Am I An Alcoholic Quiz
Alcohol addiction is the most common addiction in the world. Like all substance use disorders, alcohol use disorder affects people of all ages, races, and genders. It affects people of every nationality and socioeconomic status. It can rightly be considered an epidemic.
More than 140,000 people die annually from excessive alcohol use in the United States. 1 and 2 And about one out of every ten Americans over 12 suffer from Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD). 3 In 2019, an estimated 14 million adults over 18 could be diagnosed with alcohol use disorder. 4
Alcohol use, abuse, and addiction are complicated because this intoxicating and highly addictive substance is legally sold in most parts of the United States. It’s an acceptable and esteemed part of various social and professional interactions and even plays a role in certain religious ceremonies.
Because of its social acceptability, alcohol use can easily slide into misuse and addiction. A person may not even realize that they have a problem with alcohol, given how blurred and slippery the lines are between “social drinking” and “alcohol addiction.”
If someone is worried that they may drink too much, they might ask themselves, “Am I an alcoholic?” Or if it’s a friend or loved one they’re concerned about, they may be asking the same question about that person.
Luckily, there are ways to determine if a person’s drinking habit has drifted into an alcohol use disorder—i.e., a full-on alcohol addiction.
What Is Alcohol Use Disorder?
Alcohol use disorder (AUD) is the official psychiatric term used to describe conditions that may also be referred to as alcohol dependence, alcohol abuse, alcohol addiction, or alcoholism.
Alcohol Use Disorder is a physical and mental health condition whose primary symptom is an impaired ability to stop or control alcohol use regardless of its adverse social, occupational, or health consequences. 8 Alcohol use disorder manifests along a spectrum, which can be mild, moderate, or severe.
Signs & Symptoms of Alcoholism
There are physical, mental-emotional, and behavioral symptoms of alcohol addiction. The behavioral and psychological symptoms are often rooted in physiological changes as the addiction progresses.
Individuals suffering from alcohol use disorder are likely to experience unpleasant withdrawal symptoms when they’re not drinking. This indicates that their brain biochemistry has been altered in a way that now relies upon alcohol to function “normally.” This is the physiological mechanism that creates an intense craving for alcohol.
But physical cravings are just one of many warning signs and symptoms of alcohol addiction. The full range of symptoms of alcoholism to watch out for 7 include the following.
Behavioral Symptoms of Alcohol Use Disorder
Physical Symptoms of Alcohol Use Disorder
Mental-Emotional Symptoms of Alcohol Use Disorder
- Being unable to control how much alcohol one drinks
- Prioritizing drinking over your other responsibilities
- Only spending social time when alcohol is involved
- Spending large amounts of money on alcohol
- Drinking before important events or obligations
- Avoiding people who criticize their drinking
- Regularly showing up to work hungover
- Regularly drinking during the day
- Neglecting personal hygiene
- Drinking alone or secretly
- Eating poorly or not eating at all
- Missing work or school due to drinking
- Giving up important professional or social activities because of alcohol use
- Continuing to drink despite family, health, financial, or legal problems
- Being arrested for driving while under the influence of alcohol
- Losing interest in activities you once loved
- Drinking first thing in the morning
- Having intense cravings for alcohol
- Having a high and increasing tolerance for alcohol
- Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when not drinking, including nausea, vomiting, and shaking
- Blacking out or experiencing memory lapses after a night of drinking
- Having tremors (involuntary shaking) the morning after drinking
- Developing illnesses such as hepatitis, cirrhosis, or alcoholic ketoacidosis
- Extreme irritability and mood swings
- Drinking to escape negative thoughts
- Feeling guilt over one's drinking
- Making excuses to drink
- Getting overly defensive over drinking habits
- Becoming angry or violent when asked about one's drinking habits
- Having feelings of guilt or shame concerning drinking
- Feeling out of control regarding how much alcohol one drinks
- Struggling to be mentally and emotionally present during sentimental activities/events
Risks & Dangers of Alcohol Use Disorder
As mentioned above, alcohol use disorder can cause significant changes in brain biochemistry. These changes fuel the addictive pattern and can make people recovering from the addiction vulnerable to relapse.
Regardless of its difficulty, becoming free from alcohol addiction is well worth the effort. Ignoring the problem is never the wise choice—since doing so will just increase its many risks and dangers. The longer a drinking problem (e.g., binge drinking, self-medicating, functional alcoholism, or alcohol addiction) persists, the more likely it is that serious physical, social, and psychological problems will occur.
One of the gravest risks of alcohol abuse is death: Around 10% of deaths among those aged 15 to 49, and over half of all chronic misuse deaths are directly attributable to alcohol. 3
Alcohol is a poison, and the body responds to it as such. When consumed excessively over a long period, it’s a ticking time bomb within the body and mind.
