Am I addicted to alcohol? The use of alcohol is considered by many to be a social event. In fact, the normalization of excessive alcohol use has become part of American culture and has a tremendous impact on social interaction for many. Alcohol has a long history which includes pain management, medical application, celebratory uses, and even helps to produce different types of fuel for several established products commonly used throughout the world.
On the other hand, alcohol also carries properties that can cause significant problems for many and is the leading addictive substance in the United States, surpassing opiates, methamphetamine, and other prescription medications. In fact, alcohol is one of the hardest addictions to overcome. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, in 2018 14.4 million adults aged 18 and older had been diagnosed with an alcohol use disorder. This included 9.2 million men and another 5.3 million women. Youth under the age of 18 reported approximately 173,000 males and 227,000 females who struggled with alcohol use disorders.
Take our Alcohol Addiction Quiz to find out more about your relationship with alcohol and if it’s becoming a problem.
In Colorado alone, alcohol-related deaths rose 57 percent between 2005 and 2017. In fact, Denver statistics indicate that binge drinking occurs more regularly than other metro areas like Austin, Portal, and Seattle. Colorado accounts for nearly 17 in 100,000 alcohol-related deaths each year and that number continues to climb.
Such high numbers prompt a discussion to better understand what may lead to a formal diagnosis of alcohol use disorder or alcohol dependence. Here’s some information that may help address: am I addicted to alcohol?
Alcoholism and Warning Signs
Often, with misuse and overuse there are warning signs that can indicate a user may be battling with alcoholism. As with most substances, the extent of alcohol use can determine the severity of addiction and there are often critical marketing to be aware of. Mild alcohol abuse, for example can be overlooked. However, with time, abuse can quickly spiral out of control. Seeking treatment sooner than later can be helpful for overall success in recovery.
For alcohol addiction treatment in Colorado contact AspenRidge Recovery directly at 855-281-5588. Our licensed and dual-diagnosis licensed therapists and staff members are knowledgeable and experienced helping individuals through addiction recovery programs.
When alcohol abuse begins to negatively impact a person’s life and cause issues both personally and professionally, it can be a good indicator that alcoholism may be imminent. For example, a person may try to hide alcohol abuse from loved ones, or maybe impaired at work, impacting their ability to make it through the day without using alcohol. Further, alcoholism and alcohol addiction recovery is not simple to overcome. The road to sobriety is quite often long and bumpy. With the right resources, guidance, and recovery assistance, individuals can find balance and existence beyond alcoholism.
Alcoholism and Answering – Am I Addicted to Alcohol?
Alcoholism is often referred to as Alcohol Use Disorder. According to the Diagnostic Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders, alcohol use disorder can be diagnosed through the use of a set of symptoms and consequences. These symptoms can include any of the following:
- Alcohol is often taken in larger amounts or over a longer period of time than intended.
- There is a persistent desire or unsuccessful efforts to cut down or control alcohol use.
- A great deal of time is spent in activities necessary to obtain alcohol, use alcohol, or recover from its effects
- Craving, or a strong desire or urge to use alcohol.
- Recurrent alcohol use resulting in a failure to fulfill major role obligations at work, school, or home.
- Continued alcohol use despite having persistent or recurrent social or interpersonal problems caused or exacerbated by the effects of alcohol.
- Important social, occupational, or recreational activities are given up or reduced because of alcohol use.
- Recurrent alcohol use in situations in which it is physically hazardous.
- Alcohol use is continued despite knowledge of having a persistent or recurrent physical or psychological problem that is likely to have been caused or exacerbated by alcohol.
The criteria described above are quite extensive and many who use alcohol occasionally may relate to some of the criteria. However according to the criteria, a person who reports experiencing 2 or more items on the list in a 12-month period would meet a diagnosis of alcohol use disorder. Severity may differ. Am I addicted to alcohol? Understand the warning signs and symptoms and decide if it’s ideal to contact an alcohol treatment program for more information.
I meet the criteria for alcohol use disorder. How severe is my dependence?
Determining the severity of alcohol use disorder is quite straightforward. As was indicated above, the minimal threshold for mild alcohol use disorder is 2 items out of the 11 criteria items. Most clinicians will utilize the following categories to identify a person’s severity level:
- Mild – Presence of or identifying with 2-3 symptoms on the official criteria list.
- Moderate – Presence of or identifying with 4-5 symptoms on the official criteria list.
- Severe – Presence of or identifying with 6+ symptoms on the official criteria list.
One of the main categories to consider when assessing yourself for a possible alcohol use disorder is to examine how many undesired or negative consequences have occurred due to the use of alcohol. For example, has a person been charged with a count of one or multiple Operating While Intoxicated (OWI) charges due to alcohol use? Have relationships been impacted negatively because of alcohol use? Has employment been impacted because of alcohol use? The main thing to consider is, “How has alcohol impacted my life?”.
I meet criteria, however, I have no negative consequences.
Determining alcoholism is more complicated than the Diagnostic Statistical Manual for Mental Health may suggest. Because of this, there are several assessment tools designed to help a person navigate the broad criteria items. These assessments are often performed by a trained clinician upon initial assessment. However, some screening tools are available online. If you feel you would like to assess your alcohol use, you are invited to visit alcoholscreening.org. According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine, a few common assessments include:
- Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT)
- CRAFFT Screening Tool (children)
- ASSIST Drug Use Screening Tool (adults)
- Several Online Screening Tools
Overall, the level of dysfunction a person may experience on a day to day basis due to alcohol use is highly important to understand and to share with your medical care providers. If you are not classified as an alcoholic, but still think you may have a problem, we still recommend giving us a call. It’s better to seek treatment BEFORE hitting rock bottom and could prevent things from getting worse.
I meet criteria and I am ready to take the next steps towards recovery.
Being ready to make a change in one’s life is a very big step! It can be a hard one to make alone, so connecting with family and friends is always encouraged. It is also helpful to consider the idea of more intensive rehabilitative services. Services often include inpatient care or an intensive outpatient program (IOP). AspenRidge is able to provide such care to individuals who feel they are ready to take action in managing alcohol or other substance use dependence. The staff members of AspenRidge provide all levels of care from partial hospitalization programs and outpatient care. As was described above, the assessment of the severity and symptoms of alcohol use disorder is paramount to better understand your individual needs and treatment planning. AspenRidge is also able to offer trauma-focused care as many times trauma or stressor-related disorders may directly impact one’s substance use and their own journey to living alcohol-free.
The steps towards recovery begin with contacting AspenRidge directly at 855-281-5588 to discuss a possible visit or to discuss with care staff the best options for care. Options for care are offered in a wide variety of methods which include:
- Day Partial Hospitalization (PHP)
- Day Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP)
- AspenRidge REACH Online IOP
- IOP for Professionals and Working Adults
- Outpatient Program
- Alumni & Aftercare Program
All of the professionals at AspenRidge are licensed by the state of Colorado. Each clinician has demonstrated a high level of competency for the care of those struggling with alcohol use or other substance use disorders. The methods of treatment and assessment utilized at AspenRidge are evidence-based. Engaging in evidence-based therapy allows clinicians at AspenRidge to provide the most effective, and efficient care. Not only is using evidence-based practice helpful for individuals seeking rehabilitative services, but these methods have proven to maintain a high level of success both during treatment programs, as well as maintaining success after the completion of the programs at AspenRidge.
If you are questioning your relationship with alcohol, call us now to talk to our admissions counselors. They have been in your shoes and will give you recovery resources in Colorado and help you find the right program for you – even if it’s not at AspenRidge. We can help answer – am I addicted to alcohol?