According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, there are 17 million adults in the United States who suffer from a medical diagnosis of “Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD)” or alcoholism. The severity of AUD can vary. For those who suffer severe AUD, medical detox is required followed by alcohol abuse treatment. Of the millions that suffer from AUD, only 7.7 percent received treatment in 2013.
Alcoholism can develop quickly or slowly taking months or years to overcome a person. The American Medical Association has diagnosed alcoholism as a chronic progressive disease because of the impact it has on a person’s brain, body, intellect, and emotions. As a chronic progressive health condition, it requires regular monitoring–just as diabetes or a heart condition require regular check-ups.
When a person suffers from AUD, he or she will drink more than desired, frequently, reject normal pleasurable activities, focus solely upon getting more alcohol and suffer withdrawal symptoms when the alcohol effects begin to wear off.
Signs of Alcohol Withdrawal
The disease of alcoholism alters brain function and brain chemistry. Acute withdrawal symptoms will occur that include:
- Irregular heart beat
- Changes in blood pressure
The intensity of cravings is both physical and emotional. A person suffering from alcoholism will be unable to stop drinking despite the negative consequences to self and loved ones. These consequences include financial, physical, emotional, legal, familial troubles. Unable to stop drinking despite negative consequences, generally means that alcoholism has developed.
Health Problems and Alcoholism (AUD)
The World Health Organization indicates that over 200 diseases and injuries are related to the use of alcohol. There is a relationship between alcohol consumption and infectious diseases such as tuberculosis and HIV/AIDs.
Cultural, environmental, biological (including personality traits) and genetic factors combine to place a person at risk of becoming an alcoholic. All of these factors combine to determine a person’s drinking choices, drinking patterns and drinking outcomes.
Everyone’s body responds in distinct ways to alcohol. Men and women metabolize alcohol differently. Men tend to drink more than women, but women tend to become sicker faster. Women will develop alcohol-related problems at lower drinking level than men. Alcohol is absorbed faster into a woman’s body than a man’s because of body mass, water weight, etc.
Men are more likely than women to drink excessively, and take unhealthy risk while consuming alcohol. According to the Center for Disease Control,
- Men average about 12.5 binge drinking episodes per person per year, while women average about 2.7 binge drinking episodes per year.
- Men are more likely than women to commit suicide and are more likely to have been drinking prior to committing suicide.
Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse
There is a difference between alcoholism and alcohol abuse. A person suffering from alcohol abuse may still have many of the same problems of those of an alcoholic. He or she may drink too much and suffer from negative consequences that can occur during intoxication. These can include violent behavior, entanglements with the law, or risky sexual behavior that would otherwise not occur while sober. Withdrawal symptoms may be similar to those of the alcoholic though the person may not have progressed into full blown addiction.
Evidence-Based Treatment Helps
Research has demonstrated that an individualized, comprehensive addiction treatment programs can help a person suffering from alcoholism stop drinking and regain his or her life. A thorough evaluation, medication management, alcohol education, life-skills training, relapse prevention, support groups, counseling, family therapy, after-care all provide individuals in treatment with the tools to avoid relapse and gain long term sobriety. Indeed, relapse episodes can be reduced in length and number if a person receives the appropriate medically based treatment.
Call now to speak with a trained intake advisor and learn more about appropriate treatment. Our staff can answer all your questions, and set your mind at ease. Help is available. It only takes a phone call to find a path back to health for you or your loved one.