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Understanding Alcoholism and the Need for Alcohol Addiction Treatment

Alcohol addiction is a real problem that many people don't take seriously because of how readily available alcohol is.

alcohol addiction information

They may understand and even appreciate a need to drink responsibly, but they fail to recognize the fact that drinking frequently, and drinking in excess (otherwise known as alcohol abuse) can lead to addiction. Every year, some of the best alcohol addiction programs in the country work with people who don't realize the dangers of this type of addiction. These are individuals who fell into the trap of believing that drinking alcohol was relatively harmless, or who turned to alcohol as a way to cope with stress. Either way, the need to recover was very real for them, just as it may be for you.

The question is, do you realize the dangers of alcoholism? Let's discuss this widely popular drug and how to recognize if you've become addicted.

Using alcohol

What is Alcoholism?

People often need to learn the definition of alcoholism before they can recognize it within themselves. So, how do you define alcoholism?

According to Healthline, alcoholism is defined as a dependence upon alcohol. It is also known as alcohol use disorder. This condition occurs when you drink so much alcohol that you feel you need to drink. Eventually, your body becomes dependent on alcohol to function, or even feel normal. When alcoholism sets in, you become an alcoholic. Essentially, alcohol becomes the most important aspect of your entire life.

Alcoholics will continue to drink despite the negative consequences they suffer as a result. They often suffer from lost jobs, lost marriages, and other broken relationships. They usually have serious health problems that stem from their alcohol use. They may even eventually have legal problems because of it. For alcoholics, nothing is as important to them as drinking. They will do anything to get their hands on alcohol, and they're unable to stop drinking once they start.

The Definition of Alcohol Abuse

On the other hand, alcohol abuse is very different from alcoholism. The two terms are often used interchangeably, but they don't mean the same thing. Alcohol abuse refers to the overuse of alcohol, or the inappropriate use of alcohol. There is no dependence present with alcohol abuse. People who abuse alcohol may drink every day, or they may drink once or twice a month. They generally drink in excess, but they don't feel compelled to do so. That is the fundamental difference between the two conditions.

Even so, it is important to note that alcohol abuse always precedes alcoholism. There is no set amount of time that someone must be abusing alcohol before the addiction sets in.

Some people abuse alcohol for years, and don't become addicted to it. They're able to walk away from it without a problem, and may not ever feel the need to drink again. However, with enough exposure to alcohol, alcoholism could be right around the corner. It can happen at any time, and without warning.

It's so important to recognize and understand the dangers of alcohol abuse. It may seem as though you're just having a good time, but in fact, you may be playing with fire.

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What is Binge Drinking?

Binge drinking has become a serious problem in the United States. Many people are participating in this recreational activity without regard to the consequences of it.

Binge drinking is the act drinking a lot of alcoholic beverages in a short period of time. According to the National Institute on Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse, binge drinking has strict guidelines. It is defined as any drinking pattern that brings the individual's BAC level to .08 within two hours. For men, this means drinking five drinks during that time period. For women, it means drinking four drinks. The fact is that many who participate in binge drinking actually consume much more than this.

Binge drinking is the most common for those who are age 26 and over in the U.S. Although, there are a significant number of young people who participate in this behavior as well. It is a common precursor to developing an alcohol use disorder. For someone who binge drinks, they are much more at risk for alcoholism than someone who doesn't.

  • Having fun with friends
  • Forgetting all about their problems
  • Relieving stress
  • Trying to see how much alcohol they can tolerate
  • Acting out in rebellion
  • Having coordination problems
  • Experiencing memory loss
  • Becoming shaky
  • Experiencing nausea
  • Becoming dehydrated
  • Making poor decisions
  • Suffering from brain damage
  • Being diagnosed with liver disease
  • Suffering from a stroke
  • Having heart problems
  • Becoming infertile

The bottom line is that binge drinking is dangerous, whether it's the first time or the one-hundredth time. It can have disastrous consequences.

Alcoholism Facts and Statistics

Most people know that drinking too much alcohol can be hazardous. However, taking a look at some alcoholism facts and statistics can be truly eye-opening.

More than 86% of adults in the U.S. state that they have consumed alcohol at least one time.

  • More than 70% of adults state that they have consumed alcohol in the last year.
  • 56% of adults report drinking alcohol during the past month.
  • Close to 27% of adults have participated in binge drinking.
  • 7% of adults say that they have engaged in heavy drinking during the last month.
  • In 2015, more than 15 million adults in the U.S. had an alcohol use disorder.
  • This number included close to 10 million men and more than 5 million women.
  • During that same year, only 1.3 million adults received treatment for an alcohol use disorder.
  • During that year, 623,000 young people between the ages of 12 and 17 suffered with alcoholism.
  • Only 37,000 of them received alcohol addiction treatment.
  • About 88,000 people die from alcohol-related causes every year.
  • This makes alcohol the fourth leading preventable cause of death in the United States.
  • Close to 10,000 of these deaths were due to alcohol-impaired driving fatalities.
  • This is 31% of all driving fatalities.
  • More than 10% of children in the United States live with a parent who has problems with alcohol.

Clearly, alcohol addiction is a serious problem that has not been adequately addressed. Alcohol is looked upon as a substance that is socially acceptable and relatively safe. Most people rarely think twice before they drink. Because of this, it's not surprising that alcoholism is growing at such an alarming rate.

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Are You an Alcoholic? Take an Alcoholism Quiz to Learn More

Most people who are alcoholics live their lives in denial. In their minds, alcoholism is something that happens to other people. It certainly can't be something that applies to them. This way of thinking is exactly what keeps people in alcohol addiction for years.

