Alcoholism is a chronic, progressive disease, genetically predisposed and can be fatal if untreated. However, people can and do recover. In fact, it is estimated that as many as 20 million individuals and family members are living lives in recovery.
Alcohol is the most commonly used addictive substance in the United States: 17.6 million people, or one in every 12 adults, suffer from alcohol abuse or dependence along with several million more who engage in risky, binge drinking patterns that could lead to alcohol problems.
The use and abuse of alcohol is a serious issue that should not be ignored or minimized. If left untreated, use and abuse can develop into alcoholism. As a result, it is important to recognize the signs and symptoms of alcohol abuse early.
Some symptoms of alcohol abuse include:
- Recurrent arguments or fights with family members or friends as well as irritability, depression, or mood swings
- Temporary blackouts or memory loss
- Continued use of alcohol to relax, cheer up, sleep, to deal with problems, or to feel “normal”
- Headache, anxiety, insomnia, or nausea when one stops drinking
- Flushed skin and broken capillaries on the face, trembling hands and chronic diarrhea
- Drinking alone, in the mornings, or in secret
Alcohol abuse and alcoholism can affect all aspects of a person’s life. Long-term alcohol use can cause serious health complications, damage emotional stability, finances, career, and impact one’s family, friends and community. Health complications include, but not limited to:
- Dementia, stroke and neuropathy
- Depression, anxiety, and suicide
- Liver diseases, including fatty liver, alcoholic hepatitis, cirrhosis
- Cardiovascular problems, including atrial fibrillation and hypertension
Depending on the severity of addiction, it’s important to seek help from professionals and work with them to pursue a form of treatment that works for you.