Is It True That America Has a Drinking Problem?
Alcohol consumption has been present in the United States for centuries, especially in the earlier years when clean water was scarce, and colonists drank gallons of alcohol per week. Today, people’s drinking habits are much more moderate. However, alcoholism has become a major problem in this country.
Alcohol addiction, also known as alcohol use disorder,, is when an individual develops an addiction to alcohol and struggles to control their drinking habits despite its negative effects on their life. If an alcohol use disorder goes untreated for an extended period of time, this can lead to significant long-term health problems such as high blood pressure, heart disease, strokes, liver disease, and can increase the risk of developing cancer in various parts of the body.
Currently, in the United States, over 14 million Americans struggle with an alcohol use disorder. The number of alcohol-related deaths per year in the US is about 95,000 every year. It is safe to say America has a problem with alcohol misuse. If you or someone is struggling with a substance use disorder, contact The Recovery Team as soon as possible to learn more about getting personalized treatment for alcohol addiction and getting onto the long road of recovery.
American’s Drinking Habits
Like many countries, drinking alcohol is a huge part of American culture and can be found at most social events, especially celebrations like weddings or anniversaries. Alcohol has become a way for people to unwind and get into more fun and energized mood than they would be sober. In many cases, this feel-good mode allows individuals to more comfortably socialize with each other and enjoy themselves more.
Alcohol is also commonly used as a way of escaping problems or self-medicating mental health issues such as anxiety or depression. According to the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, over 86% of American adults that are over 18 reported drinking alcohol at some point in their life. In this same study, 70% reported having an alcoholic drink in the last year while 56% of the national survey said they had an alcoholic beverage in the last month.
While having a drink every now and again is normal, it is important to understand your limits as the control you have over your alcohol use can disappear at any time if you are not drinking responsibly.
Levels of Drinking
There are a few different levels of drinking that are defined by the CDC. Moderate drinking means consuming a safe amount of alcohol and not developing unhealthy patterns that lead to addiction. The CDC classifies moderate drinking as consuming less than 1-2 drinks for men and less than 1 drink for women within a single day. With that being said, that does not mean moderate drinking is having this amount every single day.
It simply means having this amount of alcohol within a single day is safer. Binge drinking is when an individual consumes large amounts of alcohol in short periods of time with extended breaks in between. The next level is heavy drinking and this is defined as having anything more than 14 drinks for men and 8 drinks for women per week.
Consuming anything more than this amount of alcohol puts a person at a large risk of slipping into alcoholism, if not already. Alcoholism involves an alcohol dependence that often causes a person to experience painful alcohol withdrawal symptoms such as shaking, severe sweating, headaches, vomiting, etc. when taking an extended break from drinking. An alcohol use disorder will start to impact a person’s daily life and cause problems at work, school, at home, and within personal relationships with family members and friends.
It is normal for the average American adult to have a glass of wine or can of beer every so often, but it is important to know when it has become an issue and understand alcohol’s harm to the body.
Finding Treatment for Alcoholism
It is important to get treatment for alcoholism as soon as possible before health problems can progress and the addiction becomes harder to overcome. Treatment centers can provide the medical care and support that is necessary for an individual to recover from their condition successfully. Below are the things you can expect from a rehab center during alcoholism treatment.
Residential vs. Outpatient
There are two main programs that an individual can sign up for depending on their specific needs. For more severe cases of alcoholism, it is recommended that patients receive residential treatment where they are monitored by medical professionals around the clock.
This can be essential, especially during the detox process where the patient is going through painful withdrawal symptoms that can sometimes cause more severe medical problems like seizures.
For patients with a busier schedule, outpatient programs are offered and involve returning to the facility for scheduled sessions with a professional. This allows the patient to take care of personal matters at home and attend school or work while going through treatment.
Detoxification is the process of ridding toxins and chemicals from the body so that the patient can more efficiently recover from their addiction and lessen the pain of withdrawal symptoms in the future.
This is a challenging part of the recovery process as your body is learning how to function properly without alcoholic drinks in your system. The uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms can be difficult to experience without medical care.
The patient will then begin attending therapy sessions where they learn how to manage their thoughts and actions and prevent relapse in the future. The most common type of behavioral therapy used for alcoholism is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and the goal is to replace negative thoughts and behaviors with more positive productive ones. This therapy typically involves one-on-one sessions with a mental health professional.