Drinking a glass of wine or beer at the end of the day is a very common way for people to unwind and alcohol is also broadly associated with social settings and having a good time. For that reason, it can be difficult for people to determine when they’ve crossed the line to alcohol use disorder or AUD.
For women, drinking in moderation means consuming no more than one drink a day and for men, no more than two. One drink is equal to:
- 5 ounces of wine
- 12 ounces of beer
- 5 ounces of liquor (such as rum, whiskey or tequila)
However, there is much more to alcohol abuse than how much a person drinks. The warning signs of AUD are more likely to become noticeable in a person’s habits and behavior.
What Is Alcohol Use Disorder?
AUD is a significant, and often chronic, medical condition that has a direct impact on an individual’s brain. Around 16 million adults in America currently suffer from some degree of alcohol abuse. Sometimes, a genetic propensity for AUD may be passed down through the generations, whereas others may develop the illness as a result of environmental or psychological makeup.
The signs and symptoms that someone may be suffering from AUD include:
- A need to drink rather than a desire to
- Loss of control over the volume of drink consumed
- Anxiety, depression and general negativity
People can suffer from AUD in varying degrees of severity depending on their behavioral patterns with alcohol. An individual is much more likely to have alcohol use disorder if they can say one or more of the following is true:
- They can’t relax or sleep without alcohol
- They need alcohol in the morning to kick start the day
- They use alcohol as a prop in social situations
- Alcohol serves to lessen negative feelings
- They combine alcohol with medications
- They drink even when pregnant or have small children
- They are deceptive when confronted on their drinking
- They may suffer from extreme mood swings
- They will find it difficult to remember their behavior while drinking
- Their responsibilities have suffered because of their drinking
- Drinking has caused them legal problems
- They have tried to stop drinking and failed
- They are continually preoccupied with alcohol
- To get the desired effects, progressively more alcohol is needed
- Withdrawal symptoms emerge after drinking including shaking hands, nausea, insomnia or seizures
The more of the above points that apply to a person’s situation, the more severe their AUD is likely to be.
The Effects of AUD
Even when a person has mild AUD, it can seriously impact their physical and mental health. Often the illness causes other problems which can lead to someone drinking more to avoid those issues, creating a negative cycle that is very difficult to break.
In the short-term, alcohol abuse can cause the following effects:
- Memory loss and blackouts
- Hangovers and nausea
Long-term effects include:
- Problems with the stomach
- Heart conditions
- Brain damage
- Permanent memory loss
- Heightened blood pressure
- Cirrhosis of the liver
Another symptom of AUD is that individuals suffering from the illness are much more likely to indulge in risky behaviors. This increases their chances of being injured or worse from the following:
- Vehicle accidents
- Suicide or homicide
- Drowning or falling
AUD is an illness that doesn’t stop with the individual suffering from it. The negative behaviors involved also affect those close to sufferers, making it an illness that requires a combined effort to overcome.
Overcoming Alcohol Use Disorder in Alcohol Abuse Rehab Centers
No matter how severe a person’s AUD is, there is a treatment program available that can lead them into a successful recovery. Just as the journey into alcohol dependence is intensely personal, so is the treatment path a rehab center devises for individual patients. Although challenging, alcohol abuse rehab can offer healing to both the AUD sufferer and their wider family and friends. Individual, group and family therapy is an important component of specialist alcohol treatment and can provide a vital mechanism to heal families that have been torn apart by the illness.
Holistic therapies such as yoga, nutrition education, adventure therapy and physical fitness are invaluable in equipping patients in alcohol abuse rehab centers with the tools they need to cope with their illness in recovery. People learn a lot about themselves in alcohol abuse rehab through self-exploration and discovery, particularly through holistic practices. Naturally, it is necessary for them to make fundamental changes in their lives to ensure they live a long and healthy life in sobriety and holistic alcohol abuse rehab goes a long way to making this possible.
It is important for someone with AUD to remember that they are not alone. Many sufferers become withdrawn and isolated from those close to them, often for fear of being misunderstood or judged. Specialist alcohol abuse rehab centers offer a bridge between someone with AUD and their loved ones so that everyone receives the counseling they need to overcome the illness. Despite the intensely destructive nature of AUD, there is always light at the end of the tunnel and reaching out for treatment is the first step towards a happy and healthy future for everyone involved.