Millions of Americans engage in regular alcohol use as a part of their lifestyles. The 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) found that over 85% of individuals aged 18 and older engaged in alcohol use at some point in their life. Additionally, the same survey found staggering statistics about those who regularly engage in unhealthy drinking habits, including binge drinking and heavy alcohol use. Despite alcohol being considered a normal part of American culture, alcohol use – even in moderation – can produce a variety of mental, physical, and social consequences.
If you have recently become worried about problematic alcohol use in your life, you may wonder whether you can cease your alcohol use without professional support. It is important to understand that attempting to stop chronic alcohol use by yourself can be life-threatening. Even ceasing moderate use at home can cause uncomfortable symptoms. In this blog, we’ll outline the process of recognizing problematic drinking habits and the treatment options available.
Drinking Habits: When to Be Concerned
Due to the normalization of alcohol, it can be challenging to identify problematic drinking habits in yourself. Drinking alcohol is often encouraged as a way to relax after a long day at work or to celebrate your accomplishments. Therefore, when determining whether you should be concerned about your drinking habits, you must address whether your habits align with your personal values. You should also look at the impact it’s having on your ability to function.
Drinking in Moderation
If you believe you drink only in moderation, you may not experience notable consequences of your alcohol use. However, you must understand that by using alcohol, even in moderation, you are at a higher risk of developing an addiction or alcohol use disorder (AUD). You should protect yourself from addiction by using harm-reduction strategies and holding yourself accountable for moderating your alcohol use.
Once you find yourself developing a tolerance to alcohol, you should be concerned. Tolerance is defined as the need for a higher quantity of a substance in order to receive the same effects. According to The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), tolerance is one of the criteria for AUD. Additionally, when the negative effects of your alcohol use are becoming more obvious, you might consider stopping your alcohol use altogether to prevent worsening consequences.
If you are truthful about having mild drinking habits, you will likely not experience withdrawal symptoms as a result of ceasing alcohol consumption. Still, you should know that you will likely be unable to stay abstinent from alcohol long-term without the help of professional or peer support.
Excessive Alcohol Use
On the other hand, you may feel unsure about whether you are struggling with excessive alcohol use. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines excessive alcohol use as the following:
- Binge drinking, defined as consuming [four] or more drinks on an occasion for a woman or [five] or more drinks on an occasion for a man.
- Heavy drinking, defined as [eight] or more drinks per week for a woman or 15 or more drinks per week for a man.
- Any alcohol use by pregnant women or anyone younger than 21.
Stopping your alcohol use at home can be problematic if you regularly binge drink, heavy drink, or daily drink. Your body has likely developed a tolerance to alcohol, relying on the substance to function normally throughout the week. Due to the effects of alcohol on the brain, professional detox may be required to prevent severe withdrawal symptoms and life-threatening complications.
What Is Detoxification?
Detoxification, or detox, is the process of removing toxins like alcohol from the body. Professional detox services provided by addiction treatment facilities work to make the detoxification process as comfortable and manageable as possible. Oftentimes, detox programs will provide medication for clients to ease painful withdrawal symptoms and mitigate any potential complications.
Common withdrawal symptoms that may surface during alcohol detox include:
- Flu-like symptoms
- Nausea and vomiting
For severe AUD, withdrawal symptoms can include:
- Heart palpitations
Further, detox services connect you with medical professionals that can provide psychological support. They’ll help prepare for entry into a substance abuse treatment program. Continued treatment is crucial to long-lasting recovery.
Treatment Following Detox
Cravings, triggers, and other temptations to use alcohol will not stop once you cease your drinking. Oftentimes, they become more invasive once you stop your alcohol use. This only scratches the surface of why participation in a treatment program is essential. Treatment can ensure that you are equipped with coping skills, peer support, and other recovery tools to enable your long-term sobriety and prevent future relapse.
While residential programs offer the highest structure for recovery, they are not always feasible. Fortunately, treatment centers often offer a variety of outpatient programs to meet your individualized needs. Outpatient services encourage participation in one-on-one therapy as well as group therapy interventions every week. Treatment centers can foster the accountability you need to sustain recovery long-term.
Despite alcohol use being considered a normal part of American culture, drinking can produce a variety of consequences. If you are struggling with your alcohol use, you may want to consider utilizing a professional treatment program rather than ceasing your alcohol use at home. 12 South Recovery recommends that individuals participate in a detoxification program to cease chronic alcohol use. While we don’t provide this service, we can refer you to a qualified detox center. Following detox, we offer outpatient programs that can be tailored to fit your unique needs and goals for recovery. We can foster the professional and peer support you need to achieve lasting abstinence from alcohol. To learn more, call us today at 866-839-6876.