Alcohol addiction is a physical and psychological dependence on alcohol, which is often complicated by co-occurring mental health issues such as anxiety and depression and underlying issues like trauma. Alcoholism or alcohol dependence is a diagnosable disease characterized by physical and psychological dependence on alcohol, with a strong craving for alcohol and continued use despite harm or personal injury. Alcohol abuse, which can lead to alcoholism, is a pattern of drinking resulting in harm to one’s health, interpersonal relationships or ability to work. Alcoholism and alcohol abuse are often complicated by co-occurring mental health issues like anxiety and depression.
Research points to a combination of biological, genetic and environmental factors that may contribute to the disease. Alcohol’s social acceptance and ease of access may also play a role in it being the “substance of choice” for many with addictive disorders. According to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, alcohol is the most commonly used addictive substance in the U.S.
Effective alcohol abuse treatment should eliminate substance use as a coping mechanism, address the factors that contribute to its use, and provide healthier coping skills and opportunities for social support. The Ranch treatment center offers inpatient alcohol rehab that begins with medically monitored detox. We continue with a whole-person approach that helps clients heal the physical deficiencies caused by alcohol as well as nurture emotional and spiritual needs.
Symptoms of Alcohol Abuse
Alcohol abuse is described as a pattern of drinking that results in one or more of the following circumstances inside a 12-month cycle:
- Interference with or the inability to complete important work, school or home/personal tasks
- Consuming alcohol during circumstances that are physically dangerous, such as while operating a vehicle or machinery
- Experiencing frequent alcohol-related legal problems, such as being arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or for physically hurting someone while intoxicated
- Continued drinking in spite of financial or relationship problems that are created or worsened by the drinking
Alcoholism, otherwise known as alcohol dependence, is an illness characterized by:
- A powerful craving or urge to drink
- Inability to control the amount of alcohol one consumes
- Physical dependency on alcohol that results in withdrawal symptoms after a heavy period of drinking such as queasiness, sweating, shakiness and anxiety
- Greater tolerance to alcohol and the need to consume larger amounts in order to feel physically/mentally stable or get the same effect
Those suffering from alcoholism are in the grip of a strong craving, or uncontrollable need for alcohol, that supersedes their capability to quit drinking. This need can be as physically powerful as the need for food or water. Both alcohol abuse and alcoholism usually require the help of professional treatment in order to fully eliminate the problem and maintain long-term sobriety.
Warning Signs of Alcohol Abuse or Dependence
The progression from social drinking to an alcohol use disorder can be a slippery slope for those already primed with biological, psychological and social factors that contribute to the disease. Warning signs of an alcohol problem may include:
- Concern that one has a problem with drinking
- Concern from others about one’s alcohol use
- Feelings of regret, remorse or shame after drinking
- Drinking at the beginning of the day to calm nerves or help a hangover
- Physical disturbances such as anxiety, sweating and tremors the day after drinking a large amount of alcohol
- Requiring more alcohol to get the desired effect
- Compromised work performance due to drinking
- Relationship and interpersonal issues related to alcohol consumption
- Financial or legal problems related to drinking