sober for the rest of your life.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Also known as CBT, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy successfully teaches those in recovery new responses to distorted thinking.
Alternative Forms of Therapy
There are various forms of treatment programs that include alternative therapy options. These include art and music therapy, yoga and relaxation techniques, physical fitness, and equine or animal therapy.
Doctors will sometimes prescribe medications to reduce the feelings of alcohol withdrawal. Some medications help you to quit drinking by making you sick if you drink alcohol while on the medication. Other medications help to reduce cravings.
Support from either a personal therapist or a group such as Alcoholics Anonymous, also known as AA, can be extremely helpful. Anyone who is recovering from an alcohol problem needs support of some kind.
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Get Help for Your Alcohol Abuse Problem
Suddenly, quitting alcohol can be extremely dangerous because your body will crash after the high and go into shock. If you or someone you love is struggling with alcohol addiction, you need to get help. Detox is worth doing in a medical treatment facility under the watchful eye of trained individuals.
Contact us at Resurgence Behavioral Health for treatment options. We have the best therapists, doctors, and educated individuals to help you safely go through withdrawal and achieve sobriety. We even offer a free insurance verification so you can focus on treatment rather than how you plan to pay for it.
Call us or come in today.