How to Tell If a Family Member or a Close Friend Has an Alcohol Use Disorder

alcohol use disorderThe National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism estimates 16 million Americans as having AUDPIN IT! (Alcohol Use Disorder). Some come to an understanding of their alcohol use disorder (AUD) on their own. Others are not so lucky.

According to Transcend, a Los Angeles sober living facility, “When someone gets addicted for whatever reason, their actions typically reflect their emotional need for the next fix – they’ll go from openly living out their habit, to hiding it out of embarrassment or guilt, to desperately manipulating and lying their way to the next high.”

So how does a person tell if a loved one has an alcohol use disorder? Particularly if that loved one is going through great lengths to hide their dependency?

Symptoms of alcohol use disorder

Alcohol use disorder (AUD) is characterized by 11 criteria, which are as follows:

  • An individual begins consuming alcohol in larger amounts over a longer period.
  • An individual may feel a desire to cut down, but be unsuccessful in doing so.
  • An individual spends much time and effort around various alcohol related activities. Whether to gain access to alcohol, drink, or recover.
  • An individual feels strong cravings for alcohol.
  • The individual’s alcohol use causes a shirking or inability to meet other responsibilities.
  • Other areas of the individual’s life are detrimentally affected due to alcohol.
  • The induvial engages in hazardous activities due to being under the influence of alcohol.
  • Despite an understanding of the dangers, the individual is unable to cut back on alcohol consumption.
  • When trying to cut back, the individual feels withdrawal symptoms.

From the many stories of those who have successfully recovered from alcohol use disorder, one realization is common. The first step in the road to recovery is admitting there is a problem.

Those with an alcohol problem may be tempted to compare their drinking with others and think that they drink less. Other self-justifying reasons also come to the fore.

The realization that the individual has a problem is often accompanied by a desire to not live this way anymore. Having an understanding of long-term and short-term benefits can also aid in coming to a decision to change.

The benefits of kicking an alcohol addiction

If you have a family member or friend that you suspect has a problem with alcohol dependency, it can be difficult to know what to do. Helping your loved one understand the benefits and find a personal reason to kick their AUD is essential for long-term recovery.

Here are a few benefits:

  • Better health. Alcohol consumption increases one’s risk of cancer, digestive and heart problems, pancreatitis, stroke, and more. Conversely, there are immediate benefits after a single month of not drinking. For example, blood sugar levels drop by 16 percent, and cholesterol levels by 5 percent. Individuals also report sleeping better and more deeply.
  • Improved relationships. Alcohol use can damage the relationships one cares most about. Under the influence, people say things they don’t mean, or they forget important dates. Individuals are not the support they are meant to be for others. When an individual decides to stop drinking, after recovery, they can refocus on repairing the relationships in their life.
  • Focus on financial goals. Individuals who recover from an alcohol use disorder can invest more time into their work lives. This naturally helps them focus on achieving their financial goals, and at the very least does not harm their finances as drinking does.

What experts recommend for those who desire to get sober

Rehab facilities are a popular method for kicking an alcohol reliance. Rehab clinics provide both inpatient and outpatient programs. These programs are designed to allow patients to focus on the road to full recovery. Such programs and clinics often offer complete meal planning, monitoring, on-call staff, as well as counseling. Other activities might be included to help patients relax endure the process.

Treating an alcohol addiction requires an understanding of how one got to this place. Counseling is often recommended along with rehab visits. Counselors can help patients understand the emotional or physical triggers that spark a desire for alcohol. They can also help provide strategies that the patient can implement to help them lead heathier lives.

For long-lasting recovery, group therapy has been long seen by experts as key to keeping alcoholics from sliding back into old habits. An organization that uses the group therapy method is Alcoholics Anonymous. Their 12-step recovery program has helped countless sufferers lead alcohol-free lives. Aside from group sessions, they also use a method of one-on-one support by having each member have a “sponsor” they can call at all times.

  • courtney

    Living with someone who has an issue with alcohol is incredibly difficult. I grew up with an alcoholic father and I will never forget some of the things he did and didn’t do.

  • Chelsea Padgett

    Alcoholism runs in my family. It’s a very difficult thing to live with. My brother is 3 years sober and it’s a constant struggle. I’m so proud of him for making the choice every day.