The Evolution of Alcohol Use Disorder
No one drinks alcohol with the intention of becoming an alcoholic. A 20-year-old engaged in the casual consumption of alcoholic beverages with college buddies, or other friends, does not realize the potential danger. Any habit, whether it involves drinking alcohol, gambling or abusing drugs, can lead to a serious mental disorder later in life. Habits gradually ingrain into a person’s mindset until the individual no longer has any control over the situation. Consequently, it is important to understand each type of alcoholic drinking that can eventually turn into an unwanted, and unexpected, alcohol use disorder.
Binge drinking often involves consuming large amounts of alcohol within a couple of hours and can oftentimes be the first step toward becoming addicted to alcohol. When a person engages in binge drinking, the blood alcohol level reaches 0.08 grams. A man typically drinks at least five drinks before reaching this level and woman may drink at least four. Approximately five out of every thirty individuals engage in binge drinking once a week and consume a total of 28 drinks during each month.
Binge drinking has serious risks. It can cause a person to have a car crash resulting in a traumatic brain injury (TBI) or permanent paralysis. A binge drinker may develop heart disease, liver disease, various types of cancer or memory problems. Alcohol dependency is a common result of binge drinking in both younger and older drinkers.
Alcohol consumption is a form of self-medication resulting in relaxation and happiness. Many people enjoy going to get drinks after work. However, there are better ways to relax and become a happier person without experiencing any ramifications. A person drinking alcohol on a daily basis may not realize the dangerous habits that are forming. It becomes easy to reason that only a few drinks a day are beneficial to their mental health. This thought process can eventually lead to an unwanted dependency on alcohol. The habitual daily drinker may have a difficult road to travel before recovering from the ill effects caused by drinking excessive amounts of alcohol each day.
As it pertains to alcohol use disorder, there is no such thing as casual drinking. Casual drinkers, also referred to as “social drinkers”, typically consume alcohol in a social setting without the intention of getting drunk. However, since alcohol is an addictive substance, a true casual drinker needs to have a strong will to avoid addiction. While some people are able to enjoy casual or socials drinks without becoming addicted, others succumb to beverages that seem to make life more tolerable. An unhappy person may soon discover that casual drinking leads to binge drinking or daily drinking. A casual drinker may lose interest in work, stop eating healthy food and quit an exercise program. Two or three casual drinks a week may seem harmless for a few months, or even a few years, until the habit begins to cause emotional and physical repercussions.
Sobriety is always a good thing, although some people view it as a boring way to live. Yet living life without wine, beer or whiskey does not mean that a person won’t feel happy. In fact, a sober person will live a happier and healthier life than a person dependent on alcohol. Alcohol consumption plants an illusion in the mind that life is wonderful, but reality shows that the opposite is true. History has shown that numerous artists and authors who abused alcohol were miserable.
Living sober allows you to be present in every moment of your life, you can develop real and authentic relationships and you no longer have the need to alter your consciousness to live and enjoy life. Sobriety means living with a clear and focused mind. A sober person has the ability to think about things in a rational way.
A person who has stopped drinking may experience a mental relapse. During this phase, the individual’s mind becomes a battlefield filled with all the pros and cons about drinking alcohol. The part of the mind that values the concept of sobriety does not want to drink alcohol. But the part of the mind that dwells in the past continues to think about former pleasurable experiences. It is incredibly important that addicts learn to recognize their triggers (locations and previous friendships associated with drinking) because relapse is much harder to prevent when you don’t see it coming. The individual should call a trusted friend and have a frank conversation about their dangerous predicament. Additionally, the person may want to contact an alcohol rehab Scottsdale facility.
A mental relapse does not necessarily indicate that an alcoholic is not going to recover. A person experiencing a relapse can learn from the experience, as it can teach a lesson about the value of staying sober.
Ending Alcohol Abuse Disorder Through Alcohol Rehab Scottsdale
If you or a loved one is struggling with these symptoms, contacting a rehab facility is the first step on the road to recovery. Our professional staff will work alongside the individual to find a treatment plan that is right for them. It’s never too late to seek help, contact SpringBoard Recovery today.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is Alcohol Use Disorder?
The diagnosis of alcohol use disorder (AUD) refers to drinking that causes any type of distress or harm. This is a medical condition that is characterized by:
- The compulsive need to drink alcohol.
- The inability to control how much you drink.
- The inability to control how often you drink.
- A feeling of anxiousness or stress when you are not drinking.
- Withdrawal symptoms once the effects of the alcohol start to wear off.
Alcohol use disorder can range from mild to severe, depending on the symptoms a person is experiencing. When a person has a severe case, they are usually labeled an alcoholic.
Sadly, the National Institute on Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse reports that less than 10% of people who have AUD in Arizona never get the treatment they need. The right alcohol treatment program can make such a difference and it is highly recommended for recovery.
