Alcohol Use Disorder Explained

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Alcohol Use Disorder Explained

Humans have been drinking alcohol for centuries and the effects produced by it are felt almost immediately. Today, alcohol is widely used as a social lubricant due to its euphoric effects. It is a solution that seems to work until it doesn’t. Even though alcohol is socially acceptable and most people indulge in the occasional glass of wine or bottle of beer, there is a time when excessive alcohol consumption can become a serious problem known as alcohol use disorder (AUD).

What is Alcohol Use Disorder?

Alcohol use disorder is a medical diagnosis that represents an addiction to alcohol. Typically, the sufferer begins to experience symptoms suggesting that their alcohol use has become a grave problem rather than a fun social event. AUD is characterized by compulsive alcohol consumption, loss of control over alcohol intake, and a negative emotional state when abstinent from alcohol.

Approximately 15 million people in the United States alone suffer from AUD. Around 5.8% of adults in the United States ages 18 and older were diagnosed with AUD in 2018. Adolescents can be diagnosed with the disorder as well. In fact, in 2018 an estimated 401,000 adolescents between ages 12 and 17 reported having AUD.

Do I Have Alcohol Use Disorder?

Certain criteria are outlined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders that an individual must meet to be diagnosed with AUD. If you are worried that you might be suffering from AUD, there are specific questions you can ask yourself to determine if alcohol has become a problem in your life. These questions include:

In the past year have you:

  • Had times when you ended up drinking more, or longer than you intended?
  • Wanted to cut down or stop drinking, or tried to, but couldn’t?
  • Spent a lot of time drinking? Or being sick from drinking and/or detoxing?
  • Experienced craving– a strong need or urge, to drink?
  • Found that drinking– or being sick from drinking– often interfered with taking care of your home or family?
  • Or caused job troubles/school problems?
  • Continued to drink even though it was causing trouble with your family or friends?
  • Given up or cut back on activities that enjoy in order to drink?
  • More than once gotten into situations while or after drinking that increased your chances of getting hurt such as driving, swimming, using machinery, walking in a dangerous area, or having unsafe sex?
  • Continued to drink even though it made you feel depressed or anxious or added to an existing health problem?
  • Blacked out and lost the ability to recall events more than once?
  • Had to drink much more than you once did to get the effect you want?
  • Found that your usual number of drinks had much less of an effect than before?
  • Found that when the effects of alcohol were wearing off, you had withdrawal symptoms, such as trouble sleeping, shakiness, irritability, anxiety, depression, restlessness, nausea, or sweating?
  • Experienced paranoia, hallucinations, or delusions?

If you answered yes to more than a few of these questions, your drinking may already be a cause for concern. The more questions you answer yes to, the higher the probability that AUD may be something you are suffering from.

Alcohol use disorder is now recognized as a mental disorder and is something that is out of your control. However, nobody can pronounce you an alcoholic. This is a conclusion that you must come to on your own, as you begin to open your mind to recovery.

If you’re still unsure, the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous is a great resource for support, as it outlines alcoholism extensively. If you find yourself deeply identifying with the pages in the Big Book, chances are you might want to consider seeking treatment.

What is the Solution?

While many people may not want to hear this, the solution to AUD is complete abstinence. Although eliminating alcohol from your life might sound scary, we want to suggest that it isn’t as bad as you think. Life without alcohol has proven to be peaceful and liberating for many. Keep in mind that you don’t have to navigate sobriety alone. There are countless resources to support you throughout your recovery journey.

The First Step

The first step in treating AUD is admitting and accepting that you have a drinking problem. Substance Use Disorders are one of the only disorders that will cause your mind to lie to itself, convincing you that you don’t have a problem. The disease of alcoholism and/or addiction creates a false sense of reality and blames outside circumstances or people for your problems. The first step you can take is admitting that you do have this problem. From that awareness, you can begin actively working to change it.

Do The Work

Upon accepting recovery as a lifestyle, you will soon learn that your alcohol consumption wasn’t the problem itself, but a symptom of it. Drinking alcohol was your solution. It was the only way you knew how to cope and survive. The real problem centers in your mind; it’s in your perception of and reaction to the world around you.

Coming to terms with these truths is a process made easier through the twelve steps. As you continue to stay sober and work your 12-step program, you will uncover more and more facts about yourself that will allow you to live a healthier and happier life.

If you find yourself needing more help than your 12-step program can provide, there are additional options available to you. Consider seeking out a treatment facility that offers group and individual therapy, along with other healing modalities to support you on your recovery journey. The Kimberly Center treats people who suffer from alcohol use disorder as well as certain co-occurring mental health disorders. We have the necessary tools to help you recover. If you or someone you love is struggling with AUD or any Substance Use Disorder call The Kimberly Center today to start the recovery process. You are not alone. Call (855)-452-3683 now.

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