In America, alcohol-related disorders claim around 88,000 lives per year. Because of this, alcohol-related fatalities are the third leading preventable cause of death in America. A new government study that was released early this June found that more Americans are drinking more than ever before (and binge drinking is largely to blame). Around 33 million Americans have struggled with an alcohol-related problem, which is equal to 1 out of every 7 people. And more troubling still is that 1 in 3 Americans have suffered from an alcohol use disorder during their lifetimes. A staggering 80 percent of those who have an alcohol use disorder never seek any treatment at all.
An alcohol use disorder is a revised term created by psychologists to describe drinking behaviors that become problematic and severe. In the recently revised DSM-5 (or Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders), psychologists have now combined “alcohol dependence disorder” with “alcohol abuse disorder” and made them into one term: “alcohol use disorders.”
How do you know if your drinking behaviors are problematic?
According to the new DSM-5, if you meet 2 of 11 symptoms, you could be classified as such. Having around 2 or 3 symptoms ranks the individual in the problematic category and having over 6 qualities lists the individual as having a severe problem. Some of the problems include having issues in your home/school/work life, failure to reduce your alcohol intake, and even having consistent hangovers.
Who is most likely at risk for alcohol-use disorders?
If you are a male, Caucasian, or Native American, you are at more risk than others to develop problematic drinking. Also, if you are younger (Americans under 30 years of age), have never been married, or even have low income, you are at a greater risk of developing an alcohol use disorder. And for city dwellers, you are more at risk of developing problematic drinking issues than those who live in rural places.
Treatment For Alcohol Use Disorders
While many may not realize that alcohol use disorders impact America in a big way, it is estimated that $224 billion are lost annually due to car accidents related to alcohol, DUIs, and medical expenses from alcohol use disorders. To get a better idea of how serious problematic drinking can be, every 22 minutes someone on the road is killed by an alcohol-related incident. With more prevention and attention to alcohol use disorders, these accidents can be avoided and many lives can be saved.
The first step: if you think your drinking habits are abnormal, you should seek professional guidance. Oftentimes though, those who meet the criteria for an alcohol use disorder do not realize (or may not want to accept) that their drinking problems are abnormal and may even try to rationalize their behaviors as “acceptable,” “normal,” or “okay.” In those cases, a loved one or a close friend may need to intervene in convincing the individual to at least seek a mental healthcare professional’s opinion of their situation and habits. Concern for your health means that someone close to you cares a lot about you and although your first reaction may be on the defensive, realize that those who raise concerns are only trying to help.
If you are concerned for your own health but are embarrassed of your drinking habits, do not hesitate to seek help. Remember that you are not alone and that 33 million Americans struggle from alcohol use disorders. You deserve to treat your body well and not become part of the 80 percent who do not seek treatment. Dare to break the mold and don’t become a statistic. Even if a mental health professional determines that your current drinking habits are not problematic, at least you will gain insights into what is considered normal and problematic drinking behaviors. This can help you keep your drinking in check so that it never turns into an alcohol use disorder. And as they say, knowledge is always power.
Seeking Help Today
If you think you or someone you know is struggling with an alcohol use disorder, it’s always best to seek professional help. Don’t wait until it’s too late. Alcohol use disorder is preventable. Contact us at alcoholtreatment.net for more information and help getting into the best treatment for your addiction today.