Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) as defined by the Mayo Clinic is a broad term for unhealthy alcohol use.
The symptoms can include:
- Sacrificing previously enjoyed activities in order to drink.
As simple as it sounds, according to Dr. Doyle in this article from “Eat This, Not That”, the one clear cut sign that you have an alcohol problem is…
“If you try to stop for a period of time and you simply can’t”
For most people, having an occasional drink with dinner, or while out with friends isn’t an issue. However, if it becomes a daily habit, or you find yourself concealing from friends and family how often you drink, justifying having a drink, or drinking more than you used to, you may want to rethink your consumption. If you are concerned with your drinking and try to stop or cut back and find that you can’t, it’s time to get help. There are many local and national resources to deal with alcoholism. An internet search can provide you names of local rehab centers, Alcoholics Anonymous, or other hotlines.
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You can contact these sources before you become addicted in order to seek help preventing a life altering addiction. Warning signs that you are moving from safe social drinking to uncontrollable drinking include cravings and being unable to conduct basic work or home responsibilities.
Being mindful of your usage and limits could literally save your life.
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) reports that 95,000 people die of alcohol related causes annually in the U.S.
Many factors can determine why some people develop AUD, but not others. Biological factors, environmental factors, social factors and psychological factors all play a role.
Often, the person suffering from AUD is the last to notice.
Friends and family may have mentioned you seem different, or are frequently late or absent when you used to be very reliable. If you currently drink five or more times a week, try abstaining for a couple of weeks. If you find it very difficult, or discover you are coming up with excuses as to why you shouldn’t have to participate in this experiment, contact an alcohol abuse resource before you get in too deep.
AUD doesn’t just affect you. The CDC estimates excessive alcohol use cost the US over 200 billion dollars in 2010, with nearly ¾ of that amount resulting from lost workplace activity. However, the physiological effect of drinking alcohol is very personal. The severity of the effects depends on how much you drink and how long you’ve been drinking. The cumulative effects of long term drinking can be serious and include organ damage, sexual dysfunction, osteoporosis and a shrinking brain.
Alcohol use is not all bad, but at the same time offers so little benefit. For most people, social drinking poses no risks, but others become addicted and experience a heavy personal toll. Each person must decide if the side effects and long term risks outweigh the pleasure of a temporary buzz or the enjoyable taste of your preferred beverage.
For more information check out our Mental Health & Addiction Resources