Guiding Road Recovery Center

Arizona Alcohol Treatment Center

Legal Doesn't Mean Safe

Unlike other substances, alcohol’s legal status adds complexity to recognizing problematic drinking. Shockingly, alcohol abuse results in 88,000 fatalities annually in the United States, with one in ten deaths among working adults attributed to alcohol misuse. These alarming statistics, outlined in the authoritative 2016 report by Facing Addiction In America and the US Surgeon General, compel us to face the reality of alcohol’s devastating impact. If you or a loved one is grappling with alcohol-related issues, continue reading to explore alcohol addiction and discover if Guiding Road Recovery Center’s comprehensive treatment is the ideal path to recovery.

3 Page Contents

About Alcoholism

Definition
Causes
Symptoms

Definition

Alcoholism, known formally as Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD), is not just a habit or a choice—it's a profound and persistent struggle that impacts lives in profound ways. Imagine feeling trapped in a cycle where alcohol takes control, despite the damage it inflicts. It's a chronic brain disorder, described by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) as a relentless pattern of alcohol consumption, even when it brings harm and despair. This understanding isn't just clinical; it's a reality echoed by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), emphasizing the profound medical, social, and psychological tolls alcoholism takes on individuals and their loved ones.

Causes

Alcoholism, a complex condition with deeply rooted origins, can't be simplified to just one cause. It's a convergence of various factors that intertwine to create a perfect storm. Genetic predispositions, environmental influences, and psychological triggers all play crucial roles. Genetic studies, such as those highlighted by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), reveal the hereditary component, where certain individuals may be more susceptible due to family history. Environmental stressors, trauma, and societal pressures can also fuel the fire, as noted in numerous studies cataloged by the World Health Organization (WHO). Moreover, the interconnectedness of mental health struggles, as outlined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), sheds light on how conditions like depression and anxiety can intertwine with alcoholism, creating a vicious cycle. Understanding these multifaceted causes is vital for effective intervention and support.

Symptoms

  • Impaired Control: Inability to limit alcohol intake or stop drinking despite efforts to do so.
  • Craving: Strong urges or cravings to consume alcohol.
  • Physical Dependence: Development of tolerance (needing more alcohol to achieve the same effects) and experiencing withdrawal symptoms when alcohol use is reduced or stopped.
  • Social Impairment:
    • Failure to fulfill major role obligations at work, school, or home due to alcohol use.
    • Continued use despite social or interpersonal problems caused or exacerbated by alcohol use.
  • Risky Use: Drinking in situations where it is physically hazardous.

Health Risks

  • Liver Disease: Cirrhosis, hepatitis, and fatty liver disease are common outcomes of prolonged alcohol misuse.
  • Cardiovascular Problems: Increased risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and irregular heart rhythms.
  • Neurological Disorders: Cognitive impairment, memory problems, neuropathy, and increased risk of dementia.
  • Psychiatric Conditions: Increased likelihood of depression, anxiety disorders, and other mental health issues.
  • Cancer Risk: Elevated risk of developing various types of cancers, including liver, breast, colorectal, and esophageal cancer.
  • Gastrointestinal Issues: Damage to the digestive system, leading to conditions like gastritis, pancreatitis, and gastrointestinal bleeding.
  • Immune System Impairment: Weakened immune system, making individuals more susceptible to infections and illnesses.
  • Other Health Risks: Increased risk of accidents and injuries due to impaired judgment and coordination. Nutritional deficiencies and weight gain due to empty calories in alcohol.

Know The Facts

Alcohol is responsible for approximately 10% of deaths among adults aged 20-64 years in the United States, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This statistic underscores the significant impact of alcohol on mortality rates, highlighting its role as a leading preventable cause of death. From alcohol-related accidents and injuries to chronic health conditions such as liver disease and cancer, the toll of excessive alcohol consumption on public health cannot be overstated. These sobering statistics emphasize the urgent need for effective interventions to address alcohol misuse and its associated health risks.

Alcoholism FAQs

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Resources

Page Sources

  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (2020). Alcohol and Public Health: Alcohol-Related Disease Impact (ARDI). https://www.cdc.gov/ardi/index.html
  2. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5): American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (5th ed.). https://doi.org/10.1176/appi.books.9780890425596
  3. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA): National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. (n.d.). Alcohol's Effects on the Body. https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/alcohol-health/alcohols-effects-body
  4. World Health Organization. (2018). Global Status Report on Alcohol and Health 2018. https://www.who.int/publications/i/item/9789241565639

Bobby Boykin, MS, LASAC, CRS

Executive Director
This article has been clinically reviewed by Bobby, a Licensed Associate Substance Abuse Counselor (LASAC) and Certified Recovery Specialist (CRS) at Guiding Road.
Last Reviewed
May 18, 2024

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