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Signs of alcohol misuse or alcohol use disorder (AUD) are contributed to drinking too much alcohol or also being unable to control how much alcohol you drink.
AUD in the past used to be referred to by other names such as, “alcohol dependence,” “alcohol abuse,” and “alcoholism.” In 2013, the DSM-5 integrated the terms to alleviate the stigma and determined to call the diagnosis alcohol use disorder (AUD).
Drinking during a single episode excessively describes Alcohol misuse. When this is repeated over time and it starts to impact your life including your health, alcohol misuse can inadvertently turn into AUD. AUD can be broken taken apart into mild, moderate and severe subtypes.
14 million adults in the United States struggle with AUD. This is according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). These disorders can be life-threatening at worst but still very much disruptive nevertheless.
AUD is difficult to recognize in yourself and/or in others. Being that is is often times subjective and challenging to do so, especially since alcohol affects individuals in different ways. It’s important to read as much as you can about the symptoms. It’s also important to know the risk factors, treatment options, diagnosis, and where to get alcohol addiction treatment near me.
AUD (alcohol use disorder) vs. Alcohol Misuse Alcohol
The difference between AUD and alcohol misuse is how a person consumes alcohol in the short term, as opposed to the long term. Even though alcohol affects people ultimately in different ways.
AUD. however, it is important to know is an addiction disorder. Being that it is an actual addiction disorder you may have a difficult time stopping alcohol. AUD does define as the intrusive impact drinking has on your life and health.
Alcohol Abuse Information
Moderate drinking is considered two drinks or fewer for men per day, or one drink less for women. This is according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
You may an alcohol abuse issue if you are drinking more than what the CDC guidelines are when it comes to alcohol consumption a day. Fifteen alcohol drinks or more a week for men and eight alcoholic drinks a week for women is considered excessive.
Though alcohol abuse can also be about when and how you drink as well. For example, if a pregnant person drinks, that would possibly be considered alcohol misuse. If anyone drinks under the legal age of 2l, that is not only against the law, but it is also alcohol misuse.
Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD)
DSM-5 no longer uses the term alcoholism, however, it is now referred to as AUD.
You may have mild alcohol abuse disorder if you have at least had two experiences in the following last year according to the DSM-5:
- Had experiences where you drank more or for longer periods of time than you had planned.
- Your drinking has caused problems with friends or family.
- When you do drink you spend a lot of time drinking, being sick afterward, and over other after side effects.
- Having drinking interferes with taking care of your family, job, or school, due to drinking or being sick from drinking.
- Could not slow down or stop drinking when you tried to and wanted to.
- Wanting to drink very badly and having cravings to drink.
- Giving up on activities you enjoyed or that were important to you, or have significantly cut back on, in order to drink more.
- Although you were feeling anxious or depressed you found yourself continuing to drink, or adding to an additional health problem. Even experiencing a memory blackout.
- When the effects of alcohol were decreasing, you began to have withdrawal symptoms. Those symptoms were possibly trouble sleeping, shakiness, nausea, restlessness, racing heart, sweating, or even a seizure. You may even have sensed things that weren’t even there.
- You may have had to drink much more to get the effect that you wanted, which was more than what you used to.
- Gotten into situations while or after drinking which increased the chances of you getting hurt (such as swimming, driving, walking in dangerous areas, using machinery, or having unsafe sex)
- Found yourself getting into situations where you could have gotten yourself hurt, or potentially others hurt, either while drinking or after. This could be driving, using machinery, swimming, walking in dangerous areas, or engaging in unsafe activities.
Alcohol abuse and AUD can at times overlap with one another. Alcohol misuse, however, which can also be known as drinking heavily, has a stronger immediate impact. The symptoms of AUD (Alcohol use disorder) will be more long-term in duration.
Alcohol Misuse Physical Symptoms
Alcohol in the blood causes several physical symptoms:
- slurred speech
- difficulty concentrating
- slowing of reflexes
- the decreased ability to take control of your bodily movements
- poor decision-making abilities
- being conscious but not remembering your actions, which is called a blackout
It can cause breathing problems when there are very high concentrations of alcohol in the blood. Which can result in coma, or death. Sometimes it can also lead to alcohol poisoning.
Excessive Drinking and Behavioral Symptoms
Alcohol abuse can lead to a lot of risk-taking behaviors. You can become cognitively impaired which can ultimately lead to injury and death of the person drinking or of others.
