Beyond drinking socially with friends, or even the rare night out of binge drinking, is the serious and potentially devastating problem of alcoholism. While media portrayals and broader culture have historically created a picture of what the “typical alcoholic” looks or acts like, it is not always easy to identify or dismiss problem drinking within yourself or a loved one.
Nearly 20 percent of those with an alcohol use disorder may be categorized as functional or high-functioning. This means that despite their heavy drinking, they’re able to function at least moderately well in many or all aspects of their work and personal lives. However, this ability to hold a job or perform well in school does not mean that a person is not struggling with an alcohol use disorder.
Understanding High-Functioning Alcoholism
High-functioning alcoholics are individuals who drink an excessive amount of alcohol but are still able to excel or adequately function in their professional and personal lives.
Unlike alcoholics who are unable to keep a job, attend school, or maintain close relationships with friends and loved ones, a high-functioning alcoholic may not appear to be struggling in the most obvious ways.
The National Institutes of Health reports that approximately 19.5 percent of alcoholics in the United States may be categorized as “functional”. However, the limitations that may be involved in identifying the true prevalence of alcohol addiction in research can also mean that this number, as well as general estimates of nationwide alcohol abuse, are lower than actual prevalence.
Alcoholics that are considered highly functional may hide the true extent of their drinking from others and argue that their drinking is under control. They may also not be aware of the costs they are experiencing due to their drinking, as well as how their drinking may be affecting those around them.
Functional or not, problem drinking is never harmless. A person may appear to be doing well on the surface, but eventually the consequences of their alcoholism will become more visible, more debilitating, and more difficult to brush off.
High-functioning alcoholics still face the risk of health and medical problems that can result from alcohol abuse. It can take months, or even years, for the most severe consequences to become more evident and compromise the person’s functionality, but no form of alcohol abuse is sustainable or free from consequence.
It is important to try and identify signs of alcoholism as soon as possible to help the person receive the care they need.
What Are The Signs Of High-Functioning Alcoholism?
It may be more difficult to spot indications of high-functioning alcoholism, as a person may seem to be functioning moderately well in most or all aspects of their life. However, this surface-level veil of doing well overall does not negate the distress a functional alcoholic may be experiencing day-to-day.
Many people who fit within the “functional” subtype of alcoholism can be in denial about having a problem. They may also attempt to hide or downplay their drinking in front of family and friends.
While it may be trickier to spot signs of high-functioning alcoholism, some signs that have been identified by researchers and other professionals include:
- morning time/day-drinking
- drinking alone
- making jokes about how much they drink
- neglecting or losing friendships/relationships
- memory lapses after or while drinking
- drinking to relax or feel more comfortable in social situations
- asking family or friends to cover for them under circumstances where drinking has affected their work/school
In addition, a functional alcoholic may also have comorbid issues, such as mental illness. Approximately 25 percent of functional alcoholics also struggle with depression. Someone struggling with functioning alcoholism may also experience moderate to intense anxiety, frequent mood swings, thoughts of suicide, or exhibit disordered eating patterns.
The Damage They Do
Those deemed to be “high-functioning” often end up destroying their personal relationships because of their denial. They simply won’t seek the help they need, which often alienates people worried about them. It also gives them carte blanche to behave poorly towards friends and family members, further increasing their alienation.
Work and legal problems are also common with those considering themselves to be “high-functioning.” That’s because they often end up going to work and driving while drunk. Once they cross this threshold, they truly run the risk of transitioning from “high-functioning” to collapsing into the very cliche they had mocked.
And that’s just the damage done to their personal and emotional lives: “high-functioning” alcohol users often suffer from severe health problems, which include:
- Weight gain
- Quicker aging
- Increased risk of heart problems
- Nervous system damage
- Liver disease
- Poor immune system function
- Increased risk of some forms of cancer
How To Confront A High-Functioning Alcoholic
Confronting someone you care about with concerns about their drinking can be a difficult thing to do. It can be distressing to admit to yourself that a friend or loved one is abusing alcohol.
When preparing yourself to confront someone who appears to be functional, you may feel more doubt about the presence or legitimacy of the problem. You may go through a back-and-forth period, debating whether their drinking is an issue that is worth of confrontation.
You may wish to approach this person on your own, or stage an intervention with other family and friends present. If the person has been unwilling to seek help in previous confrontations, then it may be the time to stage an intervention with several concerned parties present.
Intervention participants may include close friends, close family members, spouses, children, as well as a professional therapist or counselor to help guide the process. However, it is up to you and any other concerned parties to decide which approach you believe may be most effective as a way to get through to your loved one.
Getting Treatment For A High-Functioning Alcoholic
There are a number of treatment options available to help you or a loved one receive help for alcohol abuse. Seeking treatment may seem like an intimidating process, and the deep denial that is often harbored by functional alcoholics can often create additional obstacles.
Treatment for high-functioning alcoholism can be individualized to meet the needs of the person seeking help, and may be available on an outpatient basis, or within a residential or inpatient facility.
Factors that may be considered when determining what kind of treatment a person needs may include how long the person has been abusing alcohol, if they have comorbid illnesses or addictions, and if they have received previous help for their drinking.
To determine what level of care or course of treatment would be most appropriate to best meet the needs of someone you know who struggles with alcohol addiction, contact one of our treatment specialists today.
If you think going out with the girls for a few drinks before your baby is born is acceptable, think again. Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Disorder (FASD) is a condition where a fetus develops brain damage due to alcohol consumed by its mother and is a very, real danger. A few drinks now, might be condemning your unborn child to a very difficult life.
Most damage occurs in the beginning of a pregnancy, when things are beginning to develop. During weeks six to nine, a baby develops facial features and crucial organs. Professor Neil McIntosh, an Edinburgh-based Neonatologist, says there is scientific evidence that shows mothers who drink during this three-week window are more likely to have babies with the facial deformities associated with FASD. So when is okay to drink during pregnancy? Never.
How Can We Identify This Global Problem?
