Alcoholism and alcohol abuse are different things, which both affect many people within the American public. These are “lay” terms which people use frequently, but often, incorrectly. The clinical term for both of these common phrases is Alcohol Use Disorder.
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism estimates that about 17 million American’s have Alcohol Use Disorder in a diagnosable capacity. Unfortunately, having a proper name doesn’t mean that there’s a one-size-fits-all approach to handling Alcohol Use Disorder. What the public, and those experience this disorder need is insight.
How it Starts
Nearly all drinking starts recreationally, and often in a social setting. The guidance against falling to peer pressure often falls short. However, when there are emerging patterns of use, the consumption of alcohol becomes concerning.
There are four key signs which medical professionals look for prior to making an Alcohol Use Disorder diagnosis.
First, they try to identify whether or not alcohol use is interfering with school, family, daily responsibilities, or work. If you have lost a job, friendships, child custody, or less severe had your grades drop, this is an early sign of alcohol abuse.
Second, a major determining factor is whether the consumption of alcohol continues without regard to ongoing negative impacts. For many people, this refers to relationships. Are you continuing to drink after multiple threats of a relationship ending because of your drinking?
Third, risky behavior. People who abuse alcohol and are likely to have a fair diagnosis of Alcohol Use Disorder almost always engage in risky behavior. This behavior may be drunk driving, unprotected or casual sex, operating machinery, or fighting. Even seemingly harmless actions such as swimming can prove fatal for an intoxicated person.
Fourth and finally, adapting to higher tolerance. Not only are you struggling to obtain that level of drunk more frequently, but it’s taking more alcohol to get there. If you’ve moved from consuming a few drinks to bottles at a time, then you are likely experiencing Alcohol Use Disorder.
Stage of Chronic Alcohol Abuse
The first stage of alcohol abuse is almost exclusively binge drinking. Binge drinking is dangerous, makes people extraordinarily unpredictable, and can lead to even higher-risk behavior. However, binge drinking will typically follow into the second stage of alcohol use disorder: chronic abuse.
Chronic alcohol abuse, or sometimes called problematic abuse is when people move from “functioning alcoholic” to “alcoholic.” Usually, these people have no control over their intake of alcohol and will not be able to meet day-to-day expectations from those closest to them.
It’s during this stage that people experiencing Alcohol Use Disorder will come across multiple legal battles, may lose meaningful relationships, careers, and more. It’s important to note however, that there are many people who bounce through recovery or are known to be “high functioning alcoholics” who may move from job to job with great success. They may even appear to be completely unruled by alcohol use.
During this phase, a person is likely physically dependent on alcohol and may experience extreme withdrawal symptoms. Without alcohol in their system, an alcohol abuser can experience shaking, vomiting, and lose consciousness. At this state, withdrawal needs a safe environment with medical personnel available to step in if needed.
End Stage of Alcohol Addiction
Heavier abuse and ongoing addiction to alcohol will not only impact relationships and lead to withdrawal symptoms. The end stages of alcohol addiction will lead to the deterioration of health conditions.
Negative health conditions that come with the end stages of alcoholism can include:
- Heart disease
- High Blood Pressure
- Infectious Diseases
- Nerve Damage
Additionally, if the person abusing alcohol has any of these conditions, alcoholism exacerbates the situation, not necessary causes them. Alcohol may be a component, root cause, or irritant of any of these health conditions.
One of the most likely outcomes in the end stages of alcohol abuse is cirrhosis of the liver. In these situations, the years of damage to the liver and scar tissue prevents blood flow throughout the body. Blood is then unable to clean itself, or fight infection. Other common end-stage aspects can include loss of balance, coordination, eyesight, and self-harm.
Alcohol abuse can impact anyone. We all learn from an early age that drinking is part of being a social adult. That concept often leads people into addiction and alcohol abuse. You can get the treatment you need to start your recovery. Contact Rehab Carolinas for rehabilitation and treatment options near you.