Alcohol use disorder is unfortunately very common in the United States. Alcohol is everywhere— in pop culture, referenced in movies and in songs; at restaurants, concerts, and all sort of social gatherings; and gas stations and grocery stores. With its pervasive nature, alcohol can be difficult to avoid, and people consume and react to the substance in different ways. Most people, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), go through a period of heavy drinking that generally lasts three to four years, peaking somewhere between the ages of 18 and 24, that they outgrow.
In 2015, it was found that 15 million American adults had an alcohol use disorder (AUD), defined by the NIAAA as “a chronic relapsing brain disease characterized by an impaired ability to stop or control alcohol use despite adverse social, occupational, or health consequences.” AUD may range from mild to severe, so it is not always clear-cut whether or not someone has an unhealthy relationship with alcohol.
Who is a social drinker?
The NIAAA classifies social drinkers as those who drink in low-risk patterns, on a small scale and typically in social settings. Low-risk drinking for women consists of no more than seven drinks in a week and three drinks at a time. For men, these numbers are 14 and four.
Who is a problem drinker?
A problem drinker is someone who can self-correct (to go back to low-risk drinking) when they recognize that there is sufficient reason for them to curb their drinking habits.
Who is an alcoholic?
Alcoholics are unable to cut back on their drinking, in spite of the reasons that exist for them to do so.
What are the signs of alcoholism?
- Alcohol-oriented/obsessed behavior
- Inability to stop drinking once you start, despite negative consequences
- Engaging in high-risk behaviors/drinking alcohol in unsafe situations
- Drinking daily and at times/settings that interfere with daily activity (e.g. drinking first thing in the morning or at work)
- Craving alcohol
Exhibiting one or more of the above could indicate an alcohol use disorder (AUD).
Are there different kinds of alcoholics?
Yes, there are different types of alcoholics.
Binge drinkers. Binge drinkers can go weeks or months without a drink, but when they eventually do drink, bingers will consume alcohol to the point of blackout.
High-functioning alcoholics. This type of drinker minimizes their drinking habits by assuring themselves and others that they don’t fit the stereotype of what an alcoholic “looks like.”
What are the health risks of alcoholism?
Long-term alcohol use may cause liver cancer or cirrhosis of the liver, an irreversible scarring of liver tissue followed by organ failure, and problems with the heart, pancreas, brain, and immune system. Alcoholism may also lead to the development of other cancers such as throat, esophageal, mouth, and breast cancer. More immediate health complications include stomach pain, nausea, headaches, and the development of ulcers.
A holistic approach to alcohol addiction
Some people may be reluctant to admit that they have an unhealthy relationship with alcohol, which is not uncommon when it comes to substance use disorders. It’s important that you are honest with yourself about your alcohol use, so you can determine whether or not seeking treatment is the right decision.
At Royal Life Centers, we understand alcohol use disorder and alcohol addiction treatment. Our medication-assisted detoxification treats AUD and makes withdrawal from alcohol a much safer process, and our addiction specialists incorporate a variety of cognitive and behavioral approaches into our therapy program to treat mind, body, and spirit.
A network of full-service medical detox and aftercare centers, we also treat dependence on benzodiazepines, cocaine, methamphetamine, and opioids. Please reach out to us at (877)-RECOVERY for help or with any questions that you have about our programs.