Warning Signs of Alcohol Abuse

It's been estimated that more than 15 million people in the United States are dealing with an alcohol use disorder. The vast majority of sufferers do not receive any type of treatment to overcome their abuse issues.

Alcohol abuse is also linked to deaths of nearly 5,000 teenagers every year. Statistically, that means the abuse of alcohol kills more teens every year than drug overdoses. Given the nation's focus on drug use, that surprises many people.

Driving under the influence of alcohol is another serious issue, with roughly 1.5 million people being arrested every year. While that number may not shock anyone, it's been estimated that millions more people drive while intoxicated every year without being caught. That means just about everyone is at risk for being involved in an accident with an intoxicated or otherwise impaired driver at any time.

With the overconsumption of alcohol so prevalent, it's important that everyone becomes familiar with the common signs of alcohol abuse. By recognizing alcohol abuse signs, family members and friends might just be able to prevent a tragedy or death that's directly related to abuse.

Signs of Alcohol Abuse

Because alcohol affects users differently, it's important to recognize the numerous signs of abuse that can be observed. Some of the alcohol abuse signs are overt, but others can be far harder to observe. Here are a few of the common signs friends and loved ones can look for when overusing alcohol is suspected.

Changing habits

As an individual's need for alcohol increases, it's common for the person's habits to change, with some changes being dramatic. Dependency often leads to the affected person starting to associate with a different group of friends, including others who tend to abuse alcohol. The person's appearance may also be affected, with a formerly neat person starting to neglect their appearance.

Blackouts and memory loss

When a person is drinking to excess, it's common to experience memory loss of one type or another. When a loved one can't remember entire time periods, it's a sign they are not able to control their drinking. At this point, it's important to obtain some type of care before profound physical affects manifest themselves.

Extreme mood swings

Dependency has numerous side effects, and one of the easiest to recognize is dramatic mood swings. While there are other factors that cause individuals to have mood swings, abusing alcohol is one. Take note when an individual exhibits this sign and look for other indicators that, together, would suggest an issue with alcohol consumption.

Secretive drinking

In many instances, alcohol abusers will try to hide their use from those around them. However, it's generally easy to spot empty bottles and cans or telltale signs of overdrinking. Finding secret stashes of alcohol should warrant additional investigation of the person's alcohol use.

Ignoring home, school, or work responsibilities

While this is, to a degree, related to changing habits, it's a little more case specific. Students who previously received outstanding grades, for example, may experience significant grade drops. Women who overdrink may no longer care for children or complete other normal activities.

Accidents or DWI charges

Drinking and driving frequently lead to traffic accidents or DWI arrests. While one incident doesn't necessarily mean the person has a significant drinking problem, multiple occurrences do. Since this issue affects so many people, it's important to take steps that will curb this behavior.

Of course, these are not the only signs of probable alcohol abuse, but they are ones commonly seen by family members and friends. If one or more sign is observed, it's time to consider some type of treatment to deal with issues.

Effects of Alcohol Abuse

When discussing the effects of alcohol use, it's always important to understand that every person is different, which means how they are affected by drinking alcohol will also vary. Many people are content with having a single drink and moving on. Others, however, find that stopping after a single drink is difficult.

The environment where the drinking takes place can also contribute to the amount of alcohol an individual consumes. Having a beer or two at a neighbor's barbeque rarely causes issues, but sitting in the neighborhood bar all evening and consuming multiple drinks can quickly become a habit that's far more difficult to break.

There are social norms that go along with drinking in various environments, and the majority of people recognize the fact those norms should be observed. However, when an individual has become more dependent on drinking, their inhibitions may be affected and lead to socially unacceptable behaviors.

The Meaning of Blood-Alcohol Content

Because there are physical and emotional effects related to alcohol consumption, it's important to understand them. While most people are familiar with the acronym BAC, not everyone understands the significance of different blood-alcohol content levels. Although anyone with a BAC level of 0.08 percent is considered to be drunk, what does that really mean?

At lower BAC levels, a person will generally feel relaxed and, maybe, slightly light-headed. While there is some element of danger driving even with a BAC of roughly 0.03, the risks of being involved in an accident directly related to the drinking are relatively low.

