Alcoholism: Addiction to Alcohol
Alcoholism is the over-consumption of alcoholic beverages to the point of dependency. Alcohol abuse can greatly affect the user, impairing one’s ability to function on a daily basis. Eventually, alcoholism renders the user unable to function without alcohol. Many treatment experts divide alcoholism into 5 stages.
- A Stage 1 Alcoholic generally intends on having “just a few drinks,” likely with friends, but ends up consuming between 4 and 6 drinks within a 2-hour period, often repeatedly.
- A Stage 2 Alcoholic pushes their limits and drinks more frequently, creating a dependency.
- A Stage 3 Alcoholic begins to experience problems as a result of their drinking, such as depression and lost sleep. If they stop drinking, they may experience withdrawal symptoms, such as sweating and nausea.
- A Stage 4 Alcoholic reveals a deeper alcohol dependence than a Stage 2 Alcoholic, typified by a strong attachment to alcohol. However, their addiction is not yet as severe as Stage 5.
- A Stage 5 Alcoholic has a severe addiction defined by a deep need to drink. The user may experience strong psychological symptoms if they are without alcohol.
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Global and National Statistics for Alcoholism
Alcoholism is becoming more widespread both globally and nationally. In 2012, 3.3 million deaths occurred due to alcoholism worldwide. Nationally, up to 1 in 8 Americans are currently grappling with alcoholism. The number of alcohol abuse and alcohol-related disorders in minority populations, specifically with African-Americans, increased by 92.8% between 2002/2003 and 2012/2013. During the same time period, alcohol use among women rose by 84%. Elderly populations are increasingly turning to alcohol to cope with the daily stresses of life. Adults 65 and older increased their alcohol usage by 106.7% from 2002/2003 to 2012/2013.
Effects of Alcoholism
Many who abuse alcohol experience short-term side effects such as:
- Poor decision-making
- Impaired judgement
- Alcohol poisoning
- Slurred speech
- Risky behavior (such as drunk driving)
- Aggressive behavior (such as fighting)
- Memory loss
- Blacking out
Long-term impacts of alcoholism include:
- Liver damage
- Heart problems
- Nerve damage
- Challenging withdrawal symptoms
- Broken relationships
- Social stigma
- Poor job performance
- Feelings of isolation
- Serious financial difficulties
- Anxiety disorders
- Increased risk of cancer
- Brain damage
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Are You at Risk for Alcoholism?
In a culture which seems to promote alcohol consumption as a casual and normal affair, it is not shocking that the number of alcohol users continues to rise. Many alcohol abusers use alcohol as “self-medication” to soothe emotional distress, as many suffer from depression and other mental health disorders. People are more likely to abuse alcohol if they are abusing other drugs. Other factors, such as genetics, age, the need to escape stress, gender (males are 3 times more likely to abuse alcohol), friends, lifestyle, and feeling listless can all influence people to drink more.
Gaining a sense of awareness that you have a problem with alcohol is an empowering way to free yourself from the effects of alcohol abuse. The impact of alcohol can create devastating effects on both you and your loved ones. Thankfully, there is a way out to escape the pain of living with an addiction. Recovery is the end result of taking control of your health and well-being. You can find success in regaining control of your life in a rehabilitation facility.
Inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation centers are ideal for assisting alcohol abusers progress through each step toward recovery, beginning with alcohol detox. Alcohol abusers can find support and like-minded communities of people to share their stories, as well as gain the hope necessary to win the battle with addiction. Twelve-Step programs also exist to assist those who desire to take accountability and step into sobriety. If you or a loved one is impacted by the grasp of alcohol abuse, it is not too late to change your future.
Contact a treatment specialist today to discover which program is right for you.
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