Nearly 15 million people in America struggle with Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD). AUD is defined as mild to severe alcohol dependency issue, that can cause adverse social, occupational, or health consequences. The risk for AUD is increased by periods of binge drinking or heavy alcohol use, as it commonly causes neurological changes in the brain. These episodes of drinking can be brought on by trauma, mental illness, or genetic and family history of drinking.
To assess whether someone is drinking too much, there are a few key points to consider and question. Has drinking been more or longer than intended in one sitting? Has cutting down on drinking been attempted and not able to be achieved? Has nothing but drinking been a constant thought? Has drinking impacted any relationships? Has the amount of drinking had to increase in order to get the same effect? Have hobbies or enjoyed activities been decreased in order to spend more time drinking? Have any withdrawal symptoms begun to occur after the end of a drinking session such as: trouble sleeping, shakiness, nausea, restlessness, or sweating?
If any of these questions have been answered with a yes, there may be risk of having AUD.
While it may feel difficult to overcome AUD, is it possible to recover from mild to severe cases of it. Treatments for AUD may include medication that causes adverse effects while drinking and attending individual or group therapy. These therapies often involve overcoming and understanding triggers for drinking and redirecting them into a positive behavior. Sometimes all these options may be used together to see best results. Relapse may be highly likely, but it does not mean there is no chance for recovery.
If you or a loved one exhibit signs of AUD, it is highly encouraged to get professional help. Alcohol can cause lots of bodily and neurological harm when used long term and in high doses. It can also negatively impact relationships with loved ones or effect the quality of work done in the profession. If it is a loved one, encourage them to get help while emphasizing the desire for a better relationship for themselves and with you. Be a positive support system for them as they continue on their journey with AUD. If it may be you struggling with AUD, consider what alcohol has made you give up in life and know that it is possible to gain control back in your life in a healthy manner.
Written by Emma, Undergrad Intern 2021
If you would like to speak to a professional counselor or psychologist about this and are in the Chicago area, please feel free to contact Olive Branch Counseling Associates, Inc. at 708-633-8000. We are located at 6819 West 167th Street in Tinley Park, Illinois 60477.