Alcohol Addiction: What You Need to Know
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), more than 16 million people struggle with some form of alcohol use disorder (AUD). What does that mean in reality? Who and what determines how much alcohol is too much? Why do some people seem to control their drinking better than others? Essentially, what determines whether someone has an alcohol addiction and what treatment options are effective? We explore the answers below.
What are the Signs of Alcohol Addiction?
AUD, also known as alcohol addiction, is a chronic disease characterized by uncontrollable drinking and preoccupation with alcohol. Since alcohol is so prevalent, it can be difficult to recognize the signs of addiction. Some of the common warning signs that indicate alcohol addiction include:
- Drinking alone or in secret
- Choosing to drink over responsibilities and obligations
- Becoming isolated and distant from friends and loved ones
- Making excuses to drink (i.e. “I need to relax, de-stress or feel normal”)
- The frequent smell of alcohol on the breath
- Drinking at odd times during the day
- Desiring a drink first thing in the morning or in the middle of the night
- Slurred speech
- Constant rambling or repetitive statements
- Mood swings, irritability and panic attacks
- Emotional outburst when not drinking
- Frequent binge drinking
Some physical warning signs that appear in conjunction with the above, include:
- Constant falling, dizziness
- Lack of coordination and poor balance
- Broken capillaries on the nose and face
- Tremors and an unsteady stride
- Changes in appetite
- Chronic fatigue
- Bloodshot eyes
- Jaundice, a yellow discoloration of the eyes and skin
How is Alcohol Addiction Treated?
Sadly, only about 6.5% of adults with Alcohol Use Disorder receive treatment. For those that do, treatment for alcohol addiction consists of detox, rehabilitation, and maintenance.
- People with AUD have developed a dependence on alcohol. So even though they can quit “cold turkey,” medically-assisted detox is best. During the detox process, the client eliminates alcohol from their body, often with the help of medication. Although it doesn’t “cure” alcohol addiction, detox makes the rest of the recovery process possible.
Alcohol Rehab & Treatment
- After detox, the client begins rehabilitation in an inpatient or outpatient program. Rehab consists of different therapies and strategies to combat drinking urges and triggers. A major component of this process is cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). In CBT, a licensed therapist helps clients build coping strategies and skills to lessen their alcohol dependency. Depending upon the client’s needs, CBT sessions occur individually, with family, or in a group. Sometimes, clients take part in one-on-one, family and group therapy as part of a broader treatment program.
- Once rehabilitation is over, clients begin to re-acclimate themselves with daily life. Often, they join peer support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous. These groups help clients stay motivated and build healthy relationships. They also help clients maintain sobriety after treatment is complete. Other activities that help clients re-adapt to daily life include exercise and mindfulness.
What is Alcohol Withdrawal and How Dangerous is it?
Receiving treatment doesn’t mean cravings disappear. After consistent, heavy drinking, the body learns to function with alcohol dependency. Unlike some drugs which stimulate the central nervous system, alcohol has a depressive effect on the brain. The more people drink, the more their nervous system slows down. When alcohol vanishes from the system, the body struggles to adjust. That’s why quitting alcohol “cold turkey” is very dangerous.
Alcohol withdrawal symptoms include shakes, anxiety, headaches, nausea, vomiting, and insomnia. Without appropriate medical care, withdrawal can lead to relapse, restarting the cycle of addiction again. Continued relapse inhibits recovery and leads to long-term effects of AUD, including:
- Cardiovascular issues
- Steatosis or fatty liver
- Increased risk of liver and esophageal cancer
Alcohol Abuse Statistics in the United States
- In 2017, 14.1 million adults ages 18 and older had AUD.
- An estimated 85,000 people die from alcohol related causes annually. Alcohol is the third leading preventable cause of death in the United States.
- Every year, approximately 20% of college students meet the criteria for AUD.
- According to the 2017 NSDUH, about 7.4 million people ages 12–20 reported drinking alcohol in the past month.
- In 2010, alcohol misuse cost the United States $249 billion. Binge drinking caused three-quarters of the total cost of alcohol misuse.
- More than 7 million children live with a parent with alcohol problems.
Solution Based Treatment Can Help
Alcohol use disorder is a chronic disease. Luckily, the addiction treatment professionals at Solution Based Treatment can help. Our drug and alcohol detox program, along with our inpatient and outpatient treatment programs, provide evidence-based solutions.
If you, a friend or a loved one are showing signs of alcohol addiction, contact Solution Based Treatment & Detox today. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
We Know From Experience
We have helped thousands of people recover using a solutions-based approach of empowerment and knowledge.
We pride ourselves on creating a warm, relaxed recovery environment where our clients can show their true selves.
On-Site Medical Detox
Medical detox is a critical first step in recovery, which is why we provide supervised medical detox in-house.
Every client benefits from a fully personalized treatment and plan of care, helping them recover and reach their unique goals.