How do you know when having a few drinks is actually a problem? There will be indicators along the way, after all - you didn’t get from zero to needing treatment all in the same day.
While there isn’t a healthy level of alcohol use, there is certainly an unhealthy level. Unhealthy alcohol use as defined by Mayo Clinic includes any alcohol use that puts your health or safety at risk or causes other alcohol-related problems.
In 2017, 14.1 million American adults (5.7 percent of the population) had an alcohol use problem according to the National Institute of Health.
According to the World Health Organization, in 2018, 3.3 million deaths occur globally every year result from the harmful use of alcohol.
People who drink too much over an expanded period of time may experience alcohol’s very negative effects. When alcohol has turned from a few social or celebratory drinks into an alcohol use disorder, you will start seeing symptoms:
Needing more of the alcohol or substance to receive the desired effect, for example, if you are intoxicated after 3 drinks, but after a while you need 5, then a while longer need 8.
When you stop taking the substance, your body goes into detox mode with physical or physiological symptoms like shakes, tremors, cravings, nausea, or racing heart.
Wanting a drink so badly you can’t concentrate on anything else.
4. Spending a Great Deal of Time or Energy Using, Obtaining or Recovering
Preoccupied with where do I get my next drink, and when can I get it.
5. Interpersonal Problems
When your substance use is starting arguments or is a source of contention from parent/spouse/friend.
6. Continued Use Despite Medical Consequences
For example, if you go to doctor and see that perhaps liver enzymes elevated, the doctor give advice to reduce or stop alcohol use...but you continue despite the consequences.
These are the top 6 most frequently occurring symptoms. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism has a complete list of 11 criteria in their DSM.
If you have any of these symptoms, your drinking may already be a cause for concern. Experiencing 2 of these symptoms indicates Alcohol Use Disorder. The severity is defined as:
Mild: 2-3 symptoms
Moderate: 4-5 symptoms
When should you seek intensive outpatient treatment? Earlier is always better.
The good news is that no matter how severe the problem may seem, most people with an alcohol use disorder can benefit from treatment.
If you or a loved one need help for an addiction or alcohol problem and want to know more about outpatient programs, or want to schedule an evaluation, feel free to contact us.