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According to 2019 statistics, it’s estimated that 14.5 million people ages 12 and older have an Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) in the United States. Unfortunately, only 7.2% of those people with AUD sought treatment for their condition. Alcohol addiction and abuse are serious conditions that can worsen without treatment. If left unaddressed for an extended period, it can put the individual’s life at risk. Keep reading for a complete breakdown of the signs of alcohol addiction, the impact, and how to find help.
What is Alcohol Addiction?
Alcohol addiction has most commonly been referred to as alcoholism. In more recent years, there has been a shift to the term “alcohol use disorder,” as alcoholism has a negative connotation associated with it that can bring people shame.
Alcohol addiction is a brain disorder that impairs a person’s ability to stop or control their alcohol consumption despite the negative social, health, and occupational consequences.
What are the Signs of Alcohol Addiction?
Alcoholism can present itself differently in each individual. However, some of the common signs of alcohol addiction are:
- Drinking most days or every single day
- Lying about drinking to friends and family
- Frequently having blackout periods
- Needing to drink to relax or feel better
- Often drinking more than you intended to
- Drinking in inappropriate situations
- Drinking in dangerous situations, such as driving
- Constant thoughts about drinking
- Feeling withdrawal symptoms when not drinking
- An increasing tolerance so more and more is required to get intoxicated
What are the Side Effects of Alcohol Addiction?
Some of the short and long-term effects of alcohol addiction include:
- A negative impact on social relationships, work performance, and other responsibilities
- An increased risk of alcohol poisoning
- Withdrawal symptoms
- Damage to the brain
- Liver damage
- Stomach ulcers
- High blood pressure
- Reduction in male sperm production
- Lowered immune system
- A higher risk of some cancers
- Heart problems
The longer a person goes without receiving treatment for their alcohol disorder, the higher their risk for the above symptoms increases. If alcohol addiction is left untreated long-term, it can lead to an alcohol-related death. It’s estimated that there are 95,000 deaths per year (or 261 deaths per day) in the US for excessive alcohol use.
What Increases the Risk of Alcohol Addiction?
Alcohol addiction doesn’t discriminate – it can happen to any age, gender, sexuality, race, culture, or economic status. There are a few known factors that can increase the risk of alcohol addiction in an individual:
- Starting Drinking Early: Studies have shown that starting to drink alcohol at an early age can increase the risk of alcohol addiction. In particular, one study found that of the individuals who began drinking before the age of 14, 47% developed an alcohol dependency at one point in their lives. In comparison, only 9% of individuals who waited until they were 21 to start drinking developed a dependency later on. This means that almost half the kids who drink before 14 will experience an alcohol addiction at some point!
- Genetics: Individuals with family members who have a history of alcohol addiction are at a greater risk for the condition themselves. Studies have shown that genetics are responsible for approximately half of the risk of alcohol disorder. The environment is responsible for the other half. So, while an individual with a family history is at a greater risk of alcohol addiction, it will also depend on their environment.
- Mental Health Conditions: Addiction often comes hand-in-hand with other mental health disorders. It doesn’t necessarily mean that one caused the other or that one came first. An individual may turn to alcohol to cope with their mental health disorder. Or, their mental health disorder may make them more susceptible to poor decision-making, which can lead to heavy drinking. When this occurs, it’s known as co-occurring disorders. When seeking treatment, the individual will need to seek help for both conditions.
Getting Help for Alcohol Addiction
The best chance for a successful road to recovery is to seek professional treatment for alcohol addiction. Unfortunately, alcohol is present in everyone’s everyday lives. Social drinking is common at after-work events, social gatherings, and restaurants. Individuals with an alcohol addiction can significantly benefit from the professional programs offered at a facility. These programs will help patients identify their triggers and learn coping mechanisms, so they aren’t tempted to relapse.
California Rehab Campus
California Rehab Campus offers life-changing addiction treatment. Our facility helps guide patients to recovery with science-based customized treatment plans for each individual. Contact us today for more information.