What is alcoholism: symptoms, risks & treatments

Alcoholism, also known as alcohol use disorder (AUD), is a chronic condition characterised by the compulsive consumption of alcohol despite the negative consequences.

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Alcoholism is a serious public health concern that affects individuals, families, and communities worldwide.

Understanding the nature of alcohol addiction, its symptoms, types, risks, and available treatments is crucial for addressing this pervasive issue.

The word, alcoholism, is not one which we use at Allen Carr’s Easyway, it’s rather a hefty and somewhat unhelpful label, but it helps to understand what society views alcoholism to consist of.

What is alcoholism?

Alcoholism refers to a chronic disease marked by an individual’s inability to control or quit their alcohol consumption.

It is typically associated with feeling physically and psychologically dependent on alcohol.

Alcoholism can have detrimental effects on a person’s health, relationships, and overall well-being.

What qualifies as an alcoholic?

Determining whether someone qualifies as what society and medicine define as an alcoholic involves assessing the presence of specific criteria outlined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), published by the American Psychiatric Association.
These criteria include:

  • Consuming alcohol in larger amounts / binge drinking
  • Consuming alcohol over a more extended period than intended
  • Experiencing persistent desires or unsuccessful attempts to cut down or control alcohol consumption.
  • Spending a significant amount of time obtaining, using, or recovering from the effects of alcohol.
  • Developing a tolerance to alcohol, requiring more significant amounts to achieve the desired effect.
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when attempting to quit or reduce alcohol intake.

Read more about the signs of an alcoholic

Three symptoms of an alcoholic

  1. Craving

An alcoholic often experiences intense cravings for alcohol.

These cravings can be both physical and psychological, leading to a strong desire to drink, even when faced with adverse consequences.

Understanding what causes the cravings and how they might be avoided is key to getting free from alcohol.

  1. Loss of Control

Alcoholics struggle to limit their drinking and find it challenging to quit once they start. They may have difficulty setting limits on the quantity or duration of their alcohol consumption.

  1. Negative Impact on Life

Alcoholism has a significant impact on various aspects of an individual’s life, including relationships, work or school performance, and physical and mental health.

Persistent neglect of responsibilities and continued alcohol use despite negative consequences are common signs.

What’s holding you back?

Not sure if you really want to quit drinking?

Need help to quit drinking?

Want to quit, but concerned that you’ll find it tough?

Worried that you’ll be deprived for the rest of your life without alcohol?

We can help you to understand and remove those fears and in so doing, make it quitting easy

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Five types of alcoholic

While each person’s experience with alcoholism is unique, five general types of alcoholics have been identified by the National Institute On Alcohol Abuse And Alcoholism (NIAAA), the National Institute Of Health (NIH), and the National Epidemiological Survey On Alcohol And Related Conditions (NESARC):

  1. Young Adult Subtype

Typically characterized by drinking beginning at a young age (19) and relatively early onset alcoholism (24), this subtype often involves antisocial behaviours and co-occurring drug use disorders.

It is the largest subtype with approximately 30% of alcoholics.

  1. Young Antisocial Subtype

This subtype start drinking at the youngest age (15) and earliest onset alcoholism (18). Individuals in this subtype display symptoms of antisocial personality disorder alongside alcoholism.

They may engage in impulsive and aggressive behavior and have a higher likelihood of legal issues.

This subtype is approximately 21% of alcoholics.

  1. Functional Subtype

This subtype primarily includes middle-aged individuals who maintain stable jobs and relationships despite their alcoholism. They may not display severe withdrawal symptoms.

This subtype is approximately 20% of alcoholics.

  1. Intermediate Familial Subtype

Typically characterized by drinking beginning at age (17) and relatively early onset alcoholism (32).

This group is more male dominated with higher education than most but not as high as the functional subtype.

This subtype is approximately 20% of alcoholics.

  1. Chronic Severe Subtype

Typically characterized by drinking beginning at the youngest age (15) and intermediate onset alcoholism (29).

Individuals in this subtype can experience the most severe symptoms, including significant sense of physical and psychological dependence.

They often have a history of alcohol-related health issues and may require intensive treatment.

