When alcohol begins to consistently cause problems in a person’s life, it is termed alcohol abuse. This can include problems with your health, your education, your work, or your family. Alcohol abuse for one person may mean drinking every day, and for another it may mean drinking large amounts of alcohol at a specific time (binge drinking). Drinking alcohol for a long time can may a person dependent on alcohol both physically and physiologically. This is termed alcoholism. A person who is dependent on alcohol may suffer serious symptoms such as hallucinations and even seizures if they abruptly stop drinking. Long-term effects of alcohol can include serious damage to your liver, brain, stomach, and heart. It is also a major cause of deaths due to accidents. The causes of alcoholism are not fully understood. A family history of alcoholism puts a person at an even higher risk. Men are at slightly higher risk than women are. Some people use alcohol more frequently if they suffer from depression, anxiety, or loneliness.
- Be aware of the early signs of possible alcohol abuse.
- Practice low-risk drinking. Drink no more than two measured drinks of alcoholic beverages a day and try to limit yourself to fewer than seven drinks per week.
- Learn healthy ways to manage stress, anxiety, and depression.
- If you have a strong family history of alcoholism, do not drink alcohol.
- Do not drink if you are pregnant or attempting to become pregnant as it can seriously harm the fetus.
- Commit to quitting.
- If you think you have a drinking problem seek professional help.
- New techniques and supportive medications are helping more people succeed at recovery.
- Attempting to go “cold-turkey” can be very dangerous in a person that has alcohol dependence.
- Consider contacting Alcoholics Anonymous™. This is a self-help group dedicated to helping people stop drinking.
- Ask your family and friends for support.
Seek medical attention if:
- If someone loses consciousness after drinking.
- Call 911 if someone stops using alcohol and has withdrawal symptoms (trembling, seizures)
Signs that you may have an alcohol problem
- Blacking out
- Drinking in the morning
- Feeling guilty about drinking
- Trembling hands (the shakes)
- Trying to hide how much you drink
- Drinking tickets (DUI)
- Criticism from friends or family
- Having big personality changes when drinking
- Poor work performance
- Planning activities around drinking
- Social withdrawal or change in friends