What is alcoholism?
Alcoholism is often used to describe an individual who has a strong dependence on alcohol. Heavy drinking can start out as a way to kick back and relax after a long day at work or at a social event with friends or coworkers, but those facing a potential alcohol addiction often don’t start out thinking they’re not in control of their drinking habits. When people occasionally binge drink or abuse alcohol, they can usually control when and how much they drink.
Alcoholics, however, cannot, and this can lead to the use of alcohol in dangerous situations, such as behind the wheel or while taking prescription medications. Once alcohol use becomes detrimental to the health and safety of the addict and those around them, it is medically diagnosed as Alcohol use disorder (AUD). According to the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 14.1 million adults had been diagnosed with AUD by 2019.
How much alcohol is too much?
The signs of alcoholism can look different for different people. Some find that every time they have an alcoholic beverage, they want to or feel they have to drink to inebriation. Others struggling with this addiction feel they aren’t able to get through a social situation without having a few drinks. An unhealthy relationship with alcohol can even look like feeling the need to drink daily, even if it’s just a glass or two of wine. Because one’s situation can look completely different from another’s, be sure to reach out and get a professional opinion if any of these signs or symptoms of alcoholism sound familiar.
What are some signs of alcohol abuse?
A rather obvious sign of alcoholism is a strong impulse to use alcohol. Withdrawal symptoms can be very uncomfortable, and often, alcohol addicts continue to use alcohol despite the problems it causes. While everyone reacts to alcohol differently, some common whole body symptoms include:
- Sweating profusely
- A strong craving for alcohol
- Dizziness or shakiness
- Noticeable weight loss or weight gain
- Increase of wrinkles/age spots
- Flushed appearance
Behavioral and emotional symptoms of alcoholism can cause real social and professional issues for heavy alcohol users. These symptoms can include:
enabling addiction and start constructively helping your loved one.
What causes alcohol addiction?
Many factors can contribute to a person’s likelihood to become dependent on alcohol. These can include environmental, genetic, psychological and social factors. Excessive alcohol use over time can also change the way your brain associates pleasure and makes decisions, causing the individual to rely on alcohol heavier. Some other factors that could contribute to intense alcohol dependence include:
- Drinking from a young age
- Family history of alcoholism
- Depression or other mental disorders
- Past emotional or physical trauma
- Influence of parents, peers or other role models
How do I help a loved one who might be an alcoholic?
If you think someone you love might be exhibiting signs of alcoholism, offering help can change their life for the better. But it isn’t always as simple or straightforward as you would like. They may not agree with your concerns, but sharing your substance abuse research with them, such as this blog post, can help them see that you care about their health and well-being.
How do I tell my loved ones that I may be unable to control my alcohol use?
What you share with those around you is personal, but studies have proven that sharing your goals with the people you care about can help them better support you. If you recognize any of these symptoms or signs of alcoholism in yourself, decide now to have a conversation about your substance use habits with those close to you.
Prepare to discuss your situation with those you trust by thinking about goals you want to accomplish when seeking professional help. After talking to a partner or family member about your alcohol habits, give them time to process what could be a difficult conversation. Remember, while talking to loved ones about your health concerns can be helpful, nothing can replace professional help. Get in touch with a doctor or substance abuse professional as soon as you can.
How is alcoholism treated?
Alcohol addiction causes changes in your brain that make it more difficult to stop using alcohol. Trying to use willpower to tough it out can be like trying to muscle through a broken bone.
Your treatment plan depends on your circumstances and your goals. Sometimes, a detox period can be essential for treatment, and inpatient recovery treatment centers can be prime locations to go through controlled withdrawals surrounded by professionals. Seeing a therapist or having a counseling session provides a setting where you can learn new skills and tools in order to change your relationship with alcohol. There isn’t a medicine that cures alcohol dependence, but there are medications which make you feel nauseous or vomit if you drink, those that will eliminate the “high” you feel while drinking, and medications that can help with cravings.
What does alcohol addiction treatment look like at The Phoenix?
At the Phoenix Recovery Center we offer individualized treatment programs for addiction recovery to help you or your loved one learn how to quit alcoholism. Treatment options include medication in order to prevent symptoms of withdrawal, alcohol counseling, 12 Step Programs, and inpatient/residential care. In addition, we know and understand the science of chemical dependency with its associated neurological changes and its impact upon the pleasure system, emotions, learning, memory, motivation, and most importantly, the ability to exercise choice. We know and understand the biological and psychological science that support treatments in trauma, emotional disorders, and other mental health concerns.
Millions of Americans are diagnosed with AUD every year, and you are not alone. There is hope, and there are many options when addressing alcohol addiction. Contact our team to get started on your path towards regaining control of your life today!