What Is Alcohol Abuse Disorder And How Is It Treated?

image of results from alcohol abuse

Alcohol use disorder is another term for alcoholism, a condition that is characterized by a physical need to consume alcohol. Many people in the grips of AUD are unable to stop drinking no matter how hard they try and despite the devastating consequences it is having on their lives.

Although many people described a person dealing with AUD as an alcoholic, it is a negative term that is unhelpful in promoting a better understanding of the condition. According to reports from the National Institute of Health (NIH) just over 15 million Americans were dealing with an alcohol use problem in 2015. The alcohol abuse facts illustrate the degree to which alcohol abuse, dependence, and addiction is impacting our society today.

Alcohol Abuse Symptoms

A person who is drinking to excess is often the last to recognize they have a problem. Alcohol abuse symptoms include the following:

  • Drinking alone or secretively
  • Being unable to limit alcohol abuse
  • Blacking out and forgetting big chunks of time
  • Creating rituals surrounding drinking such as before meals or after work
  • Losing interest in activities, hobbies, and pursuits the individual previously enjoyed
  • Feeling intense cravings for alcohol and withdrawal symptoms when not drinking
  • Increasingly feeling unwell after drinking and becoming unreliable at work as a consequence
  • Experiencing relationship difficulties, money problems, and legal issues
  • Risk-taking behavior such as driving under the influence
  • Needing progressively more alcohol to get the desired effects (tolerance)

Risk Factors for AUD

Some of the risk factors that have been linked to excessive drinking include the following:

Genetics: Individuals with a family history of substance abuse are more likely to develop addiction issues themselves.

The age when drinking started: Research suggests that the earlier a person starts drinking alcohol, the more likely they are to go on to develop AUD further down the line.

Easy access to alcohol: There is a distinct correlation between the cheapness and availability of alcohol and AUD. One study showed that there was a significant decline in alcohol-related deaths as a result of a tax hike on alcohol.

Stress: Although many people choose to drink a glass or two of wine after a stressful day, stress is more likely to lead to a person with AUD abusing alcohol. One of the benefits of structured rehab is that patients are taught coping mechanisms to help them deal with stress in healthier ways.

Peer drinking: People who mix regularly with others who routinely consume alcohol are more likely to drink too much also, regardless of the risks to personal wellbeing.

Self-esteem issues: Many people use alcohol to boost their self-confidence in social situations and those with a low opinion of themselves are more likely to exhibit this behavior.

Depression or anxiety: Some people who are dealing with a mental illness turn to alcohol as a way of self-medicating their symptoms. Conversely, people who have been abusing alcohol for some time may go on to develop the symptoms of a mental illness as a direct result.

How the body metabolizes alcohol: When a person has been using alcohol to the extent that they have become tolerant to it, they will need to drink more to get the desired effects. Once a person has developed alcohol tolerance, they are at risk of other alcohol-related health issues.

About Alcohol Abuse Treatment at Elevate San Francisco

People with all degrees of AUD can benefit enormously from entering a rehab program. Although the 12 Step program is possibly the best-known organization providing recovery support, it is not for everyone. Elevate Addiction Services is among the rising number of rehab centers offering holistic treatments for alcohol detox, rehab, and recovery that seek to heal individuals in completely natural ways.

Before rehab can begin, it is mandatory for patients to undergo detox so that they can start the next phase of alcohol abuse treatment with a clean slate. Detox programs at Elevate last for around 30 days, during which time patients slowly rid their bodies of the influence of alcohol, deal with withdrawal and start to heal.

When people suddenly stop using alcohol, their bodies can have a severe reaction, particularly if they have been drinking excessively for a prolonged time. Some of the withdrawal symptoms experienced in detox can be severe and if not supervised, sometimes life-threatening. Elevate offers massage therapy during detox to ease the physical symptoms of withdrawal while improving circulation and promoting relaxation.

Other therapies such as meditation, yoga and art and music therapy are then introduced during the rehab phase to provide patients with a palette of holistic techniques designed to steer them towards sobriety. The advantage of the holistic approach to alcohol abuse treatment is that it heals the person?s overall wellbeing and redresses all the imbalances caused as a result of alcohol abuse.

At Elevate, we offer behavioral therapy in conjunction with holistic services which seeks to identify the negative thought processes driving addiction. Once a person has discovered what drives their addictive behaviors, they are able to make changes so that they respond in healthier ways in the future. Whatever rehab option an individual chooses, the program should prepare them for living in recovery and preventing relapse after rehab.

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