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Alcohol Abuse

Continued alcohol abuse can lead to addiction and alcoholism. An alcohol abuser’s urge to drink is so strong that they can’t overcome it on their own- they can’t stop drinking even though it’s ruining their work and social lives, their relationships, their finances, and their health. Alcoholism and alcohol abuse is a disease that if left untreated can be fatal.

An alcohol abuse problem that hasn’t progressed to full-blown alcoholism is called alcohol dependence- the person’s body has adapted to the presence of alcohol and needs it to function normally. When an alcohol abuser suddenly stops drinking, they can suffer painful and debilitating withdrawal symptoms. The longer a person has been abusing alcohol, the more harsh their withdrawal symptoms will be. Here are some withdrawal symptoms the alcohol abuser needs to be aware of:

  • Elevated heart rate

  • Tremors

  • Excessive perspiration

  • Vomiting and nausea

  • Insomnia

  • Anxiety and restlessness

  • Hallucinations

  • Seizure

Alcohol abusers, while not yet true alcoholics, can still suffer health and social consequences and they still have a chance to bring their drinking under control. However, even though alcohol abuse isn’t as severe as alcoholism, it isn’t a safe way to drink. According to the NCADD (National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence), over 18 million Americans have an alcohol abuse problem. Of all US traffic crashes that involve fatalities, alcohol plays a role in almost half of them. The distinction between an alcohol abuser and an alcoholic isn’t much consolation to someone who’s just lost a loved one to a drunk driver.

It isn’t always easy to tell if someone is a real alcoholic, but there are signs that can be seen. Not all alcoholics have all these symptoms, and because of the secretive nature of some alcohol abusers, it will be hard to find some of them. Here’s what friends and family should be looking for:

  • A person who only drinks alone, or keeps their drinking a secret.

  • The person not having the ability to stop at one or two drinks.

  • Blackouts (full or incomplete) where the drinker has no memory of what has happened.

  • The drinker will get annoyed when something takes away from their opportunity to drink.

  • The person will give up hobbies and other things in order to drink more.

  • An alcohol abuser will get irritable when they are unable to drink.

If you or a family member is an alcohol abuser that has not reached the point of real alcoholism, you may see some of these symptoms, except for the withdrawals and the strong compulsion to drink. If the alcohol abuser has built up a tolerance and they are unable to stop drinking without help, they have become an alcoholic. If you aren’t sure, here are some questions you need to ask:

  • Do you wake up in the morning wanting a drink?

  • Does your drinking make you feel guilty enough to want to hide it?

  • Do you often think “I should quit drinking or at least cut back”?

  • Do you get angry or annoyed when people talk about your drinking habit?

If you answered yes to any of those questions, you may be an alcoholic or an alcohol abuser and you should seek help.

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It isn’t always easy to tell if someone is a real alcoholic, but there are signs that can be seen. Not all alcoholics have all these symptoms, and because of the secretive nature of some alcohol abusers, it will be hard to find some of them. Here’s what friends and family should be looking for:

  • A person who only drinks alone, or keeps their drinking a secret.

  • The person not having the ability to stop at one or two drinks.

  • Blackouts (full or incomplete) where the drinker has no memory of what has happened.

  • The drinker will get annoyed when something takes away from their opportunity to drink.

  • The person will give up hobbies and other things in order to drink more.

  • An alcohol abuser will get irritable when they are unable to drink.

If you or a family member is an alcohol abuser that has not reached the point of real alcoholism, you may see some of these symptoms, except for the withdrawals and the strong compulsion to drink. If the alcohol abuser has built up a tolerance and they are unable to stop drinking without help, they have become an alcoholic. If you aren’t sure, here are some questions you need to ask:

  • Do you wake up in the morning wanting a drink?

  • Does your drinking make you feel guilty enough to want to hide it?

  • Do you often think “I should quit drinking or at least cut back”?

  • Do you get angry or annoyed when people talk about your drinking habit?

If you answered yes to any of those questions, you may be an alcoholic or an alcohol abuser and you should seek help.

Drug Enforcement Agnecy (DEA) – http://www.usdoj.gov/dea/index.htm
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services (SAMHSA) – http://www.samhsa.gov/
National Institue of Health (NIH) – http://www.nih.gov/

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