It has been shown in research that alcohol misuse and high-risk sexual behavior, crime, self-injury, violence, and fatal injury even has been connected to alcohol misuse. Those with AUD 20-35% of them have gone on to complete suicide.
While under the influence of alcohol you should never operate any kind of machinery. 0.08% is the legal limit for driving under the influence of alcohol in the United States except for in the State of Utah. In Utah it’s stricter, the limit is 0.05%.
Alcohol use disorder’s Physical Complications
Physical health problems develop for those who have alcohol abuse issues and continue to drink. Over time, AUD could lead to potentially serious health conditions, including worsening others.
These health conditions can include:
- alcohol-associated liver damage or scarring (cirrhosis)
- brain damage
- gastrointestinal bleeding
- sexual dysfunction
The rise in high blood pressure and the risk of increased cardiovascular problems can occur over time. This is according to research on the continuation of alcohol abuse.
It also has been shown to be the developmental beginnings of different types of cancers. Interestingly enough, this is because when you consume alcohol your body breaks down alcohol into acetaldehyde. It is a chemical that can potentially damage your DNA which leads your cells to grow out of control.
Several symptoms such as sweating, nausea, and shaking can also lead to more serious symptoms. Those serious symptoms are seizures, hallucinations, and/or fever which can be a medical emergency.
It is imperative to see a health professional before quitting. Especially if you have a history of withdrawal symptoms. It is also highly recommended to see a professional before stopping alcohol if you also have other health conditions as well.
Alcohol Use Disorder Treatment
Treating alcohol abuse issues primarily focuses on relieving symptoms of withdrawal from alcohol in the short term. Afterward, it focuses on suppressing alcohol in the long term.
However, everyone who experiences alcohol abuse is different. There are some who might require lifelong medications and some who may not. Even in recovery, there are some people that continue to drink in moderation and others choose to abstain completely from alcohol.
Treatment typically is always guaranteed to involve detox followed by medication and therapy. Even though each person’s treatment plan is unique and different from each other’s. Although, some may not require detoxification, being they may only need daytime treatment. There is also, some people who may opt out of therapy altogether. Medication is usually recommended for all AUD patients who have moderate to severe disorders, they still have the option to consider therapy without medication, especially those with mild AUD.
To help reduce the symptoms of withdrawal for some patients, health professionals sometimes prescribe medications to help. These medications can help assist you in quitting alcohol by reducing your alcohol cravings or making you feel ill when you consume alcohol.
Some of the medications used for treating alcohol abuse to help reduce cravings
- Acamprosate (Campral)
- Naltrexone (Revia, Vivitrol
- Disulfiram (Antabuse)
Cognitive-behavioral therapy CBT is an effective treatment option for alcohol abuse and a psychotherapist or therapist can help you by teaching you CBT techniques to aid in your recovery. CBT is centered around modifying your thoughts and actions while learning alternative coping mechanisms that are positive.
Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) Diagnosing
In order to know whether or not you have alcohol use disorder (AUD), you would have to set up an appointment and see a trained health care professional for an evaluation.
They will ask you about your drinking habits along with your health history. More than likely they will ask you about other mental health-related issues as well.
To access your overall health they may also use blood tests. They will be paying special attention to specific areas of the body which is most impacted by alcohol. These areas are the brain and other parts of the nervous system. This is also include the liver as well as the heart.
Do I have AUD? I would like to know now.
It’s challenging to know for sure if there is a problem with your drinking even if it is negatively impacting your health including your life.
There are screening tools out there that may help you recognize AUD. It could be helpful in aiding that determination in yourself in others, however, this shouldn’t replace a proper health professional’s evaluation.
The NIAA says, AUD may be summarized as the listed:
- Mild: two or three symptoms experienced
- Moderate: four to five symptoms experienced
- Severe: six or more of the above symptoms experienced
To help with early intervention and treatment recognizing the early signs and risk factors for AUD can be helpful in order to break alcohol addiction. This isn’t typically easy however and can require a lifelong effort on your part. Serious health problems can manifest if AUD is not treated and can increase risks for ongoing health problems as well.
If you go through treatment for AUD, it is still a possibility that you may relapse. Therefore, it is important to be aware of all the warning signs and seek help immediately if you are concerned that you may be subject to having a relapse. Continuing therapy and maintaining proper helps tremendously in decreasing this risk.
Contact us here today at Harmony Oaks to get into alcohol rehab close by.