Facts About Alcohol Addiction and Rehabilitation
Alcohol addiction, or alcoholism, is a physical dependence on alcohol that can stem from a drinking habit. While many people can consume alcohol and never fall prey to addiction, millions of men and women in America struggle with alcohol abuse. Understanding the ins and outs of alcohol addiction can help you prevent, or overcome, this problem.
What Is Alcohol Addiction?
Alcohol addiction often begins with an innocent drinking habit: consuming alcohol at parties or social events or having a drink with dinner. Certain factors may then come into play that turns a habit into an addiction. These factors include, but are not limited to:
- Social environment
- Mental/emotional health
When a drinking habit becomes rampant, the body physically needs alcohol to function. This leads to heavier drinking and addiction.
What Is Binge Drinking?
Binge drinking is a form of alcoholism in which a person consumes large amounts of alcohol in a single session. Binge drinking typically means four or more drinks at a time for women, and five or more drinks at one time for men.
This type of heavy drinking is common around the country, especially among youths under the legal drinking age of 21. Repeating this form of alcohol abuse can quickly lead to dependence and addiction.
Warning Signs of Alcohol Abuse
When an alcohol consumption habit turns into addiction, there are signs. Warning signs depend on the person, the circumstances and the amount of alcohol consumed.
Common red flags for the onset of alcohol addiction include:
- Inability to stop drinking even, if you want to
- Missing work, school or other obligations due to drinking
- Consuming alcohol as a coping mechanism or to de-stress
- Legal issues due to drinking
- Loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed
- Drinking in isolation
- Concealing the amount you really drink from friends and family
- Feelings of guilt or shame about how much you drink
- Storing or hiding alcohol in unlikely places
- Increased alcohol tolerance (the need to drink larger quantities to feel a buzz)
- Blacking out regularly
- Drinking when you shouldn’t, such as before driving or against doctor’s orders
- Relationship trouble due to drinking
- Experiencing alcohol withdrawal symptoms (not just hangovers)
Health Effects of Alcohol Addiction
Men and women suffering from alcohol addiction may show physical, behavioral or emotional signs of a problem. Alcohol addiction symptoms include:
- Loss of appetite
Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms
Unsupervised alcohol withdrawal can be life-threatening. A person going through alcohol withdrawal will display symptoms such as:
Other Health Effects of Alcoholism: Short-Term and Long-Term
Alcohol acts like a poison to the brain and body. The short-term effects of alcohol consumption may include impaired memory, reduced coordination and inability to control motor function. Some users display violent behaviors, leading to incidents such as assault. In the short term, alcohol can cause car accidents, domestic violence, personal injury, drowning or suicide.
Long-term alcohol abuse increases the risk of cancer of the liver, esophagus, breast, mouth, and pancreas. It also harms the liver, leading to hepatitis, or liver inflammation. Additionally, excessive drinking can lead to cirrhosis of the liver, when the liver cells are so damaged they cannot regenerate.
Prolonged alcohol abuse also damages the central nervous system, affecting:
- Muscle tone
- Reaction time
Long-term alcohol consumption can cause a condition called neuropathy, or weakness, pain, and numbness of the hands and feet. The only way to combat the short- and long-term effects of alcohol addiction is to seek professional treatment and rehabilitation.
Alcohol Abuse in the U.S.
Alcohol abuse and treatment admissions in the United States have decreased in recent years, but there is still a need for change. Tracking alcoholism in the country through the past decade can help you understand the need for professional treatment nationwide:
- Underage alcohol use (involving those between the ages of 12 and 20) and binge/heavy drinking in adults aged 18 to 25 remain a concern, despite declines in recent years. In 2014, 22.8 percent of underage Americans were current alcohol users, with 13.8 percent admitting to binge drinking.
- In 2011, almost half of all substance abuse-related emergency department visits by patients 20 years old and younger involved alcohol consumption. Drugs and alcohol often go together in harmful addiction and overdose situations.
- Alcoholism starts young: 86 percent of alcohol-only admissions to treatment centers in 2014 involved individuals who first became intoxicated before the legal drinking age. Almost one-third said the first time they became intoxicated was by age 14.
As alcohol addiction continues to sweep the nation, it is important to point out the availability of professional treatment and rehabilitation.
The First Step Toward Rehabilitation and Recovery
Alcohol addiction has physical and mental consequences that can make it difficult to recover without a strong support system and knowledgeable help. It is critical to seek professional rehabilitation if your or a loved one’s drinking has become a serious problem. Contact The Treatment Center by The Recovery Village today to learn about an individualized rehabilitation process for alcoholism.
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