Alcohol use disorder (also known as alcoholism) is a pattern of drinking that includes 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 experiencing withdrawal symptoms when you rapidly decrease or stop drinking.
Any alcohol consumption that jeopardizes your health or safety, or creates other alcohol-related issues, is considered unhealthy. It also includes binge drinking, which is defined as a drinking habit in which a man consumes five or more drinks in less than two hours or a woman consumes at least four drinks in less than two hours.
Alcohol use disorder Causes
The effects of alcohol on your body and behavior might be influenced by genetic, psychological, social, and environmental variables. According to theories, drinking has a distinct and harsher influence on particular persons, which might lead to alcohol consumption disorder.
Drinking too much alcohol over time may alter the normal operation of the parts of your brain connected with pleasure, judgment, and the capacity to exercise control over your actions. This may lead to a need for alcohol in order to restore positive sensations or alleviate bad ones.
What are the risk factors?
Although there is no proven cause for alcohol consumption disorder, there are certain variables that may raise your chances of having it.
Drinking steadily over time. Drinking excessively over a lengthy period of time, or binge drinking on a frequent basis can lead to alcohol-related issues or alcohol use disorder.
Beginning at a young age. People who start drinking — particularly binge drinking — at a young age are more likely to develop an alcohol consumption disorder.
History of the family. People with an alcoholic parent or other close relative are at a greater risk of developing an alcohol use disorder. Genetic factors may play a role in this.
Depression and other mental health issues are quite common. People who suffer from anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, or bipolar illness are more likely to develop issues with alcohol or other substances.
There is a trauma history here. People who have experienced emotional or other forms of trauma are more likely to develop an alcohol use problem.
Bariatric surgery is a procedure that allows you to lose weight. According to some studies, having bariatric surgery increases your chances of getting an alcohol use disorder or relapsing after you’ve recovered from one.
What are Alcohol use disorder symptoms?
Based on the number of symptoms you encounter, your alcohol use disorder might be mild, moderate, or severe. The following are possible signs and symptoms:
- drinking alone
- drinking more to feel the effects of alcohol (having a high tolerance)
- becoming violent or angry when asked about their drinking habits
- not eating or eating poorly
- neglecting personal hygiene
- missing work or school because of drinking
- being unable to control alcohol intake
- making excuses to drink
- continuing to drink even when legal, social, or economic problems develop
- giving up important social, occupational, or recreational activities because of alcohol use
- alcohol cravings
- withdrawal symptoms when not drinking, including shaking, nausea, and vomiting
- tremors (involuntary shaking) the morning after drinking
- lapses in memory (blacking out) after a night of drinking
- illnesses, such as alcoholic ketoacidosis
Your central nervous system is depressed when you drink alcohol. The immediate reaction in some people may be stimulation. However, as you continue to drink, you will grow drowsy.
Too much alcohol impairs your speech, motor coordination, and brain’s key areas. A severe drinking binge might put you in a life-threatening coma or possibly kill you.
- Motor vehicle accidents and other types of accidental injury, such as drowning
- Relationship problems
- Poor performance at work or school
- Increased likelihood of committing violent crimes or being the victim of a crime
- Legal problems or problems with employment or finances
- Problems with other substance use
- Engaging in risky, unprotected sex, or experiencing sexual abuse or date rape
- Increased risk of attempted or completed suicide
- bleeding in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract
- damage to brain cells
- cancer in the GI tract
- high blood pressure
- pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas)
- nerve damage
Alcohol-related disorders in teenagers can be avoided with early intervention. If you have a teenager, be aware of the following indications and symptoms that might suggest an alcohol problem:
- Loss of interest in activities and hobbies and in personal appearance
- Red eyes, slurred speech, problems with coordination and memory lapses
- Difficulties or changes in relationships with friends, such as joining a new crowd
- Declining grades and problems in school
- Frequent mood changes and defensive behavior