Why Alcohol Can Be A Problem

Alcohol is one of the most dangerous substances to consume, with both short-term and long-term effects. Because of its ability to relax and help those loosen inhibitions, 18 million people have battled an alcohol use disorder recently, suffering both short and long-term effects of alcoholism. Short-term drinking can lead to risky behavior, being hungover, or having slurred speech. Long-term drinking includes side effects of liver, heart, and brain damage, withdrawal symptoms ranging from tremors to anxiety, and the development of strained relationships.

If expecting mothers drink, they can endanger the life of their unborn child, which can lead to Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, sudden infant death syndrome, and for some, miscarriages. Depending on the stages of alcohol abuse, cirrhosis of the liver can cause death. Being proactive and knowing when it is time to get help can be a decision that could save a life.

Alcohol consumption can change the brain’s chemical composition, causing cravings and withdrawal symptoms that can last weeks or months.

How Do I Know If I Need Help? Things To Consider

Understanding whether or not you or your loved one battles an alcohol use disorder can be challenging for several reasons. Due to various defense mechanisms that individuals experience in active addiction, signs may not be “clear” to help someone determine if they should discontinue drinking. The signs may be clear from an outside perspective, but for the individual experiencing alcohol abuse, it may be more challenging to determine. With alcohol’s addictive qualities and its effect on the body and mind, controlling drinking can be challenging.

Awareness of one’s drinking habits can help someone gain insight into whether or not they have a problem with alcohol. For example, if you’re a woman and you drink 4 or more drinks in a two-hour sitting, or a man who drinks 5 or more in a two-hour sitting, you may have a drinking problem. Binge drinking can transform into heavy drinking when someone drinks much more alcohol and drinks more often. Moreover, heavy drinking can produce tolerance, increase cravings, produce withdrawal, and become more complicated over time.

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Recognizing The Signs of Alcoholism: Withdrawal

Additionally, if you have become dependent or tolerant on alcohol, you may discover withdrawal symptoms that can arise. If someone experiences withdrawal symptoms upon sudden cessation or rapid reduction of alcohol use, they are physically dependent on alcohol. When withdrawal symptoms occur, this is a clear sign of needing medical assistance for alcohol abuse.

When someone drinks often, indulges in binge or heavy drinking, their dependence or tolerance to drinking large amounts of alcohol can make it difficult to stop. Furthermore, alcohol consumption can change the brain’s chemical composition, causing cravings and withdrawal symptoms that can last weeks or months.

There are several ways to measure if you or your loved one’s drinking requires rehab or intervention. Being able to recognize the signs of alcohol abuse can save a life. One of the most defining ways of establishing this is recognizing withdrawal symptoms. Such withdrawal symptoms may arise from those who have a rapid reduction or sudden cessation of alcohol use, including:

  • Anxiety

  • Depression

  • Seizures

  • Fatigue

  • Poor concentration

  • Headaches
  • Irritability

  • Sweating

  • Vomiting/nausea

  • Appetite loss

Delirium Tremens is another less common but powerful side effect of excessive alcohol use that lasts for days. The symptoms include visual and auditory hallucinations, tremors, irregular heart rate, and fever.

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How Do I Know If I Need Help? Assessing Your Drinking Patterns

Awareness of drinking may be a challenge. If you have had close people show concern for your drinking, or have felt your drinking has become a problem, or wish to understand how you can self-assess your drinking, you can consider the following questions:

  • Do I continue to drink despite consequences at home, work or school?
  • Do I need to drink more than I used to in order to achieve the same effect?
  • Have I made multiple attempts to cut down or stop drinking but have been unsuccessful?
  • Do I have cravings, urges, or mental obsessions to drink?
  • Am I putting myself in risky situations due to my drinking?
  • Do I experience any physical or psychological withdrawal symptoms when I stop drinking that are only relieved by drinking more? 

The responses to these questions can signal moderate and problematic drinking conditions, but not necessarily alcohol use disorders. Despite this, such answers to questions can allow you to track your drinking and determine if it is getting worse. Additional questions you may ask yourself to gain more awareness of your drinking include:

  • Am I increasing my drinking amount?

  • Have I developed health-related conditions due to excessive drinking?

  • Have I spent a lot of money supporting a drinking habit?

  • Do I hide my drinking patterns from loved ones?

  • Have loved ones mentioned I should stop drinking?

  • Have I gotten in trouble with the law or have legal problems because of drinking?

  • Have I had more cravings for drinking?

  • Have I blacked out while drinking?

  • Do I experience withdrawal symptoms when trying to stop drinking?

At this stage, getting help or having an intervention may help as these indicate more serious drinking patterns. However, it is important to note that these questions alone do not determine whether a person has an alcohol use disorder. This evaluation can only be given after a thorough assessment is completed by a licensed mental health therapist.

How Treatment Helps

Treatment offers individuals the means to address the multi-faceted issues that substance abuse often stems from. Individual and group therapy sessions are an integral part of treatment as they help individuals identify problems that may influence their drinking habits as well as teach them healthy coping skills. Treatment for an alcohol use disorder can include inpatient treatment, outpatient treatment, alcohol counseling, sober-living facilities, and support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous.

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Get The Treatment You Deserve

Getting treatment for an addiction to alcohol may seem overwhelming. Fortunately, there is much support available for those seeking it. If you or a loved one needs help, contact a treatment provider to discuss rehab options.

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If you or a loved one is ready to overcome an alcohol addiction, reach out today. Treatment providers can connect you with programs that provide the tools to help you get and stay sober.