Understanding Alcoholism and Where to Turn for Help
Many of us look forward to a few beers after work or a glass of wine while cooking dinner.
If we were to log how much alcohol we consume every week, we might notice a pattern that repeats itself.
Is it possible we are addicted to alcohol?
Is alcohol a drug?
It turns out that alcohol is a drug because it falls within the class of depressants.
You CAN become addicted to alcohol, which is referred to as “alcoholism.”
What is Alcohol?
Alcohol is a drink that is produced through fermentation.
The ingredients often include grains, fruits, sugar, yeast, and water.
We commonly know alcohol as beer, wine, and liquor, but is alcohol a drug?
Origins of Alcohol
Alcoholic beverages go thousands of years back.
A sense of pleasure and relaxation became the basis for drinking alcohol.
- Evidence of alcohol appeared from the discovery of beer jugs dating back to around 10,000 B.C.
- Egyptian hieroglyphics from around 4,000 B.C. indicate drinking wine is mentioned throughout the Bible as well.
As the 19th century rolled in, limitations on drinking alcohol were enforced, especially through prohibition.
Since then, alcohol has been regulated by laws restricting certain age groups from buying and drinking.
However, these laws often fail to curb the use of alcohol.
Young people still find ways to drink, and alcohol has become common in most social gatherings and events.
Ingredients in Alcohol
The combination of sugars and yeast, and other ingredients, causes a chemical process that produces ethanol.
It is this ethanol that, when consumed, changes the way our brain and body function.
Different types of alcoholic beverages contain varying amounts of ethanol.
Certain drinks will cause more intense symptoms than others.
The higher the alcohol content, the stronger the symptoms.
Addiction is not affected by the content of alcohol.
It can happen whether you consume beer or the hard stuff.
The main question is: Is alcohol a drug?
Alcohol Content in Different Types of Drinks
- Moonshine 100%
- Liqueurs up to 60%
- Vodka up to 50%
- Whiskey up to 50%
- Tequila up to 40%
- Rum up to 40%
- Wine and Wine Coolers up to 20%
- Ciders and Ales up to 8%
- Beer up to 6%
Alcohol is a Drug
Is alcohol a drug? If so, what kind of drug is alcohol?
Alcohol is a type of depressant, similar to many prescription drugs.
Alcohol may not be “prescribed,” but it affects the brain in many of the same ways that other drugs do.
- Sleeping pills
Is alcohol a drug that is considered as bad as prescription depressants?
Yes, alcohol is just as addictive as Xanax, Lunesta, Klonopin, or any other depressant.
Effects of Alcohol
The side effects of alcohol are what drives us to seek it out and drink it.
How many of us go to a social gathering and enjoy a beer or glass of wine?
Do those drinks help you to relax and be more sociable?
The marriage of food and alcohol is often enjoyed, especially with BBQs, dinner parties, and cocktail hours.
Why? Because the “side effects” of alcohol can loosen us up to have more fun.
Short-term Side Effects of Alcohol
The most immediate side effect of alcohol is that it makes us feel drunk.
These are some of the symptoms of drunkenness:
- Sense of calm, relaxation
- Impaired motor skills
- Lack of coordination
- Impaired thinking
- Slurred speech
- Feeling tired
- Lower heartbeat, blood pressure, breathing
- Overall feeling of sadness
- Urination difficulty
Long-term Side Effects of Alcohol
Is alcohol a drug that can cause serious and lasting side effects?
Yes, alcohol is the root of alcoholism, which is an addiction.
Long term use of alcohol changes our brains and bodies in ways we may not be aware of.
Mental and Physical Side Effects
- Addiction (alcoholism)
- Alcohol poisoning
- Loss of sex drive
- Permanent brain damage
- Liver damage/disease
- High blood pressure
- Heart disease
- Permanent nerve damage
- Worsening of mental disorders
- Suicidal thoughts/tendencies
- Abusive behavior
- Fetal deformities
- Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
- Development of Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome
- An alarming 80% of alcoholics are deficient in thiamine. This deficiency can lead to Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome, which is a brain disorder causing encephalopathy or psychosis.
