Alcohol Abuse

Chronic Alcohol Abuse

What are the Effects of Chronic Alcohol Abuse?

Drinking too much alcohol now and then probably won’t damage your health if you are in good physical condition. However, the effects of chronic alcohol abuse can be detrimental to your health, physically and mentally.  Heavy drinking can damage every organ in your body over a period of time. Alcohol is a central nervous system (CNS) depressant.

Effects of Chronic Alcohol Abuse

When a person drinks alcohol, it first enters the stomach and small intestine. From here, it is absorbed in the bloodstream. Once alcohol enters the bloodstream it is circulated throughout the entire body. A person may develop cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, tongue, stomach, pancreas, breast, and liver due to chronic alcohol abuse. Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol can damage any person’s health, no matter what their age.

Some of the effects of chronic alcohol abuse include but are not limited to:

        • High blood pressure
        • Stroke
        • Loss of attention span
        • Memory loss
        • Trouble learning
        • Diminished white matter and gray matter in the brain
        • Irregular heartbeat
        • Cardiomyopathy
        • Fatty liver
        • Cirrhosis of the liver
        • Alcoholic hepatitis

Long-term heavy drinking can also cause depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder. In fact, chronic alcohol abuse can also cause dementia. 

Binge Drinking and Alcohol Poisoning

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) defines binge drinking as, a pattern of drinking alcohol that brings blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to 0.08 percent – or 0.08 grams of alcohol per deciliter – or higher.”

Binge drinking means that a person consumes a large number of drinks in a short period of time, such as two hours. NIAAA defines “heavy drinking” as consuming four drinks in one day for men and drinking more than three drinks in one day for women.

Binge drinking can also lead to alcohol poisoning. Drinking large amounts of alcohol in a short period of time can result in this serious (and sometimes, deadly) condition. Signs of alcohol poisoning include:

        • Vomiting
        • Confusion
        • Seizures
        • Hypothermia (low body temperature)
        • Slowed breathing
        • Pale or bluish skin
        • Passing out or unconscious
        • Irregular breathing such as stopping and starting back taking breaths

If you cannot awaken a person who is unconscious or passed out, call 911 immediately. This person is at risk of dying. Don’t think that the person will just “sleep it off” as many individuals do and just leave them alone.

Knowing the Signs and Symptoms of Alcohol Abuse

By knowing the signs and symptoms of alcohol abuse, you can avoid the effects of chronic alcohol abuse. If you think you are in the early stages of alcohol abuse or that your drinking could lead to abuse or addiction, know the signs to look for. By recognizing these signs, you can seek treatment and prevent more serious problems in the long term.

Signs and symptoms of alcohol abuse include:

        • Having a strong urge to drink
        • Spending a lot of time drinking or recovering from it
        • Oftentimes, drinking more than originally intended
        • Trying to cut down on the amount of drinking unsuccessfully
        • Using alcohol in unsafe situations such as driving or swimming
        • Failing to fulfill obligations and responsibilities because of drinking
        • Needing more alcohol to feel the effects (tolerance)
        • Showing withdrawal symptoms if not drinking alcohol
        • Continuing drinking when it causes family and relationship problems

If any of these signs and symptoms sound like you and your drinking behavior, seek help to avoid long-term physical health problems and the chance of mental problems also. Don’t let alcohol be the reason for declining physical health.

Contact Awakenings Rehabilitation

If you are seeing a pattern in your consumption of alcohol that is leading to more dangerous issues, you don’t have to continue on this path. Seek help from a reputable alcohol and drug addiction treatment facility. Don’t put your future health and happiness at risk. Seek help.

Contact us at Awakenings Rehabilitation today. We can design a treatment program for your individual needs and preferences. One of our representatives can answer any questions you may have about our facility and our many different treatment programs. Contact us now!

Resources:

niaaa.nih.gov – Drinking Levels Defined

mayoclinic.org – Alcohol Poisoning

mayoclinic.org – Alcohol Use Disorder

Scope of Alcohol Abuse Today

Is the Scope of Alcohol Abuse in the US Getting Worse?

