What Is Alcohol Use Disorder, And What Is The Treatment?

According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), in 2015, 15.1 million American adults had an alcohol use problem and according to the World Health Organization (WHO), there are 3.3 million deaths every year as a result of the harmful use of alcohol worldwide.

Also referred to as alcoholism, alcohol use disorder (AUD) is when a person has a desire or physical need to consume alcohol. Previously, this person would be called an “alcoholic” however, things have since changed and more appropriate terminology has been applied. 

Nevertheless, AUD affects many people in many different ways. At American Treatment Network, our staff is dedicated to providing the best treatment plans unique to those in our care. We prioritize our patient’s needs and offer supported guidance from the top medical professionals at every step of the way along someone’s journey to recovery. We believe that the perfect treatment and care to defeat alcohol addiction is comprehensive and not a one-size-fits-all approach. 

What Is AUD?

Alcohol use disorder is defined as a person’s inability to stop drinking despite the present social, occupational, or health consequences. They do not know how or when to stop drinking. They could suffer job loss or family strains if they consume alcohol yet they still choose to do so. It is important to note that just because someone drinks excessively does not necessarily mean that they are alcohol dependent.

Moderate consumption of alcohol doesn’t cause any physical or psychological harm in general terms. However, if a person significantly increases their intake on a regular basis, this can lead to AUD. This dependence can take a few years or several decades to develop, it’s not necessarily a condition that sprouts overnight. For those who are at the most significant risk, it can happen as quickly as a few months. Over time, constant drinking can disrupt the balance of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain and glutamate.

Plainly, GABA controls impulsiveness and glutamate stimulates the nervous system.

There is also a chemical in the brain called Dopamine, which can rise after alcohol is consumed and might make the drinking experience more gratifying for an individual. This experience then causes the brain to associate positive feelings with drinking, therefore creating a dependence on drinking.  

Symptoms Of AUD

Symptoms may not present themselves initially and the affected individual might not even notice the habits they are developing associated with AUD. 

Some symptoms include: 

  • drinking alone or in secret
  • not being able to limit how much alcohol is consumed
  • blacking out and not being able to remember chunks of time
  • having rituals and being irritated if someone else comments on these rituals, for example, drinks before, during, or after meals, or after work
  • losing interest in hobbies that were previously enjoyed
  • feeling the urge to drink
  • feeling irritable when drinking times approach, especially if alcohol is not, or may not be, available
  • storing alcohol in unlikely places

And many more. 

The issue with alcohol use disorder is when the consumption of alcohol begins to overtake everyday activities and isolate people from their family and friends. The effects and damages of AUD can be social, physical, and mental.

Alcohol Treatments

There are numerous treatments for AUD

Do-it-yourself is a type of treatment where some people are able to manage and reduce their alcohol consumption all on their own. This is without the help of a medical professional. Counseling is another treatment option, one in which many have seen great success in combination with other parts of their recovery plan. For example, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is commonly used to treat alcohol dependency. This allows someone to recognize and stop negative patterns of thinking and behavior associated with drinking. 

There are also medications that individuals can take in order to stop drinking and support groups they can join, like Alcoholics Anonymous. This program is an international fellowship for people who have faced issues with alcohol. It is a non-professional, self-supporting, group that is available all across the country. Anyone who wants to stop drinking is welcome to attend and start their recovery journey. 

Lastly, there are residential programs that offer professional help in many different settings, like support groups. These programs are designed to offer a variety of strategies in order to treat alcohol misuse. They also provide a physical barrier between a person and alcohol, which some find helpful in treating their condition.

It’s also important to note that while there are tests people can take to determine recent alcohol consumption, they cannot reveal the amount of time a person has been drinking. Specific blood tests are needed for that, in which looking at the size of someone’s red blood cells might be an indication of long-term alcohol misuse. 

American Treatment Network: Your Best Choice In Fighting Addiction 

Battling addiction is something no one should do on their own if they don’t want to. Feeling lonely can have an intense effect on someone’s ability to overcome their AUD because they might not feel supported. We at American Treatment Network recognize this and pride ourselves on ensuring that each of our patients is able to achieve lifelong sobriety through a dynamic and comprehensive treatment plan that involves community and support.

AUD is an epidemic in the United States and what makes it difficult to treat is that it does not target a specific group of people. It impacts so many people from all walks of life and not one person is the same when it comes to their individual battle against this issue. What makes our services unique is that we offer both behavioral and physical healthcare in conjunction with addiction treatment. This allows our patients to receive the best care possible to ensure they win their fight against alcohol addiction. 

For further information on our services and treatment options, visit one of our four locations in Havertown, PA, Upland, PA, Newark, DE, and Dover, DE, or call us today!


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