What is Considered 1 Drink in the United States?
The NIAAA has issued guidelines to help people understand what constitutes a standard drink in the United States. According to them, a standard drink is:
- 12 ounces of regular beer. This is typically about 5% alcohol.
- 8-9 ounces of malt liquor. This is typically about 7% alcohol.
- 5 ounces of wine. This is typically about 12% alcohol.
- 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits. This is typically about 40% alcohol.
Most people are completely unaware of how much they drink. That means that there a lot of people who probably binge drink without realizing it. The CDC reports that:
- One in six adults participates in binge drinking about 4 times every month.
- When they do, they consume about 7 drinks each time.
- Binge drinking is more common among adults aged 18-34, but more than half of binge drinks are consumed by people who are 35 years old and older.
- More than 90% of adults who drink excessively report that they have participated in binge drinking at some point within the last 90 days.
- Most people who drink before the age of 21 do so by bingeing.
What are the Best Ways to Treat Alcohol Use Disorder?
Alcohol use disorder should be treated by an approach that addresses the physical and psychological sides of their addiction. That means that they need to go through both detox and rehab.
Alcohol detox can help by reducing the severity of withdrawal symptoms. It can also lower the risk of potential complications because of withdrawal. For example, delirium tremens is a condition that can occur when someone stops drinking. If it is not treated right away, it can be fatal. Anyone who is an alcoholic should strongly consider going through detox to stop drinking safely.
Alcohol rehab is also important because alcoholics need to understand the reasons behind their addictions. People start drinking for a lot of different reasons. For some people, they drink as a way to cope with stressful situations in their lives. Others might drink because they are trying to self-medicate the symptoms of a co-occurring disorder.
Ongoing treatment is extremely important. After rehab is over, outpatient counseling is highly recommended along with AA or other support groups.
Are There Medications to Treat AUD?
Yes, some medications can treat alcohol use disorder. Some of them include:
- Disulfiram. This is a drug that may be sold under the name, Antabuse. It works by causing unpleasant symptoms to occur when you drink while you are taking it. It is not uncommon for people to experience nausea and vomiting, skin flushing and other symptoms.
- Naltrexone is a drug that can block the receptors in the brain that make you feel good when you drink. It can help with alcohol cravings and has allowed many people to cut back on how much and how often they drink. This medication can be given in pill form or as a monthly injection.
- Acamprosate is a medication that can help you avoid alcohol once you are in recovery. It helps to reduce cravings and is especially helpful right after you stop drinking.
What Can I Expect During Alcohol Withdrawal?
If you are an alcoholic and you stop drinking, you should definitely expect to experience withdrawal symptoms. They can be mild or severe, and the list can include:
- Brain fog
- Mood swings
- Loss of appetite
- A rapid heart rate
- Sweaty, clammy skin
- Dilated pupils
A severe form of alcohol withdrawal called delirium tremens (DTs) has been known to happen in some cases. This is a medical emergency that needs to be treated right away. DTs can be fatal without treatment.
Will I Need Both Alcohol Detox and Rehab?
As a recovering alcoholic, it is highly recommended for you to go through both detox and rehab when you recover. That is because it is important to treat both the physical and psychological aspects of the addiction.
Alcohol detox is critical for alcoholics in recovery because it can help to prevent any potentially fatal complications from withdrawal. People tend to feel better faster when they go through the detoxification process, and they often have a much better chance of being successful in long-term recovery. But it is not uncommon for people to assume that they can skip rehab once they get through withdrawal. Please do not skip this step.
Alcohol rehab allows people to learn why they started drinking excessively in the first place. For about 50% of alcoholics, their drinking is the direct result of attempting to self-medicate away the symptoms of a co-occurring disorder.
It is important for alcoholics to go through dual diagnosis treatment if they have co-occurring disorders. This will ensure that both their mental health issues and their addictions are treated at the same time.
- Medical News Today: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/157163
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: https://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/fact-sheets/binge-drinking.htm
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: https://www.cdc.gov/traumaticbraininjury/index.html
- Verywell mind: https://www.verywellmind.com/alcohol-abuse-vs-alcohol-dependence-63101
- MedlinePlus: https://medlineplus.gov/alcoholusedisorderaudtreatment.html
- National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism: https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/brochures-and-fact-sheets/understanding-alcohol-use-disorder
- National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism: https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/alcohols-effects-health/overview-alcohol-consumption/what-standard-drink#:~:text=In%20the%20United%20States%2C%20one,which%20is%20about%2040%25%20alcohol
- Drugs.com: https://www.drugs.com/condition/alcohol-withdrawal.html
- MedlinePlus: https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/000764.htm
- MedlinePlus: https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/000766.htm