Alcohol is one of the most commonly used substances across the country. For years, professionals referred to alcohol addiction as alcoholism, alcohol abuse, or alcohol dependence, but today it is typically referred to as alcohol use disorder (AUD).
How addiction to alcohol impacts your life, and the lives of others are numerous. Unfortunately, many people do not recognize when they have a problem with alcohol, which makes it difficult to seek treatment. Learning about AUD can help determine if you or a loved one should seek treatment.
What Is Alcohol Use Disorder?
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) defines AUD as a “medical condition characterized by an impaired ability to stop or control alcohol use despite adverse social, occupational, or health consequences.” According to a national survey, 14.1 million adults struggled with this chronic brain disorder in 2019.
The fact that alcohol consumption is so ingrained in American culture can be problematic in terms of the recognition and treatment of AUD. So many people cope with the stress of a long day by having or going out for a drink. When was the last time you went to a party, cookout, or even family gathering without the presence of alcohol? It is no wonder many people struggle with AUD when alcohol use is so prevalent. Alcohol can adversely affect the mind and body. As such, they are seeking treatment is essential.
Effects of AUD
There are many mental, physical, and emotional effects associated with alcohol abuse. Common effects include liver damage, cardiovascular disease, and memory loss. However, individuals struggling with AUD may also experience the following:
- A weakened immune system
- An increased risk of cancer
- Digestive problems
- Alcohol-inducted dementia
- Reduced mental health
These are just a few potential effects of excessive alcohol use. The longer you wait to get treatment, the more damages you can incur—and some are irreversible.
Ten Signs You Should Seek Treatment for AUD
- Recognize the Behaviors: Have you continued drinking longer than planned? Do you experience hangovers frequently? These behaviors can reveal potential AUD.
- Unsuccessful Attempts to Quit: If you have tried to cut down on your drinking or stop altogether but could not, you may be struggling with AUD. Once the body becomes addicted to alcohol, it reinforces the reward system within your body, increasing your daily need for it.
- Interference With Your Life: When you have AUD, you may experience interference in work or school performance and have issues in your personal life.
- Loss of Interests: With AUD, you typically neglect your hobbies and replace them with drinking.
- Engaging in Risky Behavior: You may engage in risky behavior, such as drunk driving, having unsafe sex, or experimenting with other substances when under the influence or experiencing cravings.
- The Onset of Co-occurring Disorders: There is a strong correlation between AUD and other mental health disorders. If you are struggling with AUD, you may be drinking to cope with symptoms of conditions like anxiety or depression. Additionally, you may begin experiencing symptoms of mental health disorders due to your drinking.
- Desire to Drink More: The first time you drink, you may feel the effects quicker and with less. However, if you struggle with alcohol use, chances are you need to drink more to experience the same results. This indicates you have built up a tolerance and may have severe alcohol dependence.
- Acting Different While Drinking: Alcohol lowers your inhibitions. As a result, you may become more relaxed when you drink or become overly agitated, angry, or even violent. As a result, individuals may make riskier decisions, black out frequently, and act in a way that opposes their morals and beliefs.
- Withdrawal Symptoms: A major red flag of AUD is if you are experiencing withdrawal symptoms from not drinking alcohol. According to MedlinePlus, you typically experience these symptoms within eight hours after your last drink. It is possible, however, to only begin experiencing them days after.
- Changes in Your Social Circle: The individuals you surround yourself with influence your decisions. This could be a concern if your friend group consistently goes out to drink or contains many individuals struggling with AUD.
If you resonate with any of these signs, consider seeking treatment for AUD immediately.
Treatment for AUD looks different for everyone. For you, it may consist of behavioral therapies—such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavior therapy (CBT), and motivational interviewing. Medications may also be necessary or at least helpful.
NorthStar Transitions has many options regarding AUD treatment. These options include:
- Residential detoxification services
- Partial hospitalization program (PHP)
- Intensive outpatient program (IOP)
By seeking treatment with us, you have the power to decide which program is the best fit for you and your needs. Additionally, upon leaving treatment, our alumni program can keep you connected and maintain recovery long-term.
Alcohol use disorder (AUD) is one of the most common mental illnesses across the country. Unfortunately, many people do not realize they have a problem with alcohol consumption. If left untreated, excessive alcohol use can lead to cancer, cardiovascular disease, or alcohol-induced dementia. AUD can wreak havoc on your mental health. That is why seeking treatment is so necessary. However, you must first be able to recognize the signs of AUD. These ten signs can help you determine whether or not you need help. Your options for treatment are vast, but you have to decide for yourself to pursue them. To seek treatment for your struggle with AUD, call (303) 558-6400 today.