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The Different Forms of Alcohol Addiction

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Alcohol addiction is a devastating disease that affects individuals in a variety of ways. Certain images may immediately spring to mind when an individual hears the word “addiction.” Slurring words or being inebriated at all hours of the day certainly demands a change, and overcoming this level of destructive addiction is necessary for a person’s physical and emotional health. 

Addiction is a disease that takes many forms, and there are other ways in which a person’s use of alcohol can be just as destructive. Recognizing the signs of various dangerous relationships with alcohol can empower those suffering from addiction and their support systems alike. This can help individuals to identify and take the first step to overcome the myriad of ways in which alcohol can impact a person’s daily life. 

The Effects of Alcohol Addiction

While many effects of alcohol abuse can be overtly apparent, others are more difficult to identify. Alcohol use itself has a number of effects on the body and mind, including the following:

  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • compromised motor skills
  • slurred speech
  • decreased reaction time 

The use of alcohol also affects a person’s decision-making skills and judgment. An individual may engage in riskier behavior without regard for their safety, such as driving under the influence or engaging in risky sexual encounters. 

On top of these immediate effects of alcohol use, alcohol can have a plethora of impacts on an individual’s life long after the effects of the drink have worn off. Prolonged, heavy use of alcohol can damage the following:

  • heart
  • brain
  • liver 
  • skin

Anxiety, depression, anger, and mood swings can all become common as it becomes difficult to regulate emotional responses. For some, insomnia and nightmares can become prevalent. Alcohol can fundamentally alter an individual’s brain chemistry and natural homeostasis, further damaging their natural balance and processes.

Lastly, the deterioration of trust in close relationships, professional ramifications, and financial complications all make alcohol addiction a wide-reaching disease that affects every facet of daily life. Identifying alcohol addiction in any form as early as possible is crucial for mitigating or preventing these destructive effects from continuing to develop. 

The Different Forms of Addiction

Addiction will affect each individual differently, and each person will have their own unique relationship and experiences with alcohol. While counting the number of drinks an individual has per sitting can inform them of a potentially dangerous relationship, there are many other factors that can indicate a destructive relationship with alcohol. 

Binge Drinking

Binge drinking is described as having an excessive number of drinks in a single sitting, typically four or more. Binge drinking can make individuals feel as if they are unable to stop once they start drinking. Individuals may continue to engage with alcohol until they are forced to stop, even leading to blackouts, memory loss, nausea, and more. While an individual may or may not engage in binge drinking every day, it is still a dangerous relationship with alcohol that can lead to health complications and personal costs. 

Heavy Alcohol Use

Heavy alcohol use is measured by how much a given individual drinks over the course of a week in order to gauge their use of alcohol. Typically 8 drinks or more for women and 15 drinks or more for men indicate heavy alcohol use. An individual does not have to get completely inebriated when drinking to have a drastic effect on their physical and emotional health. Prolonged use of alcohol in this capacity has long-lasting consequences. 

Excessive drinking to wind down every day after work or as a necessity to relax could indicate a dangerous, destructive relationship with alcohol that needs professional care to address and overcome. An individual may also feel compelled to drink after work or in the face of stress, creating a dangerous precedent regarding their attitude surrounding alcohol.

High Functioning Addiction

High-functioning alcohol addiction is a commonly misunderstood form of addiction. This form of addiction does not count the number of drinks that an individual may have in a sitting but instead is defined by an individual consistently drinking throughout the day. 

An individual may have a drink with breakfast or on their lunch break, take sips throughout the day, and even hide alcohol throughout the house to maintain constant access to it. They may continue to go to work or tend to other responsibilities while their constant drinking becomes destructive to their physical and emotional health. 

This form of addiction is also very difficult to identify, and individuals suffering from high-functioning addiction may feel as if there cannot be a problem with alcohol since they are still tending to daily responsibilities. Yet, those suffering from this type of addiction are also at an increased risk for high-risk behavior, especially driving under the influence. This relationship with alcohol can cause entire routines to be constructed around their use of alcohol, and it can be difficult to recognize and overcome this type of addiction without professional help. 

There is no “safe” type of addiction, and professional detox and treatment are necessary to challenge an individual’s use of alcohol. Recovery is about more than learning to say “no” to addictive substances. It is intended to help overcome all the effects of addiction on one’s life, addressing unhealthy mentalities, emotional health, and more to create a truly transformed, healthy lifestyle.

Alcohol addiction takes many forms, and we at Pacific Sands Recovery Center are committed to helping you overcome your unique relationship with alcohol to pursue a healthy, sober life. Located in beautiful Santa Ana, CA, we are prepared to personalize and adapt to your unique situation, providing personalized therapies and modalities from your first step into detox through residential and outpatient treatment. Whether you are suffering from an addiction to alcohol or drugs and any co-occurring mental health disorders, our varied approach can be customized for your needs. From cognitive-behavioral therapy to medication-assisted treatment, as well as 12 Step and non-12 Step plans, we are committed to your future. For more information on how we can help you, or to speak to a caring, trained staff member about your unique needs and goals in recovery, call us today at (949) 426-7962.

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