Signs of Alcohol Addiction

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The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism estimates that over seventeen million American adults have alcohol use disorders of varying severity. In addition, nearly one million American youths between the ages of twelve and seventeen have alcohol use disorders. It is essential to remember that alcoholism is not a problem created overnight. It emerges from long-term alcohol abuse. For many adults, the occasional drink with friends or a glass of wine with dinner is not a cause for concern. However, when alcohol consumption becomes uncontrollable, addiction and alcoholism could develop. 


Everybody has different needs to consider when treating alcohol use disorders and addiction. Alcohol use disorders can range from mild to severe, depending on your unique relationship with alcohol. Because addiction is unique to the individual, the type of treatment (level of care), treatment model, and duration of treatment will vary from person to person. 


What is Alcohol Addiction?

Within the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), alcohol use disorders are categorized as mild, moderate, or severe. Regardless of severity, problem drinking comes in many forms, including binge drinking, alcohol abuse, and alcohol dependence (alcoholism). Each is different from the next in various ways, including how much or how often you drink and how drinking impacts your physical and psychological health. Also, recognizing various forms of problematic drinking may be an early indication of an unhealthy relationship with alcohol. 


Binge Drinking

A common and dangerous problem for teens and adults alike is binge drinking. Binge drinking is the practice of consuming enough alcohol to bring your blood alcohol concentration to 0.08% in one sitting. In most cases, this means five or more drinks for males (four or more for females). In most cases, “a sitting” is a period of two hours or less because two hours is the time the body requires to process a “drink” out of your system. 


Most people who engage in occasional binge drinking do not have a severe alcohol use disorder. However, frequent binge drinking can increase one’s risk for significant physical and psychological health impacts. 


Alcohol Abuse 

When drinking to excess has become common practice despite the negative consequences on your day-to-day life and relationships, occasional problematic drinking has likely evolved into alcohol abuse. Drinking evolves into alcohol abuse when you continue to drink regardless of the known harms alcohol use causes to your physical health, emotional health, family, and social health. 


Someone who struggles with alcohol abuse uses alcohol to “feel good” or reduce stress. As their drinking continues, the amount of alcohol needed to achieve desired results increases. This process, called tolerance, dramatically increases one’s risk of developing an alcohol use disorder (alcoholism). Suppose you notice your drinking is causing (or has caused) significant problems in other areas of your life, including social, legal, and personal, but you choose not to or cannot stop drinking. In that case, it is time to seek help overcoming alcohol addiction. 


Alcohol Dependence (Alcohol Addiction)

At this stage, alcohol is no longer consumed just for pleasure. Alcohol addiction is characterized by a physical and psychological need to drink. Once an alcohol addiction has developed, the physical cravings for alcohol are often so intense and debilitating. Alcohol addiction causes you to drink consistently to manage the physical and psychological discomfort that occurs when alcohol is not present in your body. When addiction develops, and you attempt to reduce or stop drinking, withdrawal symptoms quickly occur. These symptoms can be dangerous if you try to stop drinking without the support and guidance of a professional addiction treatment team. 


The 5th edition of The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders lists eleven criteria mental health and medical professionals consult to accurately diagnose the presence and severity of alcohol addiction (alcohol use disorder). It is not necessary to experience all eleven to meet the diagnostic criteria for alcohol addiction. Generally, two or three signs identify a mild alcohol use disorder; four or five are considered moderate, and six or more are severe. Seeking treatment at an alcohol addiction rehab provides the safest way to detox and get sober. 


Recognizing the Signs and Symptoms of Alcohol Abuse

When someone struggles with an alcohol addiction or an alcohol use disorder, it can have significant and noticeable physical and psychological effects. When left untreated, alcohol abuse and dependency can quickly devolve into a severe and life-threatening condition. Recognizing the warning signs of alcohol abuse can help ensure early access to an alcohol addiction program like our luxury alcohol rehab in Los Angeles, CA. 


 The physical symptoms of alcohol abuse include slurred speech, poor coordination, slow reaction times, hangovers, and alcohol poisoning. Without treatment, long-term alcohol use can cause liver damage, blood pressure problems, digestive and nutrition problems, elevated risk for heart attack or stroke, alcohol-induced seizures, poor hygiene, weakened immune system, and cognitive impairments. 


