How much alcohol is too much? It’s different for different people depending on gender, size, and most importantly behavior. Once you begin to drink, you cannot stop at an appropriate amount and a pattern of drinking continues despite the negative consequences to your health, wellbeing and those around you. About 4% of the U.S. population suffers from alcohol dependence and another 4% abuse alcohol. Both alcohol dependence and alcohol abuse have recently been consolidated into one disorder. The cause of alcoholism is not yet known, however scientists see a strong link to a person’s genetic history.
Alcoholism is defined as the dependency to alcohol.
Your tolerance may be increasing when more alcohol is needed to reach intoxication. This often leads to drinking more quantity over longer periods of time and the need to have access to alcohol all the time.
With alcoholism you become physically or mentally addicted and develop a strong urge or need to consume alcohol. You experience negative side effects from alcohol abuse such as: blackouts where you experience memory lapses, headaches, fatigue, sensitivity to light, dehydration, hangovers, and vomiting. With extreme alcohol abuse, more severe side effects can occur such as alcohol poisoning, seizures and respiratory depression.
Along with increased tolerance and side effects, the mental and physical complications associated with alcoholism can severely impact your life. On the more devastating end of the spectrum, you can have insomnia, depression, dementia, suicidal thoughts, bleeding in the digestive track, high blood pressure, erectile dysfunction in men, changes in menstrual cycles for women, and even cancers of the liver, esophagus and colon.
You may drink to mask withdrawal symptoms, and can also develop Delerium Tremens, which is dangerous without medical supervision. If you suffer from long-term alcoholism, you may experience double vision, a loss of muscle coordination leading to tremors, inability to form new memories and hallucinations, it can even lead to coma and death.
While you may be aware that your drinking habits are creating problems at home, at work and in life, the addiction takes over. Unfortunately many alcoholics experience legal problems, like arrests for driving under the influence, or professional problems because of excessive absences from work due to drinking. Alcohol dependence frequently creates family and relationship conflicts when an individual becomes disconnected, belligerent or even violent with their loved ones.
Prolonged, heavy drinking over time can cause cirrhosis in which your liver fails to function properly due to long-term damage. The risk of accident or death from drinking-related auto crashes is highly increased.
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