Many people think of alcoholism as being the term used for anyone who drinks a large amount of alcohol, but this is not a term to be used for every habit of drinking alcohol. Alcohol abuse actually isn’t alcoholism or alcohol addiction at all, though it can lead to alcohol addiction with prolonged use. Alcohol abuse can be dangerous on many levels, both to yourself physically and psychologically as well as to others around you. Many people drink and drive, for example, when abusing alcohol which puts everyone on the road at risk. Here is a guide to help you learn more about alcohol abuse.
Alcohol abuse is a certain pattern of drinking that consists of drinking and certain situations within a 12-month period or longer. For example, if you drink for 12 months or longer and get into situations that are dangerous, like drinking and driving, stop attending work or school, start slacking on your home and financial responsibilities, have legal problems due to alcohol like being arrested for being drunk in public, or your drinking affects personal relationships, you are showing signs of alcohol abuse. However keep in mind many people can drink alcohol their entire lives on a regular basis and never have any issues; this is where the average drinker and someone abusing alcohol differ.
Some people are more susceptible to alcohol abuse than others, this is why many people drink their entire lives without abusing it, and others experience problems right away. Here are some of the common risk factors for alcohol abuse:
- Having a family history of drug or alcohol abuse.
- A history of emotional, psychological or physical abuse.
- Being male – men are 3 times more likely to abuse alcohol.
- Starting to drink at a young age.
- Having a mental disorder such as anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, schizophrenia, or bipolar disorder.
- Using other substances such as tobacco, prescription drugs, or illegal substances.
- Having friends that abuse alcohol.
- Working or living in an area with alcohol drinkers.
- Failing to have other types of satisfaction in your life.
There are some common signs that can tell you whether or not someone is abusing alcohol. This will let you know if you should encourage them to get or not. Signs of alcohol abuse include:
- Feeling guilty or ashamed about your drinking.
- Hiding drinking habits from others.
- Knowing family or friends who have been concerned about your drinking.
- Requiring a drink to relax, be happy or feel better.
- Blacking out often while you were drinking and not remembering the events.
- Drinking more than you intended on a regular basis.
- Neglecting work school or home responsibilities.
- Failing to pay bills, rent or buy groceries in lieu of purchasing alcohol.
- Being in dangerous situations because of drinking.
- Having financial or legal problems as a result of your drinking.
- Letting the drinking problem outweigh personal relationships.
It is common to confuse alcohol abuse with alcoholism or alcohol addiction, but they have several differences. Alcohol addiction is a more severe case of a drinking problem and causes you to completely surround your life with alcohol, buying more alcohol and drinking alcohol. Nothing else matters to you as long as you can drink more. You have a complete loss of control and are physically dependent on alcohol. Drug abuse on the other hand, can be more controlled, but you would prefer to drink than to do most things and still let a lot of your responsibilities come in second place to the drinking.
If you or someone you know is dealing with alcohol abuse and showing any of the above symptoms, you should start getting help as soon as possible. The sooner you get help for your alcohol abuse problem, the more successful treatment will be. Recovery is dependent on the treatment program you can get from a local rehab center as well as how much you want it. Many will tell you to admit you have a problem before seeking treatment, but as long as you’re willing to try and enter an alcohol rehab center, you’re on your way to becoming clean and sober.