Alcohol use disorders (AUD) in the United States are on the rise during today’s challenging situation with COVID-19.  Of course, the scope of alcohol abuse was already at shockingly high levels before the virus came along.  For example, in a survey conducted by the NSDUH in 2018 shows that 86.3 percent of people over the age of 18 reported drinking alcohol at some point in their life.  More than 70 percent said they drank in the past year, and 55 percent drank in the past month.  Of those, about 26 percent reported heavy alcohol use or binge drinking in the past month.

Because of the numbers above, The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) once again stresses the importance of educating the public and policymakers, destigmatizing the disorder, and convincing individuals to seek treatment for their drinking problems.  According to their statistics, only about 7.9 percent of adults and 5.0 percent of youth received treatment for AUD in 2018.

Why is the Scope of Alcohol Abuse Getting Worse Today?

While we are calculating the deaths caused by COVID-19, the increasing number of deaths from AUD-related problems continues to rise as well.  In past years, approximately 88,000 people died annually due to their drinking issues.  That number will increase substantially as people use alcohol to help cope with the anxiety and challenges posed by the virus lockdowns.

Post-disaster studies show that substance use and abuse increases dramatically during major traumatic events. Here are a few examples that support the validity of that statement:

  • Some survivors of Hurricane Ike turned to alcohol for solace.
  • After Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, substance abuse soared.
  • During the events surrounding 9/11, binge-drinking and drug consumption increased.
  • Hurricane Sandy saw an increase in opioid abuse.

Impact of Virus Lockdowns on AUD

Experts predict that more than 30 million people will be left jobless during the coronavirus pandemic. 

Also, as we struggle to adjust to social-distancing, joblessness, and the isolation imposed by stay-at-home mandates, some people become bored, lonely, or depressed and worry about how they can provide for their families. 

These emotions can lead to increased substance use as a form of self-medication to escape the fears and stress.  In this way, the scope of alcohol abuse and drug abuse will increase, taking even more lives.

Do You Have an Alcohol Use Disorder?

It’s not difficult for social drinking to escalate into alcohol abuse.  So, if you consider yourself a casual drinker, pay attention to these signs of AUD as listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5):

  • Intense cravings for alcohol
  • Often drink more than you intended
  • Continued to drink despite consequences
  • Lost interest in activities you once enjoyed
  • Struggle with withdrawal symptoms when not drinking
  • Engaging in dangerous activities while intoxicated
  • Drinking has interfered with your job or performing daily responsibilities
  • You have driven while drunk
  • Practiced unsafe sex while drunk
  • Are unable to control or cut down on your drinking

Meeting two or more of the above criteria indicates an alcohol use disorder is present.  If you meet two or three of the criteria, you may have a “mild” AUD.  The presence of four or five indicates a “moderate” problem, while six or more indicate a “severe” alcohol use disorder. Those who meet at least two of the criteria over the course of a year-long period have a “lifetime” diagnosis of AUD.

Is AUD Different from Alcohol Abuse or Alcoholism?

The definition of AUD, according to the DSM-5, is as follows:

Problem drinking that becomes severe is given the medical diagnosis of “alcohol use disorder” or AUD.  AUD is a chronic relapsing brain disease characterized by compulsive alcohol use, loss of control over alcohol intake, and a negative emotional state when not using.”

If you suspect that your alcohol consumption is out of control, please contact us at Awakenings Rehabilitation today.  We can conduct a confidential assessment and help you get the high-quality treatment you need and deserve.  Remember, sudden abstinence from heavy drinking can be dangerous, so let our professionals help.  Our goal is to minimize the scope of alcohol abuse and save lives.