It is believed that the dangers of imbibing while pregnant were known as far back as the ancient Greeks, though Fetal Alcohol Syndrome wasn’t officially diagnosed until 1973. Since then, the syndrome has continued to be a problem in countries around the world. It is estimated that 1 in 500 babies born in the United States will be affected with this condition. Statistics vary by race with the highest rates in the US occurring among Native Americans. Canadian Aboriginals also have a high occurrence, followed by South Africans and Russians.
Behavioral And Physical Characteristics of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
There are several characteristics, both physical and behavioral, that are often shared by those affected by FASD. Physically, the shape of the head is often smoother, eyes are smaller than normal, the ridge between the nose and lip is under developed, and the upper lip is thinner than usual. Deformity of the limbs, low weight, hearing, kidney, and heart difficulties can also result.
Mentally, a host of problems can result from drinking with an unborn human inside of you. In infants and young children, these range from lack of focus, developmental delays, trouble understanding cause and effect, and problems with boundaries.
But what happens when a child with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome grows to adulthood? Oftentimes, life is hard for them. A condition such as this, involving the brain, cannot be outgrown. A mother drinking alcohol before her child is born has scarred that child for life. 90% of adults with FASD have mental health issues, and 80% find it difficult to keep a job. They often lack impulse control, have a “short fuse,” and cannot understand concepts such as time or money. Short-term memory issues can also come into play.
Society is not equipped to handle those who may look normal, but don’t function like average adults. Many struggling with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome feel like they are forever children, stuck in a harsh adult world. Next time you reach for a bottle of wine or head out for an evening of cocktails, think about what you’re doing. The price of your indulgences now may well be your unborn child’s lifelong health.
Contact us at Alcoholtreatment.net to learn more.
Consuming alcohol is widely prevalent within American society. According to the National Institute for Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), of adults surveyed in 2014 in the United States, “71 percent reported that they drank in the past year. They continued to say, that of this percentage “16.3 million adults ages 18 and older (6.8 percent of this age group) had an alcohol use disorder (AUD).”
When alcohol is causing distress to a person in a capacity that is causing them notable harm, oftentimes an intervention may need to occur. This intervention may be a person interceding on their own behalf or it may be done by a family member or through a court order. Today, there exist numerous tools to help determine the extent of this damage, and the prevalence of alcohol use and abuse within a person’s life. One of the most commonly used tools to ascertain the presence of an AUD is the Alcohol Use Inventory (AUI).
What Is An Alcohol Use Disorder?
An alcohol use disorder is a term that medical personal use as a diagnosis for an individual who has encountered a significant measure of harm or disruption in life due to drinking. Previously, the 4th edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) listed two disorders that dealt with these scenarios—either alcohol abuse or alcohol dependence. Currently, in the most recent 5th edition of the DSM, this designation has been changed. Now, these two disorders have merged into one—what we now call an alcohol use disorder. This disorder is classified into the following as a diagnostic tool: mild, moderate, and severe.
Drinking, though socially acceptable and encouraged, is not without danger. NIAAA reports that “nearly 88,000 people (approximately 62,000 men and 26,000 women) die from alcohol-related causes annually, making it the fourth leading preventable cause of death in the United States.” These deaths may have stemmed from a variety of alcohol-related incidents, two of which include binge or heavy drinking. Most importantly, these deaths can be preventable with intervention, proper education, and treatment.
The National Council on Alcohol and Drug Dependence advises us of further dangers, stating that “over time, excessive alcohol use, both in the form of heavy drinking or binge drinking, can lead to numerous health problems, chronic diseases, neurological impairments and social problems.”
NIAAA defines binge drinking as “a pattern of drinking that brings blood alcohol concentration (BAC) levels to 0.08 g/dL. This typically occurs after 4 drinks for women and 5 drinks for men—in about 2 hours.” This illustrates that even on the nights that a person is drinking socially, he may in fact be endangering his health and wellbeing. As defined by SAMHSA, heavy drinking is “drinking 5 or more drinks on the same occasion on each of 5 or more days in the past 30 days.”
Why Do We Assess People’s Drinking?
In order to provide the most effective treatment, a provider must understand the extent by which a person’s life is effected by alcohol. Some individuals may exhibit worrisome drinking, but may not yet have a dependency. This use and abuse may stem from various life circumstances or emotions, including loneliness, boredom, fear, a desire to fit in, or possibly to be more socially inclined.
If they’re not careful, some of these people’s drinking behaviors may progress into heavier and more constant drinking, which could form a dependence. For others, as this drinking may be vastly situational—and at times temporary—if the aforementioned situations resolve themselves or a person alters their perception or perspective, they might curb their drinking and again consume only what is considered to be social or low-risk drinking. Some of these people may even stop drinking altogether. The capacity to change like this is because these people were not struggling with a dependence.
For an individual who struggles with alcohol dependence, the body has reached a point where it has become physically dependent on alcohol. Tolerance has increased, he may struggle with the inability to quit, and if he does succeed in quitting, he will experience withdrawal symptoms.
Denial is a hallmark of substance abuse. It is a very dangerous and crippling emotion, one that can stunt a person’s growth towards sobriety and prevent them from receiving the care that they need. An assessment or screening can go beyond this and provide a clear picture of the reality of the situation so that a person can receive the help that they might not yet know they need.
A person who suffers from a dependency or alcoholism will require a different mode of treatment than a person who abuses alcohol without symptoms of physical dependency. Certain elements, such as therapy and education, might be the same—and in the case of a person who is drinking heavily for a period of time without dependency, this might be enough to achieve resolution. However, in the case of alcoholism, a person might need to receive treatment that is more in depth and requires a level of intensity that may be best served in an inpatient or outpatient treatment program.
For those who suffer from a dependency, there are greater health concerns, including the risk of withdrawal. Withdrawal can be very serious and can at times even be life-threatening; this is not something that a person should go through on his own. Thoroughly assessing a person’s drinking habits can help a provider to determine if he is high-risk for withdrawal. This will help them to plan accordingly and provide supportive care for this critical time.
