AAccording to a 2017 survey conducted by the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions (NESARC), one in every 8 adults in the United States meets the clinical criteria for alcoholism. The study also indicates that the incidence of alcoholism increased by 49% over figures that held away during the first decade of the 21st century.
Are you among those one in every 8 adults? If you are wondering if your drinking has crossed the line between enjoying the occasional libation and wandered into dangerous territory, there are things about alcoholism that you should know. If you find anything that applies to you, now is the time to seek help.
Who is Considered an Alcoholic?
Sometimes referred to as suffering from alcohol use disorder, a person is considered an alcoholic when the emotional or physical desire to drink is so strong that it begins to interfere with other aspects of life. For an alcoholic, life begins to revolve around being able to take that next drink. It’s necessary to drink in order to get through the workday or to relax in the evenings. Social activity is not enjoyable unless there’s something to drink. The bottom line is that attempting to function to any degree requires calming the desire for alcohol with some type of drink.
What Type of Drug is Alcohol?
Alcohol is generally classed as a depressant. This confuses some people, since they sometimes drink in order to calm their nerves or to help them relax in situations they find difficult to manage. In fact, a certain amount of alcohol may act as a stimulant and make it easier to function in certain situations. When the individual exceeds the amount that the body can handle, the depressive aspects begin to appear.
What are The Symptoms of Alcoholism?
The Centers for Disease Control notes that approximately 88,000 deaths directly related to alcohol consumption occurred in the United States between 2006 and 2010. Not all alcoholics experience the same symptoms. This sometimes leads to a sense of false security, especially if the individual does not recognize their symptoms as being related to their craving for more alcohol. The result can be more damage to the body and an increase in risky behavior that leads to more deaths.
Changes in mood and emotional status are some of the more common symptoms. Extreme feelings of guilt, anxiety, unexplained euphoria, and fear of any number of things may develop. This often paves the way for behavioral changes that include aggression, withdrawal from relationships, extreme agitation for no apparent reason, and acting impulsively.
In terms of physical agitation, the alcoholic may experience shakiness when the desire to drink becomes stronger. Sweating, headaches, and even blackouts may occur while on a binge. Lethargy is also common for those who are unable to move away from alcohol.
Other symptoms that alcoholism is present can include slurred speech, a constantly upset stomach, nausea, frequent regurgitation, and a loss of appetite. It’s important to note that not all of these symptoms have to be present in order for one to be an alcoholic. Even the presence of a few is enough to indicate there’s an addiction that needs treatment.
How is Alcoholism Diagnosed?
While there are no specific tests that definitively determine the presence of alcohol user disorder, assessments conducted by medical professionals utilize data related to behavior, medical condition, emotional and cognitive function, and other factors to arrive at a diagnosis. The patterns identified by means of the assessment can determine if the patient is an alcoholic or at least on the way to becoming addicted. From there, it’s a matter of determining what sort of treatment will make a difference.
How Do I Know That I’m An Alcoholic?
The first sign that you may be an alcoholic has to do with whether you can get through the day without a drink. If you find it necessary to have a drink in order to prepare for work, get you through lunch, and then something to unwind on a daily basis, there’s a strong potential that you are addicted.
If your relationships with family and friends are adversely affected by your drinking, there is likely a problem present. When your performance at work slips noticeably, you could be an alcoholic.
Contacting the Phoenix Rehabilitation Center For Alcohol and Drug Addiction is a good way to determine if you are on the road to alcoholism or already an alcoholic. Visit the facility and undergo an assessment. Whatever your current state, they can provide suggestions on what to do next, up to and including enrolling in one of their programs.
What is Considered the Legal Limit for Alcohol?
All 50 states that compose the USA now recognize a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08% as being over the legal limit. This percentage applies to all individuals over the age of 21. That percentage may vary based on the type of employment involved. For example, truckers and drivers of other commercial vehicles are often considered over the limit if the BAC exceeds 0.04%.
In the past, some states allowed those who had reached the age of majority to drink beer. This was true in states where the majority age was 18. That changed with the passing of the National Minimum Drinking Age Act of 1984. At that point, the minimum legal drinking age was set at 21 in all states. That effectively established 0.08% BAC as the national legal limit across the board.
What is Alcoholic Hepatitis?
Alcohol abuse paves the way for a number of health issues. One that you may not have heard of is alcoholic hepatitis. This is a condition in which the fatty tissue in the liver is inflamed due to an extreme intake of alcohol. This particular type of liver inflammation is usually followed by fibrosis, which in turn is followed by cirrhosis of the liver.
Some of the common signs associated with alcoholic hepatitis include extreme fatigue, jaundice, and a form of abdominal swelling known as ascites. These are in addition to the symptoms usually associated with alcoholism.
What is Alcohol Withdrawal?
Alcohol withdrawal is one of the first steps toward learning to control alcoholism. The process involves refraining from drinking any more alcohol and dealing with the changes in the body that accompany that action. Generally, it’s not recommended for an alcoholic to attempt withdrawing without some type of medical support.
The symptoms of alcohol withdrawal are much like those associated with craving that next drink. Unfortunately, those symptoms tend to be more intense. Patients may experience body tremors, hallucinations, periods of confusion, extreme anger or sorrow, fevers, night sweats, insomnia, and nausea with or without vomiting.
Many people going through withdrawal experience increased heart rates as well as high blood pressure. While many of the symptoms will reach an apex after two or three days and begin to fade, others will remain for several weeks. That’s one of the reasons why medical care during withdrawal is so important.
What is a Dry Alcoholic?
A dry alcoholic or a dry drunk is a term used to describe a person who is addicted to alcohol but has not had a drink in a long time. Even so, the individual continues to exhibit many of the attitudes and behaviors that were common when drunk. That can include slurred speech, difficulty with balance, sudden mood swings, and general anxiety or depression.
Treatment for dry alcoholics is often found at many medical facilities around the country. It may even be included as one of the final stages of treatment for alcoholism offered before the patient leaves a facility and begins to pursue a life without alcohol.
Do you think that you might be an alcoholic? Now is the time to take action. Contact the Phoenix Rehabilitation Center For Alcohol and Drug Addiction and arrange for an assessment. If there is strong evidence that you are addicted, look into the programs they have to help people suffering with your condition. That decision could be the first step toward being in control once again and taking your life in a whole new direction.