Sources:

samhsa.gov – Results From the 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health Detailed Tables

pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov – Psychiatric Comorbidity and Substance Use Outcomes

niaaa.nih.gov/publications – Alcohol Use Disorder: A Comparison Between DSM-IV and DSM-5

niaaa.nih.gov – Alcohol Use Disorder

 

Age-Related Alcohol Use Disorder

Age-Related Alcohol Use Disorder:  What You Should Know

Alcohol Use Disorder involves more than a person merely drinking excessively.  New research shows that there are five distinct types of AUD that a more prevalent at specific ages.  Of course, not everyone who has an alcohol use disorder is an alcoholic. Also, a person does not have to be an alcoholic to benefit from treatment for alcohol abuse.  So, how does age influence a person’s drinking behavior, and what are the different age-related alcohol use disorder classifications?

Let’s begin by looking at some statistics from the National Institutes of Health (NIH).  According to their research:

  • Approximately 16 million Americans have an alcohol use disorder today.  
  • The research also shows that about 86.4 percent of people over the age of 18 reported drinking alcohol at some point.  
  • Also, 26.9 percent of people over 18 reported binge drinking in the past month, with 7.0 percent engaging in heavy alcohol use in the past month.
  • An estimated 88,000 people die from alcohol-related problems each year.
  • About 9,967 driving fatalities are attributed to alcohol.
  • The economic burden of alcohol abuse cost the US more than $249.0 billion per year.
  • More than 10 percent of children in the US have a parent with AUD.
  • Globally, about 3.3 million deaths are alcohol-related.

What makes people consume enough alcohol to become one of the above statistics?  New research shows that problematic drinking has symptoms that are more common at certain ages. This research may help in our understanding of how to improve treatment methods.

5 Classifications of Age-Related Alcohol Use Disorder

Below are the 5 profiles of AUD, according to a survey conducted by the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions:

  1. Alcohol-induced injury – Individuals engage in risky behavior and get into situations that cause injury.  More prevalent as age increases.
  2. HIghly problematic, low-perceived life interference – These individuals have many AUD symptoms. However, their alcohol abuse does not have adverse effects on their family, work, or social obligations.  Prevalent among younger adults.
  3. Adverse effects only – Participants reported hangovers or alcohol withdrawal symptoms.  Prevalent among younger adults.
  4. Difficulty cutting back – People in this category struggled or were unable to cut back on their alcohol consumption.  More prevalent as age increases.
  5. Highly problematic – These individuals have all of the above symptoms. Prevalent among younger adults.

The study will continue trying to determine if a young person in one category (profile) will slow down or escalate their drinking as they get older.  The research shows that individuals with AUD need treatments that are specifically tailored for age-related alcohol use disorder.

Understanding the 3 Main Types of AUD

Age-related alcohol use disorders also fall under 3 types:

  • Alcohol abuse – Your drinking is considered alcohol abuse if you continue drinking in spite of the following:
    • Neglecting responsibilities
    • Drinking while driving
    • Legal problems
    • Poor school or work performance
  • Binge drinking – You drink harmful amounts of alcohol in one session and may engage in the following:
    • Miss school or work
    • Cause property damage
    • Have more hangovers
    • Become injured 
  • Alcohol dependence (alcoholism) – Alcohol abuse can become alcoholism quickly.  You are an alcoholic if you continue to drink despite the adverse effects it’s having on your life and health.  Signs of alcoholism include the following:
    • Drinking compulsively despite problems 
    • Have severe cravings when not drinking
    • Need more alcohol to get the desired effect
    • Withdrawal symptoms worsen

If you’re not sure if you have a problem with alcohol, this simple test might help you.

Getting Help for Alcohol Use Disorder

Experts agree that quitting alcohol is easier in the early stages before dependence or alcoholism develops.  However, thousands of people are now sober after seeking professional addiction treatment.  

If you would like more information about age-related alcohol use disorder, or about treatment for alcohol abuse, contact us today.  

Resources:

niaaa.nih.gov – Alcohol Facts and Statistics

verywellmind.com – Do You Have an Alcohol Abuse Problem?

 

 

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