What is an Alcohol Addiction?
Alcoholism is a condition marked by excessive and uncontrolled consumption of alcohol. Alcohol use disorder goes beyond social drinking and involves a compulsive craving for alcohol. It is a condition that transcends age, gender and social status affecting individuals from all walks of life.
We are here to explain what alcoholism is, symptoms and treatment options that are available.
Recovery is possible, and a healthier, happier life awaits.
Struggling with alcoholism can result in negative consequences but that doesn't stop the rate of consumption. Issues such as health problems, damaged relationships, or difficulties in professional matters may not be enough to stop drinking. Alcoholism can also amplify mental health conditions which may lead to depression and anxiety.
The good news is treatment is a great pathway to recovery.
Sobriety is not just about quitting alcohol; it's about rediscovering a healthier, happier and more fulfilling life. There is a path to a better, alcohol-free tomorrow, and we are here to help find a new way of living today.
Alcohol Abuse Facts
Analysis: Emerging Trends in Alcohol Abuse
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) has identified an emerging trend that it has labeled “High-Intensity Drinking.” The definition of High-Intensity Drinking (HID) includes the consumption of “alcohol at levels that are two or more times the gender-specific binge drinking thresholds”.
Due to its status as an emerging trend, there are few peer-reviewed studies. Available data indicate HID is common among binge drinkers and that it is typically associated with special occasions “including holidays, sporting events, and, notably, 21st birthdays.”
- HID behavior peaks at age 21.
- Between 80% and 90% of 21st birthday celebrants consume alcohol.
- Males are consistently twice as likely to report excessive alcohol use than females.
- HID is associated with negative consequences, such as injury and aggression.
- 12.4% of young adults aged 25 and 26 report at least one instance of HID in within the previous 14 days.
- Each year, 97,000 sexual assaults among American college students involve alcohol.
Alcohol-Related Illness and Death
- Nearly 100,000 annual deaths are attributable to alcohol abuse. More than half of them are due to long-term use.
- Alcoholic liver disease is the leading killer, causing 19.1% of all alcohol-related deaths.
- 53.7% of alcohol-related deaths are due to chronic misuse.
- 52.4% of chronic misuse deaths are attributable to alcohol alone; 47.6% include additional factors, such as other chronic health issues or drug abuse.
- Alcohol poisoning another leading killer, causing 32% of acute alcohol-related deaths.
- 22.5% of acute-alcohol related deaths are due to suicide.
- Suicides involving alcohol kill more people than car accidents involving alcohol, which account for 16.1% of acute-alcohol related deaths.
Alcohol Deaths & Demographics
Alcohol Use Disorder and alcoholism have damaged some groups or demographics more than others. Alcohol abuse statistics indicate some inequalities may be due to social conditioning.
- 69.1% of alcohol-related deaths are men, a 3.2% decline from the previous year’s 5-year average.
- Excessive drinking kills 3,983 Americans under the age of 21 each year; 75.1% of them are male.
- 31.8% of people who die from excessive alcohol use are between the ages of 50 and 64 years old.
- 16.1% of people who die from alcohol are under the age of 35.
- 37.2% of people killed in alcohol-related car crashes are between the ages of 20 and 34 years old.
- 50- to 64-year-olds are almost twice as likely to die from chronic alcohol abuse than from acute alcohol-related causes.
- 96.5% of teenagers who die from excessive alcohol use die from acute causes, such as suicide or car accidents, as opposed to chronic conditions, such as liver disease.
- 85.9% of people aged 65 and older who die from excessive alcohol use die from chronic conditions as opposed to acute causes.
State: Deaths: % under 21
Arizona 3,670 2.8%
Arizona Alcohol Abuse Statistics
Arizona has a high number of alcohol-related deaths compared to its population. The rate of chronic causes is well above average.
- 16.7% of Arizona adults over 18 binge drink at least once per month.
- The median number of drinks per binge is 5.5; the 25% most active drinkers consume a median 7.9 drinks per binge.
- Binge drinking adults in Arizona binge a median 1.5 times monthly; the 25% most active drinkers binge 3.8 times per month.
- An average of 3,670 annual deaths in Arizona are attributable to excessive alcohol use.
- The 5-year average annual rate of excessive alcohol deaths per capita in Arizona increased by as much as 40.9% from 2015 to 2019.
- Arizona averages one (1) death from excessive alcohol use for every 1,949 people aged 18 and older or 6.62 deaths for every 10,000 adults.
- 68.3% of people who die from excessive alcohol use in Arizona are male.
- 59.2% of excessive alcohol use deaths are from chronic causes, such as Alcohol Use Disorder.