When a person's BAC reaches approximately 0.06, the risks of an auto accident or altercation with another person rise. While the person may feel relaxed, their judgment is normally somewhat impaired. While someone may not yet feel like they've had too much to drink, it's time to consider stopping.

When drinkers reach a BAC level of roughly 0.09 percent, they're legally drunk and face the risk of arrest if they drive. Most drinkers believe they're fine at this point, but their ability to reason and reaction times are significantly impaired.

By the time people reach a BAC level of roughly 0.125, their abilities to walk, speak clearly, and make any decisions are in question. Inhibitions are gone, and people tend to do foolish things at this point.

Once a BAC level of about 0.15 percent is reached, it becomes far more difficult to walk, and all motor skills are impaired. Stumbling around without knowing what's going on is common at this stage.

At a BAC of 0.19 percent, most people will no longer feel like they're having a good time. This is the point where people, on average, may start to feel ill.

"Beyond that BAC level, there is a real possibility of suffering serious injuries or even death because of the loss of physical control and inability to reason. At this point, people wander out into freezing weather without remembering to put on a coat or stumble into traffic without understanding they're on a major street. Far too many people reach this point on a regular basis before realizing they have a drinking problem."

What Alcohol Abuse Does to the Body

So, what's happening in someone's body while they're drinking too much? While it's not difficult to see exterior changes that occur when someone drinks in excess, the internal effects are far more difficult to recognize until organs begin to fail. Here are a few ways the body is affected when someone drinks too much.

Liver problems are way too common. Overdrinking makes it difficult, if not impossible, for the liver to break down the alcohol and filter it from the person's blood. When a person's overuse of alcohol becomes chronic, liver problems are virtually a certainty. If the drinking goes on for too long, liver failure can easily lead to death.

Pancreas issues are also common, but not as well-known, when a person abuses alcohol. The pancreas is responsible for regulating the body's blood sugar levels. Medical professionals commonly see profound damage to the pancreas of a person who consumes too much alcohol for an extended period. Pancreatitis is common when a person drinks in excess and can, in some cases, lead to pancreatic cancer. Unfortunately, damage to the pancreas is hard to detect until it reaches severe levels.

The brain is also compromised when an individual consumes too much alcohol. Short-term coordination and memory issues are important signs that more-permanent damage is coming. Alcohol interferes with numerous brain functions and, eventually, can lead to physical changes in the structure of the brain. If a family member with known drinking issues is showing signs of memory loss, a lack of coordination and emotional problems not formerly seen, it's time to explore possible treatment options.

Excessive drinking also negatively affects an individual's heart. Excessive alcohol use is a contributing factor to increasing triglyceride levels, which can quickly lead to diabetes and heart-related diseases. If someone already suffers from high blood pressure, excessive drinking is likely to exacerbate that condition and lead to others.

Again, since each person is different, the types and degrees of physical problems experienced will vary, but the result is the same - impairments and death are certainly possible. Loved ones and friends are encouraged to help those consuming too much alcohol to seek help to limit the amount of physical damage.

Psychological Effects of Alcohol Abuse

Don't forget about the psychological effects when alcohol is abused. Not many people are aware of the potential for long-term psychological effects to the whole body that come with chronic alcohol abuse. While factors like the amount of alcohol consumed, when the drinking started and the individual's physical health all contribute to the amount of psychological damage a person experiences when drinking in excess, there are certain constants that should be expected. Some of the short-term issues drinking contributes to include the following.

Many people experience difficulty focusing on tasks when excessive drinking becomes chronic. That can quickly affect a person's ability to work or attend classes. Perhaps more importantly, relationships suffer.

Vision, reflexes, and coordination are commonly affected, especially as the person's drinking habit becomes more severe. These issues impact all areas of life.

Memory issues become increasingly common as the drinking increases, which further compounds problems with working, education, and relationships.

Again, physiological differences will lead to varying degrees of short-term psychological problems, but most people who drink excessively for long periods can expect to experience one or more of these problems.

