You may feel like no matter what you try, you always end the night drinking more than you intended. It can feel like a vicious cycle you can’t escape no matter how hard you try. Watching someone you love struggle with alcohol abuse can be really hard. Going through alcohol use disorder (AUD) yourself can be even more terrifying since you won’t be able to see the signs of alcoholism due to self-denial.
It can be challenging to tell the difference between a heavy drinker and someone suffering from AUD. Understanding the stages of alcoholism can help. If you are unsure if you or someone in your life is suffering from AUD, doing research like this is a great first step. You are in the right place.
If you or someone you love is struggling with AUD, you should know that you are not alone. A study published in 2014 by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) estimated that almost 8% of people in Massachusetts struggled with dependence on alcohol during the years studied (2008-2010).
In addition, County Health Rankings reports that in Norfolk County, which includes Cohasset and surrounding areas, 22% of adults regularly engage in excessive drinking. While this is slightly below the Massachusetts state average of 24% of adults, it still encompasses much of the Norfolk County population.
Suffering from AUD can be a harrowing experience, physically and emotionally, and it can cause a lot of hardships. Learning about AUD is the first step to recovering from it, so let’s look at 10 of the most common warning signs of AUD.
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Continuing to Drink Despite Negative Consequences
Alcohol abuse begins once it negatively impacts your life and may cause harm. If you find yourself drinking despite bad things that happen when you drink, you may suffer from AUD. You may find that you drink so much every night that it is difficult to get up in the morning, which makes you late to work. You know that happens regularly, but you still cannot get yourself to stop drinking regularly.
You may notice other negative consequences like poor health, relationship problems with those closest to you, or psychological problems due to your drinking. If you continue to drink a lot despite all of these things, there is a good chance that you are struggling with AUD.
Hiding or Lying About Your Drinking
People with AUD often lie to the people in their lives about how much they drink or attempt to hide it from them.
Are you storing extra alcohol in your sock drawer or a back corner of the garage where you know your spouse won’t look? Maybe you add some alcohol into something else, like a soda, or use an opaque glass so no one can see what you’re drinking. If you have to be sneaky about your drinking, you may suffer from AUD.
Drinking at Odd Times of the Day
Do you wake up and drink as part of your morning routine? Do you find yourself drinking at all hours of the day?
Maybe you have an extra bottle on your desk at work or in your car so you can have easy access during the day, just in case you need a little something to get you through till it’s time to go home. Do you often find yourself drinking at times or locations where other people do not drink with you?
If you find yourself regularly drinking at times when other people do not drink or drinking throughout the day just to get through whatever you’re doing, you may have AUD.
Having Repeated Blackouts
If you regularly drink to the point that you black out, you likely suffer from AUD. When you have 5 or more drinks in a day, it is called binge drinking. A blackout occurs when you binge drink so much alcohol that you experience short-term memory loss and do not remember experiencing the events that happened when you were extremely drunk. This is dangerous and can place a person close to the BAC (Blood Alcohol Content) levels associated with alcohol poisoning.
This can create serious problems as you may get into risky situations and not know how you got there, or you may find yourself fighting with people in your life, like your spouse, friends, or children, and then later not be able to remember what you fought about.
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Having Mood Swings
Do you feel like your emotions get out of control when you drink, or maybe when you stop drinking?
You might feel like you can go from happy to sad in just a few minutes, or you can be calm and relaxed, and then someone says something and suddenly you are outraged. It might feel like being on a rollercoaster of emotions that don’t quite feel like your own, but you also can’t get off the ride.
If you experience mood swings when you drink or feel like you are only calm when you’re drinking, you are likely suffering from AUD.
Breaking Promises About Drinking
Do you feel like no matter how often you tell yourself you’re going to cut back on your drinking, you never seem to be able to do it for very long?
If you break promises to yourself and your loved ones about drinking, you may have AUD. Do you tell your spouse or children that you will stop drinking altogether and be there for them more, but as much as you want that to be true, you still end up drinking?
Not being able to stop drinking, even when you want to, is a common warning sign of AUD, and you likely need help to be able to stop drinking.
Drinking to Deal With Negative Emotions
Another major sign of AUD is drinking to deal with stress or other negative emotions. When you get in a fight with your partner or have a hard day at work, do you immediately find yourself wanting to drink? Do you cope with difficult situations or traumatic experiences by drinking to forget? If you constantly find yourself drinking when something bad happens, you likely suffer from AUD.
Risk-Taking Related to Drinking
Do you often take unnecessary risks when drinking?
This might mean putting yourself in dangerous or harmful situations to obtain more alcohol, like driving to a liquor store or bar while drunk. You may also take part in other risky behaviors while drinking, like physical fights, unprotected sex, or ending up in unsafe environments when you drink—taking unnecessary risks when drinking is a sign of AUD.