What Is The Alcohol Use Inventory?
Just as each person is unique and comes from a background and current life circumstances that are different from the next person, each person will have different attitudes regarding behaviors and engagements with alcohol. This test is beneficial for the reason that it recognizes these things and allows for a unique representation of alcohol’s effects on a person’s life.
The AUI is a self-report inventory, which means that when you take it you are taking it on your own and not being interviewed. A potential downfall of this methodology is that it requires complete honesty. As we’ve discussed before, denial is commonplace for those who suffer from alcohol abuse. This, along with any confusion or deliberate attempts to mislead, could sway the results. If you find yourself in a situation that presents you with the opportunity to take this inventory, remember—it is in your best interest to be honest so that you can get the help you need to get your life back on track.
This inventory consists of 228 questions that are broken down into 24 scales. These questions focus on the following, as defined by NIAAA:
- Perceptions of benefits derived from drinking
- Styles of drinking
- Ideas about consequences of drinking
- Thoughts about how to deal with drinking problems
This assessment provides a provider—whether it be a doctor, therapist, or an individual who works at a rehabilitation facility—a venue by which to determine how often, how much, and for how long a person’s has been drinking for. The results of this inventory will be compared to any other determinations the substance abuse professional may have made, which may include interviews, other assessments, or screening tools. Combined, these things can also help to illustrate how these alcohol-related factors impact a person’s life or how they perceive their drinking and the effects on their life; oftentimes these two things may be radically different.
Let Us Assist You In Determining The Help That Is Right For You
Please don’t let your fear or shame get in the way of gaining control over your drinking. If you’re worried that your drinking has gone beyond what you once considered to be social, if you find that you engage in binge or heavy drinking, or if suffer the symptoms of an alcohol dependency, please give us a call today. Our staff has the resources to help you find answers to any questions you have and the tools to help you succeed in your sobriety. Contact us today at AlcoholTreatment.net.
Within the United States alcohol use is exceedingly prevalent; the amount of people that use alcohol in moderate proportions is significant and on the rise.
Today, cancer is so prevalent that a great many Americans know someone personally affected by this potentially ravaging disease. The SEER Cancer Statistics Review estimates that roughly 39.6 percent of Americans will be diagnosed with some form of cancer within their life; while an article published on MedicineNet.com quoted Kenneth Olden, Ph.D., director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and the National Toxicology Program as saying “among U.S. residents, 1 in 2 men and 1 in 3 women will develop cancer at some point in their lifetimes.”
However you look at it, statistics show that cancer will likely become something you, or someone you love, will contend with. The unfortunate and shocking truth is that for a disease that is so prevalent, and for one that can be so deadly, people do not always know what can increase their risk.
Even Moderate Levels Of Alcohol Can Increase Your Risk
When people think about alcohol use and the dangers accompanying with it, they may many times think of the risks as being solely associated with either abuse or alcoholism; though it is true that these things carry a wide range of dangers and health concerns, what people must consider is that research is beginning to show more and more that even small amounts of alcohol can increase a person’s chance of getting certain cancers.
What many Americans fail to realize is that even within the moderate range—or what some people may consider to be social drinking—a person may be increasing their probability of developing certain types of cancer. Dietary Guidelines for Americans defines moderate drinking as “up to one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men.”
A study in the American Journal of Public Health found that “alcohol consumption resulted in an estimated 18 200 to 21 300 cancer deaths, or 3.2 percent to 3.7 percent of all US cancer deaths.” Researchers determined that of these deaths, 25 percent to 35 percent were attributed to those that drank 1.5 drinks or less per day, a number that falls right between the guidelines of what is considered to moderate for men and women. The study went on to say that “our findings add to the growing research evidence showing that, in addition to risks at high consumption levels, regular alcohol use at low consumption levels is also associated with increased cancer risk.”
The Public Isn’t Aware Of This Risk
This knowledge is to the scientific community nothing new, but sadly there is a divide between what they know and what your average citizen understands. Medscape reminds us that “in 1988, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) declared that alcohol was a carcinogen,” or a cancer-causing agent.
The CDC states that “alcohol affects every organ in the body.” This may come as a shock, as some people may think that alcohol only affects the organs that are responsible for processing it, such as the liver. Though it is true that alcohol does wreak havoc on this organ, what we’re realizing is that many people fail to understand exactly to what extent alcohol can raise your risk of cancer, and also what cancers, specifically it increases.
According to a recent report commissioned and published by Cancer Research UK, there is a vast discrepancy between public opinion and knowledge and scientific fact. When queried, 80 percent of the study participants attributed alcohol to liver cancer, whereas only 18 percent did to breast cancer. This is in stark comparison to the actual numbers—in the UK there were 400 cases of liver cancer and 3,200 cases of breast cancer each year that were documented as being related to alcohol use—numbers that illustrate the opposite of what people were most apt to think on the subject.
Within this study group, only 12.9 percent of unprompted people reported that they knew of the association between alcohol and cancer; when prompted, this number only rose to 47 percent, leaving 1 in 3 people yet unaware of this connection. Less than half of the people that responded realized that breast or mouth and throat cancers could be linked to an “increased risk at low-drinking levels.” This illustrates with frightening clarity, the disparity of knowledge, and in turn the lack of information that people have on this subject.
A similar study, The American Institute for Cancer Research’s 2015 Cancer Risk Awareness Survey Report showed that in the US, despite a 5 percent increase since 2013, only 43 percent of Americans polled for the survey attributed alcohol to being linked to cancer risk.
Why Does Alcohol Increase Your Risk Of Cancer?
Currently, scientists don’t fully understand how alcohol influences the risk for cancer. They do know that there are numerous ways that the risks increase, and also that these factors may be unique to the specific type of cancer. The following are the ways that they theorize, based on current research, how alcohol causes damage and creates this greater possibility.
