Alcoholism Treatment Areas

Alcoholism Treatment Areas

Alcohol use disorder (which includes a level that’s sometimes called alcoholism) is a pattern of alcohol use that involves problems controlling your drinking, being preoccupied with alcohol, continuing to use alcohol even when it causes problems, having to drink more to get the same effect, or having withdrawal symptoms when you rapidly stop or decrease drinking.

Unhealthy alcohol use includes any alcohol use that puts your health or safety at risk or causes other alcohol-related problems. It also includes binge drinking– a pattern of drinking where a male consumes five or more drinks within two hours or a female downs at least four drinks within two hours. Binge drinking causes significant health and safety risks.

You likely have alcohol use disorder if your pattern of drinking results in repeated significant distress and problems functioning in your daily life. It can range from mild to severe. Even a mild disorder can lead and escalate to serious problems, so early treatment is important.

When to see a doctor

If you feel that you sometimes drink too much alcohol, or it’s causing problems, or your family is concerned about your drinking, talk with your doctor. Other ways to get help include talking with a mental health provider or seeking help from a support group such as Alcoholics Anonymous or a similar type of self-help group.

You might not recognize how much you drink or how many problems in your life are related to alcohol use. Consider talking with someone who has had a problem drinking, but has stopped.

If your loved one needs help

Because they don’t recognize they have a problem, many people with alcohol use disorder hesitate to get treatment. An intervention from loved ones can help some people accept and recognize that they need professional help. Ask a professional experienced in alcohol treatment for advice on how to approach that person if you’re concerned about someone who drinks too much.

Genetic, psychological, environmental and social factors can impact how drinking alcohol affects your body and behavior. Theories suggest that for certain people drinking has a different and stronger impact that can lead to alcohol use disorder.

Over time, drinking too much alcohol may change the normal function of the areas of your brain associated with the experience of pleasure, judgment and the ability to exercise control over your behavior. This may result in craving alcohol to try to restore good feelings or reduce negative ones.

Alcohol depresses your central nervous system. In some people, the initial reaction may be stimulation. But as you continue to drink, you become sedated.

Too much alcohol affects your speech, muscle coordination and vital centers of your brain. A heavy drinking binge may even cause a life-threatening coma or death. This is of particular concern when you’re taking certain medications that also depress the brain’s function.
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