Alcohol use is extremely common and often celebrated in our society. Unfortunately, many people don’t know that there could be huge dangers associated with even moderate alcohol use. Additionally, when alcohol use becomes excessive, it can quickly lead to addiction and dangerous withdrawal situations.
Even though alcohol use disorder (AUD) may seem frightening, there are ways to overcome your addiction safely and effectively. With the right tools and knowledge, you can find long-term sobriety and amazing success in your recovery journey.
Alcohol Use Disorder: Facts & Statistics
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “Excessive alcohol use is a leading preventable cause of death in the United States, shortening the lives of those who die by an average of 26 years.
Excessive alcohol use includes:
- Binge drinking: Consuming four or more drinks for women, and five or more drinks for men
- Heavy drinking: Consuming eight or more drinks per week for women, and 15 or more drinks per week for men
- Any alcohol use by pregnant women or anyone younger than 21
CDC estimates label one in six adults as binge drinkers and shows that excessive alcohol use is responsible for 140,000 deaths each year. The CDC’s Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System found that more than half of US adults report drinking alcohol in the past 30 days.
Unfortunately, the list could go on and on with more statistics and data. Even though these numbers look grim, there is now more help than ever to overcome AUD. Treatment centers are becoming more widespread. Programs are also getting better and better, offering comprehensive care and state-of-the-art facilities to attack alcohol abuse head-on.
The Dangers of Excessive Alcohol Use
The health effects of excessive alcohol use are vast, and can affect people in many different ways.
The CDC also states that, over time, excessive alcohol use can lead to chronic diseases and other serious health problems. These problems can include alcohol use disorder and problems with learning, memory, and mental health.
Some chronic health conditions that can be linked to excessive alcohol use include:
- High blood pressure
- Heart disease
- Liver disease
There are also immediate effects of excessive alcohol use. These effects can include:
- Unintended pregnancy
- Sexually transmitted diseases
- Poor pregnancy outcomes.
The Dangers of Alcohol Withdrawal
The most dangerous side effect of alcohol can come from withdrawal.
Alcohol withdrawal symptoms usually appear when an individual stops drinking or significantly decreases their alcohol intake after long-term dependence. Withdrawal has a broad range of symptoms, and, in most cases, mild symptoms may start to develop within hours of the last drink.
The broad range of withdrawal symptoms can begin with mild tremors and develop into a dangerous condition called delirium tremens. When this condition is not treated promptly, it can cause seizures and lead to death.
Signs and Symptoms
The signs and symptoms of alcohol withdrawal can include:
- Mild to moderate tremors
- Mild to moderate irritability, anxiety, or agitation
- Feeling sick or vomiting
- Severe delirium tremens
According to Alcohol Health and Research World, withdrawal symptoms are caused by alcohol-induced imbalances in brain chemistry where excessive neuronal activity takes place if alcohol is being withheld. When alcohol imbalances affect brain chemistry, the consequences can be deadly. This is why it’s important to seek out treatment for AUD instead of trying to tackle recovery at home.
Treatment for AUD
Treatment for AUD can occur in both inpatient and outpatient settings. Depending on the severity of the addiction, you may need to undergo a detoxification process first before enrolling in an outpatient program.
If you decide to undergo treatment for AUD, remember to treat yourself with love and compassion as often as possible. Deciding to seek treatment is not an indication of failure. In fact, the simple recognition of the fact that you may need treatment is a huge cause for celebration.
Inpatient detox may be the first step in your alcohol treatment journey where you will have access to 24/7 medical care. Medications will help ease the pain and symptoms of withdrawal, and toxins will be removed from your body in a safe and effective way.
This level of care may be necessary if you have a severe addiction and experience symptoms of withdrawal. It’s always better to be safe than sorry, so make sure to research all treatment options before you choose what will work best for you.
Oftentimes, when people undergo detox without continuing treatment, there will be a greater chance of relapse. This continued treatment can come in the form of an outpatient program, where you will still have access to medical professionals, therapeutic tools, and psychiatric care.
Quality outpatient programs will help keep you on track and hold you accountable for your goals. Through outpatient treatment, you will receive life skills training that will prepare you to re-enter daily life, and strong support that will keep you focused on your goals.
Alcohol use is widely used and often celebrated in our culture. Nearly half of United States adults report using alcohol regularly, and alcohol use disorder is one of the top leading causes of preventable death. Even though alcohol is a widely-used substance, it can also be one of the most dangerous, leading to many health complications, injuries, and even death. At Lighthouse Recovery Texas, we offer comprehensive outpatient programs that will help treat alcohol use disorder and insure long-term success in your recovery. Lighthouse’s outpatient programs are a great next step after completing inpatient detox, providing the structure and support you need for sustained recovery. Our clinically-trained professionals can help assist with medication, and our group programming will help you find true accountability. For more information and to receive a free assessment, give us a call today at (214) 396-0259.