Tissue Damage: Alcohol can be invasive and irritating, especially to the delicate tissues within the mouth and throat. It is theorized that this—even more so with regular or heavy use—can cause damage on a cellular level. As the alcohol is processed, various byproducts result. These, and the alcohol itself may inflame the liver, which could then lead to scarring. As those cells strive to repair and regain balance, alterations in their DNA may occur, which may then set the foundation for the growth of cancerous cells.
Chemical Interactions: As your body processes the alcohol, its chemical properties change; at certain stages within the colon and rectum bacteria convert it to acetaldehyde—in some degree, this chemical also occurs in our mouths and gut linings as a result of bacteria that break down portions of the alcohol. In clinical trials with laboratory animals this chemical has been shown to cause cancer.
Cigarettes May Increase The Risk: This is because the presence of alcohol may impair the body’s ability to repair cellular damage caused by the cigarette’s toxic chemical burden; also, as the American Cancer Society (ACS) says “alcohol can act as a solvent, helping harmful chemicals in tobacco to get inside the cells that line the digestive tract.” Alcohol also disrupts the body’s detoxification process by limiting and slowing the body’s ability to flush harmful toxins out of your body, thus increasing the chance that they can cause cellular damage.
Decreased Nutrients: Alcohol decreases the levels of nutrients in your body for several reasons. Folate is one of these; one of its roles within your body is to help protect cells against turning cancerous. First, the alcohol can actually inhibit your body’s ability to assimilate or absorb certain essential nutrients from your diet or supplement intake; this is due in part to the damage that it exerts on your stomach and intestinal lining. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism says that “even if nutrients are digested and absorbed, alcohol can prevent them from being fully utilized by altering their transport, storage, and excretion.”
Secondly, many times those that drink heavily may not be eating on a regular basis—or when they do eat they may not be eating a proper and nutritious diet, thus depriving themselves of the very things that can help protect them.
Nutrients including the vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that typically derive themselves from our food are crucial in helping our body to combat damage, while also helping our body to regrow and heal after the substance’s assault.
Hormonal Imbalances: Studies show that alcohol can alter the levels of certain hormones within the body, including raising estrogen; this hormone is involved in processes surrounding breast growth and development, thus it is thought that it may encourage cancer growth within this area.
Weight Gain: Alcohol can be calorie laden in and of itself; for some, drinking encourages them to eat certain foods that may not be healthy due to their higher caloric values and fat content. For both these reasons, a person may gain weight; studies exhibit that several types of cancer have higher risk components for people that are overweight or obese.
What Cancers Have An Increased Risk?
According to the most current research, there is firm evidence exhibiting a clear link of alcohol increasing the risk of seven cancers. The ACS emphasizes the severity of this correlation, stating that of “each of these cancers, the risk increases with the amount of alcohol consumed.” The AJPH study concluded that breast cancer ranks as the leading cause of alcohol-related cancer deaths for women at 56-66 percent; and for men, upper airway and esophageal cancers at 53-71 percent.
Here, we break down these seven cancers and speak about the effect that alcohol has on these body organs or systems:
Mouth, Throat, Voice Box, And Esophageal Cancers: There is a wealth of research that supports this; the National Cancer Institute says that “people who consume 50 or more grams of alcohol per day (approximately 3.5 or more drinks per day) have at least a two to three times greater risk of developing these cancers than nondrinkers.” Studies find that smoking along with drinking magnifies this danger. For these reasons, a person that smokes and drinks needs to be especially conscientious about how these substances together present greater danger.
Liver Cancer: Your liver is your body’s primary organ for detoxification. There is an established link that alcohol use over extended periods of time increases the prevalence of this type of cancer. Within the presence of acetaldehyde, liver cells grow quicker; this increased rate of regeneration may increase the occurrence of changes to the cellular DNA that could heighten risk for cancer. Constant and large quantities of alcohol can cause damage to the liver, causing inflammation or in the worst case cirrhosis; research suggests these both raise the risk factor.
Colon And Rectal Cancer: Statistically this is greater in men than in women, however, there is causal evidence for both genders. A National Institutes of Health article cited that in comparison to people that completely abstained from drinking, a heavy drinker’s “risk of polyps was increased three times for drinkers who did not smoke and 12 times for both drinkers and smokers.”
Breast cancer: The ACS states that “even a few drinks a week is linked with an increased risk of breast cancer in women.” Medscape reported on the findings of a study focused specifically on breast cancer and alcohol consumption that involved women from 10 European counties for roughly 11 years. It found that “each 10-g/day increase in alcohol intake raised the hazard ratio by 4.2 percent.” Subsequently, decreasing the amount of alcohol a person consumes may be a way to directly lower this danger.
It is theorized that this connection is due in part to alcohol’s role in increasing estrogen within a woman’s body. Studies show that increased levels of estrogen, can at a certain point increase the chance of cancer. Lastly, this risk may rise for woman that are not consuming enough folate (paired with the possibility that the alcohol itself is depleting the folate). This may be supplemented by either vitamins or by diet.
Studies also suggest that alcohol use may increase the likelihood of certain other cancers, such as that of the pancreas; however, more research is needed to definitely illustrate this connection.
Lack Of Education
The studies indicate that there is an apparent lack of public education on this matter. Due to increased research into this area, experts stress that more needs to be done to inform the public of this great risk. In example, the AJPH study said “Our estimate of 19 500 alcohol-related cancer deaths is greater than the total number of deaths from some types of cancer that receive much more prominent attention, such as melanoma or ovarian cancer.” This alone makes plain the need for greater and more accessible education and intervention.
Also, people are confused by the varying degrees of opinions and research on the matter—some research purports the health benefits of drinking various types of alcohol, including wine. This is not to say that there is not a certain measure of truth to those studies, but more so that a person must be conscientious and informed so that they may personally weigh all the factors when deciding how to incorporate alcohol within their life.
Even though some studies suggest low amounts of alcohol intake may decrease risk for heart disease we urge you to remember that this is not a good reason to start drinking alcohol, especially since there are other ways to decrease this risk.