Having Cravings for Alcohol
If you crave alcohol when you stop drinking, you are likely suffering from AUD. Cravings will likely make you feel like you physically need alcohol or like you will only be able to relax once you have some alcohol. People who are casual drinkers do not have cravings for alcohol, and cravings make it very difficult for people to stay sober.
Altering Your Schedule to Drink More
Do you find yourself canceling plans so you can stay home and drink?
People struggling with AUD also often alter their schedules to drink more. You might even call off work or tell your kids that you can’t make it to their sports games or other events, and instead, you stay home by yourself and drink. If you find yourself making more time in your day for drinking than for other activities you used to enjoy or spending time with your loved ones, you may suffer from AUD.
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Treatment for Alcohol Use Disorder at East Coast Recovery
If you are looking for alcoholism treatment, East Coast Recovery may be a good fit for you.
Here at East Coast Recovery, we offer an intensive outpatient program (IOP), a partial hospitalization program (PHP), and aftercare treatment. We understand that different clients need different levels of care, and we want to be able to meet their needs.
Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP)
We offer a high-quality intensive outpatient program. Unlike a residential treatment program, IOP does not require that you stay at the facility 24/7. Instead, clients live at home and come to the treatment facility regularly to receive treatment.
IOP often consists of 10 hours of individual and group therapy a week. However, East Coast Recovery’s treatment programs are individualized, and the length of treatment is determined by a clinician and the client’s needs.
We believe that in addition to individual therapy because it allows space for clients to see they are not alone, practice communication, and experience positive socialization.
IOP is a good choice for people who cannot do a residential program because of work, school, or family duties. IOP is also a good fit for people coming out of a residential program and needing help transitioning back to daily life.
Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP)
We also offer a partial hospitalization program. PHP is in between residential treatment and IOP. We provide PHP to clients 18 years of age or older, and it is designed for people who may need more treatment initially or who have struggled with lower levels of care, like IOP.
You would still live at home during PHP but come to our treatment facility daily. In PHP, clients receive a mix of individual, group, and family therapy and may engage in recreational activities at the facility. Also, East Coast Recovery is partnered with PHP housing for those that live far from the facility or need a change in their current environment.
PHP is a good option for someone who needs frequent care and support. We offer a variety of care methods, and they can fit the needs of individual clients. The length of the treatment depends on the needs of the client.
Aftercare Treatment Program
At East Coast Recovery, we know the recovery journey doesn’t simply end when a client has completed their program. That’s why we’ll work with you to come up with an aftercare plan that works for you.
A few common parts of aftercare are:
- Continuing individual, group, or family therapy
- Finding a sober support network
- Participating in meetings, like a 12-step program
- Finding sober living
- Pursuing new hobbies and self-care
We will even help you figure out the logistics of your aftercare plan, including finances, transportation, employment, housing, and education.
Get Help Now at East Coast Recovery
Do you recognize these signs of alcohol use disorder in yourself or a loved one? If you believe someone in your life is suffering from AUD, you should know how to help a loved one with alcoholism.
Now is the time to get professional treatment advice and help at East Coast Recovery in Cohasset, Massachusetts.
Common Alcohol Addiction FAQ:
- What qualifies you as an alcoholic?
While it can be difficult to tell the difference between a heavy drinker and someone with alcohol use disorder (AUD), the primary difference is control. A heavy but casual drinker can typically stop drinking when they want to. However, someone struggling with AUD struggles to stop drinking even when they want to and may also struggle with how long they spend drinking. When they stop drinking, they may have alcohol withdrawal symptoms or be unable to continue without a drink, often altering their daily schedule to allow for more drinking time.
- What are the symptoms of drinking too much alcohol?
A few symptoms of drinking too much alcohol include continuing to drink despite negative consequences, drinking at odd times of the day, having repeated blackouts, having mood swings, breaking promises about drinking, drinking to deal with negative emotions, risk-taking related to drinking, having cravings for alcohol, and altering your schedule to drink more.
- What does alcoholism look like in a person?
People with alcohol use disorder, commonly called alcoholism, may struggle to put other things before alcohol. Alcohol affects relationships as they often prioritize drinking above work or family duties. They may struggle to maintain a daily routine, and, often, their diet suffers, which can lead to a vitamin deficiency. Someone with a severe alcohol addiction may also struggle with personal hygiene and self-care.
- How many drinks a day is considered an alcoholic?
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), drinking is considered to be in the moderate or low-risk range for women at no more than three drinks in any one day and no more than seven drinks per week. For men, it is no more than four drinks a day and no more than 14 drinks per week.