Many signs of addiction indicate whether or not a person is suffering from an alcohol use disorder. Mental health experts consider alcohol addiction as a severe mental health condition because failure to treat the illness early on can cause serious ailments and even premature death. Thus, overcoming alcoholism and knowing how to help an alcoholic is important, regardless of the types of alcoholics.
Alcoholism in the U.S. and Signs of Addiction
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), an estimated 17 million adults in the U.S. are struggling with alcohol addiction. In other words, about seven out of every 100 American adults have a diagnosis of an alcohol use disorder. Of all the American adults that suffer from an alcohol use disorder, 66% are men and 34% are women. More than 900,000 of the people that suffer from alcoholism in the U.S. are adolescents aged less than 18 years.
So, what are the signs of alcohol addiction and health implications to watch out for?
Liver Problems and Risk of Developing Cancer
Prolonged and heavy alcohol drinking hinders liver functionality and development. It’s important to note that the liver is the most vulnerable body organ to the effects of excessive alcohol consumption. This is because the liver is the organ that breaks down alcohol into acetaldehyde.
Acetaldehyde is a chemical that’s a lethal carcinogenic. Thus, it’s not good for the body. Excessive alcohol consumption also leads to the accumulation of excess fats in the liver. Excess fats in the liver can lead to various types of organ failure.
Other negative health effects that excessive alcohol consumption can help cause include alcohol hepatitis and cirrhosis. Alcohol hepatitis is inflammation of the liver due to consuming too much alcohol. Cirrhosis is late-stage scarring of the liver.
A 2017 medical report even links alcohol addiction to many types of cancers. In fact, researchers reveal that alcohol and acetaldehydes can cause cancers of the stomach, breast, mouth, larynx, rectum, throat, and colon. Furthermore, individuals who abuse both alcohol and tobacco are more vulnerable to stomach and lung cancers.
All of these negative effects that alcoholism can have on human health is why it’s so important to know how to help an alcoholic. Alcoholics that want to receive quality addiction treatment should do so at Phoenix Rising Recovery rehab in Palm Springs, CA.
Ulcers and Digestive Complications
Excessive drinking can cause problems with the gastrointestinal system. For example, excessive drinking can cause ulcers in the stomach, heartburn, and gastritis. Prolonged exposure of the digestive system to alcohol can even interfere with stomach acids in a way that enlarges veins and causes internal bleeding.
Inflammation of the Pancreas
Pancreatitis is an alcohol-related pancreas inflammation, which is very painful. In fact, pancreatitis is often so painful that suffering from it often leads to hospitalization. Because the pancreas can be inflamed due to excessive alcohol consumption, it’s no surprise that approximately 70 out of 100 patients with pancreatitis have a history of excessive alcohol consumption.
Alcohol and Kidneys
The kidneys are responsible for filtering out harmful substances in the body. Because alcohol is technically a harmful substance, people that excessively drink alcohol force their kidneys to work harder.
Consuming alcohol can even have a negative effect on kidney functionality. This, in turn, impedes kidneys from filtering out harmful substances in the human body’s blood.
Ultimately, when it comes to the effects of excessive alcohol use on human organs, alcohol and kidneys are a bad combination. For example, excessive alcohol use can lead to the development or worsening of kidney disease. Excessive alcohol consumption is approximately four or more drinks a day.
Lasting Kidney Damage Due to Binge and Heavy Drinking
According to the NIAAA, binge drinking is any amount of drinking that causes a person’s blood alcohol levels (BAC) to reach 0.08% or higher. When it comes to alcohol and kidneys, binge drinking can cause acute kidney failure. While acute kidney failure often goes away at some point, it can just turn into lasting kidney damage.
Lasting kidney damage due to drinking is more likely to occur if a person is both a heavy drinker and a smoker. In fact, people that are both smokers and heavy drinkers are five times more likely to develop chronic kidney disease. Even just regular heavy drinking doubles the risk of developing chronic kidney disease.
Heavy drinking can also cause human organs, such as the kidneys, to dry out. This, in turn, can change the function of cells in human organs such as the kidneys.