Timothy Naimi, a School of Medicine and School of Public Health associate professor and co-author of the AJPH study is referenced within an article published by Boston University as stating that the amount of deaths from alcohol “dwarf any small number of people who may derive benefit from low-dose alcohol.” The article also referenced his opinion on the subject, stating “that among all people who start drinking, 5 to 10 times as many die from it as are benefited by it.”
Get Answers And Help Today
Any time a person chooses to drink, regardless of the amount, they need to fully realize the reality of the choice they are making. If you’re fearful that your alcohol intake may be endangering you—no matter the amount—please do not hesitate to get more information today so that you may make a decision that best protects your body and mind. The sooner you cut back or stop drinking, the lower your risk for developing serious health concerns. Remember: we’re here to help; we have trained professionals standing by to assist you in finding the answers, truth and help that you deserve. Contact us today at AlcoholTreatment.net.
Alcoholism harms many systems in the human body. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIH), nearly 88,000 people die annually from alcohol-related causes in the US. Overconsumption of alcohol can cause immediate issues, such as slurred speech, poor balance, stomach pain, vomiting, loss of consciousness, and redness in the face. Over time, the physical symptoms of alcoholism can lead to a multitude of issues in the body.
Many people struggling with alcoholism are unaware of the damage done to the liver until the illness is irreversible. The effects of alcohol can mask telltale symptoms of a larger problem. In 2013, 46.4 percent of liver disease and 72.7 percent of cirrhosis deaths were alcohol-related. Identifying the symptoms of liver disease is important for early prevention:
- Yellowing of the eyes and skin (jaundice)
- Abdominal swelling and pain
- Dark urine
- Pale or bloody stool
- Lethargy, nausea, and vomiting
Alcoholism is linked to 1 in 3 liver transplants in the US. Alcohol consumption can increase the risk of cancers of the mouth, esophagus, pharynx, larynx, liver, and breast. The liver serves as a processor for metabolic functions, can be seriously damaged, leading to trouble in other functions of the body.
Central Nervous System
Nervous system damage can often be initially identified by a sudden headache that won’t go away. This may be the most difficult to identify with alcoholism, as headaches, confusion, short-term memory loss, and blurred vision are common side effects of alcohol consumption. In addition to the initial symptoms of central nervous system damage, sufferers may experience:
- Loss of feeling, weakness, or tingling in extremities
- Sight loss, double vision, and memory loss
- Trouble with coordination
Alcoholic neuropathy (nerve damage due to alcohol consumption) is a common problem with alcoholism. This condition impacts the body’s ability to carry out certain voluntary and involuntary functions, and is responsible for the symptomatic trembling often characterized by alcoholism. Damage to the central nervous system also lowers defenses in the heart and can lead to life-threatening disease.
Extended use of alcohol can cause a condition known as cardiomyopathy, or weakening of heart muscle. This condition leads to high blood pressure, stroke, and cardiac arrest. Some of the signs of heart trouble include:
- Pain, pressure, and heaviness in the chest and arms
- Radiating discomfort or cramping in the jaw, throat, or arms
- Sweating, dizziness, nausea, and vomiting
- High blood pressure
Alcoholism takes a great toll on functions in the heart. Increased caloric intake and triglycerides in the blood leads to significant weight gain, and increases the likelihood of heart disease. Obesity is the number one cause of heart disease, claiming 39 percent of 600,000 annual deaths on average.
Alcoholism affects nearly 17 million Americans each day in the United States. Each person in this census is likely to face some form of health problem if alcoholism continues. Identifying the aspects of alcoholism can aid in finding help before further illness occurs. Some of the physical symptoms of alcoholism include:
- Increasingly severe hangovers and recovery time
- Increased tolerance
- Inability to stop or reduce consumption
- Withdrawal symptoms when unable to consume
Physical characteristics of alcoholism may vary from person to person. Understanding the impact on vital organs can help identify trouble as a result of alcohol consumption. Unfortunately, the physical characteristics of alcoholism are signs that the body is in trouble. The most prominent indicator of alcoholism is the body’s reaction to lack of alcohol.
Withdrawal from alcoholism is similar to that of any addictive substance. Alcohol withdrawal can occur in any individual suffering from alcoholism, and can vary in severity based on regular consumption, and length of use. Some symptoms of alcohol withdrawal include:
- Tremors, convulsions, and uncontrolled shaking
- Profuse sweating, seizures, and dehydration
- Agitation and/or anxiety
- Nausea or vomiting
Withdrawal symptoms affect each person differently. In rehab, many people turn to medication-aided withdrawals, easing the transition into sobriety. Medications such as Diazepam and Librium act as sedatives to lessen the discomfort while experiencing withdrawals.
Time To Quit
The physical implications of alcoholism affect many people every day. The damage done to the liver, heart, and central nervous system can become greater over time and significantly impact the quality of life in those struggling with alcoholism. Many people require medical intervention to find sobriety. Getting help now can greatly impact your overall health and prevent further damage from alcoholism.
We Can Help
If you’re experiencing some or all of the physical symptoms of alcoholism, you’re not alone. There are options to lead a healthier, more comfortable life. If you are worried about the implications of alcoholism, AlcoholTreatment.net is here to help. We are here to answer any questions you have regarding addiction and can help find resources for treatment. Contact us today.
Alcoholism is a common condition. In the US, 17.6 million adults have identified alcohol dependence issues. Several million more engage in risky alcohol consumption, which could manifest into addiction. Between 2010 and 2012, alcoholism was a contributing factor in 30 percent of those who died from alcohol poisoning.
Identifying alcoholism can be tricky. Some people drink in excess for one night, and never think about touching alcohol again. Others find that the desire to drink becomes uncontrollable and intoxication quickly becomes a way of life. When it comes to alcoholism, it’s not just quantity or frequency of alcohol consumption, but the impact it has on your life.
Susceptibility Of Alcoholism
Genetic predisposition can play a big role in the development of alcoholism. Over 50 percent of adults are predisposed due to family ties to alcohol dependence. Socioeconomic, psychological, and the use of other substances can also increase the chances that alcoholism will develop. Studies have concluded that:
- 75 percent of alcohol poisoning deaths involve adults between the ages of 35 and 64.
