Alcohol is one of the most accessible used and abused substances in the world. Unfortunately, approximately 88,000 people in the United States, die from alcohol-related incidences, such as car accidents, overdose, conditions such as cirrhosis (liver disease), and other injuries each year. Worldwide, an alcohol use disorder (AUD) is one of the most prevalent conditions, causing the most illnesses and deaths. Within the United States, alcoholism due to binge drinking has increased over the years.
Binge drinking is classified as drinking a lot in a short amount of time. This differs for men and women, with females being the driving force behind the nationwide increase in the rate of binge drinking and cases of alcoholism. In April 2015, binge drinking among women increased more than seven times the rate among men.
An addiction to alcohol is classified under the DSM-5 as an alcohol use disorder (AUD). It is a complex disease that when misused, essentially poisons the body. The depressant diminishes brain and body function, damages organs in the body such as the liver and heart, and also causes malnutrition, dehydration, stomach ulcers, and sexual dysfunction.
If left untreated or undiagnosed for a prolonged period of time, alcoholism can commonly lead to overdose-related deaths. In order for a person to be diagnosed with alcoholism or an AUD, they have to fall under the 11 criteria or symptoms. These include:
- Alcohol is consumed in large amounts over long periods of time.
- Unsuccessful efforts to control alcohol intake.
- A majority of time is spent getting alcohol, planning out when the binge will be or recovering from its effects (hangover).
- Strong cravings or desire to use alcohol.
- Continuing to drink alcohol despite the worsening of persistent, recurrent, or interpersonal complications.
- Giving up or reducing important social, occupational, or recreational activities you once enjoyed due to alcohol use.
- Recurrent alcohol use in situations that are physically hazardous.
- Continued use of alcohol despite having a persistent or recurrent physical or psychological harm that has been exacerbated by alcohol.
- Tolerance for alcohol occurs when someone drinks an excessive amount to feel the desired effect, or they don’t feel any effects because they continue to drink the same amount.
- Withdrawal symptoms occur due to the characteristic withdrawal syndrome for alcohol or another substance such as a benzodiazepine is taken to relieve symptoms of withdrawal or mental illness such as anxiety.
Alcoholism can be destructive and isolating. Therefore, there are many more reasons why seeking help for an alcohol use disorder (AUD) at a treatment center is beneficial in bettering one’s life. If you or a loved one struggles with binge drinking, overcoming this vicious cycle is possible with the help of the experts here at Behavioral Health Centers.