Alcohol is a major part of the American society. Citizens can barely take a step without getting exposed to some form of alcohol. It is everywhere in our country. Most individuals drink occasionally or a bit more often than they should without consequence, but there are thousands (possibly millions) of individuals who are problem drinkers. There are all kinds of different alcoholics and problem drinkers. Many alcoholics are functioning addicts, who are able to control their drinking just enough to get by without severe interruptions with their lives. It is important to understand what alcohol addiction, alcohol abuse, problem drinking, and alcoholism are.

What are Alcohol Abuse, Dependence, and Problem Drinking?

Alcohol abuse is the practice of drinking alcohol too often or in large quantities. It is understood, from various sources, that a glass of wine with dinner a night is good for the body. Several other sources claim that drinking a beer or two a night or every other night is helpful to the mind and body. What is not good for an individual is to drink a six pack every night or down a bottle of wine with dinner. Drinking too often and in excess is dangerous and is alcohol abuse. Problem drinking is any form of alcohol consumption that can cause danger. The most common form of problem drinking is under-aged drinking and binge drinking. This country has created an atmosphere that is conducive to under-age drinking. Most individuals drink alcohol before the age of 21. In fact, a survey conducted in 2012 claims that 87.6% of people eighteen or older stated that they had consumed alcohol in their lifetime. Of those surveyed, 71% of reportedly stated that they had drank alcohol within the past year and 56.3% reported that they drank within the past month. Binge drinking is the consumption of alcohol in high quantities a few times a week. Weekend warriors, those individuals that only drink on the weekends, but drink past inebriation are problem drinkers. Binge drinking is incredibly dangerous.

How Someone Becomes Addicted

As previously stated, alcohol plays a pivotal role in our society; therefore, most use and abuse it. Alcohol abuse is a steady process that begins with a few drinks at a celebration, at the end of the day, or with a meal. The slow increase in frequency of its consumption leads to a higher tolerance of alcohol, which will result in the increase in the amount, drank. A hangover will occur when the body has too much alcohol in its system. An individual that does not want to deal with the headache sweats, shaking, and dizziness of it will drink more. The process of continuous drinking leads to addiction, the need to continue using despite the physical, mental, and social consequences. Drinking becomes a problem when it is used as a form of medication. Individuals who drink to take the edge off after work or an argument are in trouble of developing addictions. Drinking to ease pain, suffering, depression, or any other problem is a slippery slope.

Signs and Symptoms

-Neglecting personal and professional responsibilities. Anyone who drinks to the point where they forget to pick up the kids, pay bills, finish work, or see a decline in school work are problem drinkers. These individuals are riding down a path towards alcoholism.

-Drinking in physically dangerous situations. Anyone who consumes alcohol in situations that require caution and a clear mind have a problem.

-Drinking to relieve stress. As previously stated, drinking alcohol to forget about the past or deal with a lingering issue is dangerous. Dual diagnosis treatment is required for individuals who mask their lingering mental illnesses or disorders with alcohol.

-Legal trouble due to drinking. The best sign, and often the last, for individuals abusing alcohol is legal trouble. When someone begins getting into trouble with the law as a result of their problem drinking they have a problem. It is usually a driving while intoxicated arrest that get some problem drinkers to turn a corner in their lives.

Physical

-Cuts, bruises, bumps, etc…The physical problems that result from alcoholism normally come from the lack of coordination that accompanies inebriation.

-Tolerance is a clear sign of problem drinking. Anyone that can ‘hold their liquor’ is someone who drinks too much. If it takes more for a person to get a ‘buzz’ than others, then they have a problem.

-Withdrawal is the last physical sign of problem drinking. Most people are familiar with the hangover: the day after drinking too much and having a splitting headache and stomach pains. Individuals suffering from alcoholism will experience sweating, shaking, and even convulsions.

So, How Much Drinking is Too Much?

Alcohol has a place in most people’s lives and in many family and cultural activities. It can be difficult to detect when you are consuming too much alcohol. If you believe your drinking is putting you at risk, then you should speak to a medical professional. A general rule of thumb is that for a woman drinking more than three drinks a night or more than seven a week is drinking too much. For men, four drinks a night or fourteen drinks a week is too many. The body can approximately metabolize one alcoholic beverage an hour; that is a can of beer, glass of wine, or one mixed drink. Drinking more than that, in that given time limit, can lead to inebriation and related injury.

Signs and Feelings of Alcohol Abuse

There are several other situations to look for when discovering if you or someone you know is abusing alcohol. Anyone who begins drinking early in the morning could easily be suffering from alcohol abuse. Long periods of drunkenness are clear signs of alcohol abuse. Anyone who drinks alone can also be experiencing problem drinking. Individuals who switch alcoholic beverages in order to ’get there quicker’ is abusing alcohol. Feeling guilty for drinking is also a sign of alcohol abuse. Anyone who makes an excuse for drinking or doing anything to hide their drinking has a problem. Blacking out from drinking is a crystal clear sign of problem drinking. These are all possible actions or events that alcoholics experience and create.

Treating Alcohol Abuse

If you or anyone you know is suffering from alcohol abuse it is imperative to get help. Alcohol is incredibly dangerous for the body; long-term abuse can cause long-term damages. Helping someone get help for alcoholism can be difficult, but it is not impossible. It is essential that you do not enable the alcoholic’s behavior. They must suffer the consequences of their behavior; it is the only way they will realize they have a problem. Speaking with them openly and honestly is the best thing to do, but make sure they are not intoxicated at that moment. If that does not work, then conducting an intervention is a great idea. Here their loved ones can share the damages their alcoholism is causing. The best strategy is to get as educated as possible, take care of yourself and the rest of the family, and stay persistent. There are thousands of individuals and treatment options available across the country; all it takes is one phone call to start getting help.