The question you may be asking yourself is, am I an alcoholic? Taking an alcoholism quiz can give you some insight into your own behaviors. It can educate you on your relationship to this powerful drug, and help you know what you should do.

You also may find it helpful to answer a few simple questions about your alcohol use. Answer the following questions honestly:

  • Do you ever reach for alcohol right after you wake up in the morning?
  • Do you enjoy drinking alcohol as often as you can?
  • Have you experienced problems at your job because of your alcohol use?
  • Are you having relationship problems at home because of your alcohol use?
  • Do you often crave alcohol?
  • When you're not able to drink, do you go through alcohol withdrawal?
  • Do you frequently binge drink?
  • Are you unable to have a good time unless you're drinking?
  • Do you keep your alcohol consumption a secret from the people you love?
  • Do you lie about how much alcohol you consume?
  • Do you feel the need to drink alcohol in order to feel normal?
  • Do you use alcohol as a way to distress, or help yourself feel better?

If you answered yes to more than one of the above questions, you are probably an alcoholic. This information might come as quite a shock to you. Many people are surprised to find out they have alcoholism. You probably never meant to become addicted to alcohol. Most people don't. However, alcoholism has a way of sneaking up on you when you least expect it.

You don't have to be an alcoholic for years before experiencing the short term effects of an alcohol addiction. Many of these effects show up fairly early on in the addiction process, and they include burred vision, slurred speech, blackouts, breathing irregularities, a depressed immune system and relaxed inhibitions.

When your ability to reason becomes impaired, it's common to engage in risky behaviors. These alcohol addiction behaviors may include unprotected sex or driving while intoxicated, and it's important to remember that when you drink alcohol in excess, you're at a higher risk of causing harm to others, as well as to yourself.

Other short term effects of alcohol use and addiction include having no memory of the events that took place while you were drinking, having aches and pains or headaches, and nausea and vomiting.

While the short term effects are quite dangerous alone, the longer you drink, the more serious the effects can be on your overall health and wellbeing. When you're addicted to alcohol, you regularly engage in repeated patterns of drinking that can lead to:

  • Thiamine deficiency
  • An increased risk of cancer or diabetes
  • A sudden onset of seizures
  • An increased risk of heart failure
  • An increased risk of respiratory failure
  • Shakes or seizures
  • Liver disease

Everyone experiences alcohol withdrawal differently, and your symptoms can start anywhere from a few hours to a few days after your last drink. The risk of Delirium Tremens (or DTs) is very real once you stop drinking, and if these withdrawal symptoms appear, getting immediate medical attention is critical. These symptoms include:

  • Feelings of disorientation or confusion
  • Experiencing visual hallucinations
  • Hot or cold sweats
  • Having a seizure
  • An increase in your blood pressure
  • Racing heart rate or irregular heartbeat
  • Experiencing severe tremors
  • Having a low fever

Other symptoms you might experience include anxiety, headache, nausea with or without vomiting and insomnia.

How the Top Alcohol Rehab Programs Can Help You

There are some wonderful alcohol rehab centers in the Pacific Northwest, and the best rehab programs can help you overcome your addiction and embrace the life of recovery that you really want. They do that by addressing ever facet of your addiction so that recovery can be possible. That means:

  • Offering you alcohol detox as a way to purge your body of those harmful toxins in a way that's natural and that promotes your improved health
  • Providing you with alcohol treatment options that speak to your unique needs
  • Talking with an alcohol treatment therapist who can discuss the roots of your addiction with you in detail so that you can heal from them
  • Providing group counseling as a way to connect with others who are facing similar circumstances in their lives
  • Making sure that you have follow up treatment for when your alcohol rehab has been completed so you can continue in your recovery

Every addiction is different, and unless you address the physical aspect of your addiction with alcohol detox, and then treat the psychological aspect of it with alcohol rehab, your chances of recovering are quite low. Research has shown that by treating both, your risks of relapsing actually decrease substantially.

Alcohol Addiction Treatment

Types of Alcohol Treatment to Consider

There are several types of alcohol treatment you should consider if you're an alcoholic. Please keep in mind that the method that works for you might be different than what works for someone else.

  • Alcohol Detox: Recovering from alcoholism requires going through a period of alcohol detox. This is a way to cleanse the body from toxins, and it also helps to minimize alcohol withdrawal.
  • Inpatient Alcohol Rehab: This method has been proven to be the most beneficial for alcoholics who want to recover.
  • Outpatient Alcohol Rehab: This is for those with less severe alcohol addictions, or who have been through inpatient programs before.
  • Intensive Outpatient Treatment: This is a more intensive type of treatment that is similar to inpatient.
  • Alcoholics Anonymous: They offer support groups to help recovering alcoholics.

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Alcohol Addiction Treatment Options for Those in Need

If you or someone you love is addicted to alcohol, please remember that it's not wise to quit drinking without professional assistance, regardless of how long you've been addicted. Doing so can have serious and dramatic health consequences because of alcohol withdrawal symptoms. It's much better for you to stop drinking in a controlled, medical environment. That will allow you to get the care and attention you need during this critical time.

Here at Northpoint Recovery, we've helped so many people to be able to recover from their alcohol addictions. We're proud to offer our services to those in the Pacific Northwest, and if that's where you're located, we can help you too. Our experienced staff members have worked with many with alcoholism in the past. We understand this condition, and we know how important it is to recover the right way.

Alcoholism doesn't have to continue to rule your life. Are you an alcoholic, or do you suspect that you have an alcohol addiction? Please contact us to learn more about alcohol treatment, or to get started with the intake process.