At Rio Vista Behavioral Health, we believe that learning about the signs, symptoms, and possible effects of alcohol addiction can be an important first step on the road to recovery. If you or someone you care about has been struggling with alcohol addiction, this information can help you get the care that you need.
Learn about alcoholism
Alcohol is prevalent in modern American society, and in many nations throughout the world. Many people who drink alcohol are able to do so safely, in moderation, and with no lasting negative effects. However, for many others, alcohol use leads to abuse, which progresses to addiction.
The clinical term for alcohol addiction is alcohol use disorder. This disease is also referred to as alcohol dependence or simply alcoholism. Regardless of which term you use, alcohol addiction is an extremely dangerous disorder. Symptoms include an inability to control the amount and frequency of your drinking, needing greater amounts of alcohol to achieve the desired effect, and the onset of painful withdrawal effects when you try to stop.
The good news is that alcohol addiction is a treatable disorder. When you get help, you can learn to manage your symptoms and pursue a healthy future, free from alcohol addiction.
Statistics about alcohol abuse and addiction
The following statistics about alcohol abuse and addiction in the United States are from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA):
- A 2015 study revealed that about 15.1 million adults (or about 6.2% of the population age 18 and above) meet the criteria for alcohol use disorder, which is the clinical term for alcoholism.
- Alcohol addiction is twice as common among adult men (8.4% of the population) as among adult women (4.2% of the population).
- Alcohol abuse is a factor in about 88,000 deaths every year.
- Alcohol abuse by young people (ages 12-20) accounts for about 11% of the nation’s alcohol consumption.
- One-third of high school seniors told researchers they consumed alcohol at least once in the past 30 days.
Potential causes of alcohol dependence
The likelihood that you will become addicted to alcohol can be influenced by a wide range of factors, including the following:
- Having a sibling or parent who has a history of alcohol addiction
- Personal or family history of mental illness
- Prior struggles with another form of addiction
- Being exposed to alcohol abuse at a young age
- Having a personal history of trauma
- Associating with individuals who regularly abuse alcohol
- Experiencing significant stress
- Certain personality traits, such as impulsivity
Symptoms of alcohol addiction
People who struggle with alcohol addiction may experience a wide range of symptoms, and can exhibit a variety of signs. The following are among the more common indicators that someone has become dependent upon alcohol:
- Cannot get through the day without consuming alcohol
- Lying or being otherwise misleading about the frequency or amount of drinking
- Consuming alcohol when it is obviously dangerous to do so (such as when taking medication, or prior to operating an automobile)
- Feeling the need to use alcohol to deal with stress or experience joy
- Continuing to drink even after experiencing negative effects related to prior alcohol use
- Missing work or school due to alcohol use
- Making alcohol a priority over relationships or responsibilities
- Trying but failing to quit drinking
- Slurred speech
- Impaired balance or coordination
- Needing to drink more in order to experience the desired effect
- Watery, glassy eyes
- Bumpy, reddened, or swollen skin on face
- Weight gain
- Mood swings
- Memory problems
The negative impact of alcohol abuse and addiction
If you fail to get effective treatment for alcohol addiction, you put yourself at increased risk for a wide variety of negative outcomes. The following are common effects of chronic alcohol abuse and untreated addiction:
- Damage to kidneys and liver
- Brain damage
- Increased risk for certain types of cancer
- Health problems due to malnutrition
- Physical injuries due to actions while under the influence of alcohol
- Onset or worsening of mental health disorders
- Strained or ruined relationships
- Family discord
- Poor performance in school or at work
- Academic failure
- Job loss
- Chronic unemployment
- Financial difficulties
- Arrest, incarceration, and other legal problems
- Withdrawal from family and friends
- Social isolation
- Suicidal thoughts
These outcomes are not inevitable. When you enter an effective alcohol addiction treatment program, you protect yourself from continued harm. You also have the opportunity to begin to heal from past damage. When you get the help you need, you can overcome the urge to use alcohol. You can achieve lifelong recovery from alcohol addiction.
Common co-occurring disorders among people who become addicted to alcohol
People who become addicted to alcohol are also at increased risk for certain mental health disorders, including the following:
- Bipolar disorder
- Antisocial personality disorder
Withdrawing from alcohol, and the risk of overdose
Effects of withdrawal: If you become addicted to alcohol, and then try to stop drinking, you may experience a variety of distressing symptoms. Depending upon the severity of your alcohol addiction, withdrawal can even be dangerous to your health. The following are possible symptoms of alcohol withdrawal:
- Powerful cravings for alcohol
- Elevated pulse rate
- Tics, tremors, and muscle spasms
- Heavy sweating
Effects of overdose: Alcohol overdose can be extremely dangerous, and possibly fatal. Anyone who exhibits the following symptoms after consuming alcohol needs immediate medical attention:
- Loss of consciousness
- Low body temperature
- Slow or shallow breathing
- Diminished heart rate
- Cold or clammy skin
- Bluish coloration in vicinity of fingertips or lips
Reasons for getting comprehensive professional care for alcoholism
Alcohol addiction is a serious progressive disorder. Untreated alcoholism can endanger your physical, mental, and socioeconomic well-being. Without proper care, this disorder will not simply go away. But when you receive effective professional care at a reputable center such as Rio Vista Behavioral Health, your life can get much better.
At Rio Vista, you’ll work with a team of compassionate professionals who are focused on providing solutions that have been developed just for you. When you heal with us, you’ll complete a thorough assessment to ensure that we’ve identified and are prepared to treat all of the issues that have been impacting your life, and you’ll follow a personalized course of treatment that is based on your unique needs.
If your assessment reveals that you’re also dealing with one or more mental health disorders in addition to alcohol addiction, your personalized plan will feature proper care for dual diagnosis. If you have been incapable of ending your alcohol use long enough to start treatment, you can complete detox with us prior to entering our inpatient program.
When you choose Rio Vista, you take a significant step towards the healthier future that you desire and deserve.