The images that we often see and stereotypes that we hold about alcoholics have always been misleading. It surprises many people when they find out that people abusing alcohol can present a well put together picture to the outside world. You may wonder, what is alcohol abuse? Often, those that abuse alcohol are highly functioning, raising families, holding down jobs, and appearing quite successful. Despite popular conceptions, the distinctions, however subtle, between alcoholism and alcohol abuse do exist.
Is There a Difference Between Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse?
So, what is alcohol abuse as opposed to alcoholism? Alcohol abuse occurs when people continue to drink despite having run-ins with the law, difficulty in personal relationships, trouble with work, and other consequences. The American Psychological Association makes the distinction that abusers of alcohol have patterns of drinking that “results in significant and recurrent adverse consequences.”
On the contrary, people with alcohol dependence, most often referred to as alcoholism, have lost any control of their drinking. More often than not, they are incapable of stopping drinking and will experience potentially extreme withdrawal symptoms when they do.
What is Alcohol Abuse?
As stated above, we define abuse as a person’s unwillingness to quit drinking despite dire and life-disrupting consequences. A person doing so may not drink every day. In general, a male that consumes 15 or more drinks per week and a female that drinks eight or more drinks per week would be considered an abuser of alcohol. In some cases, alcohol abusers may only drink once per week, or not even every week. But, these perpetual binge drinkers will consume several drinks in less than two hours and ignore the consequences of the behavior.
What are The Physical and Emotional Impacts?
When contemplating, what is alcohol abuse? The information available might seem confusing. According to the definitions, it may seem that it is less dangerous than alcohol dependence. Each disorder has its place on the spectrum of alcohol disorders. However, the long term consequences are dire in either case. Long-term effects may include:
- Stomach damage
- Heart conditions
- Some cancers
- Brain damage
- Cirrhosis of the liver
In addition to the havoc that it can wreak on the body, it can also have a severe impact on your mental health. Many people that abuse alcohol experience memory loss and new or exacerbated depression and anxiety.
Do I Need Treatment For Alcohol Abuse?
From the APA definitions above, you might think that since people abusing alcohol aren’t dependent, then treatment is unnecessary. Treatment and therapy are necessary for recovery from alcohol abuse. In all likelihood, the root cause of alcohol abuse is what needs to be addressed to find a healthier way of living. What is alcohol abuse treatment? A variety of therapies and treatment options are available when you enter a reputable rehab. The following are some things that could help you on the road to recovery:
- EMDR Therapy Program focused on easing the distress of traumatic memories
- Yoga is physical therapy used to help manage stress
- 12 step recovery program
- Equine therapy allows clients to engage with and care for horses and has shown to improve self-esteem and elevate moods
- Individual Therapy Program
- Group Therapy Program
- Family Therapy Program
Santé Center for Healing, a detox and addiction recovery center in Argyle, TX, offers all of the above to clients entering their alcohol rehab program. At Santé, a focus on individualized treatment starts with a three-day evaluation. Part of this evaluation will address any pre-existing anxiety, depression, or mental illness issues. It is not uncommon for clients with undiagnosed or untreated mental illness to self medicate with alcohol. These issues can be addressed with both medicine and therapy providing a better chance for recovery.