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More than 3 million people die yearly from alcohol abuse. Therefore, alcohol abuse is a serious problem.

Alcohol abuse is also the first step toward alcohol use disorder.

What is Alcohol Abuse?

Also known as alcohol misuse, this refers to repeated patterns of excessive alcohol intake. Most people who abuse alcohol take a lot of drinks daily.

Alcohol abuse can harm your social and personal life. It can also affect productivity at work.

As earlier stated, alcohol abuse is also the first step towards alcohol use disorder (alcoholism). It can also have an impact on your health in the short and long term.

What Does Alcohol Abuse Do to a Person?

The effect of consistently abusing alcohol is usually felt in the body. A person who abuses alcohol might develop health complications such as

  • Liver problems
  • High blood pressure
  • Stroke
  • Digestive health issues
  • Breast cancer
  • Throat cancer
  • Colon cancer
  • Rectum cancer
  • Chronic insomnia
Prolonged excessive intake of alcohol can adversely affect bone density. This might lead to a longer healing time for injuries.

The danger with alcohol abuse is that most adverse effects are not felt immediately. So, people keep abusing alcohol until it is too late.

How Many Drinks a Day is Considered Alcohol Abuse?

Knowing how to measure a drink is important in calculating the acceptable number of drinks. A drink is

  • 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits. An example of distilled spirits is rum or whiskey.
  • 5 ounces of wine.
  • 12 ounces of beer
  • Alcohol abuse is when you
  • Drink 14 drinks or more weekly.
  • Drink 4 drinks or more daily for men
  • Drink 3 drinks or more daily for females
  • If older than 65, drinking more than 7 drinks weekly or 3 daily

Alcohol Abuse vs Alcohol Addiction- What’s the Difference?

Alcohol abuse refers to a few episodes of alcohol abuse. Sometimes, alcohol abuse can be consistent. However, alcohol addiction is a medical condition.

People who suffer from alcohol addiction experience intense cravings. In other words, they depend on alcohol to function. A person who abuses alcohol might not be dependent on it.

Alcohol abuse usually leads to addiction (alcoholism).

Causes of Alcohol Abuse

To relax and unwind after work or other activities

  • Social pressures
  • Mental health conditions. This includes anxiety and depression
  • Feelings of worthlessness or unhappiness
  • Family or personal history of alcohol abuse

Symptoms of Alcohol Abuse

  • Low productivity after drinking
  • A slow uptick in alcohol cravings
  • You feel like you must have at least 1-2 drinks daily
  • You get defensive when your drinking habits are criticized
  • You get depressed after taking too much alcohol
  • Memory lapses occur after drinking
  • You have become more violent and aggressive
  • Drinking alcohol is your favorite moment of the day
  • You have tried to stop drinking and failed

Risk Factors for Alcohol Abuse

  • Gender- Males are more likely to abuse alcohol than females.
  • Childhood or early drinking- People who started drinking in their early teens are more likely to abuse alcohol
  • Binge Drinkers
  • People with a family history of alcohol abuse
  • People dealing with peer pressure or societal pressure

How is Alcohol Abuse Diagnosed?

Diagnosis is usually carried out by a health care professional. They will ask several questions to ascertain if your condition has escalated to alcohol use disorder.

Questions they might ask include

  • Have you ever gotten sick from drinking?
  • Have you ever tried to stop drinking? Did it work?
  • Has drinking disrupted your daily activities?
  • Do you experience nausea, insomnia, and sweating when the alcohol effects wear off?
  • Do you regularly binge drink?
  • Do you need to drink more now to experience the same effects as before?
  • They might also ask for physical and mental examinations to rule out any other conditions.

Treatment Options for Alcohol Abuse

Natural Remedies
As earlier stated, alcohol can have devastating effects on the body. In addition, it can also affect the absorption of important nutrients. One such nutrient is thiamine.

Thiamine maintains the functioning of the brain. When alcohol is misused, this problem becomes more pronounced.

Thus, supplements containing thiamine can be very helpful.

Exercise is also an important natural remedy. Doing regular aerobic workouts is great for recovery. Abusing alcohol can lead to dehydration. So, make sure you keep yourself hydrated.

Meditating and mindfulness exercises are also great. Activities such as yoga and visualization can help you refocus your thoughts.

Medications
FDA has provided guidelines concerning medication for alcohol abuse. Currently, there are three recommended drugs.

They are

  • Disulfiram- Also known as Antabuse, this drug intervenes in the body’s metabolism process. People who take this medication will vomit or suffer from nausea if they take alcohol. Disulfiram is taken orally.
  • Naltrexone- This medication focuses on reducing alcohol cravings. It is administered by injection.
  • Acamprosate- Also known as Campral, this medication tries to restore the brain’s chemical balance. It is taken orally.


Therapy
Therapies such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) can help adjust the person’s thinking pattern. Your healthcare expert might also recommend other forms of therapy.

Therapies usually go along with support groups and counseling. Support groups act as a form of good peer pressure.

These support groups usually meet in person or online. They can also be a great source of encouragement.

Counseling can help prevent relapses.

How Can Alcohol Abuse Be Prevented?

You can avoid alcohol abuse by following these tips

  • Abstain from alcohol. If you cannot, put a limit to how many drinks you have.
  • Try to limit the time you spend with alcohol abusers
  • If you feel you might have issues with alcohol abuse, talk to others about it. You can even join a support group
  • Read more about alcohol abuse, its effects, and how to avoid it
  • If you have a family history of alcohol abuse, you need to show extra caution.

When Should You Contact Your Doctor?

Contact your doctor if you feel you are abusing alcohol. Do not let it develop into alcohol use disorder (AUD). If you have a friend or family member that is abusing alcohol, encourage them to seek help.

The earlier they do, the better.

Conclusion

Alcohol abuse is a serious problem. Yet, it is just the first step toward alcohol use disorder which is much more serious.

So, seek medical help for your condition. Doing so will help you avoid the disastrous consequences that follow.

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