Despite its legality in the United States, irresponsible alcohol use can very easily lead to alcoholism. When people cannot stop drinking alcohol they are experiencing an alcohol addiction. Alcoholism left untreated can become a life long struggle for those who develop a severe alcohol addiction.
Alcohol in its consumable beverage form is ethanol– made by fermenting grains, honey and fruit. Ethanol is a depressant and causes slurred speech, impaired motor skills, difficulty walking, ultimately altering brain chemistry. When people use alcohol they have a greater willingness to take risks and act on impulse. Most alcoholics drink to feel these effects of alcohol intoxication—they drink to get drunk.
Some types of alcoholic beverages include:
- Beer (4-6 percent alcohol)
- Liquor (15-60 percent alcohol)
- Wine (8-20 percent alcohol)
- Spirits –vodka, whiskey, tequila, rum and gin (50-60 percent alcohol)
- Alcoholic energy drinks (8-12 percent alcohol)
Abusing alcohol is consuming significant amounts of alcohol on a regular basis, which can lead to an alcohol addiction. Alcohol addiction or alcohol use disorder is a disease in which an individual uncontrollably uses alcohol and is unable to stop.
Some signs of alcohol abuse include:
- Harmful drinking resulting in mental and physical damage
- Excessive drinking despite the relative consequences drinking creates (legal and personal)
- Using alcohol to cope with psychological or emotional problems
Signs of alcoholism include:
- Inability to stop excessive drinking
- Dependence on alcohol
- Withdrawal symptoms when stopping use
- Building an increased tolerance for alcohol
There is a fine line between alcohol abuse and alcoholism. No matter which category someone struggling with alcohol falls into, help is available. Alcohol does not need to control your life. Education in alcoholism, recognizing your tendencies, and practicing coping skills are all a part of treatment plan that we provide at HEAL Behavioral Health.