Alcohol abuse is the constant misuse of alcohol. Alcohol use disorder (AUD) is characterized by problem drinking that can become very severe.
Alcohol use disorders often lead to health problems, complications at school, home, work, or even financial and legal problems.
The criteria to consider what is problem drinking or binge drinking usually occurs after multiple drinks are consumed.
Generally, if you drink more than one drink for women or two drinks for men, you are within the “drinking in moderation” limits.
For this definition, one drink equals:
- 1.5 ounces of hard liquor
- 5 ounces of wine
- 12 ounces of beer
However, while there are set criteria that define the “moderation” limits of alcohol consumption, short- and long-term effects often depend on the following factors:
- how often a person drinks
- how long a person has been drinking
- the person’s overall health
- the age when a person first began drinking
- a person’s age, gender, or genetic background
- environmental factors
Alcohol Abuse Vs. Alcoholism
Alcohol affects each person differently. Some people who abuse alcohol could develop alcohol dependence, and others may not.
A person who abuses alcohol may not always lose control when they drink. Unfortunately, any problem drinking can increase a person’s tolerance and put them more at risk of developing alcoholism.
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It is important to remember that a person who struggles with alcohol abuse isn’t necessarily addicted to alcohol. The terms alcoholic and alcohol abuse are often interchanged, but they are not the same thing.
A person who suffers from alcohol abuse is at a much higher risk of developing alcoholism, and a person who is an alcoholic has the most extreme form of AUD.
Signs And Symptoms Of Alcohol Abuse
There are many reasons why a person abuses alcohol. These reasons can range from dealing with their environment, grief, trauma, or any preexisting mental illness.
Sometimes it can be challenging to determine if you or someone you love is experiencing alcohol abuse problems.
However, there are a few questions that can help identify if someone is abusing alcohol, such as:
- do you need to drink more to achieve the desired effect?
- do you drink longer and heavier than you originally intended?
- have you experienced difficulties when you attempt to cut back or stop drinking?
- do friends or loved ones voice concerns about your drinking?
- do you continue to drink after it’s damaged your relationships and social obligations?
- have you drank even though you are likely to cause physical harm? (e.g. operate a vehicle)
- do you experience frequent blackouts or bouts of forgetfulness?
- avoid obligations and continue drinking?
- does drinking replace activities that previously brought you pleasure or fulfillment?
- do you suffer withdrawal symptoms when you stop drinking?
- hide or lie about your drinking habits?
- feel a sense of shame or denial about your drinking habits?
- are caught in legal or financial problems due to your drinking?
While a person does not need to meet every marker outlined above to have an alcohol use disorder, answering “yes” more than “no” is a clear indication of alcohol abuse problems.
Types Of Alcohol Abuse
Drinking in moderation may not have many short- or long-term have effects, but there are several types of alcohol abuse that can be detrimental in both the long- and short-term. These types of alcohol abuse problems include binge drinking and heavy alcohol use.
Binge drinking is considered a pattern of alcohol consumption that is defined as males drinking five or more standard drinks in one sitting or females drinking four.
The problem with binge drinking is that consuming large amounts of alcohol in small periods of time can cause physical and cognitive problems and increase the likelihood of drunk driving, alcohol poisoning, or injury.
Heavy alcohol use is high-risk drinking and it is defined as a person who binge drinks on five or more days during a month. Heavy alcohol use can cause long-term problems like internal stomach bleeding, anemia, heart disease, or liver disease.
This type of drinking can also contribute to depression, anxiety, or sleep disorders and also lead to additional cognitive problems like blackouts or loss of consciousness.
Get Help For Alcohol Abuse At The Treehouse
Alcohol use disorder is considered a chronic illness with relapse rates similar to diabetes, asthma, and high blood pressure. Treating alcohol use disorder can help a person avoid adverse health consequences and remain free from alcohol.
A complication with treating alcohol use disorder is that alcohol affects each person differently, and there is often not a one-size-fits-all program.
However, at The Treehouse, we offer an individualized treatment program that addresses the problem based on each person and their particular illness.
Some of our core treatment modalities for alcohol abuse include:
- medically supervised detox
- dialectical behavior therapy (DBT)
- cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)
- group therapy
- mindfulness and stress management
- motivational interviewing
- family and couples therapy
- adventure therapy
- wilderness therapy
If you or someone you know is struggling with an alcohol problem, don’t wait to seek professional support. Contact The Treehouse today for more information about our alcohol detoxification and rehabilitation programs
- American Family Physician — Alcohol Abuse: How to Recognize Problem Drinking
- National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism — Drinking Levels Defined, Alcohols Effects On The Body
- National Library of Medicine — Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse