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- Alcoholism doesn’t develop in a day.
- It isn’t something that comes about overnight.
- In reality, alcohol addiction is a progressive condition.
What starts as casual drinking advances into dependence and addiction over time. The majority of people who struggle with alcohol addiction, or alcohol use disorder (AUD), took months or years to reach that point. Additionally, no two individuals have identical reasons that lead them to develop alcohol use disorder.
- Despite the variation in specific causes and timeframes from person to person, the disease itself follows a pattern.
- If you or your loved ones need help to identify the signs of problem drinking, four stages of alcoholism have been identified: pre-alcoholic, early alcoholic, chronic alcoholic, and end-stage alcoholism.
These categories were developed because it’s vital to help people understand alcoholism as an illness rather than a moral failing. If you can identify with one or two stages, please understand that alcoholism is a progressive disease. People rarely spend an indefinite time in the early stages of alcoholism; it almost always progresses eventually.
Additionally, the DSM 5 journal indicates 11 diagnostic criteria for determining the presence of an alcohol use disorder. Alcohol abuse of any kind puts people at a greater risk of developing more serious problems over time. Someone who experiences even 2 of the 11 criteria qualifies as having a mild disorder.6 or more criteria denote a chronic alcohol use disorder, otherwise known as alcoholism.
What does the progression through the stages of alcoholism look like?
What does it take to be an alcoholic?
Press Release – Embargoed until: Thursday, November 20, 2014, Noon ET Contact: pdf icon 9 out of 10 excessive drinkers are not alcohol dependent 89.8%: Excessive Drinkers Who are Not Dependent 10.2%: Excessive Drinkers Who are Dependent Entire Infographic pdf icon Nine in 10 adults who drink too much alcohol are not alcoholics or alcohol dependent, according to a new study released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in collaboration with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).
The study appears today in the CDC journal Preventing Chronic Disease, Excessive drinking includes binge drinking (four or more drinks on an occasion for women, five or more drinks on an occasion for men); consuming eight or more drinks a week for women or 15 or more drinks a week for men; or any alcohol use by pregnant women or those under the minimum legal drinking age of 21.
Alcohol dependence is a chronic medical condition that typically includes a current or past history of excessive drinking, a strong craving for alcohol, continued use despite repeated problems with drinking, and an inability to control alcohol consumption.
This study shows that, contrary to popular opinion, most people who drink too much are not alcohol dependent or alcoholics,” said Robert Brewer, M.D., M.S.P.H., Alcohol Program Lead at CDC and one of the report’s authors. “It also emphasizes the importance of taking a comprehensive approach to reducing excessive drinking that includes evidence-based community strategies, screening and counseling in healthcare settings, and high-quality substance abuse treatment for those who need it.” The study found that nearly 1 in 3 adults is an excessive drinker, and most of them binge drink, usually on multiple occasions.
In contrast, about 1 in 30 adults is classified as alcohol dependent. The rates of alcohol dependence increase with the amount of alcohol consumed. About 10 percent of binge drinkers are alcohol dependent, while 30 percent of people who binge frequently (10 or more times a month) are alcohol dependent.
- Excessive alcohol use is responsible for 88,000 deaths in the U.S.
- Each year (including about 3,700 deaths from alcohol dependence), and cost the U.S.
- 223.5 billion in 2006.
- These deaths were due to health effects from drinking too much over time, such as breast cancer, liver disease, and heart disease; and health effects from drinking too much in a short period of time, such as violence, alcohol poisoning, and motor vehicle crashes.
Excessive drinkers who are dependent often need specialized or more intensive treatment to change their behavior. People who drink too much, but are not dependent, can still be encouraged to drink less through state and local interventions that increase the price and limit the availability of alcohol.
- In addition those who are not dependent may be candidates for other clinical interventions, including screening and counseling offered by doctors and other health professionals.
- CDC and SAMHSA scientists analyzed data on 138,100 U.S.
- Adults aged 18 years and older from all 50 states and D.C.
- Who participated in the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) in 2009, 2010, or 2011.
The survey includes a wide range of questions on substance use, including current drinking, binge drinking, average alcohol consumption, and symptoms of alcohol dependence. The Community Preventive Services Task Force recommends several evidence-based strategies to reduce excessive drinking, including increasing alcohol taxes, regulating alcohol outlet density, and holding alcohol retailers liable for harms resulting from illegal sales to minors or intoxicated patrons.
- The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends screening and counseling for excessive drinking for all adult patients.
- This service is covered by most insurance plans, and can also be delivered by computer or telephone.
- For more information about excessive drinking, including binge drinking, and how to prevent this dangerous behavior, visit the CDC’s Alcohol and Public Health website at http://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/index.htm.
Members of the public who are concerned about their own or someone else’s drinking can call SAMHSA’s National Helpline at1-800-662-HELP to receive assistance from the Treatment Referral Routing Service. ### U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES external icon
Do you ever stop being an alcoholic?
How do I stop drinking? – Overcoming an addiction to alcohol can be a long and bumpy road. At times, it may even feel impossible. But it’s not. If you’re ready to stop drinking and willing to get the support you need, you can recover from alcoholism and alcohol abuse—no matter how heavy your drinking or how powerless you feel.
- And you don’t have to wait until you hit rock bottom; you can make a change at any time.
- Whether you want to quit drinking altogether or cut down to healthier levels, these guidelines can help you get started on the road to recovery today.
- Most people with alcohol problems do not decide to make a big change out of the blue or transform their drinking habits overnight.
Recovery is usually a more gradual process. In the early stages of change, denial is a huge obstacle. Even after admitting you have a drinking problem, you may make excuses and drag your feet. It’s important to acknowledge your ambivalence about stopping drinking.
How do you know if you drink too much?
5. Tingling or a sensation of numbness – Drinking too much alcohol may lead to a tingling sensation or numbness in your legs, feet, or hands, known as alcoholic neuropathy. This is one of the most common side effects of long-term alcohol consumption. Alcohol neuropathy may be attributed to two main mechanisms :-
Alcohol can increase oxidative stress and inflammation, which damages nerves.Chronic alcohol consumption can lead to malnutrition, including a lack of vitamins and nutrients essential for maintaining the functioning of your nervous system.
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Do you have to be drunk every day to be an alcoholic?
Drinking problems and denial – Denial is one of the biggest obstacles to getting help for alcohol abuse and alcoholism. The desire to drink is so strong that the mind finds many ways to rationalize drinking, even when the consequences are obvious. By keeping you from looking honestly at your behavior and its negative effects, denial also exacerbates alcohol-related problems with work, finances, and relationships.
Drastically underestimating how much you drink Downplaying the negative consequences of your drinking Complaining that family and friends are exaggerating the problem Blaming your drinking or drinking-related problems on others
For example, you may blame an ‘unfair boss’ for trouble at work or a ‘nagging wife’ for your marital issues, rather than think about how your drinking is contributing to the problem. While work, relationship, and financial stresses happen to everyone, an overall pattern of deterioration and blaming others may be a sign of trouble.
|Five myths about alcoholism and alcohol abuse
|Myth: I can stop drinking anytime I want to. Fact: Maybe you can; more likely, you can’t. Either way, it’s just an excuse to keep drinking. The truth is, you don’t want to stop. Telling yourself you can quit makes you feel in control, despite all evidence to the contrary and no matter the damage it’s causing.
|Myth: My drinking is my problem. I’m the one it hurts, so no one has the right to tell me to stop. Fact: It’s true that the decision to quit drinking is up to you. But you are deceiving yourself if you think that your drinking hurts no one else but you. Alcoholism affects everyone around you—especially the people closest to you. Your problem is their problem.
|Myth: I don’t drink every day OR I only drink wine or beer, so I can’t be an alcoholic. Fact: Alcoholism is NOT defined by what you drink, when you drink it, or even how much you drink. It’s the EFFECTS of your drinking that define a problem. If your drinking is causing problems in your home or work life, you have a drinking problem—whether you drink daily or only on the weekends, down shots of tequila or stick to wine, drink three bottles of beers a day or three bottles of whiskey.
|Myth: I’m not an alcoholic because I have a job and I’m doing okay. Fact: You don’t have to be homeless and drinking out of a brown paper bag to be an alcoholic. Many alcoholics are able to hold down jobs, get through school, and provide for their families. Some are even able to excel. But just because you’re a high-functioning alcoholic doesn’t mean you’re not putting yourself or others in danger. Over time, the effects will catch up with you.
|Myth: Drinking is not a “real” addiction like drug abuse. Fact: Alcohol is a drug, and alcoholism is every bit as damaging as drug addiction. Alcohol addiction causes changes in the body and brain, and long-term alcohol abuse can have devastating effects on your health, your career, and your relationships. Alcoholics go through physical withdrawal when they stop drinking, just like drug users experience when they quit.
Do you have to drink a lot to be an alcoholic?
Can You Be An Alcoholic and Not Drink Every Day? – Yes, you can be an alcoholic or have a mild substance use disorder and not drink daily. There are different patterns of alcohol abuse, For example, if you are a functional alcoholic, while you might not drink every day, it could be to excess when you do drink.