Many of us have happily waved goodbye to 2020 and excitedly have welcomed in a new year full of opportunities and changes. And while the start of 2021 was a little rough for many in our nation, our resiliency continues to propel us forward with dreams of what good things are ahead in this new year.
Traditionally, many people make ‘new year’s resolutions’. These resolutions often include getting in better shape, eating healthier, working less, spending more time with loved ones—the list goes on. Also, on this list (particularly after a rather ‘festive’ New Year’s Eve celebration) is to stop—or cut down—drinking alcohol.
And it’s no wonder this is a resolution for so many. If you look at the people across our great nation there are many who drink alcohol in concerning amounts and patterns. According to the 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), 85.6 percent of Americans 18 years of age and older reported they had consumed alcohol during the last year. Of these, 25.8 percent reported binge drinking in the last year.
What’s more, the 2019 NSDUH revealed 14.4 million American adults have an alcohol use disorder (AUD). And an estimated 95,000 people die from alcohol-related causes each year. This makes alcohol the third leading preventable cause of death annually.
Clearly, for many, a New Year’s resolution to stop or decrease drinking is a good idea—often a life-saving one.
What’s the Difference Between Binge Drinking and an Alcohol Use Disorder?
Alcohol use disorder or AUD is described by the American Psychiatric Association in the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) as a chronic relapsing brain disease characterized by an impaired ability to stop or control alcohol use despite adverse social, occupational, and health consequences. There are mild, moderate, and severe subclassifications as well.
Binge drinking is defined by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) as having five or more alcoholic drinks (for men) and four or more alcoholic drinks (for women) on the same occasion, at least one time in the past month.
Alcohol consumption, particularly binge drinking and AUD, can cause many issues. Not only is the person who is consuming unhealthy quantities of alcohol impacted but so too are the family and friends of that person. There are many negative consequences of excessive or unhealthy alcohol consumption. Adverse health consequences are some of the most concerning.
How Does Alcohol Impact the Body?
Alcohol impacts each person’s body in somewhat different ways. The degree to which a person consumes alcohol, as well as their other lifestyle habits, can play a role in how alcohol ultimately impacts their bodies.
In general, these are some of the harmful consequences associated with excessive alcohol consumption from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):
- Accidental injuries such as motor vehicle accidents, slips, and falls, etc.
- Liver diseases
- Central nervous system diseases such as dementia and stroke
- Heart disease and heart issues such as coronary artery disease, irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure, congestive heart failure
- Cancers such as breast and colon
Additionally, alcohol has been connected to risky sexual behaviors and adverse pregnancy outcomes. It’s also important to note that there is growing concern in regards to women’s alcohol consumption and health-related issues.
In an interview on Today, Aaron White, a biological psychologist and senior scientific advisor to the director of the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) said, “Alcohol use is increasing among women in the United States at a time when it’s decreasing among men.”
And what’s more, is that alcohol impacts the female body in more detrimental ways than their male counterparts. This is because women’s bodies absorb more alcohol and also break it down more slowly.
The above list concerns some of the long term effects of alcohol on the body. But, the daily impacts are concerning too and a good reason for many to want to stop drinking alcohol. From feeling hungover to missing commitments, many who drink alcohol excessively compromise their quality of life.
If you are tired of the negative physical, social, and occupational impact of alcohol, it may be time to stop drinking. Futures Recovery Healthcare offers hope and evidence-based help for those seeking to stop drinking.
Many of our staff are in recovery themselves and know first-hand how challenging it can be to not only quit drinking but also how difficult continuing to drink is. Our compassionate team and integrated approach offer multiple pathways for recovery seeking help.
‘Dry January’, Sobriety, and How to Stop Drinking
If you aren’t sure if you have a problem with alcohol, maybe try cutting down or quitting entirely for a one month period. ‘Dry January’ has gained popularity over the last few years. For many, this is the start of a life without alcohol that is better than they ever imagined.
‘Dry January’ began in 2012 as an initiative by the British charity group Alcohol Change UK. Their mission for Dry January is to ‘ditch the hangover, reduce the waistline, and save some serious money by giving up alcohol for 31 days’.
