Alcoholic beverages are a common part of our lives. Moreover, their different forms were well-known to people even in ancient times. Still, we often forget about the danger they bear. In addition to a bad impact on health, drinking alcohol too often leads to a serious disorder known as alcohol dependence or alcoholism. It’s worth remembering its main signs and coping strategies.
What is Alcohol Use Disorder
Most of the people drink some beverages from time to time. However, those who do this every day, step by step become dependent. Then, a day comes when life without alcohol seems impossible. The person cannot avoid drinking or stop himself or herself.
Moreover, there is a range of unpleasant symptoms that follow attempts to quit.
When the person has a dependence, it means that he or she can’t literally live without this substance. Thus, when an alcoholic does not get a drink, he becomes irritable and cranky and his overall physical condition becomes bad. A headache may follow, as well as weakness, drowsiness, trembling limbs, etc.
While drinking, a person with a disorder every time requires a large dosage to feel the desired effect. He or she often blacks out or forgets what was going on. Afterward, a bad hangover follows and the body requires a lot of time to get back to the norm.
The situation is difficult due to the formation of psychological addiction, which involves:
- cravings and obsession with alcohol;
- giving preferences to drinking over other activities, including work and hobbies;
- difficulties with relationships and the law;
- inability to stop drinking at any moment or to improve the situation by oneself.
Alcohol dependence vs alcohol abuse
Altogether, a dependent person continues to drink even if it results in harmful consequences. Of course, an addiction leads to abuse. However, we can state it vice versa.
In any case, too much drinking leads to the formation of dependence and the addicted person cannot control the amount of alcohol he or she consumes and constantly needs more.
Causes and Risk Factors
If we all drink from time to time, we can ask ourselves why some people become addicted while others do not. There are certain risk factors that should be taken into account.
There is scientific evidence that those people who have alcoholics in their family history are more prone to dependence. Children who grow up in families of addicts also get this bad habit quite often.
In addition, our genetics influences the way the body transforms alcohol and reacts to it. That is why all people need different dosages to feel similar effects.
Therefore, the combination of susceptibility with family history may lead to addiction.
Stress and anxiety
Sometimes people drink to relieve stress or to feel more courageous. Actually, it seems an easy trouble-free way to change the psychological condition. However, that is a trip because alcohol not only changes our mood and behavior but also causes addiction to these feelings.
That is why in case of any psychological problems, it’s better to consult a specialist or just talk to a friend, then try to find the solution in the alcoholic beverage.
Depression and other mental health issues
Alcohol itself serves as a depressant for the central nervous system. If it is already disturbed, the harmful effects become even more pronounced. It’s worth remembering that beverages do not solve problems but may create even more of them.
Impact of Alcohol Dependence
This type of addiction can form relatively slowly but all this time it ruins health and social life.
The whole body suffers from the constant consumption of alcohol and the following symptoms appear:
- accidents and injuries;
- liver issues, including hepatitis, cirrhosis and fatty liver;
- high blood pressure and strokes;
- despair and depression;
- different types of cancer;
- brain damage.
Moreover, alcohol withdrawal will be also associated with severe symptoms like trembling, sweating and nausea.
The mental health of people addicted to alcohol also suffers. They often experience anxiety, depression and suicidal cravings. These changes together with the persistent giving prevalence of drinking over other interests, lead to the worsening of relationships with partners, friends and family members.
Furthermore, alcohol makes people more aggressive. The addicted people also do not like to hear the opinion of others on their dependence and try to avoid those people who talk about it.
At last, they can be left alone with this problem and it makes it even more challenging to overcome it.
Broader societal impacts
If a person drinks a lot every day, there is no way to think or talk about doing some work properly. Therefore, addicts start to experience problems with jobs and money. In addition, when their health is ruined, the healthcare system should treat them and this costs a lot.
Not to mention the crime level that can rise due to alcoholics and their problems. Thus, as a result, the whole society suffers from this problem.
Signs and Symptoms
It is highly important to distinguish the first warning signs of alcohol dependence. As with all other addiction types, it is much easier to prevent it, than to cope with consequences or suffer from it.
One of the first things that alcohol changes is the normal behavior of the person. It becomes the prime interest and the main goal in life. Thus, an addict is constantly looking for a chance to have a drink, prefers friends who agree to drink together, attends parties, etc.
All other hobbies and interests become not so important. In addition, a person becomes irritated and cranky, especially when someone mentions the drawbacks and dangers of alcohol dependence.
