Substance Use

Defining What An Alcoholic Is

young man alcoholic holding liquor glass

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What Is An Alcoholic?

The term “alcoholic” is often used to describe someone with an alcohol use disorder. An alcohol use disorder is a severe medical condition that can damage many areas of a person’s life. It means the person has a problem with drinking and that they struggle to control their alcohol consumption.

Identifying heavy drinking or binge drinking patterns can help prevent an alcohol addiction in yourself or a loved one. In this guide, we will help you to understand alcohol use disorder, explore its symptoms and what treatment is available if you or a loved one is struggling with problem drinking.

Zinnia Health is committed to helping people recover from alcohol use disorder. If you are concerned about your or a loved one’s alcohol consumption, consider reaching out to alcohol hotlines for support and resources. Talk to one of our expert admissions advisors today at (855) 430-9439.

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Understanding Alcohol Use Disorder

The NIAAA defines alcohol use disorder (AUD) as a medical condition. Someone suffering from the disorder usually has heavy drinking habits or takes long periods of binge drinking. AUD varies in severity. A person is generally determined to have a mild, moderate or severe AUD. People with mild alcohol use disorder typically find recovery easier than those in the severe category. However, mild AUD will usually progress and worsen over time if untreated. This is the case with most addictions, so getting treatment as early as possible is recommended.

Someone with an alcohol use disorder may have alcohol dependence or develop one in the future. Excessive drinking can quickly grow into alcohol addiction. This can significantly affect a person’s health, leading to high blood pressure, cirrhosis, damage to the pancreas and many other physical and mental health problems. 

AUD can also damage relationships and have a significant social and financial impact. In addition, many people with alcohol problems may feel they don’t have a support network, which can be very difficult.

Although alcohol use disorders range from mild to severe, even those at the higher end of the spectrum can maintain a successful recovery. With the proper treatment and support network, people with AUD can break free from the chains of alcohol addiction.

Risk Factors for Developing an Alcohol Use Disorder

AUD can affect anyone, but some risk factors may increase a person’s chance of developing alcohol problems. For example, engaging in excessive drinking for an extended time can lead to a person developing an alcohol addiction. In addition, binge drinking large amounts of alcohol may also lead to alcohol-related problems.

An AUD can develop due to a person’s genetics and the environment in which they live. For example, witnessing heavy drinking patterns from parents may influence a young person’s alcohol use. Additionally, those who begin drinking at an early age are also at risk of developing alcohol problems. A family history of substance abuse and alcohol addiction can also be a risk factor.

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) suggests that young adults may be at greater risk of developing alcohol addiction. This is due to young adults having a higher alcohol consumption than other age groups for several reasons. For example, young people often live through an age of exploration, discovering their independence while moving away from their parents. Unfortunately, drinking alcohol and heavy drinking habits can quickly become part of this exploration.

Many people with AUD have a history of poor mental health. As alcohol is a depressant drug, this can also mean that mental health problems can be exacerbated through excessive drinking. 

If you are worried about your or a loved one’s alcohol consumption, email us at today to discuss the support we offer. 

Symptoms of Alcohol Addiction and Alcohol Dependence

Understanding the symptoms of alcohol dependence is essential if you have concerns over your alcohol consumption. Likewise, loved ones of heavy drinkers can benefit from knowing the signs to look out for. Identifying symptoms earlier can make treatment seem less intimidating. However, it’s never too late to seek treatment, whatever stage someone is at with alcohol addiction. Excessive use of alcohol, which is defined as regularly consuming more than usual alcoholic beverages, can be a warning sign. However, many other symptoms can be seen in someone with an AUD or substance disorder.

Someone who drinks large amounts of alcohol may display the following symptoms of alcohol addiction:

  • Drinking more than they initially intended.
  • Spending a lot of time drinking, buying alcoholic drinks or recovering from the use of alcohol.
  • Trying to cut down their alcohol intake with little success.
  • Being unable to stop thinking about alcohol or experiencing cravings for it.
  • Experiencing blackouts after drinking excessive amounts of alcohol.
  • Continuing to drink with a problematic alcohol intake after recognizing the effects it has on their health, relationships or school/work. They may have even been given medical advice to reduce the number of alcoholic beverages they consume.
  • Putting themselves in danger after heavy alcohol use. For example, swimming, driving or participating in other risky behaviors while drinking.
  • Experiencing alcohol withdrawal symptoms.
  • Needing to increase the amount of alcohol they are drinking to feel the same effects.

These are just some symptoms of an alcohol use disorder. Some people may experience all these symptoms, while others will only experience a few. However, as an AUD usually gets worse before it gets better, starting treatment as early as possible is always best.

Alcohol Addiction Treatment

Professional help is recommended for alcohol addiction treatment. Alcoholics Anonymous is one helpful form of group therapy available in the community to people with an AUD. However, many treatment options are recommended for someone before they attend group therapy. Quitting alcohol “cold turkey” can be dangerous. Detoxification under the supervision of a healthcare professional is the safest way.

People with an alcohol use disorder can benefit greatly from substance abuse and mental health  services. However, substance use and addiction are complex issues that require support from healthcare professionals to overcome.

Entering an alcohol rehab facility will mean you can go through detoxification in a safe environment. Some people may need to be prescribed medication, such as naltrexone to manage the withdrawal symptoms associated with detoxification.

Treatment Options

Treatment options at Zinnia Health include inpatient detoxification and rehabilitation and outpatient rehabilitation. Therapies include CBT and DBT. Some people also benefit from group and family therapy

Getting Help for Yourself or a Loved One

If you think you may have an alcohol addiction, then you may benefit from various treatment options offered by Zinnia Health. Our team of healthcare professionals are highly experienced in the field of alcohol addiction and detox.

Get in touch with Zinnia Health today to learn more about our treatment options. It’s never too late to enter treatment, do it for your future self.

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(855) 430-9439
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