And this movement has recently been gaining traction in the United States. According to an article in Forbes, one in seven Americans participates in ‘Dry January’. The increase in participation has been significant going from 4,300 in its first year to 5 million in 2017.
The movement is simple; cut out alcohol consumption entirely for the entire month of January—31 days. But for many who attempt this, they soon find that they are unable to stop drinking. Maybe they are able to stick to the resolution for a few days, maybe even a week. However, many report that they are unable to stick with it despite wanting to do so.
If you or someone you love has attempted to stop drinking in ‘Dry January’ or any other time unsuccessfully, you may need professional help.
Signs of an Alcohol Use Disorder
When it comes to an alcohol use disorder and troublesome drinking, the sooner you seek help the better. For this reason, it’s important to pay attention to early warning signs that may indicate a problem with alcohol. If you understand what the early warning signs of a problem with alcohol are, you can take steps to stop it from escalating into an AUD.
Take a look at the following list. If you identify with some of them it may signal a problem. Depending on how many you relate to, this can indicate the severity of the issue and the corresponding appropriate steps to take.
- Spend a lot of time consuming alcohol or recovering from the effects of drinking
- Found yourself drinking more or for longer periods of time than planned
- Attempted to stop drinking or cut down and were unable to do so
- Decreased or gave up activities and hobbies so you could spend more time drinking
- Needed to drink increased quantities of alcohol to get the same effect
- Found drinking to negatively impact responsibilities such as work, school, family.
- Ended up in dangerous situations while drinking such as driving, being in a dangerous area, risky sexual behaviors, etc.
- Continued drinking despite negative physical and mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, blackouts, being hungover
- Continued drinking despite it causing issues with family and friends
- Experienced legal issues from drinking or behaviors while drinking
- Experienced withdrawal when you stop drinking such as sleep problems, nausea, shakiness, seizures, etc.
If you have experienced any of these issues, it may indicate a problem or potential problem with alcohol consumption. The more of these you have experienced, the more severe the issue may be. However, it’s important to understand that no matter how mild or severe your (or a loved one’s) problem with alcohol may be, there is help and hope. Each day people struggling with an addiction to alcohol seek help and begin their journey of recovery—you can too.
What To Do If You Can’t Stop Drinking
The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that there are 3 million deaths from the harmful use of alcohol each year. As awareness of the problems associated with harmful drinking increases, so too do the effectiveness of treatment programs. According to the NIAAA, one-third of those individuals who receive treatment for alcohol issues report remaining in recovery one year later.
If you or a loved one need help to stop drinking, Futures is here for you. With three robust treatment programs, Core, Orenda, and Rise, Futures provides personalized and comprehensive, evidence-based treatment.
When you begin to look for treatment for alcoholism or an AUD, you’ll see many options. It’s important to consider a few things when choosing where to get help. First, consider any underlying or co-occurring mental health disorders. These can be issues such as depression, anxiety, PTSD, mood disorders, and more. While you may not know for sure, if you suspect you or your loved one has another mental health issue, seek treatment at a rehab facility that treats co-occurring disorders.
Next, you’ll want to keep in mind any other factors that may prohibit you from fully engaging in treatment. Do you have a high-pressure or high-profile occupation that you can’t step away from entirely? Will confidentiality and privacy be vital for you to engage in a recovery program? If so, seek treatment somewhere that has sensitivity to these issues and programs to support them. Futures’ Orenda program provides concierge-level service for these individuals unable to entirely remove themselves from these situations.
Maybe you or your loved one have been in treatment before and are still having issues. Then consider an addiction treatment facility with program options different from traditional rehab. Futures’ Rise program is an adventure-based, experiential therapy program that is well suited for those who traditional rehab hasn’t worked to date.
Each person has unique needs for their recovery and treatment. Taking a look at what your (or a loved one’s) needs are is an important piece of finding the best alcohol treatment program.
If you are ready to stop suffering from an AUD or if you see early warning signs and want to get help, Futures is here for you. Contact us today and learn more about our different treatment programs and how we can help you. Remember, no matter how severe or mild an alcohol problem is, there is always help and hope. Call 866-804-2098