Alcohol addiction is a serious condition that can ruin a person’s life. Many people have trouble recognizing when a minor drinking habit has turned into something much worse. A lot of people are social drinkers, which basically means they limit their drinking to social situations.
However, once a person begins consuming alcohol to handle life struggles, it’s likely that they’ve developed an alcohol addiction. To avoid feeling bad, many people use alcohol as an escape. It’s important to understand that alcohol addiction can quickly sneak up on a person, which is why it’s important to be able to recognize warning signs.
Put simply, alcohol abuse occurs when a person constantly drinks alcohol and never worries about the negative effects of doing so. When someone develops an alcohol addiction, they ignore the negative effects that the addiction has on the social, educational, medical and occupational aspects of their life.
In the US, alcohol addiction affects 20 percent of men and 10 percent of women, and in most cases, the addiction developed in the drinker’s mid-teens. Every year, at least 2,000 individuals under the age of 21 are killed in alcohol-fueled car crashes. Underage drinking is the primary cause of these accidents.
About half of all violent deaths that involve teenagers are fueled by alcohol. Over a period of six months, most alcoholics who receive treatment can dramatically reduce the amount of alcohol they consume.
Understanding Alcohol Abuse
There are many interconnected factors that can cause a person to abuse alcohol. Various factors like a person’s social environment, childhood, emotional health and genetics can play a role in alcohol addiction.
Statistics show that some racial groups are much more likely to abuse alcohol than others. Specifically, Native Alaskans and American Indians are more likely to abuse alcohol. People who come from a family of drinkers or associates themselves with heavy drinkers are likely to develop an addiction to alcohol.
Individuals who suffer from bipolar disorder, depression or anxiety are at a greater risk of developing an addiction to alcohol because they end up using the alcohol to self-medicate.
How to Tell If You Have a Drinking Problem
There are several warning signs that indicate an individual has an alcohol addiction. A person who feels ashamed or guilty about drinking, lies to other people about how much they drink or requires alcohol to relax has probably developed an addiction to alcohol.
If a person blacks out and doesn’t remember what they did while drinking or regularly drinks much more than they intended to drink, it’s likely that this individual has a drinking problem. However, since drinking is very common in many cultures, it’s not always easy to tell if a person has an alcohol problem. The effects of drinking vary greatly from one person to the next.
At the end of the day, what really matters is how alcohol affects an individual’s life. If a person’s drinking habits are causing problems in life, then it’s likely that alcohol addiction is to blame.
The Signs of Alcohol Addiction
Experts who deal with substance abuse view alcoholism and alcohol abuse as two different problems. A person who only abuses alcohol is partially capable of setting limits on their alcohol consumption.
A person suffering from alcoholism is likely to have almost no control over their drinking habits. However, alcohol abuse is still very dangerous for both the person abusing the alcohol and others.
Common Signs Include:
- Drinking alcohol in situations that are physically dangerous is a sign that a person has an alcohol addiction. For example, drinking while driving or operating heavy machinery.
- Frequent legal problems that are caused by drinking. An example of this would be getting arrested multiple times for drinking and driving. Some alcoholics are arrested multiple times for disorderly conduct.
- Another sign of alcohol addiction is neglecting responsibilities. Many alcoholics neglect their personal responsibilities because they want to drink instead. It’s common for alcoholics to neglect their children and perform poorly while working.
- Many people who suffer from alcohol addiction will drink to relax. It’s common for a person to develop a drinking problem through using alcohol to reduce stress.
- A common sign of alcohol addiction is continual drinking while the drinking is causing relationship problems.
Myths Surrounding Alcohol Addiction
There are several myths surrounding alcohol addiction. Many people believe they can stop drinking whenever they want. Although some people actually can stop drinking at any time, most people who abuse alcohol cannot. A lot of people actually use this myth as an excuse to continue drinking.
When a person suffering from alcohol addiction believes they can stop drinking whenever he or she wants, it makes them feel in control of a situation that they’re not really in control of. Another myth is that drinking only hurts the person who is addicted to alcohol. A person who believes alcohol addiction doesn’t affect anyone else is in denial. Alcohol addiction affects the person with the addiction, but it also affects everyone he or she knows.
Another myth is that you must drink alcohol daily to be addicted. Many people also believe that beer and wine drinkers are exempt from alcohol addiction. An alcohol addiction is certainly not defined by what a person drinks, how much he or she drinks or how often the drinking occurs; it’s defined by the effects that are caused by a person’s drinking.
If a person is experiencing problems in their work or home life, then they have an alcohol addiction. Another myth states that a person who works and is doing okay in life does not have an alcohol addiction. A person doesn’t have to drink out of a brown bag or be homeless to be an alcoholic.
There are plenty of people who have an alcohol addiction but can provide for their family and hold down a job. In some cases, an alcoholic might even excel in some areas of their life. Over time, the effects of an alcohol addiction will catch up, and these effects are almost always negative. One of the best ways to treat alcohol addiction is inpatient care.
The main reason why this form of treatment is so effective is because it offers more support than almost every other treatment method. Inpatient treatment consists of the physical, emotional and psychological support alcoholics need to recover and get clean.