Alcohol is one of the most commonly used and abused substances globally. In the past, alcohol addiction was called alcohol abuse, alcoholism, or alcohol dependence, all of which point to the same thing. Today, it is called alcohol use disorder, and it impacts the lives of the affected and those around them in different ways. Additionally, many people do not realize they have a problem until things have gone too far. Learning about this disorder can help you or a loved one seek treatment.
Understanding Alcohol Use Disorder
This disorder is described as a medical condition where the person has an impaired ability or inability to control or stop alcohol use despite health, occupational, and social consequences. According to various studies, over 14 million Americans struggle with alcohol use disorder (AUD) every year.
One of the main challenges in recognizing and treating this condition is that alcohol consumption is ingrained into American culture. From social and sporting events to coping with daily struggles, those past the legal drinking age have numerous opportunities and excuses to drink.
What are the Effects of UAD?
This condition has numerous physical, emotional, and mental effects. Those that people are most familiar with include memory loss, cardiovascular disease, and liver damage. Additional effects include:
- Declining mental health
- An increased risk of cancer
- A weak immune system
- Alcohol-related dementia
- Digestive problems
There are many other effects of UAD, but the underlying fact between all of them is that they get worse the longer the person waits to get treatment.
Getting Treatment for Alcohol Addiction
Overcoming alcohol addiction should always be supported by trained healthcare professionals in a treatment facility. Trying to do it at home can lead to serious consequences. For example, the person might experience terrible withdrawal symptoms during the detox phase so having support is always best.
Participating in recovery programs that include therapy behavior modification, individual counseling, and other activities is the best option for recovery.
Individuals should consider partial hospitalization for alcohol addiction. This is an outdoor patient program that offers intensive care and provides continuing support. The main advantage of this option is that it allows individuals to be with their loved ones in the evenings at home while they undergo treatment during the day.
For more intense and serious cases, those struggling with alcohol use disorder should also consider inpatient programs. These provide round-the-clock supervision and support and are best suited for those dealing with a serious addiction or one that has been going on for years.
When to Seek Treatment for AUD
While every person is different, several factors point to the need for treatment and help. The most common is an individual continuing to drink longer than they planned and experiencing hangovers frequently even when they do not drink.
Another is unsuccessful attempts to quit. An addiction reinforces the body’s reward system, leading to the person craving the addictive substance so they can get the reward.
People should also seek help if alcohol is interfering with their life. For example, their performance at school or work might fall if they have an alcohol problem.
Alcohol use disorder is an alarming issue in America and is becoming so in other countries. With the serious problems it can cause to one’s life and emotional, physical, and mental well-being, there is an urgent need for individuals struggling with this issue to get the help they need.