Nearly 17.6 million adults in the United States have an alcoholism addiction. Alcohol addiction is considered to be a disease, like any other medical problem.
This disease has four components:
Alcoholism addiction has many health risks, including stomach ulcers, liver damage, pancreas damage, and brain damage. It can also cause birth defects. Alcoholics are also more likely to be involved in car accidents and in accidents at work.
There is believed to be a hereditary or genetic component to alcohol addiction, but having an alcoholic parent does not guarantee you will become an alcoholic. Likewise, you may become an alcoholic even if your parents were not alcoholics.
The American Academy of Family Physicians suggests asking yourself the following questions:
If you answer yes to any of these questions, you might have a drinking problem.
Treatment depends on the severity of the alcohol addiction. If you think you might have an alcohol problem, you should see an addictions specialist for an assessment. You can contact a drug and alcohol treatment center near you or ask your doctor for a referral.
The addictions specialist will evaluate you to determine the extent of your problem and what level of treatment is most appropriate for you.
Some people require inpatient or residential treatment. This is especially the case for heavy drinkers that need to detox. Inpatient stays are often for 21 – 28 days, but may be shorter or longer depending on the need.
Other people are able to attend an intensive outpatient program. They go to an alcoholism addiction treatment program for several hours a day, several days a week. They are able to remain at home, however.
And some people are able to see a counselor once a week and attend a couple of AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) meetings, and that’s all they need. Again, an addictions specialist can help you determine the level of treatment that will best meet your needs.
Not really. People with an alcohol addiction are always believed to have that addiction. Alcoholics who have stopped drinking are said to be “in recovery,” not recovered. They are advised never to drink again, not even in moderation; it is believed that if they begin drinking again, they will quickly lose control and develop the same problems they had in the past or worse.
Relapse is common among people with an alcoholism addiction. However, there is good treatment available and those with alcohol addiction can make it to the recovery process if they persevere.