What Is Considered Alcohol Abuse?
Alcohol abuse is a common condition with more than three million cases diagnosed in the U.S. every year. Treatment can help significantly, but the condition is chronic, so it cannot be cured. While alcohol abuse doesn’t mean there is a dependency on the alcohol, there is a still serious drinking problem.
There are identifiable symptoms that could indicate alcohol abuse, and the individual who abuses alcohol might find themselves in dangerous situations.
There are several effective treatment options for alcohol abuse. On the other hand, just because you drink, it doesn’t mean you suffer from alcohol abuse. Alcohol abuse is a pattern of drinking too much alcohol too frequently and it is a serious problem.
When Are You Abusing Alcohol?
If you find that you’re drinking too much and doing so too often, you are abusing alcohol. It can be drinking too much alcohol at once or too frequently throughout the week.
If you can’t stop drinking and your relationships are suffering, then you have a drinking problem. It can have an impact on your relationships, your career, and other aspects of your life.
Drinking too much can lead to a physical dependency on alcohol. Too much alcohol consumption at once can lead to alcohol poisoning, which can be fatal. Regularly abusing alcohol can lead to dependency and alcoholism.
What Classifies As Alcohol Abuse?
One alcoholic drink is defined as one 12-ounce bottle of beer, one five-ounce glass of wine, or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof spirits, such as tequila, moonshine, whiskey, or rum. When are you abusing alcohol?
- For women, it is drinking more than three drinks per occasion or seven drinks per week
- For men, it is drinking more than four drinks per occasion or 14 drinks per week
- For men and women older than 65, having more than three drinks per occasion or seven or more drinks weekly
Drinking this much alcohol can have many negative effects. It can be damaging to your health, relationships, work, and/or causes legal issues, such as public drunkenness or DUI charges.
Symptoms of Alcohol Abuse
There are many symptoms of alcohol abuse. If you have these symptoms, you should seek medical treatment. You might suffer from some or all these symptoms.
- You hide your alcohol or your drinking.
- You suffer from depression.
- Drinking makes you feel guilty.
- You cannot stop drinking after you’ve started.
- You have tried to stop drinking for a week or longer, but you can’t make it past a few days.
- You are unable to perform work duties or handle home duties because of
- You have a drink in the morning or early in the day going after having drunk too much the night before.
- You have physically injured yourself or someone else after having drunk too much. Violence or accidents could cause these injuries.
- You have memory lapses or blackouts after over drinking.
- You have gotten traffic tickets while under the influence.
- Your drinking is negatively affecting your relationships.
- You are suffering from tremors or shaking hands.
There are several health issues that can result from alcohol consumption. It can lead to a liver disease called cirrhosis. Alcohol is a leading cause of injuries and deaths because of accidents that result. If alcohol is consumed during pregnancy, it can damage the baby’s health. It can irritate the lining of your stomach and lead to bleeding ulcers.
There are many reasons that people abuse alcohol, including the desire to relax, social pressure, or as a coping mechanism for tension, loneliness, depression, anxiety, or unhappiness. Sometimes alcohol disorders run in the family history.
How Is Alcohol Abuse Diagnosed?
Often, those who are abusing alcohol will be told by family or friends that they have a problem. A physician will believe an individual is abusing alcohol when:
- There are legal problems because of repetitive alcohol consumption.
- Repeated alcohol use has harmed relationships.
- Repeated alcohol use has interfered with home, school and work responsibilities.
- Repeated alcohol use puts your and/or others in physical danger – drinking and driving, drinking during pregnancy, drinking while operating machinery, mixing medications with alcohol.
Can Alcohol Abuse Be Avoided or Prevented?
If your family history includes alcoholism or alcohol abuse, you might find resisting or limiting alcohol intake more challenging. There are ways to reduce alcohol consumption:
- When with friends, limit yourself to one drink
- Talk to your healthcare provider
- Seek treatment for any underlying mental health conditions
- Consider joining a support group for those facing the same challenge
- When drinking with friends, limit yourself to one drink
Your doctor might screen you for alcohol abuse. There are treatment options available.