Before we can offer alcoholism treatment to the alcoholic, we must understand what is alcoholism. In this article we explore alcoholism and treatment options

Alcoholism or alcohol use disorder (AUD) is a serious problem involving drinking, whereby those affected simply cannot control their urges to drink alcohol anymore. In time alcoholics will put drinking before everything else, will gradually build up tolerance, and will go into withdrawal if they stop drinking. This is a kind of addiction and goes above and beyond harmful or binge drinking, since it has become an everyday occurrence.

Some Statistics on Alcoholism

Numerous pieces of research have been completed on the extent of alcohol abuse in this country, most of which have been collated by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism “Alcohol Facts and Statistics

“According to the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), 86.4 percent of people ages 18 or older reported that they drank alcohol at some point in their lifetime; 70.1 percent reported that they drank in the past year; 56.0 percent reported that they drank in the past month.”

Because alcoholism or AUD is so complex, there is a lot of available data about it. It is important, therefore, to break this down into categories in order to have a clearer picture.

The Extent of the Problem

• It is believed that some 15.1 million people in this country aged 18 and above, equating to 6.2% of the adult population, has a drinking problem.
• Alcoholism is most common in men (8.4% of the adult population, compared to 4.2% of adult population for women).
• In 2015, some 1.3 million adults were treated for alcoholism related issues, which is around 8.3% of those who needed it. Again, prevalence was slightly higher in men than in women.
• 2.5% of the population aged 12 to 17 were considered to have a drinking problem. Here, females had a higher prevalence (2.7% of the adolescent population compared to 2.3% for men.)
• In 2015, around 37,000 adolescents went to specialized treatment, 22,000 of which were men.

If you are worried that your loved one might be an alcoholic, it is vital that you know the most important things to understand about this condition. Call us at 1-866-225-8502 to learn more about getting help for the alcoholic.

An alcoholic holding his head in shame

The pain of alcoholism runs deep

• Every year, around 88,000 people die in relation to alcohol drinking, meaning it ranks fourth in the list of national preventable deaths.
• 31% of all driving fatalities in 2014 involved alcohol.

The Cost to the Economy

• The cost of alcohol abuse was $249 billion in 2010.
• 75% of this cost was related to binge drinking.

Statistics on Alcoholism and Families

It is believed that at least 10% of all children in this country grow up in a home in which at least one parent has an alcohol problem.

5 Statistics of Underage Drinking

1. In 2015, 33.1% of adolescents had consumed alcohol at least once in their life.
2. In 2015, 20.3% of adolescents had consumed alcohol in the past month.
3. 13.4% of those aged between 12 and 20 admitted to binge drinking in the past 30 days.
4. 3.3% of those aged between 12 and 20 admitted to heavy drinking in the past 30 days.
5. It is believed that those who started drinking in adolescence are more likely to develop a drinking problem. Furthermore, they are more likely to engage in risky behaviors.

8 Statistics of Excessive College Student Drinking

1. In 2015, 58% of those aged between 18 and 22 who were enrolled full-time in college had consumed alcohol. For those who were enrolled part-time, that figure was 48.2%.
2.  In 2015, 37.9% of college students admitted to binge drinking in the past 30 days. In non-college students, this figure was 32.6%.
3.  In 2015, 12.5% of college students had drank heavily in the past 30 days. For non-college students, this figure was 8.5%.
4. It was estimated that 1,825 college students die each year as a consequence of alcohol.
5. 696,000 college student assaults happen each year in relation to alcohol.
6. 97,000 college students had been date raped or sexually assaulted in relation to alcohol.
7. 20% of college students are classed as having a drinking problem, alcohol addiction or full blown alcoholism.
8. 25% of college students admit that they perform poorly in school because of alcohol.

