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Where should the line be drawn between recreational use and alcoholic dependence?
Based on the latest reports, almost 88 per cent of the world’s adult population has a few alcoholic beverages on occasion. In truth, nearly all of them will admit to having a few too many at some point, but for millions, doing so ultimately becomes quite a bit more than an infrequent occurrence. Once drinking reaches the point of being a physical and emotional need rather than a casual choice, it can be dangerous on a number of levels.
If you or someone you love has come to depend on alcohol, it’s time to reach out to someone who can lend understanding, expertise and guidance. A wide range of alcoholic help is available from short-term detox programmes to residential rehabilitation facilities offering long-term assistance. Of course, it’s sometimes difficult to determine whether or not a true problem exists. Certain guidelines have been developed to make matters a bit easier.
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What are the alcoholic symptoms that we can observe?
Having a few drinks here and there doesn’t automatically signify you or a loved one is an alcoholic. That being said, there’s a fine line between recreation and dependence. In many cases, the former quickly escalates to the latter. So what is an alcoholic? Some of the warning signs of a problem, or one in the making, include:
- Increased Tolerance: Everyone has his or her limit when it comes to drinking. If you find you need several drinks to experience the same effects once generated by only one or two, your body is growing accustomed to the presence of alcohol. One exception to this rule would be if you’ve recently gained a considerable amount of weight because this directly affects the amount of alcohol you can tolerate.
- Hiding Your Habit: For those whose drinking hasn’t become an issue, having an occasional drink or two in front of friends and family is nothing to hide; in fact, they may join you in your decision. If you find yourself needing to drink in private, it’s a sign you’re transitioning from recreational to habitual use.
- Drinking When You Normally Wouldn’t: If you need to have a drink before you head off to work in the mornings, in order to get through social situations or just to tolerate everyday life, you’re heading down a rocky road. You’re essentially ignoring potential dangers and placing yourself as well as others at risk.
- Alcohol Interferes with Your Life: Drinking has certainly become a problem if you ignore your home, work and family responsibilities or choose alcohol over other aspects of your life. The same could be said of a lack of alcohol leaving you unable to get through the day.
- Withdrawal Symptoms: For occasional drinkers, having too much alcohol typically leads to nausea, fatigue, excessive sweating, headache and other common joys of a hangover. Once your body comes to rely on alcohol, all those symptoms start to show up when you don’t drink. This is a sure-fire sign you’re developing a dependence.
- Being Unable to Quit Drinking: “I can quit if I want” is a common phrase among those with virtually any substance abuse issue from caffeine and nicotine to prescription painkillers or cocaine. If you tell yourself this but find it to be untrue, it’s time to seek alcoholic help from an outside source.
These are only a few of the most common signs of problem drinking and outright alcoholism. It all boils down to a physical and emotional need to drink and whether or not alcohol is dominating your life. Even if only a few of these ring true for you, consider participating in counselling or a detox programme before the problem gets out of hand.
Online alcoholic tests to evaluate alcohol dependency
If you’re concerned about how much you’re drinking or have worries about someone you love, a variety of alcoholic tests are available online. They pose questions regarding frequency of alcohol consumption as well as many of the previously-mentioned points. Some ask for your email address before providing your results whereas others are completely anonymous. Though they’re not meant to diagnose the extent of an alcohol problem, they give you a good idea of whether or not it’s time to ask for help.
Resulting health issues
You’re probably well aware drinking can damage your body over time, leading to a wide range of physical and mental health problems. Many of these stem from alcohol’s effects on your liver. Over time, heavy drinking can lead to alcoholic liver disease, an umbrella term covering an array of conditions, such as:
- Fatty Liver Disease: Though this can develop in people who’ve never had a drop of alcohol, it’s common among heavy drinkers. Your liver should contain less than 5 per cent fatty tissue, but fat levels increase greatly with this condition and can ultimately lead to failure.
- Hepatitis: Hepatitis is characterized by liver inflammation and can cause death in as little as a month’s time after its onset.
- Cirrhosis: Heavy drinking for an extended period of time may lead to healthy liver tissue being replaced by scar tissue. Eventually, your liver could shut down altogether.
Each of these conditions can be deadly if not treated. Continuing to drink heavily and regularly increases your risk of serious health issues and even death. If you get help early enough, they may be reversible; at the very least, you can slow or halt their progression.
Alcoholic help is readily available
If you feel you or a loved one has a drinking problem or is in danger of developing one, numerous resources are at your disposal. Among these is Alcoholics Anonymous, an international support group founded to help problem drinkers become sober and remain so. At AA meetings, you’ll interact with others who understand first-hand your need to drink and the struggles of refraining.
Short-term detox programmes have also helped thousands break their addiction to alcohol. For seven to 10 days, you’ll live in a detox facility where shelter, food, medical care, emotional support and all other basic needs will be provided while you rid your system of alcohol. You can choose to ride out withdrawal symptoms with or without medications, but staff members are available to lend kindness and understanding throughout your stay.
You’ll also find long-term residential rehab facilities at your disposal where you’ll have access to the same necessities and support you’d be given during detox. Whether you turn to community support groups or long-term live-in facilities for alcoholic help, getting follow-up guidance after the fact is crucial to remaining sober. Admitting you have a drinking problem is the first step to recovery; no matter which route to sobriety you choose, you won’t be alone in your efforts.
“I so want help to release him from this horrid, horrid existence he lives…”
With the RIGHT HELP you or your loved one CAN move on to create a normal, happy life with REAL OPTIONS.
Timing matters. It’s important to get help
while a person is open to change
Timing matters. It’s important to get help while a person is open to change.
So ask any questions or reserve a place at ARC now. TODAY!
So ask any questions or reserve
a place at ARC now. TODAY!
ARC clients make it!
“If I didn’t come here and do this treatment, I don’t think I’d be on this earth now.” - Johnathon
With the RIGHT HELP you or your loved one CAN move on to create a full, normal life. A life with meaning, purpose, hope & happiness as real options.
To ask any question or get started today, call:
ARC clients make it!
“If I didn’t come here & do this treatment, I don’t think I’d be on this earth now.”
– John, free from alcohol & drugs for 3 years at time of review
Addiction Recovery Centre – ARC – Drug & Alcohol Rehab Center in Portsmouth
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