Social Side Effects
- Relationship strain
- Indirect harm through accidents
- Loss of job
- Loss of friends
- Loss of home
- Financial strain
- Drunk driving that can lead to arrest or imprisonment
- Loss of driving privileges
- Arrest and imprisonment
- Requiring a lifetime of someone caring for you
Mental Illness and Alcoholism
Is alcohol a drug that worsens existing mental disorders?
In short, yes, it can.
Alcohol abuse is associated with numerous mental disorders and can exacerbate their severity.
Mental Disorders Associated with Alcoholism
- Antisocial Personality Disorder
- Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
- Panic Disorder
- Social Phobia
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
- Eating Disorders
- Sleep Disorders
- Bipolar Disorder
Alcohol Abuse Leads to Addiction
Why is alcohol a drug of choice for so many of us?
Alcohol does not require a prescription and is obtainable by merely going to the store.
Is alcohol a drug that only affects adults? No, it has the same addictive ability for teens, middle-aged adults, as well as the elderly.
When is alcohol abuse a drug problem?
The varying demographics of alcohol abuse and addiction are startling in contrast to what many of us think.
Under-Age Alcohol Abuse Within the U.S. during 2018:
- Approximately 7.1 million under the age of 20 consumed alcohol, of which 19.5% were females, and 18.2% were males.
- Approximately 4.3 million under the age of 20 participated in binge drinking.
- Approximately 861,000 (2.3% of the age-group population) under the age of 20 heavily abused alcohol.
Older Adults and Alcohol Abuse Within the U.S. during 2018:
- 3% of adults admit to drinking alcohol.
- 45% of adults admit to binge drinking.
- 6% of adults admit to heavily abusing alcohol.
A study done in 2012 indicated that 10% of children in the U.S. had an alcoholic parent.
When is alcohol use an addiction?
- You crave it and cannot go for long periods without it.
- You drink all throughout the day or night.
- You cannot enjoy social events without drinking.
- You spend your last dollar on alcohol.
- You become violent and abusive towards your loved ones.
- You prefer to drink alone.
If you see yourself in any of the above scenarios, facts, or statistics, you need help.
Many of us with an addiction to alcohol do not view ourselves as alcoholics.
Taking the first step in admitting you are an alcoholic is the hardest part of this recovery journey.
Reaching Out for Help
When you continue to allow alcohol to control you and your life, you stand to lose so much.
Your sense of pride, independence, and your loved ones are far more precious than a drink.
Even worse, can you live with yourself if you drink and drive and end up killing someone?
Did you know that someone dies because of a drunk driver every 50 minutes in the U.S.?
How Do You Get Help?
Admitting you have a drinking problem is the first and hardest step.
Now it is time to get help from professionals who will be by your side the entire time.
The next step to take is to make that call.
North Jersey Recovery Center is a leading treatment facility for alcoholism.
We have a professional standing by 24/7 to take your phone call.
The moment you speak with someone, you will be embraced with compassion.
Detox is a necessary step to rid your body of alcohol.
You will be admitted as an inpatient where you have the choice of social or medical detox.
A team of medical professionals will be by your side during the entire process until you have stabilized.
After you are stable, you will then advance to the “inpatient hospitalization” program, where you ease back into life while still residing at the facility.
When you have graduated to the outpatient program, you will visit the facility as scheduled to continue treatment.
For those who need to plan their treatment around work, children, or school, we offer “intensive outpatient therapy.”
Payment and Insurance
Our staff is more than happy to verify your insurance on your behalf to make things easier for you. You also have the option to use our online verification form to do it yourself.
Regaining Control to Live a Full Life
Treatment is a gift to yourself and to those you love.
Do not let alcohol slowly strip you of the most valuable things and pleasures of life.
You have value and worth, and who knows, you may be the one who inspires someone else with the same problem to find help.
Be their inspiration!