What is Alcohol Use Disorder
As the name suggests alcohol use disorder is a problem with controlling your drinking, preoccupation with alcohol and/or continued use of alcohol despite the problems it’s causing.
This can also cause you to drink more alcohol to achieve the desired effect and experiencing withdrawal symptoms when you decrease your drinking or stop altogether.
Using alcohol when it can put you or others in danger can be classed as unhealthy alcohol use and includes binge drinking which carries significant health and safety risks along with it as well.
Binge drinking is classified as five or more drinks within a two-hour timeframe for men and four drinks within the same amount of time for women.
If your drinking is affecting your daily life and causing problems and stress, then it could be that you do have alcohol use disorder. Alcohol use disorder ranges from mild to severe but even a mild disorder could escalate so the best course of action is to seek early treatment.
Symptoms of Alcohol Use Disorder
Based upon the number of symptoms that you may experience this disorder ranges from mild and moderate to severe. This disorder can manifest through periods of intoxication
Symptoms can include:
- Strong cravings or urges to imbibe alcohol.
- An inability to limit the number of drinks that you take.
- Continued use of alcohol despite it causing physical and social problems as well as problems at home and at work.
- Using alcohol where it’s unsafe to do so, for example, driving or operating heavy machinery.
- Preferring to use alcohol rather than engage in social activities or work.
- Spending an inordinate amount of time drinking, fetching alcohol, or trying to recover from alcohol use.
- A desire to cut down on your alcohol intake or trying and failing to do so.
- Development of a higher tolerance to alcohol so you feel the urge to drink even more to achieve the same effect.
- The experience of withdrawal symptoms when you don’t drink such as shaking, sweating and nausea as well as drinking to avoid these symptoms.
Impacts of Excessive Drinking
Excessive alcohol consumption can impact your life negatively in so many ways, it depresses your central nervous system, for some people this may feel like an initial influx of energy but continue to drink and you will begin to slow down and feel drowsy and sluggish.
Too much alcohol is very bad for the brain affecting your speech, muscle coordination and a heavy session could result in a coma.
With alcohol lowering your inhibitions and impacting your judgement it can lead to dangerous situations and scenarios affecting your safety, including:
- Drunken driving and the possibility of other accidents occurring.
- Increase in risk of suicide.
- Abuse of other harmful substances.
- Likelihood of committing a violent crime or becoming the victim of a crime.
- Problems with your partner/spouse at home.
- Performing poorly in the workplace or in your studies.
- Problems with employment/finances or legal problems.
There’s also a laundry list of problems that alcohol can cause to your health whether it’s drinking too heavily on a single occasion or steadily over time, including:
- Liver disease. Increased fat in the liver is hepatic steatosis and an inflamed liver is alcoholic hepatitis. If you drink heavily over time, it can cause heavy scarring of the liver and irreversible damage which the doctor will tell you is cirrhosis.
- Heart Issues. Higher blood pressure and the increased chance of stroke, heart failure and an enlarged heart.
- Digestive problems. Drinking especially heavily can inflame the stomach (gastritis) as well as cause ulcers in the stomach and the oesophagus. Alcohol can also interfere with your ability to absorb B vitamins and other nutrients. Damage and inflammation of the pancreas or pancreatitis can also be attributed to heavy drinking.
- Increased cancer risk. Long term alcohol use has been linked to increased risk of many cancers including throat, stomach, mouth, and breast. Moderate drinking alone has been shown to increase the risk of breast cancer.
- Weakened immunity. Your ability to resist disease has been linked to the drink which increases your risk of many illnesses, including pneumonia.
- Diabetes. As it interferes with the release of glucose from the liver which can increase the risk of hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar). This is a problem for those who already have diabetes and can interfere with medications that lower your blood sugar level.
- Skeletal issues. Alcohol can affect the body’s ability to make new bones. Bone loss can increase your risk of fractures and the chance of developing osteoporosis. Bone marrow can also be damaged by alcohol consumption, this can result in bruising or bleeding due to a low platelet count.
As well as the problems listed above alcohol can cause problems with medications, increasing or decreasing their effectiveness or rendering them dangerous, it can cause severe neurological conditions including dementia and schizophrenia. Alcohol has also been related to foetal alcohol spectrum disorder which can cause a child to be born with life long physical and developmental problems.
Do you have AUD?
Unfortunately, the only person who can answer is yourself or a therapist or qualified medical professional, there are certain quizzes that you can take such as this one from the World Health Organisation.
I sincerely hope that you or the person you’re concerned for are not in the throes of AUD but honesty is always the best policy and answer the quiz or the medical professional that’s trying to help you with honesty and integrity and if it’s the case that you are then know that you’re not on your own and with the help of qualified addiction counsellors, medical professionals and online resources then you can always reach out and find help, advice and solutions to get you through your AUD problem and get your mind cleared of the booze fog and thinking clearer again for your health, yourself and your loved ones.
If you’d like more information as well as blogs, articles, encouragement and advice on everything drinking related from AUD to Sober apps to Quit Literature and everything in between then visit us at Sober Bubble to help keep you on an even keel and provide plenty of resources for your sober journey then please visit us here at Sober Bubble.