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Learn more about Alcohol Addiction

Understanding alcohol addiction

Alcohol has influenced the world for thousands of years. There are many different forms of alcoholic drinks. Tea, beer, wine, booze is among them.

The DSM-5 uses 11 criteria to diagnose AUD. They are listed here.

In the past year have you:

  1. Had times when you ended up drinking more or longer, than you intended?
  2. More than once wanted to cut down or stop drinking, or tried to, but couldn’t?
  3. Spent a lot of time drinking? Or being sick or getting over other aftereffects?
  4. Wanted a drink so badly you couldn’t think of anything else?
  5. Found that drinking—or being sick from drinking—often interfered with taking care of your home or family? Or caused job troubles? Or school problems?
  6. Continued to drink even though it was causing trouble with your family or friends?
  7. Given up or cut back on activities that were important or interesting to you, or gave you pleasure, in order to drink?
  8. More than once gotten into situations while or after drinking that increased your chances of getting hurt (such as driving, swimming, using machinery, walking in a dangerous area, or having unsafe sex)?
  9. Continued to drink even though it was making you feel depressed or anxious or adding to another health problem? Or after having had a memory blackout?
  10. Had to drink much more than you once did to get the effect you want? Or found that your usual number of drinks had much less effect than before?
  11. Found that when the effects of alcohol were wearing off, you had withdrawal symptoms, such as trouble sleeping, shakiness, restlessness, nausea, sweating, a racing heart, or a seizure? Or sensed things that were not there?

Under the DSM guidelines presenting with at least 2 of these criteria indicates an AUD. This is classified as mild. When it reaches 4 to 5 symptoms it is considered moderate.  6 or more is severe.

Damages of Alcohol Abuse and Addiction

The range of illnesses linked to alcohol is staggering. Its list contains a who’s who of infamous killers. Cancers, liver and kidney failure, and chronic heart disease are a sampling of the damage caused by alcohol abuse. Alcohol is metabolized through the liver. With overconsumption, the liver works overtime to process it and can become permanently scarred. This is called Cirrhosis and is very common among alcoholics.

The NIAA estimates that 16 million Americans have AUD. Its mark is felt on adolescents aged 12 to 17 as well, with over 600,000 youth suffering from the disease in 2015. Greatly exacerbating the issue, over 95 percent of sufferers of AUD never seek treatment, and in many cases do not have the slightest inkling that they are in fact dealing with a vicious disease.

Close to three million lives are lost annually from alcohol related causes worldwide. In the United States the death toll is at 90,000 and a leading cause of preventable death.

The financial and social costs are crippling. Many people addicted to alcohol lose their jobs, careers and financial security. They lose the respect of their loved ones and families. This contributes to a cycle of depression and low self-worth. As early as 2010 the cost to the U.S. economy was estimated at a staggering quarter trillion dollars. This number only rises as alcohol addiction grows.

Alcohol Addiction FAQs

What are some commonly abused alcoholic drinks?

  • Wine
  • Beer
  • Vodka
  • Hard liquors (Whiskey, bourbon, scotch etc.)
Why do people drink too much alcohol?

Environmental Factors

  • Socially accepted
  • Media influence
  • Widely available
  • Legal to consume

Physical and Emotional Factors

  • Genetics
  • Anxiety and stress
  • Depression
  • Escapism
What are common signs and symptoms of alcohol addiction?
  • Short term memory loss or blackouts
  • Drinking in secret
  • Drinking instead of fulfilling obligations
  • Consistently making excuses to drink
  • New patterns of social isolation
  • Mood swings
  • Increased tolerance (i.e. need more to get drunk)
What are some of the long-term health risks of alcohol addiction?
  • Heart disease
  • Impaired liver function and cirrhosis
  • Impotence
  • High blood pressure
  • Kidney failure
  • Pancreatitis
Learn more about Alcohol Addiction Treatment

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Brooke Abner,

Motivational Coach