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Alcohol Addict

Alcoholism is a real disease that causes changes in the brain, making it harder for the person to quit and control their alcohol intake.

Navigation: Who is an Alcohol Addict?, How Much Alcohol is Too Much?, What Are the Symptoms of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism?, Health Complications Associated with Drinking Alcohol, Addressing the Stigma Surrounding Alcoholism, What to do if Your Loved One Has an Alcohol Addiction, Rehab Is Your Best Chance


Alcohol use disorder (AUD), also known as alcoholism, is a disease that can affect people of all walks of life, regardless of age, gender, sexual orientation, or religion. Addiction experts say there are several risk factors that can influence a person’s likelihood of becoming addicted, including genetics, socioeconomics, and environmental factors. It is well established that alcohol addiction has no single cause.

Even when a person has several risk factors, it doesn’t mean that they are guaranteed to become addicted. It only means they are that much more susceptible to addiction.

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), alcoholism is a chronic and relapsing condition characterized by a problematic pattern of alcohol consumption. It involves the inability to control or stop drinking despite negative health consequences and a strong desire or craving for alcohol. Alcoholism is typically associated with physical and psychological dependence on alcohol.

Alcoholism is a real disease that causes changes in the brain, making it harder for the person to quit and control their alcohol intake.

It is important to be able to recognize the signs and symptoms of alcoholism so that you can identify someone who is struggling with this condition and help them regain control over their life. This information can help fight stigma and guide addicted individuals toward addiction treatment options.


Who is an Alcohol Addict?

Recognizing someone who is addicted to alcohol isn’t about what they look like, but rather about what they do. Alcohol affects a person’s health and behavior, meaning you can recognize someone with a drinking problem based on alcohol’s effects.

But before we go into detail about the various signs and symptoms that suggest the existence of alcoholism, it is important to note that stigma is still a huge barrier for people who are trying to seek treatment for their AUD. There is still a stigma surrounding alcohol abuse, addiction, and rehab.

In fact, we need to be careful with how we address people with AUD. Even just calling them “addicts” or “alcohol addicts” can be harmful because it carries a negative connotation. It can lead to discrimination and prejudice because these terms focus too much on the individual rather than the medical condition. It supports the idea that alcoholism is the fault of the individual and is some sort of moral failing.

This is why addiction experts tend to use terms that are more focused on the condition itself. They use the term “addicted individuals” or “people with AUD” because it establishes that alcoholism is just another condition rather than a label.

With that out of the way, let’s talk about alcohol misuse and people who are struggling with alcohol addiction.

Alcohol addiction can show itself in a variety of ways. The severity, the frequency of drinking, the inability to stop or control alcohol abuse, the existence of alcohol dependence: these could all be different from person to person. Some people with AUD drink heavily throughout the day while others stay sober for a while and then participate in binge drinking.

Regardless of the symptoms, a person with a drinking problem will be unable to stay sober for an extended period of time.

AUD is typically diagnosed based on a set of criteria established by mental health professionals, such as those outlined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5).

The DSM-5 criteria for alcohol use disorder include:

Drinking in larger amounts or for longer periods than intended.

Persistent desire or unsuccessful efforts to cut down or control drinking.

Spending a significant amount of time obtaining, using, or recovering from the effects of alcohol.

Strong cravings or a strong desire to drink.

Failure to fulfill major obligations at work, school, or home due to drinking.

Continued drinking despite persistent social or interpersonal problems caused by or worsened by drinking.

Giving up or reducing important social, occupational, or recreational activities due to drinking.

Recurrent use of alcohol in physically hazardous situations.

Continued drinking despite the person being aware of the physical or psychological problems caused or exacerbated by drinking.

Tolerance, as defined by either needing to drink more to achieve the desired effect or experiencing diminished effects with the same amount of alcohol.

Withdrawal symptoms or drinking to avoid withdrawal.

If someone meets two or more of these criteria within a 12-month period, they may be diagnosed with alcohol use disorder. The severity of the disorder can range from mild to severe, depending on the number of criteria met.

Alcoholism is a complex issue, so self-diagnosis is rarely a good idea. If you or someone you know is concerned about alcohol use, it’s recommended to seek professional help from a healthcare provider or a qualified addiction specialist who can assess the situation and provide appropriate guidance or treatment.


How Much Alcohol is Too Much?

Alcohol problems are often hard to identify because casual drinking is such a common part of society and culture as a whole. It can be hard to recognize how much alcohol is too much alcohol.