Further effects of excessive alcohol use include the disruption of hormones that affect kidney function. Drinking too much alcohol can even cause a person’s blood pressure to increase. Furthermore, drinking excessive amounts of alcohol can affect the function of a person’s medications for high blood pressure.
Types of Alcoholics
There are five main types of alcoholics. These five types of alcoholics were derived from studies done by the NIAAA, the National Institutes of Health ( NIH), and the National Epidemiological Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions (NESARC).
The five types of alcoholics, according to these studies, are:
Young adult alcoholics are types of alcoholics that start drinking at an early age of around 19 and develop an alcohol dependence by the age of around 24. Approximately 31.5% of alcoholics are young adult alcoholics.
Young adult alcoholics suffer from low rates of co-occurring mental illnesses. They also suffer from moderate rates of other substance use disorders and often have family members with alcoholism.
Other common characteristics of the young adult type of alcoholic include not having a full-time job but being in college and never having been married. When comparing young adult alcoholics to other types of alcoholics, young adult alcoholics overall drink less often. But, when young adult alcoholics do drink, they are more likely to binge drink.
There are more male young adult alcoholics than females. In fact, there are 2.5 times more male young adult alcoholics than female alcoholics. Young adult alcoholics are more likely to attend 12 step programs to help them manage their alcoholism rather than official alcohol addiction treatment.
2. Functional Alcoholic
The functional alcoholic makes up 19.5% of alcoholics. This type of alcoholic tends to start drinking at around 18 and develop a dependence on alcohol by around 37. Functional alcoholics make up about 19.5% of all alcoholics.
Functional alcoholics is one of the types of alcoholics that simultaneously suffers from moderate rates of depression, but lower rates of nearly all other co-occurring mental illnesses. Substance use disorders aren’t a real issue for functional alcoholics. Although, many functional alcoholics smoke cigarettes. 60% of functional alcoholics are male.
Functional alcoholics are the least likely of all the types of alcoholics to experience legal, or any other significant kind, problem. Functional alcoholics also have the highest salaries and level of education of all the types of alcoholics. Half of the functional alcoholics in the U.S. are married.
3. Intermediate Familial Alcoholic
Intermediate familial alcoholics make up 18.8% of alcoholics. This type of alcoholic tends to start drinking at around 17 and develops alcohol dependence at around age 32. Many intermediate familial alcoholics witness alcoholism at home. As a result, such individuals have a high probability of suffering from antisocial personality disorder, depression, generalized anxiety disorder, and bipolar disorder.
This type of alcoholic also tends to suffer from substance addictions. Substances that intermediate familial alcoholics tend to suffer from high rates of addiction towards include cigarettes, marijuana, and cocaine.
Intermediate familial alcoholics tend to have a high level of education, but not as high as functional alcoholics. As a result, the income of intermediate familial alcoholics tends to be less than functional alcoholics. Intermediate familial alcoholics tend to have more full-time jobs than any of the other types of alcoholics though.
Intermediate familial alcoholics aren’t likely to seek treatment for their drinking problems. The ones that do seek out treatment though tend to attend self-help groups, specialty treatment programs, and detoxification programs. They also tend to receive treatment from private healthcare providers.
Like all the other types of alcoholics, intermediate familial alcoholics are majority male. In fact, 64% of familial alcoholics are male.
4. Young Antisocial Alcoholics
Young antisocial alcoholics tend to start drinking at around 15 and develop an alcohol dependence by as early as 18. More than 50% of young antisocial alcoholics have traits of antisocial personality disorder. On top of that, this type of alcoholic tends to suffer from many other mental illnesses. In fact, young antisocial alcoholics suffer from high rates of depression, bipolar disorder, social phobia, and obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Not only do young antisocial alcoholics suffer from mental illnesses at high rates, but they also suffer from other substance use disorders at high rates. In fact, many young antisocial alcoholics also suffer from addictions to tobacco/nicotine, marijuana, meth, cocaine, and/or opioids.
Young antisocial alcoholics tend to have the lowest levels of education, income, and employment. This is also the type of alcoholic that drinks the most overall and at any given time.
