Alcohol Abuse & Addiction in Orlando
Alcohol abuse and addiction are serious problems for tens of millions of people in the United States. Alcohol abuse and alcohol addiction are two separate concepts, however. Alcohol abuse refers to any situation where someone is drinking excessively. Alcohol addiction, also called alcoholism or alcohol use disorder, is a situation where someone compulsively drinks and is unable to stop on their own. Alcohol dependence can develop with abuse and addiction as well. With alcohol dependence, someone will go through withdrawal symptoms if they try to stop drinking. Alcohol withdrawal can be severe or deadly.
What Makes Alcohol So Addictive?
When someone regularly drinks alcohol and if they abuse it, it can change the chemistry of their brain. When someone first drinks alcohol, it can create pleasurable feelings or a sense of relaxation. Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant, so it slows many of the body’s main functions down.
Alcohol affects specific neurotransmitters in the brain, like GABA. Over time, with repeated exposures, these changes don’t just occur when someone is drinking. They can become ongoing changes. Eventually, the longer someone drinks, the less pleasurable feelings they get from alcohol. However, they will continue to drink because their body and brain are dependent on it.
There are certain risk factors that can raise the likelihood someone will become addicted to alcohol. These risk factors include having more than 15 drinks a week as a male, or more than 12 drinks a week as a female. Having a parent with an alcohol use disorder or having a mental health problem like anxiety or depression can also raise the risk of becoming addicted to alcohol.
Signs of Alcohol Abuse
There are signs of alcohol abuse that can start to become apparent. Even if someone is abusing alcohol, it doesn’t necessarily mean they are addicted. Signs of alcohol abuse can include:
- Drinking alone
- Being secretive about drinking
- Being unable to limit drinking, even when you intend to
- Having a high tolerance for alcohol and needing more of it to feel the same effects
- Missing commitments because of drinking or the effects of drinking (like having a hangover)
- Making excuses for drinking
- Continuing to drink even when there are negative consequences that develop
As someone’s alcohol abuse becomes more problematic, physical symptoms may start to occur. These can include intense alcohol cravings and withdrawal symptoms when they’re not drinking. Alcohol withdrawal symptoms can include shaking, nausea and vomiting. Other physical signs of an alcohol problem include tremors the morning after drinking and blacking out during drinking.
Sometimes people question if they are misusing alcohol. There are certain questions you can ask yourself. For example, do you feel guilty about your drinking? Do you feel that you need to drink more to get the effects you desire from alcohol? Other questions to consider include whether it would be better to cut back on your drinking and whether you experience changes in mood or behavior when you’re drinking.