What is Alcohol Addiction?
Dr. Alva, ADHD Psychiatrist, explains what is ADHD.
One of the most common forms of addiction is alcohol abuse (sometimes called alcoholism), which is a patterned use of alcohol characterized by problems in controlling the frequency and amount of drinking, preoccupation of alcohol, and continued use of alcohol even after problems have manifested. Many times people drink more and more to get the same effect they once received and often people have withdrawal symptoms when they stop or decrease drinking.
Use of alcohol, which is considered unhealthy, is the use that puts your health and safety at risk (or the health and safety of others). Binge drinking is a pattern of drinking where you may drink 4 or more drinks in a two hour period.
Many people feel they have their drinking under control, even when pointed out by others. However, drinking can easily lead to alcoholism and it may quickly escalate to serious problems. Treatment of alcoholism is important either through a psychiatrist or an addiction recovery facility.
Most of the time the one who suffers from alcoholism has been told by several people they have a drinking problem and they frequently say they have it under control. Generally speaking the symptoms of alcoholism are:
- Inability to limit the amount of alcohol consumed
- Unsuccessfully cutting down or limiting how much you drink
- Spending time regularly drinking, purchasing alcohol, or recovering from drinking
- Your body craves alcohol or you have urges to drink
- Failure to meet obligations with your work, home, or school
- Drinking alcohol when you know it causes physical, social, or relationship problems
- Termination or reduction of work and social activities
- Unsafe use of alcohol when it’s use is not safe (driving, working, etc.)
- Developed tolerance – to the point where you need to consume more alcohol to reach the desired effect
- Withdrawal symptoms including shaking, nausea, sweats… often you may drink to avoid having these symptoms
Increased concentration of alcohol in your blood stream, which then impairs your ability to perform mental or physical tasks. Intoxication causes behavioral health issues and mental changes, which may lead to other mental illnesses. Behavior may become inappropriate, unstable, impaired, speech may be slurred, poor memory function. Excessive blood alcohol levels can lead to blackouts, coma, or even death.
When a person stops or greatly reduces their consumption of alcohol they may have the following symptoms occurring within hours and lasting possibly up to a week.
- Rapid heartbeat
- Shaking (hand tremors)
- Sleep problems
- Nausea or vomiting
When you feel you drink too much, if your drinking is causing relationship or daily life problems, if your family or friends have expressed concern – please talk with a doctor. When you speak with a psychiatrist they may identify other issues you haven’t been aware of and address those, as well. You may also seek help from another mental health professional, a support group, a treatment facility, or a self-help group.
Denial is very common and nearly everyone who has a problem with drinking too much alcohol feels like they do not have a problem. But, others in your life may express the above changes in behavior. There is absolutely no shame or need to feel guilty about at least talking to a professional. At PNS, we understand what people go through and we are here to help.
Addiction can be caused by genetic disposition, psychological, social and environmental factors. Alcohol affects every individual differently. Typically, we see the result of “craving alcohol” to be the desire to produce “good feelings” or to “remove negative feelings”.
Many times alcohol use begins in the teens or early 20’s, however, it can start at any age and may be triggered by a life altering event, such as divorce, death, or job loss. Higher risk scenarios are:
- Steady drinking
- Early age drinking (especially binge drinking)
- Family history of alcohol abuse
- Depression or another mental health issue
- Trauma history
- Bariatric surgery
- Social or cultural issues (often times friends or family who are drinking with you)
- Alzheimer’s Disease
- Anger Management
- Behavioral Issues
- Bipolar Disorder
- Borderline Personality
- Chemical Dependency
- Drug Abuse
- Dual Diagnosis
- Emotional Disturbance
- Major Depression
- Narcissistic Personality
- Insomnia or Sleep
- Obsessive Compulsive (OCD)
- Schizoaffective Disorder
- Sexual Disorders
- Social Anxiety
- Stress Issues
- Substance Abuse
Safety Issues: Motor vehicle accidents, relationship issues, poor performance at school or work, violent crimes, legal problems, other substance abuse
Health Impacts: Liver disease, digestive problems, heart problems, diabetes, sexual function, menstruation issues, eye problems, birth defects, bone damage, and more.
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Dr. Alejandro Alva is an award winning and internationally recognized psychiatrist.
We are Orange County's most renowned psychiatrist practice.