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What is Alcoholism?

What is alcoholism?

Alcohol is the most commonly used addictive substance in the United States: 17.6 million people, or one in every 12 adults, suffer from an alcohol use disorder or dependence. Every year, several million more drink heavily. Not all binge drinkers become alcoholics, but it is a risk factor.

Alcoholism is a primary chronic disease of the brain that results in social, physical, and psychological consequences. The inability to stop drinking alcoholic beverages even in the face of negative consequences is a clear sign that one may have a problem and need treatment.

Warning Signs of Alcoholism

Sometimes the warning signs of alcohol misuse are very noticeable. Other times, they can take longer to surface. It is important to act quickly when the warning signs appear. Catching alcoholism early can improve the chances of a healthy recovery.

Common signs of alcoholism include:

    • Being unable to control your drinking
    • Drinking after you’ve promised to quit
    • Unsuccessfully limiting the amount you drink
    • Spending less time on activities that used to be important, such as hanging out with family and friends, exercising, or pursuing hobbies or other interests
    • Drinking despite consequences
    • Putting alcohol above personal responsibilities and relationships
  • Going out of your way to hide the amount you drink
  • Drop in attendance and performance at work or school
  • Needing to drink more and more in order to produce the same effect
  • Withdrawal symptoms such as shakiness, trembling, sweating, nausea or fatigue

Alcohol affects every organ in the body. The most commonly known related disease is cirrhosis of the liver, but there are many other adverse medical effects of alcohol abuse including:

  • Heart problems
  • Stroke
  • Pancreatitis
  • Gastrointestinal problems
  • Cancers of the mouth, throat, esophagus, liver, and breast
  • Malnutrition
  • High blood pressure
  • Cognition problems
  • Moodiness
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Insomnia or other sleep disorders
  • Uncontrolled anger

Alcoholism Risk Factors At Any Age

Many older adults have been high-functioning alcoholics for years, maintaining their jobs and other responsibilities despite regular alcohol consumption. Yet alcoholism is a progressive disease that will take a toll on the entire body. Cognitive loss also is possible, and relationships suffer in the chronic disease of alcoholism. Families fall apart or become dysfunctional as alcohol use progresses.

Often times, older patients patient who arrive for treatment for alcoholism present with co-morbid psychological/psychiatric issues that often include self-medicating practices or drug-induced mental health challenges. Awareness of late-onset alcohol addiction is important for all family members and those who care for older adults, especially during life transitions. These transitions may exacerbate alcohol use, opening the path of alcoholism to take hold.

Alcohol Affects Genders Differently

Women, due to differences in their rates of metabolism also are generally more apt to become addicted to alcohol sooner and are twice as likely to die from alcoholism. Both genders are under-treated for alcoholism, even though a higher percentage of men are diagnosed as alcoholics.

Alcoholism and Recovery

Stopping the use of alcohol is not necessarily enough to improve the quality of one’s life because long-term sobriety often requires additional support. Many people with alcoholism struggle with co-occurring mental or physical conditions that also require treatment. Origins specializes in the treatment of co-occurring mental health issues, as well as conditions such as chronic pain and early dementia among others. Treatment is marked by achievements in physical, emotional, and spiritual balance as patients build and renew energy, relationships, and purpose.

An integrated approach to treatment that addresses all aspects of the person within the 12-Step program model can change perceptions and bring new purpose into the lives of both the patient receiving treatment for alcoholism and their family members. By connecting with a deeper sense of meaning, individuals are able to positively impact the lives of others as they work toward permanent recovery. The 12-Step philosophy is a vital part of the journey toward real recovery.

If you or a loved one is exhibiting signs of alcohol addiction, please contact Origins today to receive more information or simply discuss what treatment options are available: 561-841-1296.

Alcoholism Related Links: Safe Steps for An Alcoholic’s Spouse | What if I am a High Functioning Alcoholic? | Drug and Alcohol Residential/Inpatient Recovery Rehab in South Florida | Alcohol Use Recovery for Women at Hannah’s House in South Texas

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If you or someone you love has a substance use or mental health disorder, Origins Behavioral HealthCare can help. We will work alongside you to provide the most comprehensive treatment available.