Alcohol still the most abused of all intoxicants, yet many consume alcohol without any problems or ever developing and addiction. Here are some crucial facts about alcohol use in the US, how addiction develops, and how to recover.
Alcohol Is Still The King of Substance Use Disorder
6 Alcohol Facts
- Alcohol is the most commonly used addictive substance in the United States.
- 17.6 million people, or one in every 12 adults, suffer from alcohol abuse in the US.
- Alcoholism is a chronic, progressive brain disease that only gets worse without treatment.
- Alcohol abuse causes:
- Liver disease
- Heart disease
- Brain damage
- Mental health disorders
- An increased risk of suicide
- There is no such thing as a “functioning alcoholic.” Every aspect of an alcoholic’s life is negatively impacted.
- Alcohol abuse causes lasting harm to family members and loved ones.
7 Stages Of Alcohol Use Disorder (A.K.A. Alcoholism/addiction)
Alcohol addiction can start before the drinking if a person has attitudes and perceptions consistent with those of addicts.
Initial use can include the experimental use of alcohol, occasional use or occasional binge drinking (5-10 drinks in a sitting once or twice a year). Initial use of alcohol may not yet be a problem for the user or those close to him or her. Occasional binge drinking or abuse may cause difficulties while the user is under the influence or the following day. He or she has not reached the stage of addiction.
3. High Risk Use
High risk refers to increased drinking and frequency of drinking as well poor decision-making while under the influence. At this stage, the pattern and frequency of alcohol abuse is high enough to be dangerous for the drinker and those around him or her.
4. Problematic Use
Problematic use of alcohol occurs when the negative consequences of drinking become evident. Health issues, including impaired liver function or sexually transmitted diseases arise. Driving under the influence (DUI) or other drinking-related legal problems occur. Family and friends notice there is a problem.
5. Early Stage of Dependency
The early stage of alcohol addiction is characterized by noticeable lifestyle changes. The user begins to miss work. He or she picks fights with family members and friends while under the influence. He or she chooses to drink despite negative consequences. At this point, treatment or rehab is most effective.
6. Middle Stage of Dependency
During the middle stage of alcoholism, negative consequences escalate. The user loses his or her job due to too many absences. Alcohol-induced fights end relationships. The effects of the negative consequences of alcoholism become irreversible.
7. Crisis Stage of Dependency
At this crisis point, everyone is aware of the effects of alcoholism, including the alcoholic. Serious health problems ensue. The alcoholic is rarely without a drink, but believes he or she is fooling everyone. This stage frequently results in alcohol-related deaths for the users if they do not enter treatment.
5 Stages Recovery
This period may go on for a long time. A user may know there are negative effects from drinking, but minimizes or justifies the choice to drink, seeing more benefits than deficits.
A user knows there is a problem. He or she may now be open to changing some day, but is uncertain that changing right now is worth the pain and effort. They may plan to start some time in the future.
This is a time of preparation when a person understands that he/she is responsible for the drinking and the negative consequences it brings. The user now believes he has the power to change, but knows he can’t do it alone. He/she (often with help from family and/or professional intervention) gathers information and resources to decide what treatment is best.
The user makes a commitment to a treatment program, which may include detox, an in-patient stay at a treatment center, intensive out-patient treatment, a sober living community, therapy, a life coach or counselor, alcohol monitoring, 12 step programs, and other health and wellness programs to heal body and mind.
Maintenance is the period after treatment when a lifestyle change has been made, but needs continued reinforcement and practice. Now the user has a clear understanding that addiction/alcoholism is a chronic, relapsing disease that needs active maintenance like any chronic disease. To insure success in recovery much more than abstaining is required. The repair of relationships has begun at home and at work. A strong program with a supportive group, a sponsor or counselor, and healthy activities are in place. Added resources with innovative new technology like recovery apps keep people connected. New technology for digital breathalyzer alcohol monitoring has lifted the stigma from monitoring and been proven to effectively reinforce responsibility, rebuild trust and sustain new patterns and lifestyle.
The good news is: Recovery is possible. Visit www.recoveryguidance.com to find treatment options near you. Recovery Guidance is a safe, commitment-free resource for patients.