Alcohol addiction is a struggle called by many names. Alcoholism, alcohol, and alcohol use disorder are all used to describe the result of dependency or addiction to alcohol. Today, alcohol use disorder is the term used within the medical and mental health communities. Someone with an alcohol use disorder will continue to seek and use alcohol despite knowing the harmful consequences ongoing alcohol abuse has on their lives. Alcohol use disorders can lead to lost relationships, loss of employment, significant physical difficulties, and new or worsening mental health symptoms. Alcohol use disorder is a disease that, without the support and guidance of the staff at a professional addiction treatment center, will inevitably get worse.
What Causes Alcoholism?
Despite decades of research, the exact cause of alcoholism or alcohol use disorder is unknown. However, several known risk factors may increase your risk of developing an alcohol use disorder. Known risk factors include a parent with a diagnosed alcohol use disorder, binge drinking (more than five drinks per day) at least once per week, drinking more than 12 drinks per week for women and 15 drinks for men, or having a diagnosed mental health condition such as depression or anxiety.
In addition to the above known risk factors, several factors may put you at a greater risk of developing an alcohol use disorder. These include elevated stress levels (ongoing), low self-esteem, having a close relative with an alcohol use disorder, cultural expectations surrounding drinking, or increased peer pressure for young adults.
What Are the Signs of Alcoholism?
The warning signs of alcoholism often present as physical symptoms and behavioral changes. Some common examples include:
- Using alcohol as a coping mechanism to alleviate stress or other physical symptoms.
- Not being able to limit your alcohol consumption.
- Drinking alone or making excuses to drink.
- New or worsening difficulties at home, work, or within your social circles.
- Becoming angry, violent, or aggressive when asked about drinking or drinking habits.
- Needing to consume more and more alcohol to feel the effects that one drink used to provide (tolerance).
- Neglecting personal hygiene or appearance.
- Feeling acute withdrawal symptoms if you do not drink. Some examples of these may include nausea, sweating, or shaking (DT’s).
- Giving up or avoiding social or family obligations in favor of drinking or because you are trying to hide your drinking.
There are indeed many other warning signs of alcoholism. Most importantly, when getting and consuming alcohol takes precedence over anything and everything else, it is vital to seek treatment to help overcome alcohol addiction in a safe and supported environment.
Does Craving Alcohol Make You an Alcoholic?
The term craving is a word used to describe a range of thoughts, emotions, and feelings. There are many reasons people crave alcohol, including stress, peer activities, and happy moments like an anniversary dinner. Not all alcohol cravings signify an alcohol use disorder; however, if cravings become so overwhelming, they begin to interfere with your day-to-day life, it may be time to consider seeking treatment.
How to Get Help with a Drinking Problem
The first step towards sobriety and recovery from an alcohol use disorder is acknowledging you have a drinking problem. The next step is to contact a treatment center like Cal Recovery, where you can receive the necessary support (including medically assisted detox) to help you overcome alcohol addiction. Although it is possible to get sober “cold turkey,” it is highly suggested that you seek help from a facility that can help monitor the detox process. Alcohol detox can produce intense, sometimes life-threatening symptoms, making it difficult to go through detox on your own—unfortunately, many who try relapse eventually. Addiction treatment programs can provide essential medical support during the early recovery stages.
If you or a loved one are ready to overcome an alcohol addiction, contact the admissions team at Cal Recovery today to learn more about our alcohol addiction treatment programs.