Alcohol addiction is usually referred to as “alcoholism,” and people who struggle with this condition are commonly called “alcoholics.” Those who suffer from alcohol use disorder do not simply drink too much or drink routinely; they have a compulsion to consume alcohol, and they are unable to control how much they drink. Their brain chemistry changes and alcohol is needed to produce neurotransmitters like dopamine, and to reduce negative psychological experiences associated with stress. According to the National Institutes on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIH), there are about 17 million adults, ages 18 and older, in the United States with alcohol use disorder, and one in 10 children live in a home with a parent who has alcohol use disorder.
Casual Drinking in the United States is Normal
Drinking is considered pretty normal in the U.S. From college parties to weddings; it is popular and a part of a lot of social activities. But just like everything else, you should only enjoy it in moderation. Drinking too much can lead to health problems, dependency, and alcohol addiction. Even those casual drinkers can turn into alcoholics. When you think of an alcoholic you usually think of the stereotype: Homeless, stolen money to buy alcohol, or have gotten a DUI. You may have a family and a job so there is no way you could be an alcoholic but this is far from true.
Casual Drinking Often Turns Into Binge or Heavy Drinking
Alcoholism takes many forms, and the stereotype doesn’t always hold. So when does casual drinking become a full-blown alcohol addiction? How do you know if you are an alcoholic? Casual drinking is a few drinks with friends or a glass of wine with dinner so this is usually not an issue. The problem starts, though, when you begin abusing the substance. Alcohol abuse refers to a pattern of behavior where a person drinks excessively despite the negative consequences. There are two types of excessive drinking: Heavy Drinking: For men under age 65, heavy drinking means having two drinks a day, or more than 14 drinks in a week. For women and men over age 65, heavy drinking is more than one drink a day, or more than seven drinks in a week. Binge Drinking: Binge drinking refers to consuming a large amount of alcohol at one time. For men, it’s defined as five or more drinks within 2 hours. For women, it’s four or more drinks in that same time frame.
Warning Signs of Starting Alcoholism
If you’ve started drinking more and more and are worried you may have a problem, then it’s a good sign you’re at least realizing there may be a problem. Some warning signs can indicate you’re on the road to chronic alcoholism or already are an alcoholic can include:
- Drinking alone and in secrecy.
- Losing interest in other activities you once found enjoyable.
- Alcohol cravings.
- Making drinking a priority over responsibilities.
- Alcohol withdrawal symptoms.
- Extreme mood swings and irritability.
- Feelings of guilt associated with drinking.
- Having a drink first thing in the morning.
- Continuing to drink despite health, financial, and family problems.
- An inability to stop or control the amount of alcohol consumed.
Whether you’re the loved one of someone struggling with alcohol addiction, or you are struggling, it’s important to be aware of these signs and to know that you’re not alone. Thousands of people from all walks of life battle alcoholism every day and thousands decide to seek help.
Alcoholism Help at Evoke Wellness MA
At Evoke Wellness MA we can get you on the right track towards sobriety. Evoke Wellness Massachusetts provides men, women, and families with comprehensive, integrated care, geared towards setting a solid and lasting foundation for lifelong recovery from substance use disorders. Our facilities are staffed by experienced and compassionate professionals, including licensed therapists and psychiatrists, addiction specialists, and highly qualified support staff. Our team members are extremely understanding and treat each client with an unmatched level of respect. Evoke Wellness MA is fully accredited by the Joint Commission, which shows our dedication to offering the highest quality of addiction care for each person that steps through our doors.