What is alcoholism, and how does it impact your health? Alcohol use disorder involves the insatiable, compulsive need to consume alcoholic beverages. Misusing alcohol has several physical and psychological consequences. Seek professional support right away if you notice yourself or your loved ones showing alcoholism signs.
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Alcoholism stands as the most severe and common form of addiction. Statistics show that 6.8% of Americans over 12 have alcoholism — 414,000 of which are between 12 to 17. Also, 25.8% of Americans 18 and above engage in heavy drinking regularly.
The problem with alcoholism is that many patients don’t know they have it. Contrary to popular belief, you cannot measure alcoholism. Medical professionals do not assess people with alcohol use disorder based solely on the number of drinks they consume daily.
For instance, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) states that heavy drinking involves 14 or more drinks per week. However, there are patients diagnosed with alcoholism who consume fewer drinks.
Instead of counting drinks, it’s better to assess drinking habits. Generally, people who have a compulsive, insatiable need to drink large amounts of alcohol daily should get checked for alcoholism.
There are several mental and physical health risks of alcohol use disorder, which include:
What causes alcoholism, and can one avoid them? The development of alcohol use disorder generally depends on a patient’s drinking habits (i.e., frequency, volume). However, several other variables can cause alcoholism as well, such as:
Alcoholism typically goes untreated if the patient doesn’t realize their problem. In many cases, people with alcohol use disorder assume that they have regular drinking habits, so the thought of alcoholism treatment never even occurs to them. However, delaying therapy and medication further aggravates the health risks of alcohol.
Patients can change this mindset by understanding what causes alcoholism. Learning early alcoholism signs and acknowledging the disorder before it worsens significantly speeds up the recovery process.
Alcoholism recovery goes beyond rehab. Medical professionals recommend varying treatment options based on the severity and frequency of a patient’s alcohol use disorder. For best results, patients should combine self-medication with professional treatments.
Firstly, detoxification. This treatment involves the expulsion of all traces of alcohol in the body by abstaining from liquor as long as possible. Note that patients might experience withdrawal symptoms.
Secondly, rehabilitation. Rehab treatment serves as a more formal, professional approach to alcoholism treatment. Patients will undergo several programs daily.
Lastly, maintenance. This treatment process involves self-medication and primarily relies on discipline. Recovering patients should strive for long-term sobriety.
What is alcoholism, and how do you detect the early symptoms? To help you learn more about alcoholism, we compiled some of the most common questions patients and non-patients ask about alcohol use disorder.
Some mental and physical health risks of alcohol misuse include high blood pressure levels, pancreatitis, liver disease, stroke, panic attacks, depression, and heart muscle damage.
Alcoholism develops when binge drinking habits turn into compulsive needs. The NIAAA defines heavy drinking for women and men as consuming 7 and 14 drinks per week, respectively.
Drinking every day does not automatically translate to alcoholism. However, consuming more than two drinks daily increases the risk of alcohol-related complications, including alcohol use disorder.
Overall, recovering from alcohol use disorder involves a lifelong process. Patients should practice everything they learned from their alcoholism treatment programs to achieve long-term sobriety. Otherwise, they might relapse. People undergoing recovery will achieve better results if they have a solid support system throughout the process.
Do you want to learn more about alcoholism recovery? Radical Rehab can shed some light on the topic. Check out our resources explaining the potential treatment avenues for people with alcohol use disorders.
Gary McKenzie is Radical Rehab’s CEO. He is committed to helping people with alcohol and drug addiction. Gary made it his mission to spread knowledge and resources to those in need.