Long-term alcohol abuse typically leads to changes in behavior as well. As dependency on alcohol worsens, someone with an alcohol addiction will often try to hide their drinking from loved ones. They may also begin drinking alone or in secret, isolating themselves from family and friends, denying drinking, and choosing to drink over other obligations and responsibilities. Financial and legal challenges linked to alcohol use are other common signs of alcohol addiction. 


Alcohol abuse causes physical and functional changes in the brain. Short-term signs of alcohol abuse may include blackouts, memory problems, poor judgment, and mood changes. Chronic, untreated alcohol addiction often leads to mental effects that are more severe and sometimes permanent. 


Perhaps the most dangerous sign of alcohol abuse is alcohol poisoning. Alcohol-related fatalities are the third leading cause of death in the nation. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicate nearly 100,000 deaths annually are attributed to alcohol-related causes. While many relate to long-term disease processes and effects of alcohol abuse, more than 2,000 people each year lose their lives to alcohol poisoning. 


How to Get Help for Alcohol Abuse

Across the United States, there are thousands of rehab centers. Each of these offers quality, professional and compassionate help for those who want and need to recover from substance use disorders. When deciding where to seek alcoholism treatment, you may notice some treatment centers advertised as luxury alcoholism treatment, which leads to the question, “what is luxury treatment?”


When you are ready to seek treatment, there are specific and essential standards that all treatment centers, whether traditional or luxury, should incorporate into their treatment programs. These evidence-based treatments and recovery options are based on decades of medical research. They have been shown to work for most people, regardless of the severity of their addiction. Essential services should include medically monitored detox, access to trained and knowledgeable addiction treatment specialists, a range of evidence-based traditional therapy models, relapse prevention education, and comprehensive aftercare planning. 


While traditional and luxury rehab offers the essential treatment required to begin recovering from alcoholism, a luxury treatment program often provides a higher level of privacy, luxury, and individually designed treatment experiences for their patients. When an alcohol treatment center offers luxury services, you can expect specific factors such as increased access to alternative and holistic therapy options, access to personal items, and access to meeting space and technology (to continue working while seeking treatment, and a higher level of privacy. 


Luxury rehab facilities like The Hills also provide a wide array of desirable amenities not generally available at a traditional rehab facility. Examples of these may include meditation, yoga, massage, Reiki, aromatherapy, and acupuncture. Depending on the facility, patients may also have access to on-site gyms, organic foods, gourmet meals, and other high-level services and treatment options that set luxury treatment centers apart from traditional options. Many luxury alcohol rehab programs also offer smaller staff-to-patient ratios allowing for higher quality, more intensive level of care. 


Get Help at The Hills

Whether your addiction is mild or severe, the first step in an alcohol abuse treatment program is generally detox. Because quitting alcohol is a complex process, it is crucial to seek help and support to manage withdrawal symptoms which are a part of the detox process for everyone seeking to overcome alcohol addiction. For some, the detox process may be accompanied by mild symptoms that are easily managed without significant medical assistance or intervention. 

However, the withdrawal process can bring about dangerous and even fatal symptoms and complications for others. 


Severe symptoms related to detox can quickly become unmanageable when detoxing alone, leading to relapse or an acute medical emergency. This is especially true when detoxing from alcohol, and one of the key reasons it is often unsafe and unsuccessful to “cold turkey” detox from alcohol. 


At a medically supervised detox program like The Hills, you can expect full medical supervision throughout the detox process. Depending on the program, this may include medication administration to help manage and reduce the intensity of withdrawal symptoms. During medically supervised (assisted) detox, a highly trained team of medical professionals will provide continual medical and mental health support throughout all stages of detox to ensure your safety and success. 


No one should detox from alcohol alone. As part of a comprehensive, evidence-based alcohol addiction treatment program, a medically supervised detox program provides the most significant opportunity for treatment success. In a medically supervised detox program, access to therapy, medical treatment options, and other supports allow the detox process to be more comfortable than would be possible when trying to detox “cold turkey.” 


Detox itself is not addiction treatment and is not a substitute for comprehensive therapy. It is the first step on a journey to alcohol addiction recovery. Detox helps cleanse the body and clear the mind from the effects of alcohol, allowing you to pursue and complete your addiction treatment program without the distractions of cravings and other challenges that often lead to relapse. If you or someone you know is struggling with alcohol addiction, don’t wait to seek treatment. The longer one is addicted to alcohol, the more complex and potentially dangerous detox can be. If you are ready to begin your journey to sobriety, contact us today for more information about alcohol detox and treatment at The Hills.

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