Alcohol Abuse and Addiction
- Nate Rodnay
- Substance Abuse
People can become addicted to alcohol. Alcohol changes the way your mind and your body work. Even one beer can slow your reactions and confuse your thinking. This means anything that requires concentration and coordination--like driving--is dangerous when you've had a drink.
Ask yourself these questions
If you answer yes to 1 or more of the following questions, you may have a problem with alcohol. Have you ever felt:
The need to cut down on your drinking?
Annoyed by criticism of your drinking?
Guilty about your drinking?
Do you feel a need to drink in the morning?
What problems can alcohol cause?
Alcohol can ruin your health. The more you drink, the more damage is done. You can get alcohol poisoning if you drink too much. As the level of alcohol in your blood rises, the chemicals in your body can cause vomiting or seizures, or you may pass out.
Alcohol is best known as a cause of cirrhosis, a disease of the liver. Cirrhosis of the liver is one of the most well-known effects of alcohol abuse. Cirrhosis stops the liver from being able to clean the toxins (poisons) out of your body. . However, it has many other effects on your health. It's a major cause of deaths and injuries due to accidents. It can have severe effects on a baby during pregnancy. Alcohol can also cause stomach ulcers that lead to internal bleeding
How much alcohol is really in a drink?
Beer usually contains 3% to 5% alcohol. Wine has 9% to 16%. Hard liquor usually contains the highest levels (up to 50%). All states consider an adult to be intoxicated, or drunk, at 0.08% blood level of alcohol. For a man who weighs 170 pounds, this might mean only 4 beers (12-ounce cans) on an empty stomach in an hour. For a woman who weighs 137 pounds, this might mean less than 3 beers in an hour. For people under 21, all states now have a zero-tolerance law, which means you are breaking the law if you drive with any alcohol in your system.
How do I stop?
The first step is realizing that you control your own behavior. It's the only real control you have in your life. So use it. Here are the next steps:
1. Commit to quitting. Once you decide to quit, you can make plans to be sure you succeed.
2. Get help from your doctor. He or she can be your biggest ally. Alcoholism is a kind of disease, and it can be treated. Talking with your doctor or a counselor about your problems can be helpful too.
3. Get support. Contact Alcoholics Anonymous or the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence. They will give you the tools and support you need to quit. Ask your family and friends for support too.
What does it feel like to quit drinking?
As you drink, your body tries to make up for the depressant effects of alcohol. This built-up tolerance to alcohol can lead to severe withdrawal symptoms when people who drink a lot quit.
Serious withdrawal symptoms include seeing things, seizures and delirium tremens (confusion, seeing vivid images, severe shakes, being very suspicious), and can even include death. This is why you may need your doctor's care if you've been drinking heavily and are trying to quit.