Learn-About-Alcoholism.com is an online alcoholism information resource designed to help individuals who suffer from abuse or dependence, and the people whose lives they impact.
The hope is that you can gain a better understanding of the disease of addiction and begin the journey to better health and emotional wellness.
Addictive, problem drinking is not a character flaw or life choice. It is a debilitating disease that affects millions of people around the world – men, women and children.
Addiction can be found in different countries, religions, ethnicity, education levels and socioeconomic status.
Addiction is commonly viewed as a brain disease because of the way that it impacts the regular functioning of your brain. These changes contribute to the challenges often experienced during a person’s recovery.
As the disease advances, it takes over the body and destroys the physical and mental health of the drinker, and may lead to premature death.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), approximately 3 million people died from alcohol related deaths in 2018. This breaks down to 1 in 20 deaths was alcohol related for 2018.
Examples of alcohol related deaths include motor vehicle accidents, accidents due to poor coordination, chronic health problems and death due to withdrawal.
Alcoholism also produces damaging psychological effects on family members, friends and co-workers that can have life-long ramifications. These damages are often the result of the alcoholic focusing their time and energy on alcohol and neglecting other obligations.
Yet, there is hope for those afflicted through proper, timely treatment and ongoing support. There is no point in a person’s addiction where it is “too late” to get help.
The American Psychological Association used The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-V) as a tool to diagnosis a variety of mental health concerns, including addiction. The diagnosis for Alcoholism is divided into severity levels based on the number of symptoms present. Symptoms included in the Alcohol Use Disorder are:
1. Consuming alcohol in larger amount’s or for longer periods of time than intended
2. Unsuccessful attempts to cut down drinking
3. Spending a lot of time obtaining, using and recovering from drinking
4. Having cravings to drink
5. Inability to fulfill work, family and school responsibilities
6. Continuing to drink despite problems it has developed
7. Giving up important work, social and recreational activities because of drinking
8. Drinking in dangerous situations
9. Continuing to drink even though it will worsen physical and/or mental health concerns
10. Developing a tolerance to alcohol
11. Experiencing withdrawal symptoms
The severity scale for Alcohol Use Disorder is as follows:
· Alcohol Use Disorder, Mild: Presence of 2-3 symptoms
· Alcohol Use Disorder, Moderate: Presence of 4-5 symptoms
· Alcohol Use Disorder, Severe: Presence of 6 or more symptoms
Though there is a distinction among diagnoses, any stage of addiction would benefit from professional treatment, especially those falling into the severe category. Family members of alcoholics also benefit from professional help due to the impact of their loved ones addictive behaviors.
Stages of Alcoholism
There are three stages of alcoholism currently accepted by mental health professionals that highlights the progression of the disease. One thing to note is that everyone’s journey is unique, so there is no “cookie cutter” time line that an alcoholic’s journey will fit into.
There will also be differences to signs and symptoms experienced. Below are examples of the common signs and symptoms for each stage.
First Stage: Early Stage
· Drinking to cope with uncomfortable emotions and thoughts
· Developing a tolerance to alcohol
· Still able to function at work
· Able to maintain family and social relationships reasonably well
· Denial that their drinking behaviors have a negative impact on their life
Second Stage: Middle Stage
· Beginning to lose control of drinking behaviors
· Beginning to drink earlier and/or for longer periods of time
· Drinking is not fun anymore
· Having cravings for alcohol
· Beginning to have alcohol related health problems
· Beginning to struggle at work
· Beginning to have conflict with family and social relationships
Third Stage: Final Stage
· Have multiple health concerns resulting from drinking
· Relationships are significantly damaged, possibly irreconcilable
· Drinking becomes a sole focus of life
· Beginning to ignore basic needs (Food, shelter and water)
· If they continue drinking, it will kill them
Many of the signs of alcoholism are listed above in the Clinical Diagnosis for Alcohol Use Disorder as well as in the stages of alcoholism. Every person’s story is different, and therefore may experience a different variety of the symptoms.
It is more common for the family, friends or colleagues to recognize signs and symptoms of alcoholism. Denial is a common experience, and unfortunately others are unable to convince a person that they need help to stop drinking.
A healthy recovery is one where the person is motivated for themselves. This can be by both internal and external motivating sources. Internal factors could be the desire to improve their health and wanting to be better. External factors could be pressure to perform better at work, worry of divorce or financial troubles.
If you find yourself wondering if your drinking is a concern, the fact that you’re having that thought is enough to follow up with a professional about it. This could be a Mental Health Counselor, Psychologist or even your General Physician.
A common screening tool used by professionals and individuals is the CAGE questionnaire. This is a simple, four question assessment aimed to look at your drinking behaviors that you could use at home. This assessment does not necessarily correlate with addiction, however it can certainly highlight concerns.
1. Have you ever thought you should cut down on your drinking?
2. Have you felt annoyed by others criticizing your drinking?
3. Have you ever felt guilty about your drinking?
4. Have you ever needed drink first thing in the morning to steady nerves or get rid of a hangover (an eye-opener)?
Acute alcoholism refers to the process of becoming intoxicated after drinking a significant amount of alcohol.
Acute effects of drinking include impaired judgement, impaired coordination, poor concentration, lower inhibitions, digestion irregularities and can lead to hangovers.
One thing to note is that the acute effects of alcohol can be impacted when combined with illicit drugs and prescribed medications.
Additional information about treatment options, approaches and resources can be located throughout this website. There is also educational articles and information on where you can go for help regarding problematic drinking.
All the information and resources you'll find are designed to help you have unbiased, informed, productive discussions with your health care professional. So, begin your educational process by clicking on the tabs to the left, or here are some good places to start:
Use this website as an information resource. This information is not meant to be used to diagnose yourself or a loved one. As always, consult with your medical provider with health related concerns including problematic drinking behaviors.
If you have suggestions to enhance the value of this website, please contact us to share your thoughts. Your input is encouraged and always welcomed.