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Alcohol Addiction Treatment Resource

From Alcoholism to Treatment

Alcohol addiction is a difficult disease to recognize and diagnose. Because alcohol is legal and readily available, drinking is often viewed as normal behavior, and problems may remain unnoticed longer than they should. Abusing alcohol has serious consequences, as you might imagine. Binge drinking and alcohol dependence can contribute to strained relationships, financial trouble, personal insecurity and health issues. Without help, you may feel as if you are spiraling out of control, which may cause you to drink more. That’s why it is crucial to understand your options for alcohol addiction treatment.

Alcohol Addiction: What Is It?

Once you hit 21 years old in the U.S., the world of alcohol is at your fingertips. You don’t have to look hard to find a place that serves alcohol. Beer, wine, and liquor/spirits are big money makers for grocery stores, gas stations, restaurants, and other establishments.

Unlike harder drugs like heroin or cocaine, alcohol addiction takes longer to unfold, and it often sneaks up on the drinker. And since alcohol is a legal substance, there’s normally very little stigma or few repercussions for drinking casually out in the open.

In the short term, alcohol can impair memory and vision and reduce coordination, but prolonged drinking can lead to dependence on the substance. This means the person will feel strong withdrawal symptoms if they don’t get their next drink within 8 to 24 hours after the last one, depending on how strong their addiction is.

Alcohol withdrawal can be life-threatening in many cases, so trying to self-detox to end your alcohol addiction is never recommended. Potential withdrawal symptoms include: 

  • Nausea and Vomiting
  • Excessive Sweating
  • Delirium
  • Seizures
  • Headaches
  • Anxiety
  • Trouble Sleeping
  • Fatigue

Continued heavy drinking over a number of years can lead to serious health consequences, such as: 

  • Increased Risk of Cancer
  • Liver Inflammation or Cirrhosis
  • Impaired Memory
  • Damaged Speech, Vision, or Muscle Tone
  • Neuropathy – weakness, and numbness of the hands and feet
  • Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome (wet brain) – amnesia and dementia due to severe deficiency of thiamine

Who Has Alcoholism?

Alcoholism permeates all races, genders, and socioeconomic classes in the United States. And, as you might expect, it impacts those younger than 21, as well. Here are some of the most prominent risk factors for predicting who might be affected by alcoholism:

Genetics – a family history of alcohol abuse or addiction
Upbringing – if you grew up around family members who drank heavily and didn’t discourage your alcohol use
Social Environment – surrounded by friends and/or coworkers who drink often; living close to several bars
Existing Mental Health Issues – making you turn to alcohol to try to manage the symptoms of mental illness

To size up how big of a deal alcohol abuse and addiction is in the U.S., consider these sobering statistics:

  • Roughly 88,000 Americans die from alcohol-related causes annually (counting car crashes).
  • 21% of all substance abuse treatment admissions in 2013 were for alcohol only, and it was cited in 54% of all addiction treatment admissions that year, meaning it often accompanied other forms of addiction.
  • 23% of Americans younger than 21 were current alcohol users in 2014, with nearly 14% admitting to binge drinking.
  • 1 million adults and more than 600,000 adolescents had alcohol use disorder in 2015, according to a national survey.

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