This is the smallest subtype of approximately 9% of alcoholics.

Risks of alcohol misuse

Alcohol misuse poses both short-term and long-term risks to an individual’s health and well-being.

Short-term risks include:

  • Impaired judgment and decision-making, leading to accidents and injuries.
  • Increased likelihood of engaging in risky behaviours, such as unprotected sex or driving under the influence.
  • Alcohol poisoning, which can result in respiratory depression, seizures, or even death.

 

Long-term risks associated with chronic alcohol misuse include:

  • Liver damage, including alcoholic hepatitis, cirrhosis, and liver cancer.
  • Increased risk of cardiovascular diseases, such as high blood pressure, stroke, and heart disease.
  • Mental health issues, including depression, anxiety, and an increased risk of suicide.
  • Increased susceptibility to various types of cancer, including liver, throat, breast, and colon cancer.

Risk factors

Several factors can contribute to the development of alcoholism, including:

  1. Genetic predisposition

Some believe that a family history of alcoholism increases the risk of developing the disorder.

Importantly, if such a history does exist, it can still be easy to get free.

  1. Environmental factors

Growing up in an environment where alcohol misuse is prevalent can influence an individual’s relationship with alcohol.
As with genes, someone fitting this profile can still find it easy to quit.

  1. Mental health conditions

Individuals with mental health disorders, such as depression or anxiety, have a higher risk of developing alcoholism as a form of self-medication.

This in no way makes it harder for them to quit.

  1. Social and peer pressure

Frequent exposure to peers who engage in heavy drinking can influence an individual’s alcohol consumption patterns.
Never the less, even in these conditions it can still be easy to quit.

Treatments for alcoholism: getting help

There are many treating alcoholism options and the quit drinking timeline maybe shorter than you think.  The key is to choose the right method for you.

Some common treatments on how to quit drinking include:

  1. Drug free method

Allen Carr’s Easyway to quit drinking is a very successful, drug free method that only takes a day.

It doesn’t focus on the negatives of drinking instead it asks the question what is so good about drinking?

In so doing it changes the way you think about alcohol so that you can set yourself free easily with mild, if any, withdrawal symptoms.

Millions have been freed globally.*

  1. Detoxification

Medically supervised withdrawal is said to help manage the physical symptoms of alcohol withdrawal.

  1. Rehabilitation programs

Inpatient or outpatient rehabilitation programs provide counselling, therapy, and support to individuals seeking recovery.

  1. Medications

Certain medications, such as naltrexone, acamprosate, and disulfiram, are said to help reduce cravings, manage withdrawal symptoms, and discourage alcohol use.

  1. Support groups

Participation in support groups, such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), can provide a sense of community and ongoing support for maintaining sobriety.

* Important note: if you are an extremely heavy drinker, have experienced delirium tremens or seizures in the past, been hospitalised as a result of alcohol cessation, or are concerned about abrupt cessation then you should discuss it with your GP or Physician before using Allen Carr’s Easyway.

Alcohol Withdrawal

Conventional wisdom asserts that alcohol withdrawal is a complex and potentially dangerous condition that occurs when individuals abruptly quit or significantly reduce their alcohol consumption after a prolonged period of heavy drinking.

It is a result of the effect that alcohol has on the body and brain and can manifest through a range of distressing symptoms if the right method is not used.

The worry that withdrawal is difficult and unpleasant can create a tremendous fear of quitting drinking for anyone, but for most people withdrawal is not at all unpleasant or as bad as people fear.

Read full article about alcohol withdrawal to better understand alcohol withdrawal, including its causes, timeline, duration, preventive measures, and available treatment options.

Final Thoughts

Alcoholism is a complex and multifaceted disorder that requires understanding and compassion.

Recognizing the symptoms, understanding the different types, and being aware of the risks associated with alcohol misuse are crucial steps toward addressing this widespread issue.

With early intervention, effective treatments, and ongoing support, individuals struggling with alcoholism can embark on a path to recovery and regain control of their lives.

Allen Carr’s Easyway to quit drinking is here to help with a successful drug free approach that is easy!.

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Worried that you’ll be deprived for the rest of your life without alcohol?

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