Alcohol Is Common In Our Society

Alcohol is common in our society. The level of commercialization and corporate sponsorships has made it practically impossible to avoid seeing advertisements for alcoholic beverages. The companies that make alcoholic beverages have associated themselves with just about any mainstream activity, from sporting events, movies, to charitable organizations. The fact that the use of alcohol is so visible and accepted in the world that we live in has overshadowed the fact that alcohol is a drug that contributes to many health and social problems.

For many, it is hard to accept that they may have an alcohol related problem. Assessing the severity of one’s alcohol related problem and determining the appropriate course of treatment in part involves determining whether a person is addicted or dependent on alcohol or if they have an alcohol abuse problem. Doctors and mental health professionals make diagnostic and treatment decisions related to alcohol problems based on specific criteria. These same criteria can be used by anyone to help decide if they or a loved one may need to seek help for an alcohol related problem.

Alcohol Dependence is the more severe of the two drinking-related disorders. A person is considered addicted to alcohol when they meet at least three of the following criteria:

  • Tolerance - the need to use more alcohol to get intoxicated or continued use of the same amount of alcohol with diminished effect.
  • Withdrawal - characterized by developing two or more of the following symptoms several hours to a few days after stopping use of alcohol; sweating, elevated pulse rate, increased hand tremor, insomnia, nausea or vomiting, transient hallucinations, extreme restlessness, anxiety, or grand mal seizures.
  • Drinking larger amounts or over a longer period than was intended.
  • Persistent desire or unsuccessful attempts to cut down or control drinking.
  • Giving up important social, occupational, or recreational activities because of drinking.
  • Spending a great deal of time obtaining alcohol, drinking or recovering from its effects.
  • Continuing to drink despite knowing the persistent physical or psychological problems that alcohol use is causing or making worse.

Alcohol Abuse is basically a pattern of drinking (that doesn’t meet the criteria for dependence) that leads to significant problems or distress. When assessing for the presence of an alcohol abuse problem, one looks for the presence of one or more of the following:

  • Recurrent drinking that results in a failure to fulfill major role obligations at work, school or home.
  • Recurrent drinking in situations in which it is physically hazardous (such as drinking and driving).
  • Recurrent drinking-related legal problems.
  • Continued drinking despite having persistent or social or interpersonal problems that are caused or made worse by intoxication.

Treatment for alcohol related disorders is effective and it is available. For information and/or guidance on where and how to get help, you can contact your physician or the United Summit Center. A confidential assessment can help determine the level of treatment that is right for you or your loved one.