Alcohol abuse is one of the most catastrophic substances in the United States. The effects of alcohol are responsible for nearly 95,000 deaths annually, making it the third leading cause of preventable deaths. Drinking culture across the country makes it harder to see signs and symptoms of alcohol use disorder. Binge drinking is significantly popular with over 24% of Americans (aged 12 and older), binging on alcohol in the last month. The bottom line is alcohol is a deadly epidemic, but exactly what is alcohol use disorder?
Alcohol use disorder (AUD), or more commonly alcoholism, is a disease that contributes to more deaths than infectious diseases.
Untreated alcohol use disorders have a significant impact in multiple ways. The disease of alcohol addiction can destroy families and negatively impact entire communities. Developing methods to identify problem drinking behaviors within individuals and in local communities may help to slow the drastic emotional and economic impacts of alcohol abuse and dependence. Many treatment options, community programs, and government services focus on locating and addressing causes for the ever-increasing alcohol use problems across the country.
Why Is It Important to Learn About Alcohol Use Disorder?
Identifying problem drinking behaviors and patterns is an important first step. The importance of developing awareness of the problems associated with drinking cannot be understated. Several counseling services are designed to increase awareness of individual drinking habits. These insights can help to treat undiagnosed alcohol use disorders. What is alcohol use disorder?
An important component of being able to develop an awareness of problem drinking patterns is to be able to identify the signs and symptoms of alcohol use disorders. Learning about alcohol use disorder and common signs of alcoholism can greatly damage it. It can also help to provide future rehabilitation services and resource centers within different geographical areas that may be suffering from rampant alcohol use.
What Are Alcohol Use Disorder Symptoms?
Symptoms of alcohol use disorder can go untreated for many years. Knowing what alcohol use disorder symptoms can have a powerful impact and can lead to risk reduction for individuals, families, friends, and communities. Common signs and symptoms of an alcohol use disorder include:
- Elevated anxiety
- Low self-esteem
- Toxic relationships
- Increased depression
- Risk of illness
- Financials stress
- Legal problems
Symptoms of AUD may be present in some and undetectable in others. It’s important to understand that the disease of alcohol addiction takes many forms. Some individuals may even be referred to as high-functioning alcoholics.
How Do I Know My Drinking Is a Problem?
Identifying if alcohol use is a problem is difficult. There is a fine line between alcohol use disorder and socially acceptable drinking patterns. Identifying the signs of a drinking problem is important. The Diagnostic Statistical Manual for Mental Health Disorders, 5 th Edition (or DSM-5) has developed a clear set of criteria to aid in the process of identifying an alcohol use problem. Criteria from the DSM-5 can be found below.
DSM-5 Diagnostic Criteria:
- Loss of control over alcohol
- Significant amount of time/energy obtaining, using, and recovering from substance use
- Continued use despite problems
- Cravings and urges
- Risky behaviors
- Loss of pleasure
- Health problems
Dangers of Untreated Alcohol Use Disorder
Untreated alcohol use disorders can be highly dangerous. Alcohol use can cause several mental and physical problems to occur. Alcoholism and alcohol use is considered to be one of the deadliest diseases. It is responsible for taking thousands of lives each year.
Common risks associated with problem alcohol use include:
- Heart disease
- Severe mental health problems
- Social isolation
- Weakened immune system
There are many reasons a person may develop alcohol use disorder. For the majority of individuals suffering from an AUD, there is an underlying cause that may lead a person to excessive drinking. Understanding alcohol addiction can bring clarity to how the disease works and also how to address treatment options for long-term recovery.
How is Alcohol Use Disorder Different from Alcoholism?
Signs of alcoholism can look differently from alcohol use disorder. Alcoholism often refers to alcohol dependence. Knowing the different signs of alcohol use disorder and alcohol dependence is also highly recommended to allow for the most effective treatment options. Further information can be found below.
What Is Alcohol Dependence?
Dependency on alcohol usually progresses over time. What is alcohol use disorder and how does alcohol dependence factor in? Mild alcohol use disorder indicates that a person is drinking on an inappropriate level, but that use hasn’t yet severely impacted physical or responsibilities like school, work, or family. Dependency and alcoholism exist on a continuum with many similarities.
Dependency may look like this:
- Prolonged use of alcohol
- Physical cravings and urges for alcohol
- Mood swings without alcohol
- Potential for severe withdrawal symptoms upon discontinuation of alcohol.
- Mental need for alcohol
- Increased tolerance for alcohol
Alcohol abuse disorder can differ drastically from alcohol dependence. Alcohol abuse appears to be less severe and more sporadic than alcohol dependence. However, alcohol abuse can have drastic consequences similar to alcohol dependence.
What Are the Consequences of Alcohol Abuse?
There can be several consequences associated with alcohol abuse. These consequences can cause severe problems for an individual, family, and friends of a person struggling with alcohol abuse. Common alcohol abuse problems include:
- Severe hangovers
- Increased risk of alcohol dependence
- Family conflict
- Health problems
- Risk of using other drugs
Alcohol abuse may go unnoticed or even accepted by family and friends as alcohol abuse can occur sporadically such as drinking only on weekends, at parties, or get-together.
Becoming aware of the signs of alcohol abuse is important. It can help to identify signs, symptoms, and risks of alcohol abuse to avoid the abuse turning into alcohol dependence. Find out more about our Colorado alcohol rehab programs and treatment approaches.
Where do I Go for Further Assessment?
It is important to assess problem drinking behaviors. Many consequences from problem drinking habits can occur and can be very detrimental to health and quality of life. Unfortunately, due to the high level of acceptance in the United States, many drinking problems go undiagnosed each year and may contribute to the wide range of alcoholism and abuse.
AspenRidge has made it easy to begin taking the steps to assess for problem drinking. The staff at AspenRidge has created several self-assessment tools available online. If you are interested in learning more or in speaking with staff about possible problem drinking, you are encouraged to visit the website below to access AspenRidge’s quizzes and other resources.
After completion of the survey, participants may contact AspenRidge’s knowledgeable staff to discuss results and other possible treatment options available.
How Can AspenRidge Help?
If you have been questioning your or a loved one’s drinking behaviors, you are encouraged to explore the AspenRidge website. Several resources are available including personal assessments to help guide you in your decision towards recovery. Admissions staff are available to answer questions. AspenRidge is a top-rated treatment facility in the state of Colorado with multiple locations. They offer outpatient services, in-patient treatment options, partial hospitalization options, and extended recovery monitoring.
Contact AspenRidge at 855-281-5588 today. Recovery from drugs and alcohol can be confusing and overwhelming. AspenRidge can help provide clarity as you work toward long-term sobriety.