Alcohol is one of the most common addictions in the entire world. There are few substances save for tobacco that are as commonly accepted and widely imbibed as alcohol is. With so many people consuming alcohol for its effects, unsurprisingly there is also a large contingent of people who become addicted to the effects of alcohol and require addiction treatment. Alcohol addiction treatment is a one of the most common reasons people visit Southeast Addiction in both Georgia and Tennessee.
How is Alcohol Addiction Defined?
Addictions can be hard to pin down and specify, as not everyone reacts the same way to the ingestion of substances.
Many studies have shown that people more susceptible to alcoholism exhibit a powerful dopaminergic effect upon consuming alcohol.
The science behind it is complex, but the end result is that alcohol affects neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin. There are people who exhibit stronger responses to the same amount of alcohol than other people would normally experience. This can vary from a mildly stronger reaction to a very powerful reaction.
Why does this matter?
Typically speaking, the more powerful a drug is the higher the possibility of a person developing dependence on that drug. Even if physical dependence is weak for a particular drug, mental dependence is another thing entirely.
Alcohol addiction is thus defined by a person’s level of dependence on it. Alcoholism, or alcohol use disorder is often classified by mild, moderate, or severe. The severity of symptoms experienced and the detriment to a person’s life will depend on where they are on the scale of dependence.
What is Alcohol Dependence?
A person with a mild dependence on alcohol may find themselves suffering from frequent hangovers and other deleterious physical and mental effects. Moderate dependence may result in negative consequences on their professional, social, and personal life due to cloudy-headedness and feelings of sluggishness that frequent and larger quantities of alcohol cause.
Inevitably, dependence on alcohol may slide into full-blown reliance on it to function normally. This reliance on alcohol to get through the day is what is generally known as Alcohol Dependence. Definitions can be troublesome as every person has unique circumstances—though that is not to excuse frequent binge drinking, which is never okay.
It is important to remember that not everyone who drinks alcohol is dependent on it—many are not. And those who abuse it in one instance are not necessarily suffering from addiction. Most people could relate to the experience of drinking a bit too much one night or things getting out of hand.
How Do Alcohol Use Disorders Affect the Body and Mind?
However, a continual reliance upon alcohol is a strong indicator that something else is at work. Typically, alcohol use disorders are frequently accompanied by mental health issues. This is what is known as a co-occurring disorder, or comorbid condition.
For example, a person may have both an alcohol use disorder and clinical depression. It can often be a chicken and the egg scenario as to which one is causing which.
Even mild substance abuse can have profound effects on how the mind operates and a person feels on a day to day basis. The correlation between alcohol and mental health disorders is incredibly strong. This is partly due to the fact that even a few drinks can produce a hangover the following morning which can hamper a person’s mood for the rest of the day. Modern science is also observing closely how substances such as alcohol affect a person’s circadian rhythm—otherwise known as the body’s clock.
This one of the reasons why even moderate amounts of alcohol frequently imbibed can greatly impact sleep and mood so powerfully.
Alcohol Addiction Statistics in the United States
Alcohol is the third leading preventable cause of death in the United States.
5.8 million Americans as of 2018 have an AUD, or alcohol use disorder. According to the NSDUH, 26.45 percent of Americans aged 18 or older had binge drank in the past month while 6.6 percent said they had engaged in heavy alcohol use in the past month.
Alcohol permeates American culture in many different aspects. It is near inseparable from many social situations which are centered around going out drinking. Certain workplaces have a culture of networking and getting closer to coworkers through happy hour.
It is not that a person must drink to socialize or to get along with their coworkers, but the presence of alcohol and people drinking it is everywhere.
Many people are exposed to it at a young age where high school parties provide the stage for binge drinking. This trend continues into college where frequent binge drinking is the norm and many campus cultures revolve around binge drinking. Tailgates, Greek life, and many of the teen movies that cover this period in life glorify extreme and frequent alcohol misuse.
Another recent trend is the explosion of microbrews and microbreweries across the United States. Craft beers have provided a fun social activity of going to breweries and trying new beverages, but many of these drinks defy the definitions of what ordinary beers are. A standard drink is roughly, in terms of beer, 12 oz of a 5 percent beer.
Many craft beers and favorites such as IPAs can easily exceed 6-7 percent and are often served in 16oz glasses. It is a trick of the mind to say that one is one when in reality, such a beer can quickly take a person from sober to buzzed in a matter of a half hour.
It is no surprise then, that a portion of the people who are susceptible to alcohol addiction—whether physiologically or behaviorally, have a strong chance of becoming addicted when much of the social culture revolves around alcohol.
Alcohol Addiction Statistics in Georgia
The Georgia Department of Public Health offers crucial data on alcohol addiction through their Alcohol Use Surveillance. A compiled PDF of information can be found here.
The effects of addiction are felt every day by those suffering from addiction. It is said, however, that it can take years for the effect of addiction to be made clear on the community and families involved.
Data from 2010 shows that 4% (270,000) adult Georgia residents participated in heavy alcohol consumption. About 12% of GA residents engaged in binge drinking about 4 times a month.
What Are Signs That Someone is Addicted to Alcohol?
Thus far, we’ve discussed general aspects of alcohol and alcohol addiction. Let’s dive into what signs and symptoms of alcohol addiction may present themselves for you or a loved one.
- Temporary blackouts or short-term memory loss
- Extreme mood swings and unexplainable emotional behavior
- Excuses or rationalizations for drinking
- The person in question becoming very distant or isolated from others; difficult to reach
- Drinking alone or the person hiding their drinking from others
- The person displays exceedingly high tolerance to alcohol
- Hangovers are reversed, the person feels worse not drinking than when they are.
- Being unable to lower consumption
If you notice these signs and symptoms in either yourself or someone you know, they may be addicted to alcohol. Many times a person who is addicted will convince themselves they do not have a problem, so having friends and family speak up in a compassionate and informed way is important to helping them.
Alcohol Addiction Treatment Atlanta
Alcohol is one of the most commonly available and easily abused substances in the world.
If you or a loved one are struggling with alcohol addiction in Georgia, contact Southeast Addiction center today at (770)-629-0258. We service much of the greater Atlanta metropolitan area as well as the greater Nashville, TN area.