- The majority if alcohol deaths are among male Caucasians.
- American Indians and Alaskan natives have the highest concentration of alcohol poisoning deaths per million.
- Starting to drink earlier in life can greatly influence your relationship with alcohol later on.
Excessive drinking increases the likelihood of developing some form of dependency. Excessive drinking is defined by binging, heavy drinking, or any alcohol consumption by pregnant women or people who are underage. Binge drinking is defined as consuming 4 or more drinks for women, or 5 or more drinks for men, during a single occasion. Heavy drinking is defined as consuming 8 or more drinks per week for women, or 15 for men.
Identifying a predisposition to alcoholism can work in your favor, as you are able to be more mindful of your relationship with alcohol. If you find yourself questioning whether or not you are an alcoholic, there may be some issues that need to be addressed. Alcoholism is best identified when you consider the place that alcohol has in your life. Many people are unaware of the impact of alcoholism until something catastrophic happens. Knowing the symptoms can help prevent such occurrences. Some symptoms of alcoholism include:
- Legal, relationship, or work troubles due to alcohol use
- Inability to control consumption once you’ve started drinking
- Spending a lot of time drinking and recovering from the effects of alcohol
- Drinking at inappropriate or dangerous times, like while driving a car
- Blacking out without memory of your time under the influence
- Hurting yourself or others while under the influence
- Continuing to drink despite damage to health, or warnings from a physician
- Concern from loved ones that your drinking has gotten out of hand
- Making excuses for excessive drinking, or you hide it altogether
- Drinking alone, or first thing in the morning
- Being concerned with alcohol supply, and feel anxiety when alcohol can’t be obtained
- Feeling guilty for your drinking, but continue to drink
- Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when you are not under the influence – Fever, chills, gastrointestinal discomfort, clamminess, agitation, depression, and anxiety.
There is a big difference between looking forward to having a beer after work and fixating on the beer until you get home. If you rely on alcohol for fun or function, this could be a red flag for you. If you feel that you spend too much time with, or recovering from, the effects of alcohol, it may be time to seek help. Addressing these issues swiftly can prevent more unfortunate circumstance and aid in regaining control of your health.
Help For Alcoholism
Alcoholism affects the lives of millions of people every day. While it is not easy, many of these people require some form of treatment to get better. Identifying the warning signs of alcoholism in oneself is the first step in finding a solution to the problem. If you believe that you are an alcoholic, you may wish to pursue treatment. There are many options for finding sobriety, including inpatient or outpatient rehab, AA, and one-on-one therapy. These methods of treatment have help many people regain control in their lives, and can help you, as well.
We Can Help
If you believe that you are addicted to alcohol, you may wonder where to go from here. The caring staff at AlcoholTreatment.net is here to help. We can guide you through the treatment process and help find resources for maintaining sobriety. Contact us today.
Cancer is one of the scariest words in the English language and oral cancer is one of the least understood and discussed. Unfortunately, an increasing number of people are falling victim to this disease, a fact that is linked to heavy use of alcohol and tobacco.
Important Oral Cancer Statistics
Oral cancer is often one of the deadliest types of cancers in the world. The problem is often a result of the fact that it is hard to diagnose. Often, it is an invisible cancer and one that is only obvious when it metastasizes to another part of the body, such as to the brain or the lymph nodes of the neck.
As a result, oral cancer has a higher death rate than many other cancers, such as Hodgkin’s lymphoma, testicle cancer, thyroid cancer, and cervical cancer. The following statistics indicate just how widespread this problem is in America:
- Nearly 50,000 Americans are diagnosed with oral cancer every year
- Almost 10,000 people die from it: that’s one person every hour, 24 hours a day
- Only 57% of those diagnosed lived longer than five years
- Oral cancer comprises 85% of all head and neck cancers
- A person who successful beats oral cancer is 20 times likelier to develop another cancer
- Over $3.2 billion is spent every year treating oral cancer
Clearly, oral cancer is an unknown danger plaguing the health of the nation. And it is exasperated by the use of alcohol and tobacco, to the point where it’s imperative that any smoker or drinker curtail their habit or quit entirely.
Alcohol Is Linked To Oral Cancer
Heavy drinkers probably never think about oral cancer, but their habit actually increases their chance of oral cancer. Part of this is increased risk is due to tobacco use: alcohol dehydrates the walls of your mouth, causing them to be more susceptible to tobacco carcinogens. As a result, pairing the two habits increases your risk even further.
But even if you don’t smoke, alcohol consumption can still contribute to oral cancer. For example, oral surgeons at UT Southwestern Medical Center have found that people who develop cirrhosis due to alcohol use often suffer from an increase in oral tissues. These tissues often begin growing uncontrollably, leading to an increased cancer risk.
How much does drinking increase your oral cancer risk? Studies have shown that excessive alcohol consumption (up to five drinks a day) could increase your risk of mouth cancer 30 times. And around a third of all cancers in the mouth and throat are due to alcohol use. Remember that this applies to excessive alcohol abuse: a person who has one drink every night or two is likely safe.
Tobacco Is A Huge Influence On Oral Cancer
Not surprisingly, tobacco use is linked to increased risks of oral cancer. For example, the U.S. Public Health Service reported various statistics that show just how much tobacco use increases your oral cancer risk. The level of this increase varies based on gender and age. For example, they found that:
- Male cigarette smokers have an increased risk of 27.7 times
- 80% of all oral cancer deaths were attributable to smoking
- 3-5 years of smoking abstinence decreases risk by up to 50%
- People who use smokeless tobacco (snuff or chew) increase their risk by up to 14 times
That’s right: even smokeless tobacco increases your risk of oral cancer. In fact, it may be even more harmful than smoking. After all, you’re placing the tobacco directly against your oral tissues. As a result, they are absorbing incredibly high amounts of carcinogens.
