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Dealing with an alcohol addiction or alcohol use disorder (AUD) places a strain on one’s relationships, work, and health. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, alcohol-related issues are some of the most prominent health issues in the country. Fortunately, AUD can be treated using various types of therapy, including behavioral therapy and medication. Explore more on our addictionary for more on alcohol addiction!

  • 6%

    of Americans over the age of 18 suffer from alcohol use disorder according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

  • 10%

    of children live in a home with at least one parent who has a drinking problem according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

  • 30%

    of adults in the United States according to a study done by the NIAAA, have misused alcohol at some point in their lives.

A doctor diagnoses a person with AUD when their binge drinking begins to affect them negatively. A series of questions is asked so that the medical professional can better diagnose the severity of the addiction. Research has shown that the amount of people who have an alcohol addiction is increasing. The gender and ethnic groups who are more prone to alcoholism are men, Caucasians, and Native Americans.

Despite the increasing number of alcohol addictions, only 20% of adults who struggle with AUD ever seek treatment, according to LiveScience.com. Because of the nature of alcoholism, certain mental illnesses—such as depression, bipolar disorder, and personality disorder—are linked to the addiction. Therefore, the negative connotations associated with alcoholism will often cause a person to be in denial about their addiction. Unfortunately, long-term abuse of alcohol leads to many health issues and damages to the liver, which, if not detected right away can be detrimental and even deadly.

What Is Alcohol Use Disorder?

An alcohol use disorder, or AUD, is associated with a pattern of alcohol misuse that leads to distress or illness. The constant craving for alcohol is a part of a doctor’s diagnosis of AUD. Some of the symptoms of AUD include a strong desire for alcohol, difficulties in controlling usage, prioritizing alcohol over obligations, increased tolerance, and a physical withdrawal. According to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc., the medical diagnosis of AUD has little to do with the kind of alcohol consumed, how long a person has been drinking, or how much alcohol is consumed. Instead, it involves the person’s “uncontrollable” desire to consume alcohol. Explore more about similar drug addictions with our complete addictionary.

According to MentalHealth.com, AUD accounts for 9.6% of mental illnesses worldwide. It should be noted that AUD is not to be confused with alcoholism. According to an article written by Scott Stevens, an alcoholism recovery examiner from Chicago, alcoholism is differentiated from alcohol abuse because its onset is caused by genetics. Alcoholism is a disease that affects about 8% of the population who are born with an inherited gene disorder, which impacts the way the body handles alcohol, whereas alcohol use disorder is psychological or behavioral. AUD is curable through treatment, but alcoholism is a “progressive, chronic, and fatal disease with no known cure.”

The American Psychological Association says alcohol use disorders could be the results of many psychological traits, such as low self-esteem, depression, and peer pressure. Environmental factors of poverty, as well as physical and sexual abuse, also increases the probability of developing an AUD. The APA also states that “contrary to popular belief,” people who can hold their liquor are more at risk of developing an alcohol dependency.

A government survey showed that 41% of young adults age 18 to 29 indulge in binge drinking— drinking five or more drinks on the same occasion.

Do You Have an Alcohol Use Disorder?

If drinking becomes more than a recreational habit, then you could be at risk for developing alcohol use disorder. Typically, people with an alcohol dependence find themselves defaulting back to alcohol because it numbs the side-effects of withdrawal.

Another factor that can be used to assess whether or not you have an alcohol dependency is your level of tolerance. Since AUD is diagnosed according to the tolerance developed by an alcohol user, a person whose tolerance permits them to drink more than the required amount — up to, two drinks a day for men and up to one drink a day for women — in order to produce the desired effects of alcohol, could be at a greater risk of developing a dependency.

Some of the symptoms of alcohol use disorder include recurring alcohol abuse, experiencing withdrawal when not consuming alcohol, giving up important social or family events for alcohol, strong cravings for alcohol, and spending a copious amount of time recovering from the effects of alcohol. If you notice any of these signs or symptoms, then you might be struggling with an alcohol abuse disorder.

The Dangers of Alcohol Use Disorder

Alcohol dependence or binge drinking affects people every day. According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), in 2014, almost 10,000 people died from drunk driving crashes—which equates to one person dying every 53 minutes. MADD also reported that on average, 2 in 3 people will be involved in a drunk driving crash in their lifetime.

Not only does the danger of alcohol dependence become evident in fatal crashes, but it also manifests physically. Many health problems and diseases can arise from the continuous use of alcohol. Stomach ailments, heart problems, cancer, brain damage, memory loss, and liver cirrhosis are just some of the medical problems associated with alcohol use disorder. Also, psychological effects—such as anxiety, depression, and sudden memory loss—can result in suicide, homicide, or other reckless behaviors.

Drinking doesn’t just affect the individual, but their family as well. Children living with alcohol-dependent parents may experience mental and physical abuse, neglect, and psychological problems. Pregnant women who drink may cause serious harm to their developing babies.

Men are more likely to develop an alcohol use disorder, but women who suffer from alcohol dependence are more at risk for health problems.

Seeking Treatment

The first step to recovering from alcohol dependence is to seek treatment. There are different treatment options available depending on the severity of the addiction and the individual’s needs. Long-term treatment or residential rehab facilities provide detox and different behavioral practices that will allow a person suffering from AUD to redirect their impulses toward healthier hobbies. Outpatient practices are recommended for those who may be in recovery from alcohol dependence or looking to seek treatment without being isolated from their job and family.

While a person experiencing alcohol dependence may seem to be stuck in a cycle of self-medication, there are many treatment facilities that can alleviate the burden of the addiction. At Drug Treatment Center Finder, our staff is available 24-7 in an effort to connect you to an addiction specialist nearest you. The addiction specialist will help lead you on the right track of recovery and regaining a sober lifestyle.

  • alcohol addiction

    Due to the destructive nature of alcohol addiction, it is vitally important to seek help sooner rather than later to help ensure a smooth transition process.

  • damage caused by alcohol abuse

    According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, most damages caused by alcohol abuse are typically reversible.

  • alcohol abuse treatment

    Seeking help through treatment is recommended in most cases of alcohol abuse and alcohol use disorder.


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