The amount of alcohol that is considered “too much” varies depending on several factors, including an individual’s age, weight, overall health, tolerance to alcohol, and any medications they may be taking.

It is also important to consider cultural, legal, and social factors, as well as the specific context in which alcohol is being consumed.

In general, moderate alcohol consumption is defined as up to one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men. This definition is based on guidelines from various health organizations, including the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It is important to note that these guidelines are not meant to encourage drinking but rather to provide limits for those who choose to consume alcohol.

Drinking alcohol in excess of these moderate limits can lead to various health risks and alcohol-related problems.

Binge drinking, for example, is defined as consuming a large amount of alcohol in a short period. This is particularly harmful. Excessive alcohol consumption can increase the risk of liver disease, heart problems, certain types of cancer, impaired judgment, accidents, and addiction.

What Are the Symptoms of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism?

Aside from the diagnostic guidelines set by addiction experts, you can also look out for various physical and psychological symptoms.

AUD is primarily characterized by a strong urge to consume alcohol regularly. Eventually, the person may develop an increased tolerance for alcohol. They will have to drink larger amounts of alcohol to achieve the desired effects. If they stick with their usual intake, they will experience diminished effects. This often pushes people into drinking more than they originally intended.

Alcohol dependence is another sign of a drinking problem. This happens when a person’s body adjusts to the constant presence of alcohol. They will experience withdrawal symptoms when they try to reduce their intake or quit alcohol entirely. These symptoms may include tremors, nausea, sweating, anxiety, insomnia, and seizures.

If your loved one drinks at inappropriate times such as when they are alone, or first thing in the morning, then they may have a drinking problem. They may avoid places and situations where there is no alcohol. They may also hide their alcohol or lie about their drinking habits. Some people even change the people they spend time with, preferring the company of those who like to drink.

It can be hard to recognize the signs and symptoms of alcohol addiction because unlike illicit drugs, it is widely available and accepted in many cultures. In fact, it is often at the center of social situations such as celebrations. Drinking is a normal part of life for many people. This is why it can be hard to spot the difference between someone who is just drinking for fun and someone with an actual problem.

That said, looking out for these early warning signs can help prevent even bigger problems down the line.

Health Complications Associated with Drinking Alcohol

It goes without saying that AUD is a serious medical condition that can cause various health complications. Prolonged and excessive alcohol consumption can affect almost every organ in the body, leading to both short-term and long-term health problems.

Here are some common health complications associated with alcoholism:

Liver Disease: Alcohol abuse is a leading cause of liver diseases such as fatty liver, alcoholic hepatitis, cirrhosis, and liver cancer. These conditions can range from inflammation and fat buildup in the liver to severe scarring and liver failure.

Cardiovascular Problems: Long-term heavy drinking can increase the risk of cardiovascular conditions such as high blood pressure, irregular heart rhythms (arrhythmias), cardiomyopathy (weakening of heart muscle), and an increased risk of stroke and heart attack.

Pancreatitis: Alcohol abuse can cause inflammation of the pancreas, a condition known as pancreatitis. It can lead to severe abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, and, in chronic cases, may result in permanent damage to the pancreas.

Gastrointestinal Issues: Alcohol can irritate the lining of the gastrointestinal tract, leading to various problems such as gastritis (inflammation of the stomach lining), ulcers, and an increased risk of gastrointestinal bleeding.

Nutritional Deficiencies: Alcohol interferes with the body’s ability to absorb and utilize essential nutrients, leading to malnutrition and vitamin deficiencies. This can result in conditions like Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome (thiamine deficiency), anemia, and weakened immune function.

Mental Health Disorders: Alcoholism is often associated with mental health problems such as depression, anxiety, and increased risk of suicide. Prolonged alcohol abuse can also cause cognitive impairments and memory problems.

Increased Cancer Risk: Chronic alcohol consumption has been linked to an increased risk of various types of cancers, including liver, esophageal, throat, mouth, breast, and colorectal cancers.

Weakened Immune System: Alcohol abuse weakens the immune system, making the body more susceptible to infections such as pneumonia, tuberculosis, and other respiratory illnesses.

Nerve Damage: Long-term alcohol abuse can result in peripheral neuropathy, a condition characterized by numbness, tingling, and pain in the extremities. It can also lead to alcoholic myopathy, a condition causing muscle weakness and wasting.

Keep in mind that not everyone who consumes alcohol excessively will experience all of these complications, as individual susceptibility can vary.