Alcohol and Pregnancy

• It is believed that between two and seven babies for every 1,000 born have fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS), which resulted from their mothers drinking alcohol while pregnant.
• It is believed between 20 and 50 babies for every 1,000 born have fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD).
Alcohol and the Body
• 45.8% of all cases of death from liver disease in 2013 were related to alcohol.
• 47.9% of all cases of cirrhosis deaths in 2013 were related to alcohol. The highest (76.5%) was in those aged between 25 and 34, and in second place (70%) were those aged 35 to 44.
• 1 in 3 liver transplants in this country in 2009 were due to alcohol.

Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms

There were some studies that suggested that there are some health benefits that can be obtained from moderate alcohol consumption. However, once a person develops an AUD, these health benefits are completely canceled out. A key feature of having an AUD is that people experience withdrawal symptoms if they do not consume alcohol. This is perhaps best described in “Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms: Benzodiazepines and Beyond” authored by the Journal Of Clinical and Diagnostic Research.

“Alcohol withdrawal symptoms are a part of alcohol dependence syndrome and are commonly encountered in general hospital settings, in most of the departments. Alcohol withdrawal syndrome ranges from mild to severe. The severe complicated alcohol withdrawal may present with hallucinations, seizures or delirium tremens.”

When heavy drinkers suddenly stop drinking, they are likely to experience agitation, anxiety, irritability, and/p/or tremors. Delirium tremens is the most severe withdrawal symptom, whereby people experience seizures and hallucination. This can be lethal. The alcohol withdrawal syndrome (AWS) experienced by heavy drinkers when they stop consuming alcohol usually starts within a few hours after the last drink.

Common alcohol withdrawal symptoms include:

• Tremors
• Insomnia
• Paroxysmal sweats
• Nightmares
• Fever
• Tachycardia
• Nausea and vomiting
• Tactile, visual, and auditory hallucinations
• Seizures
• Tremulousness
• Increased agitation

Getting Help for Alcoholism

It is quite common for people with a drinking problem to hide the fact that they have a problem. This is why it is important to be able to recognize the signs, such as:
• Having several loved ones expressing their concern
• Feeling annoyed when confronted with a drinking problem
• Feeling ashamed about drinking, while being incapable of stopping
• Needing a drink in the morning to stop a hangover or steady the nerves

Often, alcoholics will try a lot of things to resolve the issue. The support of their loved ones is vital, and people can recover without professional help. However, when they become dependent on alcohol, willpower alone is no longer enough to help them, and outside professionals will need to be called in. Treatment options include:

Detox (medically supervised if there is a risk of delirium tremens)
Inpatient rehabilitation
Outpatient rehabilitation

Rehabilitation will focus mainly on different forms of therapy. Which therapy will work best will depend on the individual and the personal situation. Often, skills learning and family therapy also have to be involved.

It is also common for alcoholics and heavy drinkers to participate in a 12-step program. The best known program, of course, is Alcoholics Anonymous, although there are many others, including SMART Recovery and Women for Sobriety. In their paper, “Understanding Alcohol Use Disorders And Their Treatment“,  the American Psychological Association noted two key types of treatment are usually offered, which are cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) and motivational interventions.

“One analysis of cognitive-behavioral approaches, for instance, found that 58 percent of patients receiving cognitive-behavioral treatment fared better than those in comparison groups. In another study, motivational interventions reduced how often and how much adolescents drank following alcohol-related emergency room treatment.”

The word hope to remind alcoholics they are not alone and can get help for their alcoholism

Alcoholism can be fatal, but with help there is hope for the alcoholic

Alcoholism Summary

Should you know someone who seems to have an alcohol problem, you may feel overwhelmed in terms of what you should do. It is normal to feel that way, with many describing emotions, such as helplessness and hopelessness. Fortunately, there is help out there that you can access. Don’t be afraid to speak to your loved as to how worried you are and how much you want that person to seek help. Tell that person that you will be there every step of the way and that you will offer non-judgmental support. This does not mean that you should ignore the hurt and suffering that has been done to you, but rather that you recognize that your loved one is suffering from an illness.
For further information, we encourage you call our 24/7 alcoholic hotline 1-866-225-8502 and speak to an alcoholism counselor who can provide you with guidance and hopefully some answers.  The call is free.

Alcoholic Helpline Team – July 3, 2017