And while oral cancer risk only goes up if you pair excessive tobacco use with alcohol use, tobacco is more dangerous than alcohol: even smoking two to three cigarettes a day increases your oral cancer risk.
Avoiding This Danger
If you’re concerned oral cancer, quit using tobacco and alcohol. This can help you minimize your risk and also improve your overall health. You should also get checked for oral cancer. Other ways you can lower your risk of oral cancer include:
- Eating healthier
- Brushing daily
- Exercising (to promote your immune system)
These simple techniques may not completely remove your risk of oral cancer. However, by combining them with a life free of alcohol and tobacco, you have greatly decreased your chances of developing oral cancer. In fact, quitting these habits for 10 years may completely negate any oral cancer risk they caused.
Asking For Help
For many people, quitting alcohol and smoking will come relatively easily. Unfortunately, many more people will struggle to break the addictive bond of alcohol. We can help. At AlcoholTreatment.net, we have access to a wide range of addiction experts that can help get you on the right track to permanent sobriety.
It is estimated that one in twelve Americans have a problem with alcohol abuse or dependence. When searching for a definition of what constitutes alcoholism, one thing is clear: it is not only how often you drink, but also the manner by which you drink, the quantity in which you drink, and the effects of drinking on your life, that allow for the idea of addiction or alcoholism to be applied to alcohol consumption.
What Is Considered Moderate Drinking?
Dietary Guidelines for Americans considers the following to be moderate consumption: up to one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men. However, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse considers low-risk drinking as “no more than 3 drinks on any single day” for women and “no more than 4 drinks on any single day” for men. It is important to note that this standard applies to a singular day, and is not intended to be a guideline for usage over the course of several days. If, for instance, a woman consumed three drinks every day for a week, totaling 21 drinks, she would be severely over 7 drinks per week; which is considered the maximum amount to stay within the low-risk category.
Excessive Alcohol Use and Its Characteristics
The CDC notes that “excessive alcohol use includes binge drinking, heavy drinking, any alcohol use by people under the minimum legal drinking age, and any alcohol use by pregnant women.”
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism defines binge drinking as “a pattern of alcohol consumption that brings the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level to 0.08% or more.” Binge drinking occurs when alcohol is generally consumed within a two-hour period at the rate of four or more drinks for women and five or more drinks for men. Heavy drinking reflects on an individual’s weekly consumption; for women that amount is eight drinks or more, whereas for men it is fifteen.
When considering an individual’s drinking habits, it is important, no matter what the frequency, to be on the lookout for these warning signs: routine drinking, changes in habit, and physical changes. When any or all of these behaviors become present it can be indicative that social drinking may have progressed into the more dangerous realm of alcohol abuse, or dependency.
Is There A Difference Between Alcohol Abuse And Alcoholism?
Yes. And when considering the ramifications of alcohol use on an individual’s life it is very important to become educated and understand the similarities and differences between the two. Both alcohol abuse and alcoholism are harmful to your health; each require specific treatment and are best handled under the care of a trained professional. It is especially important to understand that alcohol abuse, if left unchecked to continue long-term, can turn into alcohol dependence.
Above, we’ve outlined the generally accepted guidelines for low-risk, moderate drinking. Alcohol abuse is anything that surpasses this in amount or frequency. Alcohol abuse constitutes a pattern of drinking that negatively impacts your life. This behavior has harmful repercussions on health, both physical and mental, relationships, and also in one’s ability to perform work properly.
Alcoholism is a dependence on alcohol characterized by a habitual use of alcohol; it is both a physical and mental addiction. According to the American Society for Addiction Medicine, “alcoholism is a primary, chronic disease with genetic, psychosocial, and environmental factors influencing its development and manifestations.”
For an individual addicted to alcohol, they have an excessive preoccupation with alcohol in regards to its use and effects. This mental absorption can result in both attention and responsibility being diverted away from crucial areas of a person’s life and commitments. As their functional tolerance increases, they find themselves drinking more to achieve the desired effect. They also find themselves committing increasing amounts of time to the cycle of drinking and recovering, while taking that time away from their relationships with others.
For someone struggling with an alcohol addiction, they often lack the ability to cease or control their drinking. When they do stop, this sudden abatement is accompanied by physical symptoms, including: nausea, sweating, shakiness, anxiety, an irregular heartbeat, or even seizures. Alcohol is one of the most dangerous drugs to withdraw from. These dangerous withdrawal symptoms are called delirium tremens, or more commonly DTs; they may be potentially deadly. Please be advised, that anytime a person attempts to reduce or cease their consumption of alcohol, it is best undergone with the supervision of a trained, medical professional.
How Do I Determine If I, Or Someone I Love Has A Problem?
Individuals who struggle with alcohol abuse or dependency may have a hard time admitting the full impact of the drug on their life. We’ve compiled the following list of signs and symptoms that might be indicative of an underlying problem:
- Having trouble quitting or “staying on the wagon”
- Memory loss or “blackouts”
- Drinking more or for longer periods of time then you intended
- Increased tolerance
- Decreased interest or involvement in activities that were previously important to you
- Engaging in situations or activities while under the influence that can potentially be unsafe to yourself or others
- Finding that your drinking is interfering with relationships, school, work or other responsibilities
- An increased preoccupation with drinking
- Hiding or disputing that you have a problem
In addition, one of the simplest and most widely used tests is the CAGE questionnaire that follows. Answer the questions as honestly as you can.
- Have you ever felt you needed to cut down on your drinking?
- Have people annoyed you by criticizing your drinking?
- Have you ever felt guilty about drinking?
- Have you ever felt you needed a drink first thing in the morning to steady your nerves or to get rid of a hangover?
If you answered yes to two or more of the questions, it is quite possible that you may have a problem. It is important to remember that proper education is necessary to fully understand what constitutes alcoholism; the observation of a trained professional can be the most useful tool in determining the extent of an individual’s problem. We recommend that you seek help, to assist either you or your loved one navigate your situation and the treatment options that are right for you.