Addressing the Stigma Surrounding Alcoholism

Knowing the right terms to use to address people with alcohol use disorder is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to addressing the stigma surrounding this condition.

Stigma is a huge obstacle that is keeping people from seeking the help that they need and finally recovering from their addiction.

Education is one of the strongest weapons against stigma because it is mostly fueled by misinformation. Education raises awareness about alcohol as a disease and clarifies misconceptions. Part of educating people about AUD is telling them the importance of using non-judgmental language when discussing alcoholism. Derogatory terms and moral judgments only perpetuate harmful stereotypes.

Terms like “alcohol use disorder” and “person in recovery” help promote understanding and empathy.

When it comes to tackling addiction stigma, humanizing the issue can be extremely helpful. Sharing personal stories of people who have struggled with AUD and successfully recovered can break down stereotypes. It can even motivate others to pursue treatment.

Community-based initiatives, support groups, and peer counseling programs can also encourage empathy and support for those in addiction treatment.

Alcohol addiction is a health issue, not a moral failing. It is important to promote this message and help those who are in need of addiction support to find the right program for them.

Reducing the stigma of alcoholism requires a collective effort from society as a whole. By promoting understanding, empathy, and support, we can create an environment where individuals with alcohol addiction are encouraged to seek help and receive the support they need to recover.

What to do if Your Loved One Has an Alcohol Addiction

If you have a loved one who is struggling with alcoholism, it can be a challenging and emotional situation. The first step you need to take if you want to support them is to educate yourself. Learn about alcoholism, its causes, effects, and available treatment options. This will help you understand the condition better and enable you to provide informed support.

Always communicate with compassion. Approach your loved one with empathy, understanding, and concern. Choose a time when they are sober and in a receptive state of mind to have an open and honest conversation about their alcoholism. Express your worries, emotions, and the impact their drinking is having on you and others.

Remember to offer support, not judgment. Avoid blaming or shaming your loved one for their condition. Instead, let them know that you care about their well-being and that you are there to support them in seeking help. Encourage them to talk about their feelings and experiences without judgment.

During this conversation, encourage them to seek professional help. There are doctors, therapists, and addiction counselors who can shed light on their condition and point them in the right direction towards proper treatment. Healthcare professionals can provide a proper diagnosis, guidance, and treatment options tailored to their needs.

You can even take it a step further and start researching treatment options yourself. Help your loved one explore different treatment options, such as inpatient or outpatient rehabilitation programs, support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), or counseling services. Offer to assist in finding suitable resources and making appointments.

Having a loved one with an AUD can be mentally and emotionally draining. While supporting your loved one, it’s important to establish clear boundaries to protect yourself and maintain your own well-being. Set limits on what you are willing and able to do, and communicate those boundaries honestly and respectfully.

Avoid enabling your loved one’s alcoholism by not covering up or making excuses for their actions, giving them money for alcohol, or trying to control their drinking. Instead, encourage their commitment to treatment and sobriety.

If they continue to break rules, make sure you enforce the punishments you’ve established so that they understand the importance of seeking treatment. Without these boundaries, there will be nothing to stop them from their continued spiral into addiction.

Consider reaching out to support groups or seeking therapy for yourself to help cope with the challenges of supporting your loved one through addiction treatment.

Recovery from alcoholism is a difficult and ongoing process. Understand that relapses may occur and that recovery takes time. Offer support, understanding, and encouragement throughout their journey. Remember, you cannot force someone to change, but you can provide love, support, and resources to encourage them to seek help and make positive changes in their life.

The most effective treatment plan for alcoholism varies from person to person. A tailored approach that addresses an individual’s specific needs, circumstances, and level of addiction is crucial.

Seeking professional help from healthcare providers or addiction specialists is highly recommended to determine the most appropriate treatment options. Look for a rehab near you today to learn more about various treatment options for alcohol use disorder and addiction.

Rehab is Your Best Chance

Treatment is an addicted individualʼs best option if they want to recover. Beating an addiction not only requires eliminating the physical dependence, but also addressing the behavioral factors that prevent them from wanting to get better. Simply quitting may not change the psychological aspect of addiction. Some people quit for a while, and then take drugs or alcohol again, only to overdose because they did not detox properly. Recovery involves changing the way the patient feels, thinks, and behaves.



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Fel Clinical Director of Content
Felisa Laboro has been working with addiction and substance abuse businesses since early 2014. She has authored and published over 1,000 articles in the space. As a result of her work, over 1,500 people have been able to find treatment. She is passionate about helping people break free from alcohol or drug addiction and living a healthy life.

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