Long-term psychological effects can be even more problematic and severely impact a person's ability to function normally. A few of the problems commonly seen include:

Impaired brain development

This is especially important when younger people are abusing alcohol. While the surveys don't always agree, it's clear that far too many teens drink to the point they'll suffer some types of physical or psychological problems. Drinking during their teenage years is shown to negatively impact brain development.

Depression and anxiety

That, in turn, leads to withdrawing from society, dropping out of school or losing jobs, and even suicide. These are issues that suggest an immediate intervention of some type may be necessary to positively impact a person's mood. Generally, there are experts available to provide advice...

Increasing use of alcohol and other substances

Not everyone is going to move on from alcohol to other substances, but it does happen. Loved ones and friends are encouraged to reach out for help when an individual is spiraling out of control and using increasing amounts of alcohol or other substances.

Not everyone is amenable to seeking treatment, but a large percentage of those who abuse alcohol eventually realize they need help and agree to some type of treatment. When that time comes, selecting the best treatment option is vitally important.

Getting Treatment Locally

There generally are local facilities available to treat chronic alcohol abuse, such as those operated by Lake Wellness Center. When someone gets to the point they ask where to find alcohol treatment near me, help will certainly be available.

But, how easy is it for a person to know they need help? One of the strategies to consider is CAGE screening. Four questions are included in the CAGE screening.

Have you ever felt you should cut down on your drinking?
Have people annoyed you by criticizing your drinking?
Have you ever felt bad about your drinking?
Have you ever had a drink first thing in the morning to steady your nerves or get over a hangover?

Most treatment professionals say that, if you answer yes to two or more of the questions, it's time to explore treatment options. The decision to ask for help isn't an easy one to make, and many people delay needed treatment simply because they're ashamed to admit they have a problem with alcohol consumption. If you or a loved one feels that way, the experts at Lake Wellness Center suggest talking to a counselor to get past that issue.

Get Personalized Care

Because every person is unique, it's important for those seeking help to simply say "I'm going to find an alcohol rehab near me and get help." But, don't be afraid to ask how a program works before making any commitments.

A rehab program that's tailored to meet a person's individual requirements, such as those offered at Lake Wellness Center, is far more likely to succeed than the one-size-fits-all programs that are so common. Because any dependence on alcohol presents physical dangers, it's important the process be monitored by medical experts who understand what's at stake and work with patients to get through withdrawal and the following stages of rehab.

What Does the Facility Offer?

Many people seeking help to get beyond their dependence on alcohol consumption want a location close to home for their treatment. That may or may not be a wise decision. If you're unsure whether being close to home is a good idea, don't be afraid to explain your concerns to the facility's staff members. They'll gladly help a patient evaluate the circumstances and develop a treatment program that's most likely to succeed.

Look for a well-balanced program that meets both short- and long-term goals. The first element of any rehabilitation program must be detox. During that period, medical stabilization is important. Ask about a facility's protocols for dealing with this stage of recovery.

The majority of patients opt for some type of outpatient program after the detox phase. Discuss your needs and goals with staff members to better structure a program that's likely to be effective for your needs.

An effective program may not even like the term "rehab," because it includes connotations not everyone is comfortable with. Therapy is, arguably, a more accurate term and includes individual treatment, family nights, education, group meetings, cognitive testing, and health management.

Contact Lake Wellness Center to Get Started

The first step in any recovery process is asking for help. In some cases, the person who realizes they're drinking too much can initiate contact. In other instances, loved ones or anyone close to the person can make the initial contact and ask about treatment options.

It's important to realize there are many components of any type of addiction, and overusing alcohol is no exception. The area's top experts explore the many factors that contribute to alcohol abuse, including genetic elements, before recommending treatment plans.

Once a patient is evaluated, it's easier to move forward with developing an overall treatment program that will consider the whole person and their loved ones. That's what sets one treatment program apart from the others.

Since overusing alcohol is a chronic condition, the treatments recommended will take some time to complete. The important thing to remember is the end result is worth the effort.

With the help of Lake Wellness Center's top treatment experts, anyone experiencing an addiction to alcohol can get past the present and have a future. Rather than going through more bad days and wondering what tragedy tomorrow might bring, contact the experts at Lake Wellness Center for help now.