Alcohol abuse is a serious problem. It is a pattern of drinking too much alcohol too often. It interferes with your daily life. You may be suffering from alcohol abuse if you drink too much alcohol at one time or too often throughout the week. It also is a problem if you can’t stop drinking and it harms your relationships. It can cause you to be unable to function at work and in other areas of your life.NURS 6640 wk 8 Essay Discussion
In the United States, alcohol is the most commonly used and misused substance. It can be addictive.1,14
Not everyone who consumes alcohol will become addicted, but there are certain people who may be more susceptible to addiction.2 The effects alcohol has can vary between people, and there are factors that influence those effects, including age, health status, family history, and how much and how often one drinks.2 It should be noted that alcohol addiction and abuse are not the same.
Addiction is a chronic disease that involves uncontrolled, continued substance pursuit and use despite any harmful consequences.3-6 Individuals who suffer from alcohol addiction are often diagnosed with an alcohol use disorder (AUD), and they may also have developed a dependency on alcohol. Dependence is a state where the body requires the presence of a substance such as alcohol just to function normally. Without it, the individual will experience severe, possibly life-threatening, withdrawal symptoms.5,6 Dependence on alcohol is often experienced in tandem with addiction.NURS 6640 wk 8 Essay Discussion. 6
Those who abuse or misuse alcohol are not necessarily addicted to or dependent on alcohol. An individual can misuse alcohol without drinking on a consistent basis. For example, an individual who abuses alcohol may only drink once a week. However, when that individual drinks, they may put themselves in risky situations or drink enough to cause problems, such as alcohol poisoning.2
Signs of alcohol abuse
An alcohol abuse disorder is a serious and progressive condition. But it is treatable. If you think you or someone you care about has a problem with alcohol, learn more about the disease and ask your doctor for help.
Early symptoms of an alcohol abuse disorder include drinking more than planned, continuing to drink alcohol despite the concerns of others, and frequent attempts to cut down or quit drinking. As alcohol abuse progresses, the individual develops a tolerance to alcohol. He or she must drink more alcohol to get the desired good feeling or to get intoxicated.
When a person becomes dependent on alcohol, and can’t get a drink, he or she develops withdrawal symptoms such as headache, nausea and vomiting, anxiety, and fatigue.
As alcohol abuse worsens, the person becomes preoccupied with alcohol and can lose control. He or she may have blackouts, which are episodes in which a person completely forgets what occurred when he or she was drunk even though he or she was conscious at the time.NURS 6640 wk 8 Essay Discussion
Finally, personality changes occur. Someone suffering from alcohol abuse can become more aggressive and his or her ability to function (hold a job or maintain relationships with friends and family) can seriously deteriorate. Heavy drinkers may experience tremors, panic attacks, confusion, hallucinations, and seizures.
People with alcohol problems often drink alone and say they use alcohol to help them sleep or deal with stress. People who drink excessively may also engage in risky sexual behavior or drive when they should not. They are also at higher risk for dependency on other drugs.
How alcohol abuse affects the body
The effects of too much alcohol on the body are devastating. Health consequences of heavy alcohol use include inflammation of the stomach, inflammation of the liver, bleeding in the stomach and esophagus, impotence, permanent nerve and brain damage (numbness or tingling sensations, imbalance, inability to coordinate movements, forgetfulness, blackouts, or problems with short-term memory), and inflammation of the pancreas. Long-term overuse of alcohol can also increase the risk and severity of pneumonia and tuberculosis; damage the heart, leading to heart failure; and cause cirrhosis of the liver, leading to liver failure. NURS 6640 wk 8 Essay Discussion