Today’s blog will focus on alcohol dependency, also known as alcoholism. The definition is an addiction to alcohol where a person feels they need alcohol to cope with the stressors from everyday life. Alcoholism involves problems controlling drinking, being preoccupied with alcohol, and continuing to drink when it creates problems. It is considered an addiction as the person battling will require more alcohol to get the same effect as someone else. A person battling this condition could also experience withdrawal symptoms when stopping or suddenly decreasing the amount. As with any other addiction, support is available for those who need it.
Spotting the signs of an alcohol dependency can be tricky. Many people who fight this can be secretive about their drinking and may even become angry when confronted about it. The individual may be unable to control how long a drinking session is or how much alcohol is consumed. In addition, controlling the frequency and the ability to stop drinking once starting or drinking at inappropriate occasions or places may occur. Making alcohol a priority is another symptom of someone fighting alcohol use disorder.
Alcohol addiction can cause harm to people other than the ones battling. A consequence of this addiction is drunk driving. In 2018, 29% of all traffic fatalities were caused by alcohol-impaired driving. This amount increased from 10,511 people in three years to 13,384 in 2021. Around 37 people in the United States die in drunk driving crashes each day. These statistics equate to about one person every 39 minutes. The United States spends over $199 billion each year on drunk driving alone.
While many adults consume alcohol, only 6.7% will develop a dependency. In 2020, 10.2% of Americans aged 12 and older had alcohol abuse disorder. Every day, around 385 Americans die because of excessive alcohol use. Most of these deaths (83.9%) involve adults 35 years old or older. Men are three times as likely as women to die from alcohol abuse. Alcohol abuse affects people of all ages and all genders.
The COVID-19 pandemic increased the amount of alcohol people consumed. Year over year, alcohol sales in April 2020 increased by 54%, and 60.1% of participants in a survey reported drinking more after March 1, 2020. During the pandemic, 34.1% of people reported binge drinking at least once, and 7.0% reported extreme binge drinking. Anything that creates stress in a person’s life can drive them to drink more, which could lead to an addiction.
Alcohol is an acceptable drink for adults in our society. However, it can become a problem for someone with a chemical imbalance in the brain. Someone with an addiction can find help and support to break this cycle. If you suspect a loved one of having an alcohol addiction, there are resources for them. Show them the support and love they need. Help is out there for those who need it.