While young antisocial alcoholics drink more than almost any of the other types of alcoholics, they are the most likely to seek out help for their alcoholism. In fact, studies show 35% of young antisocial alcoholics sought out some form of treatment.
Some of the forms of treatment that young antisocial alcoholics sought out treatment for include self-help groups, specialty treatment programs, and detox programs. Studies also show that young antisocial alcoholics sought out treatment from private healthcare providers at the highest rates. More than 75% of young antisocial alcoholics are male.
5. Chronic Severe Alcoholics
Chronic severe alcoholics make up the smallest percentage of alcoholics. This is because this type of alcoholic only makes up 9.2% of alcoholics.
Chronic severe alcoholics tend to start drinking at around 15 and develop alcohol dependence at around 29. Chronic severe alcoholics tend to have family members that also suffer from alcoholism more than any of the other types of alcoholics. More than 80% of chronic severe alcoholics experience acute alcohol withdrawal. This is also the type of alcoholics that see the most emergency room visits.
When it comes to education and employment, chronic severe alcoholics have the lowest rates of all the types of alcoholics. This is likely due to the fact that chronic severe alcoholics drink more frequently than any of the other types of alcoholics. Although, the total level of alcohol intake of chronic severe alcoholics is usually less than that of young antisocial alcoholics.
Chronic severe alcoholics seek out treatment more than any other type of alcoholic, especially inpatient treatment. In fact, studies show that more than 66% of chronic severe alcoholics seek out treatment for their alcoholism. Other forms of alcohol addiction treatment that chronic severe alcoholics tend to seek out include self-help groups, rehab programs, detox programs, and help from private physicians, psychiatrists, and social workers.
Mental Health In Chronic Severe Alcoholics
47% of chronic severe alcoholics struggle with antisocial personality disorder. Chronic severe alcoholics are also the most likely to suffer from major depression, dysthymia, bipolar disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, social phobia, and panic disorder. When it comes to other substance use disorders, chronic severe alcoholics are very likely to simultaneously be addicted to tobacco/nicotine, marijuana, cocaine, and opioids. This only makes their mental health worse.
Legal Problems and Strained Interpersonal Relationships
Many people with drinking problems have trouble with law enforcement. This is because people that have drinking problems often drive while under the influence or exhibit moments of public intoxication.
Drunk driving and a history of public intoxication are clear indications of alcoholism. The majority of people that suffer from drinking problems also misuse other illicit substances like marijuana and opioids. Individuals usually turn to these alternative drugs if alcohol is inaccessible.
The fact that heavy drinkers tend to use illicit substances makes people that suffer from alcohol use disorders more prone to arrests and convictions. Thus, it’s important to learn how to help an alcoholic from being dependent on alcohol in the first place.
Alcoholics find it hard to maintain intimate and other social relationships. Oftentimes this is because alcoholics dedicate most of their time drinking at the expense of spending valuable time with their loved ones. They must overcome alcoholism to improve the relationships that alcoholics have with their family and friends.
In most cases, people that suffer from alcohol use disorders waste their family finances and other resources on purchasing and drinking alcohol. Such behaviors hurt the personal, professional, and intimate relationships of addicts.
Rehab Treatment for the Signs of Addiction
When you cannot control your alcohol consumption, you may be on a risky path towards addiction. Fortunately, there is hope in overcoming alcoholism. Full recovery is achievable. At Phoenix Rising Recovery, you’ll receive customized treatment programs to help you overcome alcohol and substance use disorders.
For the best results, our therapists will combine a variety of treatment options, including:
- Alcohol rehab program
- Medically-assisted drug detox
- Partial hospitalization program (PHP)
- Intensive outpatient program (IOP)
- Dialectical behavior therapy
- Neurofeedback therapy program
- Trauma therapy program
At Phoenix Rising Recovery, our mental health experts will help you to manage the signs of addiction so that you can achieve a drug-free life. Addiction can control your life if you let it. So be proactive in seeking out medical treatment and contact Phoenix Rising Recovery for help today.