Alcohol – it’s widely available and it may seem like everyone drinks it. Although it’s easily accessible and often used as a social tool, it can be extremely addictive. Because it’s socially acceptable to drink, it can be hard for someone to recognize if you have an alcohol addiction. It can also be difficult to comprehend whether or not you need treatment for said addiction.
Today, we’d like to talk about the signs of alcohol addiction and how to get help for it. Alcohol can cause some people to engage in extremely destructive behavior. Like any other addiction, it can start off slowly and eventually end up consuming your entire life. If you or someone you know is suffering from an alcohol addiction, please don’t wait to seek professional treatment.
Establishing What Alcoholism Is
Alcoholism, or Alcohol Use Disorder, is a chronic disease that is characterized by a dependence to alcohol and uncontrollable drinking behaviors. Alcoholism can also be characterized by a physical and/or emotional dependence on alcohol. Someone that is suffering from alcoholism may not feel like they can function normally without having alcohol within their system. This can lead to a wide range of negative consequences and can even impact their home, work, and social life. As time moves on within this disease, the negative consequences and serious side effects can continue to worsen and produce damaging complications.
What Are the Signs of Alcoholism?
There are many different signs of alcohol addiction/alcoholism. As highlighted and outlined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders (DSM-5), to be diagnosed with alcoholism a person has to meet any of the two criteria presented below within a 12-month period:
- The usage of alcohol in larger amounts or for a longer time than originally intended
- The inability to cut down on alcohol use despite a desire to do so
- Spending a lot of time obtaining, using, and recovering from the effects of alcohol
- Having cravings, or a strong desire to use alcohol
- The inability to fulfill major obligations at home, work, or school because of alcohol use
- Continuing to abuse alcohol despite negative consequences (interpersonal or social) that are likely to occur due to alcohol use
- Giving up previously enjoyed activities (social, recreational, occupational, etc.) because of alcohol use
- Using alcohol in physically dangerous situations (such as driving a car or operating machinery)
- Continue to abuse alcohol despite psychological or physical problems that occur due to this alcohol use
- Developing a tolerance to alcohol (meaning that an individual will need to drink in an increasingly large or more frequent amounts of alcohol to achieve desired effect)
- Developing withdrawal symptoms when trying to stop using alcohol
Once again, if someone meets two of these criteria within a consecutive 12 months, they may have alcoholism and should seek out treatment. Please note that addiction looks a little different for everyone, if you feel like you have a dependency on alcohol but don’t relate to the bullet points above, you may still have an issue. At the end of the day, you are truly the only person who can determine whether or not you’re suffering from an alcohol addiction.
How to Get Help With an Alcohol Addiction
Getting help with an alcohol addiction first starts with realizing you need help. Once you establish you need professional addiction treatment, it’s important to find the right treatment center for yourself. Addiction and alcoholism is different for everyone, so choosing an individualized treatment program is crucial. Below is a list of different treatment options to treat an alcohol addiction:
- Detoxification – This is (usually) the first step in alcoholism recovery. It’s crucial to have professional help when going through the detoxification process. At times, you may experience withdrawal symptoms ranging from mild to severe. Some withdrawal symptoms can cause serious health complications, so if you do require detox, don’t try to do it alone.
- Rehabilitation – This can be either done within inpatient rehab or outpatient rehab, and truly depends on the severity of the addiction. Inpatient rehab is intensive and requires an individual to check into a treatment facility for a period of time. Inpatient rehab usually lasts from 30 to 90 days. Outpatient rehab allows you to partake in a recovery program while maintaining a sort of ‘normalcy’ within your life. You can live at home or in a sober living while attending outpatient rehab.
- Maintaining sobriety – Addiction is a lifelong disease. Once you complete addiction treatment, attending support groups and counseling is a great way to maintain long term sobriety. Some support groups include Alcoholics Anonymous and Refuse Recovery.