Stages of Alcoholism – Alcohol Addiction
Available in nearly every city in the United States, alcohol is one of the most widely abused substances in America. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), nearly 140 million people over the age of 12 were current alcohol users with 6.4% of these individuals meeting criteria for alcoholism.
Alcoholims ranges from mild to severe and is defined as a chronic inability to stop or control alcohol use despite the consequences. For 88,000 men and women each year, the consequence of chronic uncontrolled alcohol use is death. Chronic alcohol users are susceptible to serious medical consequences including liver disease and cirrhosis. Of the total number of deaths caused by liver disease and cirrhosis, 47% and 47.9%, respectively, were related to alcohol.
With proper identification of the disorder and participation in treatment, recovery is possible. Learn about the stages of drinking, common signs of alcoholism and how to help a loved one suffering with alcohol use disorder by attending alcohol rehab.
It’s important to note that simply drinking one or two alcoholic beverages a couple times a week does not mean someone has alcohol addiction. In fact, there are three main stages of alcohol consumption and slightly less than 7% of alcohol users fall into the category of having an alcohol use disorder.
Low-Risk Alcohol Use
Drinking no more than three alcoholic beverages in any one day or seven per week is considered low-risk consumption for women while men are limited to four drinks per day or 14 per week. Approximately 2% of people considered low risk have an alcohol use disorder.
Consuming four drinks for women (or five drinks for men) within a couple hours at least one day per month is considered binge drinking. This amount of alcohol consumption can bring an individual to the legal blood alcohol level of 0.08.
Heavy Alcohol Use
Alcohol use is considered heavy if an individual engages in binge drinking five or more days per month.
It isn’t impossible for a low-risk alcohol user to become addicted to alcohol, but typically individuals who use alcohol heavily are more likely to meet the criteria for alcohol use disorder.
Signs of Alcoholism
Alcohol use disorder (AUD) historically affects more men than women, but anyone can be susceptible to addiction. The fifth version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) states an individual must meet answer affirmatively to at least two of the following questions to meet criteria for AUD:
- Have you wanted to cut down or stop drinking, but tried and failed to do so?
- Have you spent a lot of time drinking or gotten sick afterward?
- Have you felt an urge or craving to drink?
- Have you consumed more alcohol or drank longer than you intended?
- Have you continued to drink despite it causing issues in friendships or relationships?
- Has drinking or alcohol withdrawal interfered with work, life, family or school?
- Have you engaged in risky behaviors that could cause injury, such as driving, during or after drinking?
- Have you continued to drink after a blackout or despite feeling bad emotionally or physically?
- Have you quit or decreased your participation in activities you previously enjoyed in order to drink?
- Have you had to drink more to get the effect you wanted or built up a tolerance to alcohol?
- Have you experienced withdrawal symptoms such as shakiness, irritability, nausea, vomiting, sweating, trouble sleeping or hallucinations?
You should always leave the clinical diagnosis of an alcohol use disorder to a professional; however, evaluating the above questions can help determine if you or a loved one may be addicted to alcohol.
How to Help Someone Who Struggles with Alcohol Addiction
It isn’t easy to help a loved one once you realize they may be struggling with alcoholism. What do you say? What do you do? What if they’re not responsive to your concern? Worse, what if they get angry?
You’ve already started the process by learning to recognize an alcoholism. Now, learn the four most important ways you can help your loved one.
Do Your Research
Find local substance abuse treatment options or 12-step meetings so you know what your loved one’s options are if they choose to get help. If your friend or family member says yes to treatment or attending a meeting, you don’t want to allow any time for them to change their mind.
Be Honest and Compassionate
No one responds positively to being told what’s wrong with them, yelled at or dictated to. Even if you believe your loved one is on a path to destruction, verbalize your concerns as just that – concerns. Use “I” statements in a neutral setting and don’t take it personal if your loved one doesn’t see things your way the first time. Be honest, empathetic and show genuine concern.
Some may call it tough love, but when someone close to you suffers from alcohol addiction, you need to set boundaries. Don’t offer financial support unless the funds are going directly to treatment. Be careful about what you allow your loved one to do, such as living with you or borrowing your car, as there can be consequences for everyone involved. If you need help setting boundaries, talk with a counselor to discuss the details of your situation.
Get Help Yourself
It can be exhausting to care for someone who is struggling with alcoholism. Take care of your personal needs and consider getting help yourself, either through counseling or supportive groups, like Al-Anon meetings.
Get Help with Alcoholism Today
If you or someone you love has alcohol addiction, don’t wait another second to get help. Contact Lumiere Healing Centers today for a confidential consultation. We’re available 24/7 to guide you through treatment options and help determine the best path toward recovery. Call 513-909-2225.