What you need to know about alcoholism.
April is Alcoholism Awareness Month. It was established in 1987 as a way to increase understanding of alcoholism, reduce the stigma associated with it, and encourage those suffering from the disease to seek treatment. All month long, we’ll be sharing information about alcohol abuse and resources where you, or a loved one, can turn to get help.
Here are some facts about alcoholism you should know.
- Alcohol is the most commonly abused substance in the U.S. Believe it or not, one in 12 adults (or 17.6 million people) suffer from alcohol abuse or dependency. This doesn’t include other risky behaviors—like binge drinking—which can also lead to long-term alcohol abuse.
- Alcoholism is the third leading lifestyle-related cause of death. 88,000 deaths per year are attributed to alcohol abuse and 40% of the hospital beds in the U.S. are being used at any given time for treatment of conditions related to alcoholism.
- Alcoholism is a form of addiction. Alcoholism is a form of addiction that is every bit as serious as drug abuse.
- Alcohol abuse can lead to serious health problems. Some of these include liver disease, cardiovascular problems, stroke, and an increased risk of cancer.
- Alcoholism is genetic. This is a tough statistic, but research has shown that addiction runs in families. A child of an alcoholic is 50 percent more likely to develop an addiction problem than someone who doesn’t have addiction in their family.
- According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), men are more likely to abuse alcohol than women. Men also have a higher rate of alcohol-related death and hospitalizations than women.
- Alcohol makes you feel worse, not better. You’ve heard the phrases, “drown your sorrows,” or “alcohol is liquid courage?” The reality is that alcohol is a depressant. Research studies have shown that alcohol use can lead to depression or make depression worse.
- You may be drinking more than you think. A “standard” serving of wine is five ounces, 1.5 is standard for liquor and 12 ounces for a can of beer. Most restaurants and bars serve a larger pour, meaning you could be consuming twice or three times the standard serving of an alcoholic beverage in just one drink.
- Alcohol changes your brain. Anyone who has had even a little too much to drink knows the effect alcohol has on your brain—slurred speech, slower reaction time, impaired motor function. However, according to the National Institute of Health (NIH), it may not stop there. Researchers are finding that people who drink heavily over an extended period of time may have permanent brain deficits that do not go away, even when they become clean and sober.
- Alcohol withdrawal is a serious matter. The DT’s or delirium tremens is the most serious form of withdrawal and can last two to three days. It’s defined as the rapid onset of confusion and can cause shaking, shivering, sweating, or an irregular heartbeat. In some cases, it can lead to a high fever or seizures. If you’re a heavy drinker, don’t ever try to quit cold turkey. Seek assistance from a medical professional who can guide and monitor your withdrawal and help you find counseling after you’ve stopped drinking.
If you, or someone you love, is suffering from alcoholism, visit the National Council for Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD) for resources and information on how to get help.