It feels pretty normal to have a few glasses of wine with a nice dinner, a few beers when enjoying a beautiful day on the patio, or a few cocktails when you hit a club or party. Those activities may have been entirely harmless, depending upon your other drinking patterns.
However, the US National Library of Medicine reports 18 million adults in America have an alcohol abuse disorder, which includes both alcoholism (alcohol dependence) and alcohol abuse. These disorders have a negative impact on the way you live your life and some rather serious health consequences.
If you or someone you love has an alcohol abuse disorder, you are facing some serious long-term health effects. To decrease the likelihood that your health, your home life, your professional, or your educational wellbeing will be endangered, you need to seek treatment. Disorders.org can help. Contact us at 800-598-5053 to speak with an expert that can connect you to resources.
Alcoholism v. Alcohol Abuse
- Craving—a strong need to drink
- Loss of control—not being able to stop drinking once you’ve started
- Physical dependence—withdrawal symptoms
- Tolerance—the need to drink more alcohol to feel the same effect
Alcohol abuse, however, does not include a physical dependence upon alcohol. It is, nonetheless, a serious problem. Alcohol abuse will lead to problems in various aspects of your professional and personal life. It may also place you in dangerous situations that threaten your safety. You may even run into legal trouble.
Binge drinking is another form of dangerous alcohol use. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism defines binge drinking as a pattern that brings your blood alcohol concentration to .08 (the legal limit in most areas) or above. Generally, this works out to five or more drinks within two hours for men or four or more drinks for women. Obviously, weight is a factor that will increase or decrease this estimate.
Recent studies show that even a single incident of binge drinking poses health risks, including gut leakage into the blood stream and immune system effects.
Do I Have an Alcohol Use Disorder?
When determining whether or not your drinking is reflective of an alcohol use disorder, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism suggests asking yourself the following questions.
In the past year, have you:
- Had times when you ended up drinking more, or longer than you intended?
- More than once wanted to cut down or stop drinking, or tried to, but couldn’t?
- Spent a lot of time drinking? Or being sick or getting over the aftereffects?
- Experienced craving — a strong need, or urge, to drink?
- Found that drinking — or being sick from drinking — often interfered with taking care of your home or family? Or caused job troubles? Or school problems?
- Continued to drink even though it was causing trouble with your family or friends?
- Given up or cut back on activities that were important or interesting to you, or gave you pleasure, in order to drink?
- More than once gotten into situations while or after drinking that increased your chances of getting hurt (such as driving, swimming, using machinery, walking in a dangerous area, or having unsafe sex)?
- Continued to drink even though it was making you feel depressed or anxious or adding to another health problem? Or after having had a memory blackout?
- Had to drink much more than you once did to get the effect you want? Or found that your usual number of drinks had much less effect than before?
- Found that when the effects of alcohol were wearing off, you had withdrawal symptoms, such as trouble sleeping, shakiness, irritability, anxiety, depression, restlessness, nausea, or sweating? Or sensed things that were not there?
If these symptoms are familiar to you and you answered “yes,” your drinking is concerning. The more questions you answered with a “yes,” the more quickly you need to change your relationship with alcohol. Seek out a professional who can conduct an assessment of your symptoms and determine whether or not you have an alcohol use disorder.
For help contacting medical professionals in this field, contact Disorders.org at 800-598-5053.