Addiction And Abuse
Alcohol Addiction and Abuse
Alcohol has been consumed worldwide for many years but today alcohol has more downsides than upsides that can lead to addiction and put you at an increased risk for bodily damage or accidents.
Alcohol is a highly addictive but legal substance that can temporarily reduce symptoms of anxiety or depression. Many people use alcohol as a way to treat their symptoms, but consumption has shown to actually have adverse effects and can make your symptoms worse and create suicidal ideations in those suffering from depression disorders. It can also increase your anxiety in the long run with long term use. More than 15 million Americans struggle with alcohol addiction every day.
What Is Alcohol?
Alcohol is a liquid substance that can be legally purchased at most grocery or convenience stores in the United States if you are 21 or older. Because it is so easy to obtain and is often in many homes in America, alcohol can get into the hands of underage individuals and cause adverse reactions or damages to the developing brain of the adolescent.
When consuming alcohol, you may feel more relaxed and confident and may have an easier time interacting and socializing with others than you normally would without alcohol. This is because alcohol can act as a stimulant in small doses, while consuming larger doses depresses your central nervous system creating different effects.
Alcohol can come in several forms with different alcohol contents. Beer and wine are usually lower in alcohol content, while liquors such as vodka or gin have a much higher alcohol content.
Alcohol’s Immediate Effects
Any amount of alcohol consumption is considered risky and may lead to health problems and addiction. More than 15 million Americans struggle with an alcohol addiction or substance abuse disorder. Alcohol consumption can lead to short term and long-term effects to the brain and body.
Skin flushing is a very common short-term effect of drinking alcohol. Many people who consume alcohol start to have redness to the cheeks or rother parts of the skin and this can occur after just one drink. Other symptoms of consuming alcohol may include:
- Hard time focusing
- Loss of balance or coordination
- Mood swings
- High blood pressure
- Passing out
It’s very possible to experience a range of these symptoms when drinking, you may experience several of these symptoms at once or over a period of drinking.
Understanding Drinking Patterns
Individuals will experience different drinking patterns over the course of their lifetime. Your drinking pattern is how much alcohol you consume daily. According to Alcohol Research, moderate consumption of alcohol is one drink a day for a woman, and two drinks a day for men.
Low risk drinking is a drinking pattern that is considered as three drinks per day and no more than seven drinks in one-week Heavier drinking may lead to a drinking pattern called binging. Binge drinking is considered four drinks for women and five drinks for men in a two-hour time range.
Extreme binge drinking is a very dangerous drinking pattern and is considered to be eight to ten drinks each day. This type of drinking not only becomes dangerous to yourself but is also detrimental to those around you and can be fatal.
There are certain characteristics that individuals show when they have an alcohol addiction or substance abuse disorder. Oftentimes the person struggling may not even realize that they have an addiction or, they know they have a problem, and they will try to hide it because they feel ashamed or guilty. Alcoholism can cause mild to severe mood swings that can lead to violence or self-harm. Those who struggle with mental health disorders should avoid alcohol because alcohol use can heighten mental health symptoms and make you feel more depressed, or give you increased anxiety.
Alcohol addiction may be hard to identify if you aren’t aware of the signs. Here’s what you should look out for when identifying someone with an alcohol use disorder.
- Neglecting professional or personal responsibilities
- Drinking in dangerous situations or knowingly relapsing
- Being dishonest about how much you are drinking
- Drinking at times where you normally wouldn’t drink
- Having a very high tolerance to alcohol
- Psychological dependence on alcohol
- Fickle relationships, or hanging out only with other people who drink as much or more than you
- Unexplained mood swings
- Losing consciousness after binge drinking
- Legal issues with drinking alcohol
A high functioning alcoholic is considered an individual who is able to maintain their daily professional and personal responsibilities while consuming more alcohol than is considered moderate. This kind of drinking is generally harder to identify because the individual shows less symptoms and can hide their drinking better. The individual may be intoxicated, and you will be completely unaware because they appear normal.
You may be able to identify a high functioning alcoholic by checking off these symptoms:
- Individual avoids critical feedback on their drinking and may say they don’t have a problem
- Blacking out unexpectedly
- Sneaking alcohol, drinking alone, hiding alcohol in their home
- Complete denial of drinking problem
- Drinking with no regards to mental health problems
- Not looking like an alcoholic, may be well groomed and appear “normal”
- Very high tolerance for alcohol
- They may drink as a reward
- Have alcohol cravings
- Compare their drinking to others
Alcohol And Other Drugs
Alcohol is oftentimes combined with other drugs, specifically prescription medications. Studies have shown that individuals who are dependent on alcohol are also at a much higher risk of drug abuse. These co existing disorders put the individual at an extremely high risk for overdose, death, and permanent health problems.
When drinking and using drugs, you are more likely to have personality, mood, and anxiety disorders, you are more likely to attempt suicide, and suffer health problems. Its important to avoid alcohol and drugs with a mental health disorder.
It’s also critical to avoid drinking or using drugs when taking certain medications like benzodiazepines, SSRIs, or other sedative medications. Drinking when taking these medications can affect the way your medications are supposed to work and may worsen depression and anxiety.
Find Help for Alcohol Addiction
Finding help for your alcohol addiction starts with acknowledging you have a problem. Once you have done this, you will be ready to start your road to recovery. Alcohol detox will be your