Alcohol use disorder affects roughly 18 million adults in the U.S. Alcohol abuse is not the same as alcohol dependence or addiction, but can still cause serious problems with your career, education, health, and overall livelihood. Knowing how to spot signs of alcohol abuse can help you determine whether it’s time to seek professional treatment at a drug rehab center to prevent your drinking behavior from turning into a serious addiction.
Here are 7 signs that indicate you or a loved one may be suffering from alcohol abuse.
1. Drinking to Relieve Stress
Some people choose to cope with stress by turning to alcohol. Alcohol slows your breathing and heart rate to help you relax in the short term, but relying on alcohol to relieve stress can lead to long-term problems including dependence and addiction. Drinking regularly to reduce stress — especially chronic stress that doesn’t go away — can indicate alcohol abuse.
2. Drinking to Cope with Mental Illness
Mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety disorders, and PTSD produce a range of symptoms that can be difficult to cope with. Using alcohol to treat symptoms of mental illness is a common sign of alcohol abuse. An estimated 6 in 10 people with substance use disorders also suffer mental health disorders and rely on drugs and alcohol to mask their symptoms. Many alcohol rehab centers offer treatment for co-occurring disorders so patients can recover from both their addiction and mental illness.
3. Choosing Alcohol Over Social Activities
People around the world use alcohol to celebrate and socialize with others, but dismissing social activities to drink alone or in private can indicate problems with alcohol use. Start taking note of whether you or your loved one would rather stay in and drink alcohol than spend time with family and friends or attend social events.
4. Suffered Work or School Performance
Those who abuse alcohol will usually start neglecting their careers and education so they can spend more time obtaining alcohol, using alcohol, and recovering from the effects of alcohol. Additionally, being intoxicated or hungover frequently can lead to poor attendance at work or school, as well as suffered work or school performance.
5. Frequent Binge Drinking or Blackouts
Binge drinking is defined as about 5 or more drinks in 2 hours for men, and about 4 or more drinks in 2 hours for women. Binge drinking and heavy alcohol use can sometimes lead to blackouts due to the way alcohol interferes with the brain’s memory-forming process. Engaging in frequent binge drinking episodes or experiencing blackouts are common signs of alcohol abuse.
6. Higher Tolerance Level
Tolerance is when you need to drink higher amounts of alcohol to feel its effects. A higher tolerance level can indicate you’ve been drinking alcohol often enough for your body to adjust to the usual amounts you drink. You can reduce your alcohol tolerance level by consuming less alcohol or stopping alcohol use altogether.
7. Cravings for Alcohol
Physical and psychological cravings for alcohol not only indicate alcohol abuse but dependence and/or addiction as well. Alcohol dependence can be treated using alcohol detox, which helps you safely withdraw from alcohol with a reduced risk for complications like seizures. Medications like naltrexone and acamprosate are sometimes used in alcohol detox to reduce cravings for alcohol and help patients stay abstinent.
America’s Rehab Campuses offer medical drug detox and a range of drug rehab programs to help people safely and successfully recover from alcohol abuse and addiction. Contact us or check your insurance benefits for free to begin the treatment process today.