Alcohol abuse is a severe problem in the United States. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), about 16 million adults in the United States have an alcohol use disorder (AUD). That’s a staggering statistic, and it doesn’t even include underage drinkers or individuals who abuse alcohol but don’t develop AUD. So, what is long-term alcohol abuse? How can you recognize it?
At Spokane Falls Recovery Center, we have years of experience helping individuals struggling with alcohol addiction. Our alcohol rehab in Washington can help individuals recognize and address long-term alcohol abuse. Contact our team at 844.962.2775 to learn more about our alcohol treatment options if you or someone you know is struggling with long-term alcohol abuse.
What Is Long-Term Alcohol Abuse?
Long-term alcohol abuse is the excessive and prolonged consumption of alcohol over an extended period. It can lead to physical dependence and severe health complications, including liver disease, cancer, heart disease, depression, or other mental health disorders. Long-term alcohol abuse can also lead to dangerous behaviors and negative impacts on relationships, work performance, and financial stability. It’s important to note that long-term alcohol abuse isn’t necessarily the same as AUD. It is possible to be physically dependent on alcohol without meeting the full criteria for AUD and vice versa.
What Are the Warning Signs of Long-Term Alcohol Abuse?
Several warning signs may indicate someone is struggling with long-term alcohol abuse. These warning signs include but are not limited to:
- Drinking more or for a longer time than intended
- Inability to restrict drinking once started
- Persistent desire or unsuccessful efforts to cut down on drinking
- Spending a great deal of time obtaining, using, or recovering from the effects of alcohol
- Giving up important activities to drink
- Drinking despite well-recognized physical, psychological, social, financial, or legal problems caused by or exacerbated by drinking
If you recognize any warning signs in yourself or someone close to you, you should seek help as soon as possible. If long-term alcohol use is ignored, it can lead to severe consequences.
Consequences of Long-Term Alcohol Abuse
There are many potential consequences of long-term alcohol use. These consequences can be divided into three broad categories: medical, social, and legal. Some possible medical effects of long-term alcohol abuse include liver damage, gastrointestinal problems, cancer, stroke, high blood pressure, and heart disease.
Social consequences can include damaged relationships with family and friends, loss of employment, homelessness, and financial ruin. Legal consequences can include an arrest for drunk driving or public intoxication, losing custody of children, and imprisonment. As you can see, the results of long-term alcohol abuse are serious and far-reaching. That’s why it’s so important to get help if you think you may have a problem.
The Connection Between Alcohol and Mental Health
Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant, meaning it slows brain activity. When people drink alcohol, it can affect their mood and behavior. People who drink heavily over a long time may develop problems with mental health, including depression, anxiety, and memory problems. Alcohol use can also cause brain changes, leading to mental health problems. People who drink heavily are more likely to experience psychotic symptoms, such as hallucinations and delusions. They are also at increased risk for suicide.
People with mental health problems are also more likely to abuse alcohol. This is because alcohol can temporarily relieve symptoms of mental health conditions, such as anxiety and depression. However, drinking alcohol can make these symptoms worse in the long run. It can also interfere with mental health treatment and worsen existing mental health issues.
Learn About Treatment Options at Spokane Falls Recovery Center
Long-term alcohol abuse is a serious problem that can lead to many negative consequences in all areas of your life. If you think you may be struggling with long-term alcohol abuse, don’t hesitate to reach out for help from Spokane Falls Recovery Center. We offer various evidence-based treatment options, including individual therapy, group therapy, and outpatient programs. Contact us today at 844.962.2775 to learn more about how we can help you through your recovery.