Heather Fisher Professional Drug & Alcohol Interventionist

Alcohol Addiction

Alcohol is a legal and controlled substance consumed by the majority of the population locally. Alcohol is known to lower inhibitions and anxiety. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 14.1 million adults in the United States struggled with an alcohol use disorder in 2019. Alcoholism is characterized by a physical dependence on alcohol and the inability to stop drinking without intervention and despite the negative consequences to an individual’s well-being and health. Alcoholism is a severe medical condition regarded by the American Psychiatric Association and diagnosable in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

Alcoholism can take a serious toll on an individual’s life. The disease can develop at any time and is often the result of significant underlying issues. Alcohol addiction affects both men at different rates. Men are more likely to binge drink than women. Still, due to the physiological makeup of women’s bodies, women are at twice the risk for long-term health complications and fatalities due to alcohol abuse.

Symptoms and Effects of Alcohol Abuse

Because of the social nature of drinking in today’s society, alcoholics can sometimes be hard to recognize. There are some ways to tell if a loved one or someone you know is struggling with alcohol in a way that isn’t normal.

Symptoms of alcoholism include:

  • Increased quantity and frequency of use
  • Drinking at inappropriate times like in the morning or at work
  • Only participating in events and citations where alcohol is involved
  • Isolation from family and friends
  • Hiding alcohol
  • Dependence on alcohol to complete simple tasks
  • Depression, irritability, and emotional issues when unable to drink
  • Legal, professional, and personal problems arising connected to alcohol consumption

Addiction is a progressive disease and will only get worse over time. As the body gains a higher tolerance for alcohol consumption, individuals are at a higher risk for long-term health conditions and death due to alcohol poisoning and overdose. Alcohol addiction can cause heart and liver failure, which can also result in fatality.

Other physical effects of alcohol abuse include:

  • Hallucinations, shaking, and delirium tremens
  • Bone loss
  • Vision problems
  • Increased risk of cancer
  • Suppressed immune function
  • Lack of immune system functioning

Addiction affects the part of the brain that controls judgment, thinking, and emotional regulation. People with alcohol addiction also put others at stake when taking dangerous risks while drinking; the Center for Disease Control states that drunk driving kills 28 people every day.

Alcohol Addiction Screening

Adapted from MAST, AUDIT and DSM-5
Responses should be based on behavior over the past 90 days

NOTE: Addiction is progressive, chronic and 100% recoverable when treated.

Disclaimer: This screening is not designed to make a diagnosis or take the place of a professional diagnosis
consultation. Use this brief screening tool to help determine if further action is recommended.
For help in selecting the proper level of treatment in your area please contact our office.

Underlying issues of Alcoholism

The causes of alcoholism are related to multiple internal and external factors, including environment and genetics. The brain chemistry of those suffering from addiction is different from those who do not. Although there is no specific gene known that causes addiction, those who have close relatives with addiction may be at a greater risk for developing the disease over time. Social influences such as friends and childhood experiences also influence the risk of an individual struggling with addiction later in life. Children of alcoholics or who grew up witnessing or experiencing trauma, abuse, and neglect are at a higher risk of using substances later in life.

Alcoholism can develop later in life for the older adult as well, triggered y drastic change and traumatic events including:

  • Grief and loss
  • Sexual assault or rape
  • Divorce
  • Retirement of employment loss
  • Mental health conditions and co-occurring disorders such as bipolar disorder, PTSD, anxiety, and depression

Dual Diagnosis and Addiction Treatment Programs

If you or a loved one is struggling with alcohol, substance abuse, and a mental health disorder, it is vital to seek help. Addiction is a matter of life or death. Utilizing a certified interventionist may help your loved one feel comfortable accepting help. There are many different types of intervention that can be used to help move an individual in the right direction. Intervention services incorporate evidence-based behavioral therapies designed to heal the addicted individual and the family system as a whole.