An alcohol addiction can come in many forms. An alcoholic doesn’t have to be someone who staggers around drunk all the time. Alcohol abuse varies from staying at home on your own drinking too much wine, to regularly binge drinking beer, spirits, or cocktails whilst out with your friends. Alcohol abuse affected around 17 million Americans in 2012, with over 850,000 children between the ages of 12 and 17 also identified as having an Alcohol Use Disorder. 1.4 million sought alcohol addiction treatment.
What Causes Alcohol Addiction?
We all have different ways of coping with certain situations. An overworked employee might find a glass of white wine or a dash of bourbon helps them unwind after a hard day in the office. A parent may use a couple of beers after the children have gone to bed to de-stress and prepare themselves for another hectic day. And a student or young person may feel that the only way they are interesting or worth hanging out with on a night out is for them to get as drunk as possible, and so knock back the shots of vodka or tequila.
The danger with these practices is that if you are not careful they can become habits. One glass of red wine after a particularly hard day at the office isn’t going to do any harm. But if it becomes a routine to pour yourself a drink every evening after work, then what was once a one-off treat is moving quickly towards alcohol abuse. Using alcohol as a way of coping is particularly dangerous because it does nothing to address the actual problem that is getting you stressed, tired, upset, or worried. The problem will continue, meaning that you will always need to drink in order to deal with your feelings. Without doing anything to directly address the actual issue, it will likely get worse, and your alcohol addiction will escalate with it.
Am I an Alcoholic?
An alcoholic is someone who is dependent upon alcohol to the point where they can no longer function properly without it. It could be that you try to relax with one drink too many after work, or that you spend all your time out partying. It doesn’t matter what form your alcohol abuse takes – if you believe you need alcohol in order to get through the day, relax, feel happy, or enjoy yourself, the chances are you could be an alcoholic.
Signs of an Alcohol Addiction
There are many signs that suggest you may be addicted to alcohol. One way to try and gauge whether you have a problem is to look honestly at your drinking habits. It could be an indication of alcohol abuse if you are:
- drinking more than you used to be
- staying drunk for several days
- always focused on where your next drink is going to come from
- anxious when you know there is no alcohol in the house
- hiding the true extent of your drinking from family members
- feeling guilty about your drinking
The chances are if you think you have a drinking problem, your friends or family will have noticed alcoholic behaviors being exhibited by you. If you are unsure, ask them whether they have ever noticed your drinking or been worried by it. Your alcohol addiction treatment will be a lot easier and much more likely to succeed with their help and support anyway, so it is never too soon to ask for their help and advice. It may be that they have been secretly worried about you for some time, but have been unsure how to raise the subject of your drinking with you.
What are the Effects of Alcohol Addiction?
While one drink every now and then won’t do any harm, the effects of alcohol when consumed for a long period of time or in large amounts can be severe. Alcohol abuse can lead to high blood pressure, which increases your chance of having a stroke or heart disease. Heavy drinking also puts a massive strain upon your liver, resulting in liver disease, which can end in fatal liver failure. In the worst-case scenario, your liver is so damaged that scar tissue replaces functioning healthy tissue to the point where the liver can no longer work, and you may need a transplant. Having an alcohol abuse problem will make it much harder for you to qualify to receive donated organs.
As well as your health, alcohol addiction can have adverse effects upon other areas of your life. It often damages your relationship with your partner, family, children, and friends. It may affect your performance at work, and could even result in you losing your job. You may find yourself less interested in hobbies, and drinking could become your only source of enjoyment. Developing alcoholism can be the start of a downward spiral that destroys your entire life.
Can I get Alcohol Addiction Treatment?
If you feel that you have a problem with alcohol abuse, help is at hand. It is much easier to kick your habit and stay sober with the support of others than it is to try on your own. Steps to Recovery provide a range of alcohol therapy treatment plans to enable you face up to your drinking and address the problem. With our caring and specially trained staff, and fully equipped treatment facilities, we offer everything possible to give you the best chance of getting sober. We can offer inpatient and outpatient treatment, depending upon which solution works best for you, and any other life commitments you may have, so that you can get sober and get your life back on track with the support and guidance from trained professionals, other people in the same position as you, and the people who mean the most to you.