Short-Term Risks of Alcohol Use
Long-Term Risks of Alcohol Use
- Alcohol poisoning.
- Alcohol-related injuries such as burns, falls, drownings, and car accidents.
- Violent behavior against self or others.
- Embarrassing behavior that one later feels shame or regret about.
- Stillbirth, miscarriage, or fetal alcohol spectrum disorders among pregnant women.
- Risky sexual behavior may result in an STD or unintended pregnancy.
- Degradation of brain functions relating to balance, memory, speech, and judgment.
- Cancer of the mouth, esophagus, throat, colon, breast, and liver.
- Heart disease, liver disease, high blood pressure, digestive problems, and stroke.
- A weakened immune system increases the risk of getting sick and prolongs recovery from illness or injury.
- Social problems include unemployment, family conflicts, and lost productivity.
- Mental health problems include anxiety, depression, antisocial behavior, and psychosis.
- Memory and learning problems, including poor school performance and dementia.
Treatment for Alcohol Use Disorder
There are several treatment options available for people struggling with alcohol use disorder. People who are seeking treatment for their alcohol abuse may qualify for detox, residential, or outpatient treatment. The level of care required typically depends on the person’s pattern of alcohol use and other conditions they may struggle with.
Typically, patients receiving treatment for their alcohol abuse will receive therapeutic behavioral treatment, and potentially medication-assisted treatment. The therapeutic aspect will be focused on finding healthy coping skills to manage their mental and behavioral health. While medication may be used to help manage withdrawal symptoms.
The good news is that no matter how severe the problem may seem, most people with alcohol use disorder (AUD) can benefit from treatment with behavioral therapies, medications, or both. 9
Treatment for an alcohol addiction might involve a residential inpatient stay, an outpatient program, or simply participation in individual or group counseling.
An AUD recovery program may include holistic therapies such as acupuncture, yoga, and meditation; spiritual practice; and aftercare programs to help establish healthy habits and support lasting sobriety.
Here are the standard treatment approaches to support someone with alcohol use disorder:
A residential detox facility is usually the first step in the treatment process for people who need medical support to stop drinking. The detox period is meant to help the person manage their withdrawal symptoms comfortably and safely. During the detox process, the person who is struggling with substance abuse will spend a handful of days withdrawing from the substance in a controlled setting.
People who drink heavily may have a more extensive detox process and may need medication assistance to stay comfortable. However, once the person has detoxed from alcohol, the primary focus will be on the therapeutic aspect of treatment.
Residential treatment programs are designed to house patients 24/7. During a person’s stay in residential or inpatient treatment, they will receive round-the-clock care from treatment professionals. This level of care typically lasts for about a month. However, treatment providers will ultimately help patients determine their length of stay.
In residential treatment, patients may receive various treatments for alcohol use disorder. They will likely participate in individual, group, and family therapy sessions. During this time, the patient can focus on stabilizing their mental and behavioral health. They learn some of the building blocks that will lead to long-term recovery.
Outpatient treatment is a lesser level of care that does not require patients to stay in a treatment facility overnight. People may attend outpatient treatment while attending outside commitments such as work or school. They can live at home or in sober living while building upon their healthy coping skills to recover from alcohol misuse.
Psychotherapy for Alcohol Use Disorder
Psychological techniques that have proven effective in helping individuals recover from alcohol addiction include:
Medications for Alcoholism
Some treatment programs begin with a detoxification period that is medically managed. This is typically performed at a hospital or an inpatient treatment center.
There are three medications that are currently approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat alcohol use disorder. These are: 10
Alcohol Use Disorder Treatment for Women
Alcohol use disorder or alcoholism is a common mental health disorder that can cause challenges in daily life. With treatment, recovery from alcohol addiction is possible. An essential step in recovering from alcohol use disorder is to find a treatment center that can offer a safe and comfortable space for deep healing and transformation.
New Directions for Women provides detox, rehab, and aftercare services for women suffering from addiction or dual diagnosis. Our skilled therapists and medical experts offer expert treatment for alcohol use disorder by employing modalities such as:
References & Resources
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Deaths from Excessive Alcohol Use in the United States.
- National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. Excessive Alcohol Use. from https://www.cdc.gov/chronicdisease/resources/publications/factsheets/alcohol.htm
- National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics. Alcohol Abuse Statistics.
- National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Alcohol Facts and Statistics. from https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/brochures-and-fact-sheets/alcohol-facts-and-statistics
- National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. What Is Alcohol Misuse?
- American Psychiatric Association. (2017). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders: DSM-5. Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Association.
- Penn Medicine. What Is Alcoholism?
- National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. What are the symptoms of alcohol use disorder (AUD)?
- Yale Medicine. Alcohol Use Disorder.
- Mason, Barbara J. What Medications Are Used to Treat Alcohol Use Disorder? The Scripps Research Institute.