Alcoholism ( Drinking Habits ): Causes, Symptoms, Risk Factors, and Treatment
Alcoholism has been known by a variety of terms, including alcohol abuse and alcohol dependence. Today, it’s referred to as alcohol use disorder.
It occurs when you drink so much that your body eventually becomes dependent on or addicted to alcohol. When this happens, alcohol becomes the most important thing in your life.
People with alcohol use disorder will continue to drink even when drinking causes negative consequences, like losing a job or destroying relationships with people they love. They may know that their alcohol use negatively affects their lives, but it’s often not enough to make them stop drinking.
Some people may drink alcohol to the point that it causes problems, but they’re not physically dependent on alcohol. This used to be referred to as alcohol abuse.
What are the symptoms of alcohol use, abuse, and alcoholism?
A high concentration of alcohol in the blood causes symptoms, such as:
slowing of reflexes.
a decreased ability to control bodily movements.
gaps in memory, or brownouts.
poor decision-making abilities.
staying conscious but not having a memory of your actions, which is called a blackout.
Very high concentrations of alcohol in the blood can cause breathing problems, coma, or death.
Many people use alcohol with no ill effects. But anyone can experience its effects, such as illness, vomiting, or hangovers.
Drinking alcohol can also lead to:
You shouldn’t attempt to drive or operate heavy machinery while under the effects of alcohol.
The symptoms of alcoholism include:
a strong desire or craving to drink.
an inability to control cravings.
an inability to stop drinking.
increased tolerance for alcohol
lying about drinking.
attempting to drink without others knowing.
an inability to get through everyday activities without drinking.
The symptoms of alcohol abuse include:
drinking to relax.
driving under the influence of alcohol.
problems with family and friends because of drinking.
having legal problems because of alcohol.
People who abuse alcohol may deny a problem, but there are ways to recognize alcohol abuse in others. People who abuse alcohol may drink often and experience family, work, or school problems because of drinking. However, they may downplay their drinking or lie about the amount of alcohol they consume.
Causes of Drinking Habits :
Steady drinking over time. Drinking too much on a regular basis for an extended period or binge drinking on a regular basis can lead to alcohol-related problems or alcohol use disorder.
Starting at an early age. People who begin drinking — especially binge drinking — at an early age are at a higher risk of alcohol use disorder.
Family history. The risk of alcohol use disorder is higher for people who have a parent or other close relative who has problems with alcohol. This may be influenced by genetic factors.
Depression and other mental health problems. It’s common for people with mental health disorders such as anxiety, depression, schizophrenia or bipolar disorder to have problems with alcohol or other substances.
History of trauma. People with a history of emotional or other trauma are at increased risk of alcohol use disorder.
Having bariatric surgery. Some research studies indicate that having bariatric surgery may increase the risk of developing an alcohol use disorder or of relapsing after recovering from an alcohol use disorder.
Social and cultural factors. Having friends or a close partner who drinks regularly could increase your risk of alcohol use disorder. The glamorous way that drinking is sometimes portrayed in the media also may send the message that it’s OK to drink too much. For young people, the influence of parents, peers, and other role models can impact risk.
The following are recognized treatment options for alcoholism:
Do-it-yourself: Some people with an alcohol problem manage to reduce their drinking or abstain without seeking professional help. Free information is available on websites, and self-help books can be purchased online.
Counseling: A qualified counselor can help the person share their problems and then devise a plan to tackle the drinking. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is commonly used to treat alcohol dependency.
Treating underlying problems: There may be problems with self-esteem, stress, anxiety, depression, or other aspects of mental health. It is important to treat these problems, too, as they can increase the risks posed by alcohol. Common alcohol-related issues, such as hypertension
Residential programs: These can offer expert professional help, individual or group therapy, support groups, training, family involvement, activity therapy, and a host of strategies for treating alcohol abuse. Being physically away from access to temptation is helpful for some people.
A drug that provokes a severe reaction to alcohol: Antabuse (disulfiram) causes a severe reaction when somebody drinks alcohol, including nausea, flushing, vomiting, and headaches
Drugs for cravings: Naltrexone (ReVia) may help reduce the urge to have a drink. Acamprosate (Campral) may help with cravings.
Detoxification: Medications can help prevent withdrawal symptoms (delirium tremens, or DTs) that can occur after quitting. Treatment usually lasts 4 to 7 days. Chlordiazepoxide, a benzodiazepine medication, is frequently used for detoxification (detox).
Alcoholics Anonymous: Alcoholics Anonymous is an international fellowship of men and women who have faced problems with alcohol. It is nonprofessional, self-supporting, multiracial, apolitical, and available almost everywhere. There are no age or education requirements. Membership is open to anyone who wants to stop drinking.