Now that a bit of time has passed, you may be more able to reflect on your condition and understand where it all started. Maybe you were exposed to the toxic substance at a young age. Perhaps you waited until college to try your first drink. The fact is, addiction is not a choice, but you likely made a choice on that one day, which led to drinking heavily and regularly for a long period. Accepting you have alcohol use disorder (AUD) is the first step to making a change and unlocking support.
Recovering from alcohol addiction can be a major challenge. Recognizing the negative effects of the condition and surrendering to treatment can give you the boost you need to achieve ongoing sobriety.
What Is Alcohol Use Disorder?
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), AUD is a chronic brain disease that impairs an individual’s ability to abstain from consuming alcohol. Despite the occupational, social, physical, and mental consequences, continued drinking is considered detrimental to a person’s health.
Based on a 2019 study, approximately 12.1 million adults aged 18 and older have been diagnosed with AUD. Similarly, researchers estimated that 414,000 adolescents between the ages of 12 and 17 were receiving treatment for AUD throughout this time.
Depending on the intensity of an individual’s condition, AUD can range from mild to severe. Alcohol misuse can lead to lasting changes that may have permanent effects on the brain. Because these damages are permanent, they can increase a person’s potential to relapse.
Behavioral therapies, professional support, and evidence-based treatments can assist a person facing AUD. Certain medications can also help a person achieve ongoing sobriety. No matter the severity, one can recover from this condition.
Effects of Alcohol Use Disorder
As claimed by the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), last reviewed in April 2022, excessive use of alcohol can greatly affect mental and physical health. Many harmful health conditions can occur as a result of alcohol abuse. Over time, chronic drinking habits can cause short-term side effects, including:
- Injuries: Car accidents, drowning, burns, etc.
- Violence: Suicide, domestic physical or sexual assault, homicide
- Alcohol poisoning: Increased blood alcohol concentration
- Risky behaviors: Unprotected sex with multiple partners resulting in sexually transmitted disease
- Miscarriage or birth defects: Unintended pregnancies
And long-term side effects, including:
- Cardiovascular disease
- Poor immune system
- Increased chances of getting sick
- Cognitive impairment
- Mental health conditions
- Relationship problems with friends, family, or spouse
Recognizing the Signs of Alcoholism
As a person increases their level of alcohol consumption over time, their brain chemistry is modified incrementally. Soon, it becomes increasingly difficult for an individual’s brain to operate as it did before consuming the substance. A person then becomes fully dependent on the drug to feel mentally stable.
Based on a National Institutes of Health (NIH) study, learning the signs of AUD and recognizing the problem can help an individual or their loved ones work on the challenges and prevent dangerous health conditions.
Signs an individual may have a problem can consist of:
- Strong cravings or urges to consume an alcoholic beverage
- Failed attempts at stopping the use of alcohol
- Negative effects on work, home, school, or family life
- Ceasing activities once enjoyed or increasingly avoiding family or friends to drink at home
- Legal trouble due to drinking: DUIs/DWIs, domestic assault, etc.
- Having to drink more to achieve desired effects
- Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when not consuming the substance
The Importance of Professional Treatment
Putting an end to consuming alcohol and abstaining from the drug can be very difficult. Doing this can create irritability, lead to mental health conditions such as depression or anxiety, and cause family and relationship issues, problems in the workforce, and legal issues.
Because achieving initial sobriety is so difficult, finding professional treatment options and guidance is critical. Seeking professional help can offer a client additional support to successfully and safely achieve sobriety.
Different behavioral therapies can be used to overcome alcohol use disorder. Certain medications and medicated-assisted treatment (MAT) can also be beneficial in the recovery process. Reaching out to a therapist, speaking with a counselor, or making a visit to a psychiatrist can greatly improve symptoms associated with AUD. Joining a support group can provide a supportive outlet, create new opportunities, and be a healthy way to connect with others who are going through a similar journey.
Many people with AUD achieve initial recovery, but relapse can happen. Taking the steps to understand an individual’s condition of health, recognizing the signs of alcoholism, and surrendering to professional treatment can prevent a potential relapse and possibly save a person’s life. Treatment is important, but so is relapse prevention and adjusting one’s plan in the wake of a relapse.
Putting an end to alcohol consumption and abstaining from the drug can be very difficult. Seeking professional help can offer you additional support to safely achieve sobriety. Here at 12 South Recovery, Our primary goal is to uncover the root cause of your addiction and assist you in finding your purpose. We put forth every effort to educate, strengthen, and empower you to live a fulfilling life free from drugs and alcohol. We use evidence-based treatment, medical staff, and licensed therapists to ensure every patient has the tools to recover from drug or alcohol addiction and regain control of their lives. If you feel you are in need of professional support, call 12 South Recovery at 866-839-6876.