Alcohol Addiction and Abuse

Alcohol abuse and addiction are quite common in the United States. This is probably as a result of the fact that drinking is widely accepted even in social circles. As a result, it often leads to denial. If you leave it untreated, alcoholism can cause severe consequences.

About Alcohol

Alcohol is a controlled and legal substance that will lower your inhibitions and anxiety. It can also lead to other side effects depending on the amount you drink. These effects include but are not limited to slurred speech and loss of coordination.

Just because you drink alcohol does not necessarily mean that you are an alcoholic. However, if your life has been affected negatively by this substance - and continues to be affected so on a regular basis - there is a high likelihood that you might be struggling with an alcohol use disorder. Some of the most common types of alcohol available today include:

1. Beer

Beer is one of the most common alcoholic drinks available today. It is typically made from yeast, hops, barley, and water. In comparison to hard liquor or wine, it has the lowest ABV - alcohol content by volume ranging from 2 to about 12 percent. Most of the common brands of beer are also between the 4 to 6 percent ABV range.

Although beer is common in social situations, you need to realize that it can lead to an alcohol use disorder. This would typically occur when you go from being a social drinker to one who continues drinking after others have stopped. It could also happen if you feel an insatiable need to consume beer during boring or uncomfortable situations.

2. Wine

Wine is produced from fermented fruits and grapes. Examples of other fruits that are used to manufacture this beverage include berries and pomegranates. It is typically available in red, white, or rose varieties with a broad range of flavor profiles. Examples of wine include zinfandel, pinot noir, cabernet, merlot, Moscato, Riesling, pinot Grigio, and chardonnay.

About 5 oz. of wine will have the same content as 12 oz. of beer. As such, it can cause you to be drunk much faster than beer. The fact that wine is considered to be a classy drink now means that it is much harder to decide if someone has developed an alcohol use problem.

3. Liquor

Liquor refers to all hard alcohol spirits and drinks like whiskey, rum, gin, vodka, and tequila. It has a higher ABV than both wine and beer. As such, most people mix it with water, juices, and sodas to create a cocktail. If you consume it without mixing it with anything else, it is known as neat or a shot.

Regardless of the kind of alcohol you consume, it is important to note that you may end up struggling with addiction. Whether you have been taking wine, beer, or liquor, it is essential that you consider enrolling in an addiction treatment center if only to be evaluated for the presence of an alcohol use disorder.

Effects of Alcohol

Since alcohol is a CNS - central nervous system - depressant substance, it means that it will slow down your bodily and mental processes. From the first drink, you may experience a decrease in your feelings of stress and anxiety. This is why most people claim that alcohol is a social lubricant in the sense that it can cause you to experience an increase in your feelings of confidence when you meet new people. You may also be less concerned about how others perceive you.

The fact that alcohol is widely accepted by society and it has a legal status means that it can be difficult to differentiate between alcohol abuse and casual use. However, if drinking results in negative consequences, you can be sure that you have engaged in alcohol abuse.

Some of the examples of consequences that might result of this form of substance abuse include:

  • Financial difficulty
  • Illness
  • Physical harm
  • Problems at work
  • Strained relationships

On the other hand, you may develop an alcohol use disorder - also known as alcoholism or an alcohol addiction. When this happens, you will experience intense cravings for alcohol. You may also have difficulties stopping your alcohol use - even in situations where it leads to extreme social or personal harm.

If you are already addicted to this substance, you may drink more than you intended to, want to stop but find that you are no longer able to, develop tolerance to the substance, experience withdrawal symptoms when you stop drinking, let your professional and personal responsibilities flounder so that you can drink, and spend excess amounts of time drinking.

You might also develop high functioning alcoholism. This means that you will be able to keep your alcohol use disorder from interfering with your personal or professional lives. However, this also means that you may not be able to realize that you have a problem unless you face severe consequences related to your drinking.

The primary danger with high functioning alcoholism - on the other hand - revolves around the fact that the problem might continue for many years without you recognize that you have this problem.

It is also important to keep in mind that you may abuse alcohol alongside other drugs. Since alcohol is a CNS depressant, it can pose serious risks if you mix it with drugs that are in the same class - including pain relief medications and benzodiazepines. On its own, alcohol can prove to be dangerous. However, when you combine it with any other substance, it could prove to be fatal.

Getting Help

If you suspect that you might have an alcohol use disorder, you might want to consider getting tested and evaluated by a professional addiction treatment and rehabilitation center - or by your primary physician. In case it is determined that you are struggling with this condition, it would be in your best interests to enroll in a treatment program so that you can get the help that you require to overcome your growing alcoholism before it gets further out of hand.

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