Reach Out To Us Today
Please contact us at AlcoholTreatment.net if you have any further questions about an alcohol addiction, its signs or symptoms, or if you would like information about entering into a rehabilitation facility. We are here to help you get on a healthy path to recovery, so reach out to us today and get your life back on track.
Heavy alcohol consumption can lead to many mental health problems, as it is a natural depressant. This means it disrupts the flow of serotonin in the central nervous system which can further aggravate pre-existing disorders or introduce new problems. In fact, heavy alcohol consumption can eventually lead to psychosis – a very serious mental disease.
Early Warning Signs
Users suffering from psychosis may experience incoherent speech, delusions, hallucinations, and a disconnection with reality. Confusion and agitation are common symptoms, often leading to self-inflicted injury or violence toward others. Unfortunately, psychosis is a condition that gets worse over time. Long-term abuse of alcohol can also develop into Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome, a type of dementia. Catch these early symptoms to diagnose the early stages of psychosis:
- Irrational fears or unfounded suspicions
- Trouble concentrating
- Detachment from family and friends
- Significant changes in sleep – too much, or too little
- Obsessive thoughts
- Anxious behavior
Identifying early warning signs can help prevent more serious damage. Loss of work, home, or relationships can also occur for someone suffering psychosis. If the person who is addicted has progressed beyond the initial stages of psychosis, medical intervention may be a necessity. Many treatment options are available for those suffering from alcohol-induced psychosis.
Alcohol-induced psychosis can be treated with medical intervention. Often, with proper handling and commitment to treatment, people with an addiction to alcohol can recover from and prevent future occurrences. Methods that have proven successful in the treatment and recovery of psychosis include:
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy
- Stabilizing medication
- Long and short-term rehabilitation
- Continuing care through clinical psychiatry
A medical professional can diagnose psychosis and develop a plan for treatment. The idea of treatment can be scary and care should be taken when planning treatment. Reaching out to others and seeking advice for intervention can be an asset to finding the right approach.
Alcohol Withdrawal and Psychosis
Alcohol addiction is difficult to combat alone. Quitting alcohol cold turkey, as opposed to gradual tapering of the substance, can sometimes lead to heavier withdrawal. Swift change in consumption can alter brain chemistry, leading to psychosis. While this should not discourage an alcoholic from kicking the addiction, it’s useful to seek guidance to ensure a safe transition into sobriety.
How To Help
Identifying the early symptoms of alcohol-induced psychosis may be difficult, as you may feel “pushed away,” or frustrated. Psychosis is a frightening experience for everyone involved. While you may not fully understand his or her behavior, you may be able to help in the following ways:
- Communicate concerns with mutual friends and family
- Offer support, and encourage positive behavior
- Refrain from judgment, arguing or voicing concerns directly
- Pay attention to behaviors and changes
- Remember that agitation is not personal
- If self-harm is a concern, contact a medical professional immediately
Psychosis can make a friend or family member unrecognizable. A careful approach may be necessary to prevent further isolation and allow more time to get help. In the event that psychosis has taken over a loved one, consider reaching out to someone who has had a similar experience.
Get Help Today
If you or someone you know is suffering from alcohol-induced psychosis, please do not hesitate to contact us at AlcoholTreatment.net. We are here to guide you towards finding treatment for alcohol-induced psychosis and regaining stability in your life.
With over 16 million people living with alcoholism in the US, you are likely to encounter a coworker suffering from alcohol addiction at some point. While many alcoholics function very well in their careers, some have difficulties that may need to be addressed. In the event that you find yourself working with an alcoholic, you may be concerned with the added complications that alcoholism entails. Handling these concerns in a proactive manner will ensure a positive outcome for all involved.
Alcoholism affects the addict in many ways. Relationships, homes, and careers often struggle as a result of addiction. While this should not discourage confidence in any one employee, it is important to understand the potential risks:
- Alcoholism causes health issues in the user, which may lead to more instances of call-ins or late arrivals. Attendance is the number one cause for dismissal in the workplace.
- Outbursts and other unprofessional behavior can occur due to alcohol dependence.
- Hangovers and preoccupation can cause the coworker to experience fatigue and loss of focus.
- Studies have shown that alcoholics in the workplace are 2.7 times more likely to become injured on the job. Nearly 25% of workplace injuries are alcohol-related.
- 11% of workforce deaths involve alcohol.
Monitoring behaviors and performance is standard in the workplace. A known addiction may prompt a more thorough assessment to prevent complications in the future. In the event that alcoholism becomes a concern in the workplace, it is important to deal with issues quickly.
How Coworkers Can Help
Offer words of encouragement and support, but be mindful of your own work. If a coworker’s addiction is affecting your performance, it is important to take action. Refrain from complaining to other coworkers about the issue, and never approach your coworker about his or her addiction. Unnecessary conflict in the workplace can backfire, placing more strain on the work flow and overall morale. Always communicate issues regarding safety or performance to your supervisor.
In the event that performance becomes a problem, the supervisor must decide how to proceed. Companies should have policies and procedures in place properly handle infractions. Alcoholism may cause more problems in the workplace, however, it is important to handle each case with the same care. Holding all employees to the same standard of performance is crucial, as is clearly defining expectations.
You may feel conflicted in dealing with alcoholism in the workplace, or want to help the employee find relief from his or her addiction. Offering resources on behalf of the company may prove beneficial, and encourage healthy morale.
If You’re Struggling
It is important to understand your responsibilities in the workplace. If you suffer from alcoholism, you may have already experienced the implications of addiction. If you’ve received warnings for preventable mistakes, or alcohol addiction is interfering with your ability to function, you may worry that your job is in jeopardy. Seeking help for alcoholism can greatly improve many aspects of your life, including functionality in the workplace. Finding relief may be easier than you think.
We Can Help
If alcoholism is causing problems in the workplace, consider your options. Contact us at AlcoholTreatment.net for advice on dealing with alcohol addiction in the workplace, and finding resources in your area. We’re here to help.