Alcohol abuse is any unhealthy drinking behavior ranging from binge drinking to alcohol dependence. In extreme cases, alcohol abuse causes health problems and could cause alcohol-related accidents and crimes. Alcohol abuse is the second most common form of substance abuse with tobacco being number one and is the 3rd leading preventable cause of death in the United States. Alcohol abuse is a psychiatric diagnosis in the DSM-5 and is now called alcohol use disorder. Alcohol use disorder is defined as a chronic relapsing brain disorder characterized by the impaired ability to stop using alcohol despite the stress or harm it causes to an individual’s health or adverse social or occupational consequences.
More About Chronic Alcoholism
Some of the early symptoms of alcohol use disorder are drinking more than planned and continuing to drink even though it is causing serious problems; individuals will try to cut down or quit and are unsuccessful. As the abuse continues the person develops a tolerance, and they need more and more alcohol to achieve the same feel-good effects as before. Once a person becomes dependent on alcohol, they have to have it to prevent uncomfortable and potentially dangerous withdrawal symptoms.
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism has some alarming statistics posted on alcohol use disorder.
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. Adolescents can be diagnosed with AUD as well, and in 2018, an estimated 401,000 adolescents ages 12–17 had AUD. (NIH)
No one fully understands why some people have alcohol use disorder and others don’t, but a family history of alcoholism and addiction puts a person at higher risk.
Negative Effects of Alcohol Abuse
Alcohol abuse is a bad idea because it has so many negative effects on a person’s life. Excessive alcohol intake causes harmful health issues and overtime excessive alcohol use can lead to a lot of different chronic health diseases along with other serious problems. Let’s look at some of the short-term effects of alcohol abuse.
- Breathing difficulties
- Alcohol poisoning
- Sleep problems
- Injuries such as burns, falls, drownings, and motor vehicle accidents
- Reproductive issues such as risky sexual behaviors, sexually transmitted diseases, unintended pregnancies, stillbirth, miscarriages, HIV, and fetal alcohol disorders
Abusing alcohol over a long period can also lead to many chronic diseases and other serious problems. Here are some of the long-term effects of alcohol abuse.
- Alcohol dependence
- Chronic diseases such as heart disease, high blood pressure, liver disease, stroke, digestive issues
- Cancers such as liver, colon, breast, mouth, and throat
- Depression and anxiety
- Poor school and work performance
- Social issues such as unemployment, family problems, and lost productivity
One of the biggest reasons why abusing alcohol is a bad idea is the risk of dependence. Once a person has become physically dependent on alcohol, uncomfortable and dangerous withdrawal symptoms will occur if they abruptly stop drinking. Some of the withdrawal symptoms that can occur with alcohol dependence can include hallucinations, delirium, agitation, restlessness, and in the most severe cases, alcohol withdrawal can be life-threatening. A person that has alcohol dependence cannot detox at home or on their own. Alcohol detox requires medically supervised withdrawal in a treatment facility.
Treatment for Alcohol Addiction
If you or someone you love is struggling with an addiction, our addiction specialists are available around the clock to assist you. Recreate Life Counseling offers evidence-based addiction treatment programs. Our cutting edge addiction treatment will lead you on a road to long-lasting recovery. You don’t have to suffer any longer, call us today.