Excessive drinking or binge drinking is considered an alcohol use disorder. Alcohol use disorder is a pattern of drinking that is problematic and runs on a spectrum of mild, moderate, to severe levels of alcohol dependence. Moderate and severe alcohol use disorder is considered alcoholism.
Chronic Alcoholism is a Serious Problem
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism defines alcohol use disorder and gives some alarming statistics.
Problem drinking that becomes severe is given the medical diagnosis of “alcohol use disorder” or AUD. AUD is a chronic relapsing brain disorder characterized by an impaired ability to stop or control alcohol use despite adverse social, occupational, or health consequences. An estimated 15 million people in the United States have AUD. Approximately 5.8 percent or 14.4 million adults in the United States ages 18 and older had AUD in 2018. This includes 9.2 million men and 5.3 million women. (NIH)
Alcohol use disorder is listed in the DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders). The DSM-5 lists 11 criteria to help determine if a person has alcohol use disorder and exactly where they may fall on the spectrum. Here are are the 11 criteria:
- Drinking larger quantities or for longer periods than originally planned.
- Wanted or tried to cut down on drinking but was unsuccessful.
- Having alcohol cravings.
- Alcohol takes up a lot of time, and so does recovering from hangovers.
- Drinking causes issues with work, school, family, or other responsibilities.
- Continued to drink despite negative consequences.
- Stopped or lessened other activities because of alcohol.
- Drinking has put you in dangerous situations such as driving under the influence.
- Drinking despite making anxiety and depression worse.
- Increased tolerance.
- Experiencing withdrawal symptoms.
If an individual has had 2 to 3 of the following symptoms in the past year, they are considered to have mild AUD. Moderate AUD is having 4 to 5 of these symptoms, and severe AUD is having 6 or more of these symptoms in the past year. Once a person has become physically dependent on alcohol, that becomes a medical emergency if they were to abruptly stop drinking. Alcohol withdrawal is extremely dangerous and can be life-threatening.
Best Ways to Stop Excessive Drinking
There are a few different ways an individual can take to stop drinking. This can include making a plan and putting it in writing, changing their environment or getting away from the who, when, and where they were engaging in their behavior, and/or relying on a support system of friends and family to help them.
Once a person has developed an alcohol use disorder or alcoholism, the best approach to stop is probably going to be to remain abstinent. The number one step to take will be getting into a medically supervised detox treatment facility to get through the detoxification process safely. Alcohol withdrawal is very dangerous and should never be done alone or at home.
Therapy Works Wonders for Problem Drinking
The second step will be continuing some type of treatment program whether it be inpatient rehab, intensive outpatient or regular outpatient treatment, or maybe even a partial hospitalization program. Treatment may then continue with support group meetings, working with a psychiatrist, therapist, and/or counselor, and maybe even living in a halfway house for some time.
Each person will be different as far as which treatment route is going to be most effective for them. Treatment must be individualized and based on the person’s individual needs.
Treatment for Addiction or Alcoholism
If you or someone you love is struggling with an addiction issue, our addiction specialists are available around the clock to assist you. Recreate Life Counseling offers evidence-based addiction treatment. Our solution-focused treatment approach will help you get on the road to long-lasting recovery. You don’t have to suffer any longer. Give us a call today.