What is Alcohol Abuse?
Enjoying a glass of wine or beer after a long, tiring day is common amongst many people around the world. However, when someone consumes too much alcohol on a regular basis or has problems in controlling alcohol consumption, it might hint at alcohol abuse/alcoholism. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one or fewer drinks per day for women and two or fewer drinks per day for men falls within moderate drinking and anything more than this on a regular basis can be a sign of a larger issue. It can also be perceived in this way: if a woman consumes more than seven drinks per week, it is considered “heavy” or “at risk” drinking. For men, this usually is more than 14 drinks per week.
Consuming too much alcohol puts a strain on your health and personal/professional relationships. In addition to this, it can lead to a physical dependency on alcohol, which makes it very difficult for you to function normally. Alcohol abuse can also lead to possible alcohol poisoning, which is why you should always be moderate in alcohol consumption.
Alcohol Abuse Facts
Following are some facts on alcohol abuse to enlighten you on the extent of the issue and its implications:
- According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), around 88,000 people die annually in the U.S. alone due to alcohol related causes, including car crashes, alcohol poisoning, suicides and homicides. This makes alcohol abuse the third leading cause of preventable death in the U.S. Apart from this, excessive consumption of alcohol also increases your chances of developing diseases such as mouth cancer, esophagus cancer and stomach cancer.
- Binge drinking can be very dangerous. Binge drinking is the act of drinking excessively within a short period of time and is seen most commonly amongst the 18-22 age groups. As alcohol depresses breathing, consuming four to five or more drinks within two hours can simply make you stop breathing. Apart from alcohol poisoning, binge drinking can also pose other health complications such as seizures, dehydration, nausea/vomiting (which could lead to choking) and unconsciousness.
- It has been identified that women absorb more alcohol and metabolize it slower than men, as their stomach enzymes, hormones and water concentration in the body is different than that of men. Therefore, women are at a higher risk of developing long-term damage from alcohol.
- The tendency to develop alcohol abuse or alcohol use disorder is partially genetic. Most experts have suggested that an individual is likely to develop alcohol abuse or alcohol use disorder if his/her parents have had a history of alcohol abuse and if the individual was raised in such an environment. The balance between these two factors is 50/50 and it also determines the way in which the individual is more likely to respond to treatments.
- Our brains are wired in a way to physically change according to our environment so that we perform in the best way possible. Therefore, when you consume alcohol frequently, your brain may assume this as a new environment and change your nerve cells and connections accordingly to help you perform better when alcohol is in your body. This, in turn, could lead to alcohol dependency.
- It has been analyzed that around 17% of men and 18% of women will be dependent on alcohol throughout their lifetime.
- Even though you finally come to realize that alcohol is not doing you any good and you decide to quit drinking it, withdrawing from it after years of indulgence can still be dangerous. In certain instances, your changed brain cells will get agitated and will push you towards a condition called delirium tremens (DTs). DTs are a medical emergency and you should get to the hospital right away if you experience it after alcohol withdrawal.
Definition of Alcohol Abuse
The medical definition of alcohol abuse given by William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR is “The consumption of alcoholic beverages in excess, either as a regular practice or binge drinking.” However, for some individuals, such as pregnant women and children, any amount of alcohol consumption is alcohol abuse and hence, should be avoided at all times.
What is considered alcohol abuse?
A person who has issues with alcohol abuse may not necessarily be addicted to alcohol. However, a person who has issues with alcohol abuse is more likely to develop alcoholism and a person who is referred to as an “alcoholic” has the most severe case of Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD). These two terms are often used interchangeably, but do not mean the same thing.
The two main types of alcohol consumption that can be considered as alcohol abuse are binge drinking and heavy alcohol use. As mentioned earlier, binge drinking is a pattern of alcohol consumption that can lead to alcohol poisoning. Heavy alcohol use, on the other hand, is the pattern of binge drinking on five or more days during a month. Both of these patterns of alcohol consumption can be considered as alcohol abuse and in many cases, can end in fatality.
If you or your loved ones are struggling with alcohol abuse, there is hope for you today. Contact us for more details on overcoming alcohol abuse and gaining your life back.
Headquartered in New Jersey, Pinnacle Treatment Centers is a recognized leader in comprehensive drug and alcohol addiction treatment serving more than 28,000 patients daily in California, Indiana, Kentucky, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. With more than 110 community-based locations, Pinnacle provides a full continuum of quality care for adult men and women which includes medically-monitored detoxification/withdrawal management, inpatient/residential treatment, partial hospitalization/care, sober living, intensive and general outpatient programming, and medication-assisted treatment (MAT) for opioid use disorder. For more information, visit pinnacletreatment.com or call 800-782-1520.
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