One of the first warning physical symptoms is the decreased effect of alcoholic drinks on the body. A person feels the need to drink more and more to get into the pleasant condition but, instead, he or she gets only blackening of the mind and hangover the next day.
The body also starts to require more time to recover from the previous drinking. However, if a person continues to drink at once, the trembling, sweating and nausea can stop.
After some time, chronic diseases may appear and an overall health condition worsens. The digestive and cardiovascular systems are the first to suffer from heavy drinking.
A person with an addiction to alcohol may suffer from sharp mood swings, depression and anxiety. Such people do not have good relationships with partners, relatives and friends. They often avoid people, except those with whom they can have a drink.
Such emotional instability leads to an even stronger desire to get a drink and forget about all the problems. That is the key element of addiction.
Treatment and Recovery
Now let’s unveil the treatment and recovery methods. It’s worth mentioning that they all require time and perseverance. Still, the first step is to acknowledge the problem and decide to cope with it. Only the true desire to overcome addiction gives a real chance to achieve this.
Among the approved medicines that help in the treatment, there are naltrexone and acamprosate. Disulfiram was used earlier but nowadays it is not so popular. These medicines reduce the obsession with alcohol but must be prescribed by a specialist and taken under strict control.
In addition, antidepressants or sedatives can be prescribed according to the condition of the patient. Also, some other medicines may be required to support the digestive and cardiovascular systems.
Detoxification and withdrawal management
Another important issue is proper withdrawal management. As we have already mentioned, prolonged alcoholism leads to serious disorders. After stopping drinking, a person experiences sweating, trembling, nausea, changes in blood pressure and weakness.
At this stage, the body requires detoxification and restoration of the levels of water, salt and glucose in the blood. That is why it is better to spend this time in the hospital under control. In addition, it helps to avoid going back to old habits instead of suffering.
Therapy and counseling
To overcome psychological problems, it is crucial to start a therapy and find a specialist to work with. Together with the patient, he will find the reasons for alcohol abuse, as well as the healthy way to cope with them.
It is highly important not to lose hope and get an understanding of the way to a healthy life. Especially, if the relationships with friends and family were ruined and there are no people to support the patient.
Another option for counseling is visiting special groups. They exist almost in every city and, in most cases, are free for everyone. It becomes much easier to cope with the addiction when a person sees others who suffer from the same problem and still try to overcome it.
Moreover, here one can find new friends and get back into social life. This is also a key point of the therapy to bring the person back to normal life.
Alcoholic beverages can play a bad joke on everyone. Addiction comes slowly but it is not inevitable. Thus, it is important to oversee one’s relations with alcohol and be ready to react at once in case of any warning signs.
First and foremost, if there are any troubles in life, counsel with family, friends and specialists and avoid bad habits. When you feel that only alcohol relieves the problem, try to find another solution. Keep in mind that early identification and intervention of abuse is the easiest way.
Those people, who were diagnosed with dependence, have to look for medicinal treatment, detoxification and appropriate therapy. Alcohol abuse is not a disease but it is a serious disorder with long-lasting bad consequences and it is really challenging to cope with it without help.
Therefore, one has to learn how to cope with stress and find out a path to a balanced lifestyle. Social support is one of the keys that help to reach these goals and forget about addiction once and for all.
Altogether, alcohol can play cruel tricks with humans and almost always does so. It is very easy to lose control while drinking and forget about your true goals and desires. The formation of addiction depends on the individual. However, it’s better not to take such risks and strictly control the intake of alcohol. This is one of the keys to living a healthy and happy life.
What is considered alcohol dependence?
It is a chronic disorder when a person is obsessed with alcohol and cannot control drinking. A greater amount of beverages is required to provide the desired effect to such a person and he or she experiences bad withdrawal symptoms in case of the absence of alcohol.
What are 4 indicators of alcohol dependence?
The main four signs include a persistent strong craving for alcohol, an inability to control the consumed amount, giving preference to drinking over all other activities and spending a lot of time drinking, and unsuccessful attempts to change the situation.
How many drinks a day is alcohol dependence?
Men who consume more than 4 drinks per day or above 14 drinks per week are considered dependent. For women, these numbers are 3 drinks per day and 7 drinks per week.
What is the difference between alcohol dependent and alcoholic?
There is no difference between these terms. Both of them refer to addicted people who cannot control their relationships with alcoholic beverages.