According to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, April marks Alcohol Awareness Month. Alcohol is one of the most commonly abused substances by adults in the United States, although the opioid epidemic often overshadows it. While alcohol is not an illegal substance, alcohol abuse is incredibly dangerous and can lead to significant consequences for a person’s physical, social, and psychological health.
Alcohol Abuse Statistics in The United States
Alcohol abuse and addiction are extremely prevalent problems in our country, and lead to numerous deaths and injuries every single year. The issue is rampant among people of all ages – alcohol abuse does not discriminate. Here are a few facts you need to know about alcohol addiction in the United States:
- Approximately 50% of American adults drink alcohol on a regular basis.
- Alcohol addiction leads to the development of several health conditions in Americans every single year including dementia, liver disease, high blood pressure, heart congestion, depression, and anxiety.
- Approximately 18 million Americans suffer from alcohol addiction or regularly abuse alcohol.
- Nearly 90,000 Americans die every year because of alcohol-related causes, including accidents, injuries, and illnesses.
- An estimated 25% of American adults between the ages of 18 to 44 engage in binge drinking at least once per month. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention defines binge drinking as consuming four or more drinks during a single occasion.
Signs and Symptoms of Alcohol Abuse
It can be hard to identify if you are suffering from alcohol abuse or addiction. There is a clear line between healthy alcohol consumption and excessive, chronic use, however. If you experience any of the following symptoms, you may be suffering from alcohol abuse:
- When you drink, you often experience short-term memory loss or suffer from lapses in memory, also known as blackouts.
- You feel ashamed or guilty of your drinking habits, and often hide them from your friends and family.
- You often drink alone or in secret. Whenever you do go out to drink, you often drink much more than you originally intended to.
- You make excuses for your drinking, using alcohol to feel normal, deal with stress or trauma, or relax.
- You consistently feel hungover or experience symptoms of withdrawal when you are not drinking.
- You are often irritable or experience extreme mood swings.
- You avoid participating in activities, responsibilities, and obligations by drinking.
Physical, Psychological, and Social Effects of Alcohol Abuse
Long-term alcohol abuse can have significant consequences for your physical and mental health. It can exacerbate mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation. It can reduce brain function, especially balance, emotional response, memory, and fine motor skills. High alcohol consumption increases your risk for heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and stroke. You can also develop cirrhosis of the liver and inflammation of the pancreas.
Alcohol abuse can also impact your social relationships. You can lose friends and strain your family relationships. Your alcohol abuse can lead to poor relationships with your romantic partner and your children. You may begin to withdraw from activities you once loved and fall into a deep depression, as well as experience reduced performance at work and school.
Alcohol Abuse Withdrawal Symptoms
When you drink excessively and become dependent on alcohol, you can experience significant withdrawal symptoms when you stop drinking. These symptoms can be incredibly dangerous and painful. Because of this, you should always seek a medical detox to safely reduce your dependence on alcohol, instead of quitting cold turkey.
Common symptoms of alcohol withdrawal include:
- Hand tremors
- Delirium tremens, which can cause seizures and hallucinations
- Nausea and vomiting
- Heavy sweating and fever
- Racing heart
- High blood pressure
What Is Alcohol Poisoning?
Another serious side effect of alcohol abuse among American adults is alcohol poisoning. This condition occurs when someone drinks a large amount of alcohol over a short time. In many cases, alcohol poisoning can lead to coma and death. People who abuse alcohol regularly or binge drink are at a very high risk of developing alcohol poisoning.
Alcohol poisoning is a medical emergency. If you or someone you are drinking with experiences any of the following symptoms, call 911 immediately:
- Sudden unconsciousness
- Blue-tinged skin or pale skin
- Irregular breathing, or a gap of more than 10 seconds between taking breaths
- Slowed breathing, or only taking less than eight breaths per minute
- Low body temperature or hypothermia
Never leave an unconscious person alone if you believe that they are suffering from alcohol poisoning. Call emergency services – it’s much better to be safe than sorry.
How Can You Help with Alcohol Awareness Month?
Everyone needs to work together if we want to reduce the impact of alcoholism on our communities. Alcohol leads to thousands of injuries and fatalities per year, and severely harms the health of people we love. If you want to help spread the word about alcohol abuse, share this blog with friends and family. Talk to your loved ones about alcohol abuse and its signs and symptoms. Consider hosting an event at your home, school, or community about Alcohol Awareness Month and spread the word about alcohol education.
You can talk to your friends and family about the work that NCADD does and how alcohol abuse can really harm the body. You can challenge your loved ones to partake in an alcohol-free weekend, refraining from any alcohol consumption over a course of a Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. If you or anyone you know struggles with alcoholism, seek professional help through a rehab treatment center like Acceptance Recovery Center.
Seek Treatment for Alcohol Abuse Today
If you or a loved one is struggling with alcohol addiction in Scottsdale, Arizona, you are not alone. Hundreds of adults in the area face these same struggles and help is available to assist you in achieving sobriety and regaining control of your life. If you need alcohol addiction treatment, visit the Acceptance Recovery Center here in Scottsdale.
Acceptance Recovery Center has a reputation throughout the state for having a holistic, comprehensive, and comfortable treatment program available for alcohol addiction, opioid addiction, and more. We personalize our treatment programs to help each person on a case-by-case basis. Whether you need assistance with alcohol addiction or another addictive substance, our compassionate staff can help.
Are you ready to seek help for your alcohol addiction? Contact Acceptance Recovery Center today to learn more about our treatment programs and how to enroll.
Dr. Greg Gale has been practicing and providing leadership in the field of psychiatry, substance use, and integrated care in the Phoenix metropolitan area for over 11 years. He joins us from his role as a national medical director overseeing behavioral health, substance use, and integrated care services for Humana Behavioral Health. Previously, he was CMO and VP of Clinical Services at Partners in Recovery, a not-for-profit behavioral health and substance use service organization, which operates five clinics throughout Maricopa County.