Defining Alcohol Abuse: What You Need To Know

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Defining Alcohol Abuse: What You Need To Know

Alcohol abuse indicates a problem with drinking. Certain signs and symptoms can help you figure out if your drinking is problematic or if you need support.

Do you often reach for an alcoholic drink during your day-to-day life? Maybe a significant amount of your time and energy is occupied by the idea of a drink?

These kinds of behaviors could indicate problematic drinking or alcohol abuse. But how do you know if you or your loved one is simply enjoying a drink or abusing alcohol?

What Is Alcohol Abuse?

Knowing the signs and symptoms of alcohol abuse can help you understand if drinking is a problem for you. Nonetheless, simply wondering if you have a drinking problem may indicate that you have one.

You’re likely questioning your drinking because it has started to cause problems in your life. If your drinking also causes harm or distress to yourself or others, you may have an alcohol use disorder.

Alcohol Abuse Vs. Alcohol Use Disorder

In the past, mental health and addiction professionals made a distinction between alcohol abuse and alcohol addiction, also known as alcoholism.

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Abuse indicated that the person was able to control their drinking to some degree while an addiction indicated a lack of control. Abuse was seen as a risk factor for addiction.

More recently, the official diagnosis became alcohol use disorder instead of distinguishing between abuse and addiction.

Alcohol use disorder includes both abuse and addiction within the diagnosis, and is now categorized on a scale of severity instead of being seen as two separate conditions.

In essence, abuse would now be seen as a mild or moderate alcohol use disorder while addiction would be classified as a moderate or severe alcohol use disorder. They are simply different severity levels of the same problem and share the same signs and symptoms.

Signs Of Alcohol Abuse/Alcohol Use Disorder

The criteria for diagnosing an alcohol abuse problem coincide with the signs and symptoms of alcohol use disorder. You only need to fit two of 11 criteria to be diagnosed, and then the number you meet determines the severity.

Let’s take a look at the signs that indicate an alcohol use disorder:

  • You have trouble cutting back or stopping drinking
  • You drink more alcohol or drink for longer than you mean to
  • You have cravings that make you want to drink
  • You put a lot of your time into drinking or getting over the effects of alcohol
  • You spend less time on activities you used to engage in
  • Drinking is causing problems in your life, such as health, work, or family troubles
  • You continue to drink despite knowing it’s causing problems for you
  • You engage in risky behaviors when you drink
  • You need to drink more than you used to in order to feel the same effects
  • You go through symptoms of withdrawal when you stop drinking for a while, such as irritability, anxiety or sweating
  • You keep drinking despite it worsening mental or physical problems

If you nodded to at least two of these factors, you may have an alcohol use disorder. If the signs and symptoms of alcohol use disorder make you think of yourself or a loved one, know that you’re not alone.

Alcohol Abuse Statistics

Over 50 percent of adults in the United States have had at least one drink in the past month.

Other facts regarding alcohol abuse include:

  • Over 25 percent of adults engaged in binge drinking in the past month
  • Almost 7 percent of adults drink heavily each month
  • Over 14 million adults struggled with alcohol use disorder in 2017
  • Only about six percent of those who struggled sought treatment
  • It’s estimated over 88,000 people die from alcohol-related causes each year

Support For Alcohol Abuse

If you struggle with alcohol abuse or addiction, treatment can help. Treatment programs provide professional guidance, peer support, and other tools that help guide your recovery.

The Bluffs offers a range of treatment types in Sherrodsville, Ohio that we tailor to your needs. Find out how we can help by contacting us today.

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