Alcohol is widely prevalent in the United States. Over the course of their lives, 85.6% of the United States population over the age of eighteen has drank alcohol. The 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health also indicates that up to 17 million individuals over the age of 12 have an alcohol use disorder.
A vast body of research shows that early problematic drinking increases one’s risk for developing an alcohol use disorder in the future. This is reinforced by looking at the statistics around juvenile drinking. Many who start drinking at a young age (before age 18) will develop an alcohol use disorder during adulthood. Without treatment, someone with an unhealthy relationship with alcohol at an early age is inevitably at risk for significant physical and psychological health concerns related to alcohol use as they enter adulthood.
What is a Drinking Problem?
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders categorizes alcohol dependence disorders as mild, moderate, or severe. Additionally, this is the terminology used when medical providers are providing an official diagnosis. If moderate in frequency and amount, many people believe their drinking is not a problem. They also tend to think that it won’t or can’t develop into a problem because they “do not drink often enough” for issues to develop. Unfortunately, the exact opposite often occurs. Long-term occasional drinking leads to increased tolerance and an increased need to consume alcohol to achieve the feelings of relaxation and ease provided by intoxication or “tipsiness.” Before long, addiction and alcoholism have developed.
How Do I Know if I Have a Drinking Problem?
Drinking is considered problematic when someone continues to drink regardless of the harmful consequences drinking causes to their physical and emotional health. It is essential to understand that regular alcohol use (or alcohol dependence) is different from moderate drinking. For regular drinkers, there is usually a more significant emotional attachment to alcohol and the emotional state that develops after drinking. Where a moderate drinker may pair a glass of wine with dinner, someone who struggles with problem drinking uses alcohol to enhance emotional well-being and make themselves “feel good.”
Because alcoholism is considered a progressive disease with several stages, it is essential to understand when it is time to ask for help. Suppose your drinking has caused significant problems in other areas of your life, including social, legal, and personal, yet you stop drinking (even if you want to). In that case, it is time to help at a rehab like Rise in Malibu to detox and learn how to put struggle with alcohol in the past.
What are the Signs of a Drinking Problem?
If not adequately treated, alcohol abuse can turn into alcohol dependence very quickly. Someone who is alcohol dependent will continue to drink despite the growing challenges alcohol creates. In addition to the emotional challenges of ongoing drinking, prolonged problematic drinking will continue alcohol begin to have physical consequences. People who struggle with problematic drinking often exhibit several characteristics, including:
- Continuing to drink despite new or ongoing physical or psychological problems.
- Developing a tolerance for the effects of alcohol and needing more drinks to achieve “that feeling.”
- Have withdrawal symptoms when not drinking (common examples include nausea, tremors, sweating, heart racing, and severe agitation)
Once someone reaches this stage-alcohol dependent, severely alcohol-dependent, alcoholism-it is much more challenging to decide to get or successfully get sober. This is because, at this point, a physical and psychological addiction to alcohol has developed. If you have reached this stage, it is essential to get help for your alcohol abuse problem before any physical damage (or other issues) become permanent.
At this stage, alcohol is no longer someone consumed just for pleasure. Alcohol addiction is characterized by a physical and psychological need to drink. Once an alcohol addiction has developed, the physical cravings for alcohol are often so intense they are inconsolable until the person begins drinking again. Consequently, the addict is drinking almost constantly to alleviate the physical discomfort associated with not having alcohol in their system. They may also develop an addiction to or begin to misuse other substances during this time. People with alcohol addiction often drink whenever and wherever they desire, regardless of any potential consequence.
How to Get Treatment for a Drinking Problem
If your loved one struggles with alcohol addiction, there are many things you can do to get treatment for a drinking problem. The healing process from alcohol addiction will look different from person to person. Someone who struggles with a mild addiction will face far fewer roadblocks and challenges as they begin their journey to sobriety. Conversely, someone with a severe addiction, dual diagnosis, or a chronic relapsing disorder (meaning they have been to treatment before and experienced relapse-maybe more than once) may face a more complex journey. However, no matter what the challenge is, seeking help from a professional alcohol addiction treatment center is the safest and most effective way to get and stay sober. Contact our luxury Malibu rehab today to learn more about how we can help.