Alcohol has been and remains the substance of choice in our nation. A staggering 26.9 percent of adults in the United States reported binge drinking in 2015, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). This problem is heavy among youth as well.
Many of us have had a few drinks at a party or social event, or even a few too many. But how do you know when you are drinking too much? There are many signs you can look for, including:
- Blackouts (memory gaps)
- Memory loss
- Anxiety, depression, irritability, or mood swings
- Feeling a “need” for alcohol to: sleep, feel happy, relax, deal with problems, or function
- Hiding drinking/drinking alone to avoid repercussions or judgment
- Withdrawal when not drinking: headache, nausea, trouble sleeping
- Flushed skin
- Husky-sounding voice
- Shaking hands
- Blood in stool/black stool
- Blood in vomit
- Chronic diarrhea
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Signs Of Alcohol Addiction
In addition, when your drinking turns from use to habit, addiction can form. Why? People who fall victim to addiction experience actual changes to their brains—changes that make them seek their drug of choice at any cost.
You may have wondered how anyone could choose to abuse drugs or alcohol. But for people with addiction, abuse is not a choice. This is due to how our brains respond to pleasure, and the way the brain changes when experiencing new forms of pleasure.
When we abuse a substance, the brain experiences a pleasant reaction, usually resulting in a buildup of happy chemicals. Over time, the brain adapts to this change, needing more of the substance to produce the same happy feeling (a condition called tolerance).
The person drinking becomes preoccupied with that feeling, but obtaining it becomes harder, and that’s when withdrawal happens. Withdrawal can be severe, and may be what keeps many people from stopping drinking, even if they want to.
Signs of addiction are different for everyone, but may include:
Losing control of drinking:
- Inability to stop
- Drinking longer than you want to
- Drinking longer than you meant to
- Drinking even when you promised yourself, or others, you wouldn’t
Letting things go:
- Cutting back on hobbies/activities that you used to care about
- Neglecting time with friends, exercise, or nutrition due to alcohol
- Doing things you normally wouldn’t in order to drink
- Getting into accidents due to drinking
- Getting into fights/getting injured due to drinking
- Needing to drink more and more to feel the desired effects
- Feeling physically ill when not drinking
What Happens During Alcohol Abuse?
Mayo Clinic states, “unhealthy alcohol use includes any alcohol use that puts your health or safety at risk or causes other alcohol-related problems.” Unhealthy or problem drinking includes binge drinking (alcohol abuse) or alcohol use disorder (alcohol addiction, or alcoholism).
Drinking too much can cause a number of effects to your health. Alcohol is a depressant, which means it affects the central nervous system with a sedative-life effect. Short-term effects range from moderate to severe, depending on the person, how much he or she has drank in a certain period of time, weight, how much he or she has eaten, and more. Some short-term effects may be:
- Distortion of vision and hearing
- Slurred speech
- Lack of coordination and perception
- Loss of consciousness
- Stomach upset
- Trouble breathing
- Vision impairment
Long-term effects of alcohol abuse can take a toll on your health, whether drinking all at once or drinking a lot over time. Organs affected by heavy drinking include the brain, heart, liver, and pancreas. The effectiveness of your immune system is also reduced, as your overall health declines. Perhaps worst of all, prolonged alcohol abuse increases your risk of developing several types of cancer.
When To Seek Help For Drinking
Perhaps you’re reading this and think you may be drinking too much, or may have addiction to alcohol. Maybe you’ve had problems in your relationship, family troubles, or are falling behind in work or school due to drinking, and want to find help for drinking but don’t know how.
It can be extremely hard to admit that you have a habit that has gotten out of control, that addiction is taking over your life. But you are not alone in this plight; millions of Americans have issues with drinking too much. The unfortunate truth is that only a small portion of those people receive help for their troubles with alcohol.
That doesn’t have to be you. If you have experienced signs similar to the ones mentioned above, you can seek help for addiction and make the first giant step toward healing.
Treatments Available For Alcohol Abuse
Why should you seek help for alcohol abuse? In simple terms, too much alcohol can damage your health. The body can only process so much alcohol per hour; the excess alcohol is converted to toxic waste which can cause health complications, short- and long-term.
Treatment for alcohol abuse may start with detoxification, a process that allows the body to rid itself of toxins. Then, you can begin healing. Healing in modern times means there are a number of effective methods from which you can choose.
One form of therapy that has proven largely effective, especially in recent decades, is behavioral therapy. There are several types of behavioral therapy, each teaching ways to rearrange behaviors and lifestyle habits to foster sober living. Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), available at The Treehouse, helps individuals improve motivation, recognize and enhance their capabilities, and structure their environment in ways that steer people toward healthy choices instead of alcohol or drug abuse.
Other forms of treatment include counseling (at the individual, group, and family level), support groups, and medication assisted treatment. Some rehab centers, including The Treehouse, offer programs specific to the needs of men and women. Each gender has unique healing needs, and addiction healing should address these needs.
Whatever treatment you choose, be sure that you are getting a plan that fits your individual needs. Comprehensive treatment should focus on treating individuals as a whole: mind, body, and spirit.
Get Away For Treatment At The Treehouse
If you are discovering addiction issues for the first time, you may be overwhelmed. We can help in your healing journey, directing you to all the resources you’ll need to make the best treatment decision. If you have struggled with addiction before, we know that relapse is part of healing, and we can help you through it.
Contact us at Treehouse Rehab to learn more about our evidence-based treatment options, speak to an expert, or hear about the inpatient treatment difference at our rehab centers.