Due to the legality of the substance and the promotion through advertisements and social events, alcohol use is common throughout the country. Unfortunately for some, innocent alcohol use transforms into something more problematic such as alcohol abuse and, in turn, alcoholism. Alcohol use disorder, or alcoholism, affects about 18 million adults in the United States.
Moreover, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that excessive alcohol use is responsible for more than 95,000 deaths in America each year.
What is Alcohol?
Alcohol, also referred to as ethanol or ethyl alcohol, is an ingredient in used found in beer, wine, and liquor that causes intoxication and drunkenness. It is formed through the process of fermentation.
Is Alcohol a Depressant?
Alcohol is considered a central nervous depressant meaning that it is a substance that slows down brain activity and can impact your mood, emotions, and overall behavior.
What is Alcoholism?
Alcoholism, also known as alcohol use disorder (AUD), simply put is when the drinking in your life causes serious physical, emotional, social, and financial problems but the person keeps drinking anyway. Moreover, this individual has also become dependent on alcohol and if they suddenly stopped drinking, it would lead to alcohol withdrawal problems that can be not only uncomfortable but life-threatening in certain situations.
What Qualifies as an Alcoholic?
If you are worried that you or a loved one may be dealing with an alcohol problem, take a look at the items below, if you recognize them in yourself or your loved one, it is probably time to seek out treatment.
In the past year have you:
- Ended up drinking more or longer than originally intended?
- Wanted to or tried to cut down or stop drinking but couldn’t?
- Spent a lot of time drinking or being sick from drinking the night before?
- Wanted a drink so badly that it was the only thing you could think about?
- Drank to the point where it interfered with your ability to take care of your home or family? Caused job or school problems?
- Stopped doing activities or cut back on hobbies that were once important to you so you could drink more?
- Continued drinking even though it was giving you feelings of depression or anxiety?
- Gotten into situations that increased your chances of getting hurt due to alcohol?
- Have to drink more than you once did in order to get the desired effect?
- Found that you have alcohol withdrawal symptoms when the effects of alcohol wear off, including problems like trouble sleeping, restlessness, nausea, sweating, and more?
If you answered “yes” to:
- 2-3: You likely have a mild alcohol use disorder
- 4-5: You likely have a moderate alcohol use disorder
- 6+: You likely have a severe alcohol use disorder
What Causes Alcoholism?
At this point, you may be wondering what causes alcohol addiction. Unfortunately, this is a complicated question as there are a number of factors that influence how an individual can develop alcoholism. Things like environment, genetics, early life, and mental health can all influence a person and lead to alcohol use disorder.
Why is Alcohol Addictive?
Alcohol affects everyone differently and may not be as impactful in one person as others. That said, alcohol releases pleasure chemicals, like dopamine, in the body that can alter how an individual’s mind and body react to the presence of alcohol — causing them to want more of the substance.
- Less than 10% of people who have an alcohol use disorder receive treatment for their problem
- Alcohol contributes to almost 1 out of every 5 emergency room visits
- In 2010, alcohol misuse cost the United States nearly a quarter trillion dollars
- In 2016, over 5% of all global deaths were attributed to alcohol
How to Diagnose Alcoholism
Diagnosing an alcohol addiction can be a bit difficult as the problem looks different for everyone. It can even be difficult to recognize a problem in yourself or a loved one given how prevalent alcohol use is. That said, there are still ways in which you can go about diagnosing the problem.
First, you can meet with a medical professional to talk through your current situation and give you some idea of what you may be dealing with. Along with meeting with a medical professional to talk, you can go through a self-evaluation process on your own using one of the many online alcoholic tests.
The best way to determine if there is an issue is to go through a medical evaluation process in which the client would meet with an addiction professional and go through physical and psychological evaluations.
Getting Treatment for Alcoholism
If you or a loved one is dealing with some form of the alcohol abuse problem and you need help determining what to do next. Our team can provide you with the guidance you need to overcome these problems.