When Alcohol Has Become a Problem

Alcohol abuse is one of the most common mental health issues in America, with nearly one in seven people receiving treatment in alcohol rehab centers for alcohol use disorder (AUD). AUD is something that affects men more than women although the health consequences of alcohol abuse are significant regardless of gender. Despite the differences in how alcohol affects men and women, dependence and addiction do incalculable harm, accounting for around 5% of all deaths in the US.

The Continuing Problem of Alcohol Abuse

According to research by alcohol rehabilitation centers, the most severe health condition associated with alcohol abuse is cirrhosis of the liver, which is one of the most common causes of alcohol-related death. AUDs are also associated with legal problems as a consequence of driving accidents, health issues, and psychiatric disorders which often characterize alcohol dependence and addiction.

People turn to alcohol for all sorts of reasons. However, there is a strong correlation between AUD and mental illnesses such as depression, personality disorder, and PTSD. Many people use alcohol as a way of reducing the distressing symptoms of a mental health disorder which leaves them dealing with two co-existing conditions, (known as dual diagnosis). Dual diagnosis patients require specialized treatment that addresses both conditions at the same time during their stay at an alcohol rehabilitation center.

On the other hand, people without prior mental health issues who become dependent on or addicted to alcohol can go on to develop the symptoms of depression, anxiety or a personality disorder as a direct result of alcohol abuse. Irrespective of the origins of mental health issues in a person with AUD, all problems need to be addressed in addiction treatment in an alcohol rehab center in order to help them overcome them.

What Causes Alcoholism?

Although many people refer to a person with a drinking problem as an alcoholic, the term is generally inaccurately applied. There is also a widely held and false perception that it is someone’s choice to drink to excess. This has led to a common belief that people with drinking problems can just stop if they choose to, whereas this is very far from the truth.

Alcohol dependence and addiction are driven by compulsive behavior that results from the complex interaction between psychosocial and biological factors. Although a person may start to drink to excess out of choice, after time their freedom to choose diminishes as alcohol’s influence on the brain takes its hold. When an individual is experiencing cravings and withdrawal symptoms when not using alcohol, they are very likely to be developing a physical dependence which can ultimately become alcoholism.

Recognizing and Dealing with AUDs

Because alcohol is commonplace in today’s society, it isn’t always easy to know if someone has developed a drinking problem. It is not possible to determine this from the amount and frequency of their alcohol use and even speaking to the person is unlikely to indicate if there is a deeper problem. Many people struggling with alcohol believe they have the ability to stop any time, and it is not unusual for alcoholics to make several unsuccessful attempts to do so.

In fact, more serious AUDs are characterized by frequent attempts to stop drinking which end up with the person relapsing. It is important to remember that AUD is a relapsing condition that almost always requires specialized treatment in an alcohol rehabilitation center to overcome. The problem arises when the person suddenly stops using alcohol and they experience withdrawal symptoms that can be very distressing, particularly if attempting to detox alone. This pattern of drinking to excess and quitting before returning to alcohol repeatedly is a warning sign of an AUD and treatment in an alcohol rehab center should be sought as a priority.

You should suspect a person has an AUD if they:

  • Frequently drink more than they said they would. For example, if they say they’re just going to have a “quick one” and they end up overindulging.
  • Spend a great deal of their time drinking or recovering from the consequences of drinking.
  • Become unreliable at work or home and fail to meet important obligations.
  • Continue to drink even though alcohol is causing them significant physical or psychological problems.
  • Need progressively more alcohol to get the results they seek.
  • Experience flu-like withdrawal symptoms when they are not drinking.
  • Continually express annoyance when people express concerns about their alcohol use.
  • Have been told by a physician, employer or loved one that they have a drinking problem.

Getting Help

There are numerous paths to recovery from an AUD, making centers for alcohol and drug treatment accessible to people from all backgrounds. The first step of rehabilitation is detox which is often the hardest phase of treatment although essential before a person’s recovery journey can begin. For this reason, individuals intending to detox from alcohol should enter an inpatient program for the first and most important phase of rehab.

Because of the intensely personal nature of AUD and the complexities of the relapsing illness, a personalized treatment program in an alcohol rehab center offers the best recovery outcomes. This is mainly due to the diversity of needs that range from person to person in rehab. Physicians and therapists undertake a comprehensive evaluation and assessment on each individual entering a center for alcohol and drug treatment in order to put together a program with appropriate therapeutic components for their personal needs.

Author Bio:

Evie Mills is a Business Consultant based in Perth, Australia. Her key areas of interest are human resources, management and accounting. In her free time, she loves listening to music and play with her cute dog.

Image Credits: Alcohol from Photographee.eu/Shutterstock