Alcohol Addiction Causes & Effects

Learn About Alcohol Abuse

Learn About Alcohol Abuse & Treatment at Life Healing Center

It is a slippery slope between socially consuming alcohol and abusing it as a means of relaxing or decreasing one’s inhibitions. Alcohol abuse is a concern that is known to affect men and women alike, and the path to an addiction to alcohol can be one that is often ripe with obstacles.

A similar road that is frequently wrought with problems is one in which a person is trying to overcome an addiction to alcohol. Combatting an alcohol addiction is no easy feat to take on independently as the withdrawal that is known to ensue should a person stop drinking involves several uncomfortable symptoms and effects that can quickly lead a person to have just one more drink.

Recognizing when a person is suffering from an alcohol addiction, or alcohol use disorder, entails meeting certain diagnostic criteria. As outlined by the Fifth Edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the following are the 11 criteria, or telltale signs, that a person is battling an addiction to alcohol:

  • Drinking despite consequences that have occurred as a result of being under the influence
  • Drinking regardless of known consequences that have occurred because of drinking
  • Drinking alcohol in situations that could lead to harm or injury to oneself or others (e.g. drinking and driving)
  • Sacrificing experiences or activities that were once enjoyed in order to accommodate one’s drinking habit
  • Building up a tolerance for alcohol
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when not drinking
  • Drinking increased amounts of alcohol in order to achieve the effects desired
  • Failing to successfully abstain from drinking
  • Occupying a great deal of time getting, consuming, and recovering from alcohol use
  • Experiencing overpowering urges to continue drinking
  • Experiencing a decline in one’s ability to fulfill roles and responsibilities because of drinking

If an individual is experiencing 2 or more of the aforementioned criteria, it is likely that that person is grappling with an alcohol abuse problem. When this is the case, and especially if the person is unable to function without the presence of alcohol in his or her system, seeking and receiving alcohol abuse treatment is the best decision one can make in order to regain control over his or her life.

Statistics

Alcohol Abuse Statistics

Recent surveys show that approximately 17 million American adults struggle with an addiction to alcohol. Similar surveys report that almost 9% of Americans abuse alcohol. Among all substances abused in this country, alcohol abuse is believed to be more widespread than the abuse of other substances, even including tobacco and illegal narcotics.

Causes & Risks

Causes and Risk Factors for Alcohol Abuse

There are several factors that can influence whether or not alcohol will be abused by a person. Among the most commonly cited causes, researchers and professionals in the fields of mental health and addiction agree that genetics and an individual’s environment are the most influential of all factors. Consider the following elaborations on these influences for alcohol abuse:

Genetic: Research has concluded that those with a family history of alcohol abuse are three to four times more likely to also struggle with this form of chemical dependency. In lieu of this conclusion, it can be said that a person’s genetic makeup can play an integral role in the progression of an alcohol abuse problem.

Environmental: Early exposure to the abuse of alcohol can increase an individual’s chances for eventually abusing alcohol at some point in life as well. This is an example of how a person’s environment can influence the eventual abuse of alcohol and lead to a dependency upon this substance. Additional environmental factors can include exposure to high stress environments or situations, residing in a high crime area, or having a past that included abuse or neglect. Lastly, if an individual experiences a trauma that leads to the onset of post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms, the likelihood for alcohol abuse increases exponentially if the person does not possess the necessary skills for coping with trauma.

Risk Factors:

  • Low socioeconomic status
  • Being male
  • Family history of alcoholism or other types of substance use disorders
  • Low self-esteem
  • Being the victim of abuse and/or neglect or other trauma
  • Personal history of mental illness or illnesses
  • Personal history of substance abuse
  • Exposure to chronic stress, crime, and/or violence

Signs & Symptoms

Signs and Symptoms of Alcohol Abuse

There are many signs and symptoms that can infer a person is battling an alcohol abuse problem. The apparentness of such a concern is reliant on the severity of one’s addiction, the amount of alcohol consumed, and the length of time the individual has been abusing alcohol. If you are concerned that a loved one is addicted to alcohol, it is beneficial to note the presence of any of the following signs and symptoms:

Behavioral symptoms:

  • Hiding alcohol
  • Drinking alone
  • Unwarranted angry outbursts
  • Missing work
  • Decline in work performance
  • Increased conflict with others
  • Social isolation
  • Lying about drinking
  • No longer engaging in activities that were previously enjoyed

Physical symptoms:

  • Distorted vision
  • Profuse perspiration
  • Flushed skin
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Stomach cramps
  • Shaking

Cognitive symptoms:

  • Inability to concentrate
  • Difficulty sustaining focus
  • Poor decision-making
  • Memory disturbances

Psychosocial symptoms:

  • Irritability
  • Agitation
  • Suicidal ideation
  • Drastic shifts in mood
  • Excessive anger
  • Depressed feelings
  • Increased anxiety
  • Hostility

Effects

Effects of Alcohol Abuse

Abusing alcohol is not without its consequences. There are several harmful effects that are known to ensue when a person abuses or becomes dependent upon alcohol. Below are some examples of consequences that will likely happen if an individual does not seek treatment to end an addiction to alcohol:

  • Engaging in risky behaviors that could result in injury
  • Demise of meaningful relationships
  • Familial strife
  • Job loss
  • Interaction with law enforcement as a result of alcohol abuse
  • Cardiovascular system damage
  • Weakened immune system
  • Brain damage
  • Liver disease
  • Emotional dysregulation when under the influence

Co-Occurring Disorders

Alcohol Abuse & Co-Occurring Disorders

Those who abuse alcohol are often suffering from the turmoil that is caused by the presence of a mental health condition or conditions. Whether the mental illness was present before or became apparent after the individual began abusing alcohol, the presence of a mental health disorder and alcohol use disorder can be extremely overwhelming. Especially for those individuals grappling with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or another trauma-related condition, the abuse of alcohol can worsen any existing symptoms and make breaking free from this form of chemical dependency problem even more cumbersome. Aside from post-traumatic stress disorder, the listed mental illnesses are those that are known to occur alongside an alcohol addiction:

  • Schizophrenia
  • Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder
  • Depressive disorders
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Impulse control disorders
  • Other substance use disorders
  • Bipolar disorder

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I reached a moment in my life where I destroyed my personal relationships in prioritizing alcohol. That was when I decided to get treatment at Life Healing Center. Best. Decision. Ever. I am now 10 years sober and a much better person!

– Jeffrey A.