When Should I Stop Drinking?
10/27/18: Alcohol AddictionYou might be wondering whether you should stop drinking for many reasons. Maybe you fought with a friend but can’t remember why because you were heavily intoxicated. Maybe you’ve neglected your parking tickets because you’d rather spend money going out and have found yourself with a suspended license. Maybe you went out drinking, decided to drive, and wrecked your car. Or maybe it’s as simple as feeling tired at work after one or two drinks the previous day. Your health could very well be suffering physically, even just from casual drinking. Alcohol can shrink the frontal lobes of the brain, dehydrate your body, and lead to sexual dysfunction. The subtle consequences of alcohol abuse include mood swings, memory loss, headaches, and hangovers, which tend to get worse and last longer as you age and increase intake.
What Do I Need to Know About Alcohol Addiction?More than 88,000 deaths are attributed annually to alcohol-related issues in the United States. Alcohol ranks as the third highest lifestyle-related cause of death. About 40 percent of U.S. hospital beds are taken by people suffering from alcohol-related health conditions. Alcohol addiction can cause social problems, psychiatric problems, financial problems and gastrointestinal problems such as pancreatitis and gastritis. Dementia, neuropathy and stroke often result from alcohol abuse. Alcohol dependence or addiction often generates more severe symptoms and consequences. People build up a tolerance to alcohol over time, and a person can find that one or two drinks soon feels like nothing, finding themselves at the bottom of an empty bottle. However, despite a tolerance, the body still experiences alcohol-related function inhibition such as slurred speech, mood swings, slower reaction times and faulty judgment. Signs of alcohol abuse include:
- You drink to relieve stress.
- Everything you do socially involves alcohol.
- Hangovers slow you down in the morning.
- You can’t stick to the limits you set.
- Alcohol-related issues cause problems at work.
- You've begun to sneak alcohol or hide your drinking.
- Your physical appearance has deteriorated.
Treating AlcoholismThere is never a quick solution to treating alcohol dependence: addictions are aggravated by multiple problems including mental disorders, work problems, family issues, and pretty much anything else that causes significant stress or anxiety. Treating the root cause of alcohol dependence is just as, if not more, important as treating the addiction itself. There are many benefits for stopping or reducing your drinking. Your health will recuperate, and your attitude and mood will improve to be more like your normal, happy self. Other benefits of quitting drinking include:
- Saving more money because you’re not spending significant amounts on alcohol.
- More restful sleep.
- Engaging with people socially in meaningful ways
- Generating more time to work on hobbies, projects or time with family and kids.
What if a Loved One Has a Problem?Ultimately, each person must recognize and treat their own addictions. But that doesn’t mean you can’t help others in seeking sobriety. If a loved one is suffering, you can speak up and encourage them to find treatment. Try including them in activities that don’t involve drinking. Supporting a loved one is critical for long-term success because a full recovery usually takes multiple attempts and a plan/strategy. You can’t convince someone to get help and assume that the rest will fall into place. Make an effort to monitor your loved one’s progress, and offer to go to meetings with them. Provide them with as many means of support as you can, and help them as you would want them to help you.
Should I Get Help?When you decide to get help or want to encourage a loved one to do so, it’s usually a gradual process and not an immediate, all-encompassing realization. Only you can decide when you’re ready to admit that drinking is costing you in many ways. Maybe you can no longer recover from your hangovers as you did when you were younger. Perhaps you were ahead of the curve at work and went out to celebrate only to find yourself behind schedule the days following. If you’ve become dependent on alcohol, you might become aware of these physical symptoms when you stop drinking:
- Restlessness and anxiety
- Elevated heart rate and blood pressure
- Difficulty sleeping
- Shaking and sweating
- Nausea or vomiting
- Trouble concentrating
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