When you think of drugs, what comes to mind? If you thought of heroin, cocaine, and other illegal street drugs, you’re not alone. However, legal drugs like alcohol can be just as dangerous – if not more dangerous – when they lead to long-term diseases like Alcohol Use Disorder.
Alcohol is 2nd in addiction rate in the United States behind only tobacco, another legal substance. Due to its availability in stores all around the country, many don’t think of alcohol as dangerous. Instead, drinking is socially accepted and even encouraged in some cases despite the dangers that alcohol addiction poses to your physical and mental health when taken irresponsibly.
If you find yourself or a loved one drinking too much at once, drinking too often, or revolving your life around drinking, you may be suffering from Alcohol Use Disorder.
What is Alcohol Use Disorder?
Most people have had a drink or two in their lives, and in moderation alcohol can pose minimal threat to your health (as long as you drink responsibly). However, when your drinking begins to affect your physical or emotional state, it becomes more than just a way to relax or a habit – it becomes a disorder.
Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) is characterized by a physical or mental addiction to alcohol that causes you to drink compulsively & in excess to the point of it impairing your life. In order to be diagnosed with AUD, you must meet 2 or more (with more meaning a greater severity of disorder) of the DSM-5 requirements provided by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA).
According to the NIAAA, approximately 16 million people (about 6.5% of the US) suffer from AUD – including more than 600,000 adolescents aged 12-17. However, many of those suffering from AUD don’t even know that they have a problem due to being unable to recognize the signs of the disorder.
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What Are the Signs of Alcohol Use Disorder?
As with many forms of addiction, those suffering from alcohol use disorder don’t often believe they have a problem. This is especially true for high-functioning alcohol abusers; after all, they still work, have friends, and have a place to live. How could they have a problem if they’re still so “normal”?
The truth is, many people only see drinking as a problem if you end up on the streets or with severe health complications from it. However, these are just the avoidable later stages of alcohol use disorder and not the only sign that someone is struggling with alcohol abuse.
If you notice the following signs in yourself or a loved one, consider getting help before it’s too late.
- Avoiding Social Engagement & Responsibility
- Drinking Until Drunk Semi-Daily
- Drinking Despite Financial Hardship
- Irritability, Anxiety, or Depression
- Drinking in Secrecy
- Strained Relationships
- Drinking to Cope with Chronic Stress
- Inability to Stop
- Withdrawal Symptoms like Shaking, Headaches, Seizures, Insomnia, Sweating, or Confusion
When to Seek Help for Alcohol Use Disorder
Perhaps the best indicator of the severity of your alcohol addiction is the loss of control over the quantity or frequency of drinking. The CDC defines a standard drink as 12 oz. of beer, 8 oz. of malt liquor, 5 oz. of wine, or 1.5 oz. of distilled spirits or liquors & recommends no more than 1-2 drinks per day to fall within “healthy” guidelines for use. When you suffer from AUD, even if you don’t necessarily want to drink, your brain can still give your body signals to crave alcohol, causing you to pass the safe limits without considering consequences.
Additionally, seek help if alcohol begins to seriously affect or even run your life. If you find yourself avoiding things that are important to you so that you can drink, that may signal a loss of control. It can also lead to dysfunctional relationships, hurting your personal life & social connections which leads to further isolation, depression, and more coping with alcohol. Addiction can create a vicious cycle, and until it is broken, the problems can continue to compound until you’ve done permanent physical or emotional damage. Fortunately, there is still hope.
Take Back Control with Alcohol Addiction Treatment California
The first step towards recovery is accepting that you have a problem, and the next is getting help. If you’ve realized that you or a loved one are struggling with alcohol abuse, you need help from the very best. With the expert addiction treatment services we offer at Ocean Hills Recovery, you can kick the bottle and get your life back on track. With 30, 60, and 90-day programs available in beautiful Dana Point, California, our comprehensive, effective, and relaxing rehabilitation services will help you to detox from alcohol, recover from the physical & mental effects of abuse, and learn proper coping skills to maintain your sobriety after you leave.
Alcohol Use Disorder is a serious problem, but one that can be solved before serious damage is done. Give us a call to get started today.
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About the author:
Nicole earned her doctoral degree in Psychology with an emphasis on marriage and family therapy at California School of Professional Psychology. Her doctoral thesis was a grounded theory study exploring the role of alienation and connectedness in the life course of addiction. She specializes in treating addiction and trauma. She is certified in DBT and EMDR, two of the most highly regarded evidence-based methods in psychotherapy. Dr. Doss is a strong LGBT advocate and provides open and affirming support to her LGBT clients.
Dr. Doss’s earlier education included graduating cum laude from the University of California, Irvine in June of 2007 with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology. While there, she received honors recognition by Psi Chi and Golden Key honor societies.
Nicole has been working with alcoholics and addicts in our California drug and alcohol rehab center as an advisor and counselor for many years. She is passionate about providing quality counseling and care to her clients. Her main focus is on integrating the 12 Step and disease models of addiction with experiential therapeutic theory. She is married to Greg; they have two adorable sons together and an energetic yellow Labrador Retriever.