Alcohol Use Disorder
- By sahlhealth
- May 18, 2021
- 26 views
Alcohol Use disorder (which includes a level that’s sometimes called alcoholism) is a pattern of alcohol use that involves problems controlling your drinking, being preoccupied with alcohol, continuing to use alcohol even when it causes problems, having to drink more to get the same effect, or having withdrawal symptoms when you rapidly decrease or stop drinking.Unhealthy alcohol use includes any alcohol use that puts your health or safety at risk or causes other alcohol-related problems. It also includes binge drinking â€” a pattern of drinking where a male consumes five or more drinks within two hours or a female downs at least four drinks within two hours. Binge drinking causes significant health and safety risks.If your pattern of drinking results in repeated significant distress and problems functioning in your daily life, you are likely have alcohol use disorder. It can range from mild to severe. However, even a mild disorder can escalate and lead to serious problems, so early treatment is important.
Alcohol Use Disorder can be mild, moderate or severe, based on the number of symptoms you experience. Signs and symptoms may include:
- Being unable to limit the amount of alcohol you drink
- Wanting to cut down on how much you drink or making unsuccessful attempts to do so
- Spending a lot of time drinking, getting alcohol or recovering from alcohol use
- Feeling a strong craving or urge to drink alcohol
- Failing to fulfill major obligations at work, school or home due to repeated alcohol use
- Continuing to drink alcohol even though you know it's causing physical, social or interpersonal problems
- Giving up or reducing social and work activities and hobbies
- Using alcohol in situations where it's not safe, such as when driving or swimming
- Developing a tolerance to alcohol so you need more to feel its effect or you have a reduced effect from the same amount
- Experiencing withdrawal symptoms â€” such as nausea, sweating and shaking â€” when you don't drink, or drinking to avoid these symptoms
Alcohol use disorder can include periods of alcohol intoxication and symptoms of withdrawal.
Alcohol intoxication results as the amount of alcohol in your bloodstream increases. The higher the blood alcohol concentration is, the more impaired you become. Alcohol intoxication causes behavior problems and mental changes. These may include inappropriate behavior, unstable moods, impaired judgment, slurred speech, impaired attention or memory, and poor coordination. You can also have periods called "blackouts," where you don't remember events. Very high blood alcohol levels can lead to coma or even death.
Alcohol withdrawal can occur when alcohol use has been heavy and prolonged and is then stopped or greatly reduced. It can occur within several hours to four or five days later.
Signs and symptoms include sweating, rapid heartbeat, hand tremors, problems sleeping, nausea and vomiting, hallucinations, restlessness and agitation, anxiety, and occasionally seizures. Symptoms can be severe enough to impair your ability to function at work or in social situations.
What is considered 1 drink?
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism defines one standard drink as any one of these:
- 12 ounces (355 milliliters) of beer (about 5 percent alcohol)
- 8 to 9 ounces (237 to 266 milliliters regular ) of malt liquor (about 7 percent alcohol)
- 5 ounces (148 milliliters) of unfortified wine (about 12 percent alcohol)
- 1.5 ounces (44 milliliters) of 80-proof hard liquor (about 40 percent alcohol)
When to see a doctor.
If you feel that you sometimes drink too much alcohol, or your drinking is causing problems, or your family is concerned about your drinking, talk with your doctor. Other ways to get help include talking with a mental health professional or seeking help from a support group such as Alcoholics Anonymous or a similar type of self-help group.
Because denial is common, you may not feel like you have a problem with drinking. You might not recognize how much you drink or how many problems in your life are related to alcohol use. Listen to relatives, friends or co-workers when they ask you to examine your drinking habits or to seek help. Consider talking with someone who has had a problem drinking, but has stopped. If your loved one needs help
Many people with alcohol use disorder hesitate to get treatment because they don't recognize they have a problem. An intervention from loved ones can help some people recognize and accept that they need professional help. If you're concerned about someone who drinks too much, ask a professional experienced in alcohol treatment for advice on how to approach that person.
You're likely to start by seeing your doctor. If your doctor suspects you have a problem with alcohol, he or she may refer you to a mental health professional.
To assess your problem with alcohol, your doctor will likely:
- Ask you several questions related to your drinking habits. The doctor may ask for permission to speak with family members or friends. However, confidentiality laws prevent your doctor from giving out any information about you without your consent.
- Perform a physical exam. Your doctor may do a physical exam and ask questions about your health. There are many physical signs that indicate complications of alcohol use.
- Lab tests and imaging tests. While there are no specific tests to diagnose alcohol use disorder, certain patterns of lab test abnormalities may strongly suggest it. And you may need tests to identify health problems that may be linked to your alcohol use. Damage to your organs may be seen on tests.
- Complete a psychological evaluation. This evaluation includes questions about your symptoms, thoughts, feelings and behavior patterns. You may be asked to complete a questionnaire to help answer these questions.
- Use the DSM-5 criteria. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), published by the American Psychiatric Association, is often used by mental health professionals to diagnose mental health condition
Treatment for alcohol use disorder can vary, depending on your needs. Treatment may involve a brief intervention, individual or group counseling, an outpatient program, or a residential inpatient stay. Working to stop the use of alcohol to improve quality of life is the main treatment goal.
Treatment for alcohol use disorder may include:
- Detox and withdrawal. Treatment may begin with a program of detoxification or detox â€” withdrawal that's medically managed â€” which generally takes two to seven days. You may need to take sedating medications to prevent withdrawal symptoms. Detox is usually done at an inpatient treatment center or a hospital.
- Learning skills and establishing a treatment plan. This usually involves alcohol treatment specialists. It may include goal setting, behavior change techniques, use of self-help manuals, counseling and follow-up care at a treatment center.
- Psychological counseling. Counseling and therapy for groups and individuals help you better understand your problem with alcohol and support recovery from the psychological aspects of alcohol use. You may benefit from couples or family therapy â€” family support can be an important part of the recovery process.
- Oral medications. A drug called disulfiram (Antabuse) may help prevent you from drinking, although it won't cure alcohol use disorder or remove the compulsion to drink. If you drink alcohol, the drug produces a physical reaction that may include flushing, nausea, vomiting and headaches. Naltrexone, a drug that blocks the good feelings alcohol causes, may prevent heavy drinking and reduce the urge to drink. Acamprosate may help you combat alcohol cravings once you stop drinking. Unlike disulfiram, naltrexone and acamprosate don't make you feel sick after taking a drink
- Injected medication. Vivitrol, a version of the drug naltrexone, is injected once a month by a health care professional. Although similar medication can be taken in pill form, the injectable version of the drug may be easier for people recovering from alcohol use disorder to use consistently.
- Continuing support. Aftercare programs and support groups help people recovering from alcohol use disorder to stop drinking, manage relapses and cope with necessary lifestyle changes. This may include medical or psychological care or attending a support group.
- Treatment for psychological problems. Alcohol use disorder commonly occurs along with other mental health disorders. If you have depression, anxiety or another mental health condition, you may need talk therapy (psychotherapy), medications or other treatment.
- Medical treatment for health conditions. Many alcohol-related health problems improve significantly once you stop drinking. But some health conditions may warrant continued treatment and follow-up.
- Spiritual practice. People who are involved with some type of regular spiritual practice may find it easier to maintain recovery from alcohol use disorder or other addictions. For many people, gaining greater insight into their spiritual side is a key element in recovery.