If you are worried that you may have a drinking problem, first know that you are not alone. Whether you are exhibiting signs of binge drinking, alcohol abuse, or alcoholism, alcohol use disorder (AUD) may be more common than you think.
Nearly one-third of American adults are considered excessive drinkers, and 10 percent of them are considered alcoholics. This means that an estimated 15 million people cope with alcoholism across the country.
If you have family members with drinking problems or know anyone who struggles with substance use of any kind, you’re at a higher risk of developing a problem with alcohol. Similarly, if you or your family have a history of mental health disorders, you’re at a higher risk of developing a drinking problem.
It’s important to understand the difference between having a drinking problem, such as being a binge drinker or alcohol abuser, and suffering from alcoholism. While they are not the same, binge drinking can lead to alcohol abuse, which can ultimately lead to alcoholism. The sooner you recognize your drinking problem and take the steps to reduce your unhealthy habits or quit alcohol altogether, the easier it will be.
Having a drinking problem could mean that you tend to binge drink. This means that you drink enough to raise your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level to 0.08 g/dL.
Generally, it takes women and men about four to five drinks to reach a 0.08 g/dL BAC level. However, what you eat, how much you weigh, any medications you take, your overall health, your hydration level, and other factors can all impact the effects of alcohol. For example, if you haven’t eaten much on a day that you drink alcohol, your BAC level may rise quicker than if you had eaten more.
While binge drinking is certainly not safe, heavy drinking every once in a while does necessarily mean you abuse alcohol. Unlike heavy drinkers, those who struggle with alcohol misuse still continue to drink despite negative consequences, like the following:
Still, alcohol abusers have an easier time breaking their bad drinking habits than alcoholics. People with alcoholism have become dependent on alcohol, even despite the consequences. This is because alcoholism is defined as an addiction to alcohol, and people who have gotten to this point may suffer from withdrawals when they’re not drinking. Of course, alcohol withdrawal symptoms make quitting difficult and sometimes dangerous, even if they’re ready and wanting to stop drinking.
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Alcohol addiction doesn’t just happen overnight. There are stages of alcoholism that turn someone with unhealthy habits into a problem drinker. And, eventually into someone with full-blown alcohol dependence.
Alcoholics may start out as binge drinkers who notice unwanted effects on their well-being when they drink too much. However, since they haven’t developed a noticeable drinking pattern yet, they aren’t too concerned. Maybe they’ve had blackouts here and there, but letting loose with their friends doesn’t seem like an issue. Until their drinking becomes an issue.
Again, binge drinking can lead to alcohol abuse, which starts to have consequences beyond some nasty hangovers. But if you start experiencing withdrawal symptoms, those are warning signs that you may have crossed into alcoholism.
There are five stages of alcoholism:
Excessive alcohol consumption can take a toll on you in many ways, including physically, mentally, socially, and financially.
Excessive alcohol consumption can have physical consequences that include, but aren’t limited to, the following:
Excessive alcohol consumption can also lead to mental consequences that include, but aren’t limited to, the following:
Excessive alcohol consumption can also lead to social consequences that include, but aren’t limited to, the following:
You may experience some or all of these consequences, as well as other consequences of excessive drinking.
If you, a loved one, or someone else you know has a drinking problem, reach out for professional help or call Addiction Group for more information on top rehabilitation and treatment resources.
Treatment for AUD is available. This includes outpatient and inpatient rehab centers, support groups, traditional talk therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), holistic healing programs, religious organizations, and more.
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You don’t have to overcome your addiction alone. Professional guidance and support is available. Begin a life of recovery by reaching out to a specialist today.
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