Alcohol abuse is common. An estimated 17 million adults in the U.S. struggle with alcoholism, and another 38 million are heavy drinkers, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Heavy drinkers include binge drinkers (who in one sitting consume five or more drinks for men, four for women) and people who have high weekly consumption of alcohol.
Alcohol abuse exacts a heavy toll. It contributes to an estimated 88,000 deaths each year, whether from diseases or accidents. It’s involved in about 31% of driving fatalities. In the U.S., alcohol-related incidents are the third-leading cause of preventable death.
What Are the Signs of Alcohol Abuse?
There is no one single sign of alcoholism. If you’re experiencing just a few symptoms, you might have a minor problem with alcohol. If you’re experiencing four or five symptoms, you could have a moderate problem. If you have more than five, there is a higher likelihood that you’re suffering from alcoholism. Here are some signs of alcohol abuse:
- You find yourself drinking more than you planned.
- Your drinking has escalated over time.
- You find yourself drinking over a longer period of time than planned.
- You’ve tried to cut back or quit, but can’t.
- You spend a lot of time buying alcohol, drinking and then sobering up.
- You get cravings for alcohol or experience other withdrawal symptoms if you stop drinking.
- You have to drink more to get the desired effects.
- Your drinking feels out of control.
- Your alcohol use interferes with your job, school work or home life.
- Your drinking is causing problems in your relationships.
- You’d rather drink than participate in activities you once enjoyed.
- You drink and drive.
- Your drinking is causing physical or psychological problems.
- You have experienced alcohol poisoning or being arrested for drunk driving.
Heavy alcohol use is not the same as alcoholism, but it can precede alcoholism. Heavy alcohol use for men, as defined by the CDC, is 15 or more drinks per week on average. The number is eight or more drinks for women. Continuing alcohol abuse ― despite the fact that it is destroying your life ― is a warning sign that consumption has reached the level of alcohol addiction. It may be time to find an inpatient treatment center.
Is it Time for Alcohol Abuse and Addiction Treatment?
People of all ages are involved with alcohol abuse. The more you drink, the more damage it will do to your body and mind. It’s important to determine if you or a loved one has an alcohol use disorder that requires addiction treatment. At Lucida, we can help you recover from the effects of alcohol abuse. We can also address related behavioral health issues, as well any additional substance abuse problems or co-occurring disorders. We also help you explore the deeper emotional issues that led you or your loved one to excessive drinking.
Effects of Alcohol Dependence
The effects of alcohol can impact your health and well-being. High functioning alcoholics, who seem to have life under control, also suffer multiple short-term and long-term alcohol-related symptoms. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, the effects of alcohol can include:
- Heart palpitations
- High blood pressure
- Chronic disease of the heart muscle (cardiomyopathy)
- Fatty liver
- Hepatitis related to alcoholism
- Cirrhosis of the liver
- Depression and anxiety disorders
- Mood disturbances
- Memory problems and blackouts
- Impaired judgement
- Behavior problems
- Coordination and reflexes
- Limited ability to think clearly and responsibly
Excessive drinking can also cause brain damage. Researchers also say there is a link between alcohol consumption and certain cancers:
- Head and neck cancer
- Esophageal cancer
- Liver cancer
- Breast cancer
- Colorectal cancer
Causes and Risk Factors
There are a number of factors, both genetic and environmental, that influence whether your alcohol use will turn into alcoholism. If you started drinking at an early age or if your early role models drank excessively, you are at greater risk. Alcoholism is inherited to a degree, and if your family has a history of alcohol abuse, that places you at greater risk of having genetic factors that increase your risk.
Addiction experts point to a number of risk factors for alcoholism, including:
- Childhood trauma
- Stressful life experiences such as death, loss and divorce
- Depression and emotional challenges
- Easy access to alcohol in our society
- Peer pressure that leads people to drink
- Having a parent or family member who drinks (genetics)
Experts believe it can also be caused by using alcohol to cope with a co-occurring disorder, such as an anxiety disorder or bipolar disorder. Many people with undiagnosed mental health disorders use alcohol to quell symptoms. In addition, people with substance use disorders, such as prescription drug abuse, may drink to increase their “high.”
People under stress or who suffer from mental or emotional challenges may use alcohol to ease symptoms. This can grow into chronic alcohol use or alcoholism if they do not seek alcohol rehab.
When someone has a dual diagnosis, finding a treatment center that addresses all issues at the same time is critical. All mental health disorders and substance use problems can be treated at Lucida alcohol rehab.
Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms
Alcohol withdrawal symptoms can be life-threatening, and should not be handled alone. Seek the support of medical professionals if you’ve abused large amounts of alcohol or drank over a long period of time. Alcohol withdrawal symptoms can include:
- Shaky hands
- Gastrointestinal problems
- Alcohol cravings
- Fast heart rate
Are You Ready for Alcohol Addiction Treatment?
Lucida offers compassionate, evidence-based treatment for alcohol and drug addiction. When you arrive at Lucida, you will be welcomed into a comfortable environment where you can focus on healing. Some of the treatment options we offer include:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy
- Dialectical behavior therapy skills
- Individual therapy
- Group therapy
- Family therapy
- Meditation and mindfulness
- Trauma therapies like EMDR
We can help you get to the heart of your alcohol problem and find your way into recovery. Call today to talk with a recovery specialist: 844-878-1996.