- 84.1% of deaths in Arizona from excessive alcohol use are adults aged 35 years and older.
- 2.75% of people in Arizona who die from excessive alcohol use are under the age of 21.
- The CDC estimates 7,151,502 years of potential life is lost to excessive alcohol use each year.
- Arizona taxpayers spent $5.946 billion as a result of excessive alcohol use in 2010; adjusted for inflation, this is equivalent to $8.028 billion or $2.27 per drink in 2022 US.
What Increases the Risk for Alcohol Use Disorder?
A person’s risk for developing AUD depends in part on how much, how often, and how quickly they consume alcohol. Alcohol misuse, which includes binge drinking and heavy alcohol use, over time increases the risk of AUD. Other factors also increase the risk of AUD, such as:
- Drinking at an early age. A recent national survey found that among people ages 26 and older, those who began drinking before age 15 were more than three times as likely to report having AUD in the past year as those who waited until age 21 or later to begin drinking.3 The risk for females in this group is higher than that of males.
- Genetics and family history of alcohol problems. Genetics play a role, with hereditability accounting for approximately 60%; however, like other chronic health conditions, AUD risk is influenced by the interplay between a person’s genes and their environment. Parents’ drinking patterns may also influence the likelihood that a child will one day develop AUD.
- Mental health conditions and a history of trauma. A wide range of psychiatric conditions—including depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder—are comorbid with AUD and are associated with an increased risk of AUD. People with a history of childhood trauma are also vulnerable to AUD.
What Are the Symptoms of Alcohol Use Disorder?
Health care professionals use criteria from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), to assess whether a person has AUD and to determine the severity, if the disorder is present. Severity is based on the number of criteria a person meets based on their symptoms—mild (2–3 criteria), moderate (4–5 criteria), or severe (6 or more criteria).
A health care provider might ask the following questions to assess a person’s symptoms.
In the past year, have you:
- Had times when you ended up drinking more, or longer, than you intended?
- More than once wanted to cut down or stop drinking, or tried to, but couldn’t?
- Spent a lot of time drinking, being sick from drinking, or getting over other aftereffects?
- Wanted a drink so badly you couldn’t think of anything else?
- Found that drinking—or being sick from drinking—often interfered with taking care of your home or family? Or caused job troubles? Or school problems?
- Continued to drink even though it was causing trouble with your family or friends?
- Given up or cut back on activities you found important, interesting, or pleasurable so you could drink?
- More than once gotten into situations while or after drinking that increased your chances of getting hurt (such as driving, swimming, using machinery, walking in a dangerous area, or unsafe sexual behavior)?
- Continued to drink even though it was making you feel depressed or anxious or adding to another health problem? Or after having had an alcohol-related memory blackout?
- Had to drink much more than you once did to get the effect you want? Or found that your usual number of drinks had much less effect than before?
- Found that when the effects of alcohol were wearing off, you had withdrawal symptoms, such as trouble sleeping, shakiness, restlessness, nausea, sweating, a racing heart, dysphoria (feeling uneasy or unhappy), malaise (general sense of being unwell), feeling low, or a seizure? Or sensed things that were not there?
Any of these symptoms may be cause for concern. The more symptoms, the more urgent the need for change
- The harmful use of alcohol is a causal factor in more than 200 disease and injury conditions.
- Worldwide, 3 million deaths every year result from harmful use of alcohol. This represents 5.3% of all deaths.
- Overall, 5.1% of the global burden of disease and injury is attributable to alcohol, as measured in disability-adjusted life years (DALYs).
- Beyond health consequences, the harmful use of alcohol brings significant social and economic losses to individuals and society at large.
- Alcohol consumption causes death and disability relatively early in life. In people aged 20–39 years, approximately 13.5% of total deaths are attributable to alcohol.
- There is a causal relationship between harmful use of alcohol and a range of mental and behavioural disorders, other noncommunicable conditions and injuries.
What Is Alcoholism?
Alcoholism, also known as “alcohol dependence,” is a disease that includes four symptoms:
- Craving: A strong need, or compulsion, to drink.
- Loss of control: The inability to limit one’s drinking on any given occasion.
- Physical dependence: Withdrawal symptoms, such as nausea, sweating, shakiness and anxiety, occur when alcohol use is stopped after a period of heavy drinking.
- Tolerance: The need to drink greater amounts of alcohol in order to “get high.”
What Is Alcohol Abuse?
Alcohol abuse differs from alcoholism in that it does not include an extremely strong craving for alcohol, loss of control over drinking or physical dependence. Alcohol abuse is defined as a pattern of drinking that results in one or more of the following situations within a 12-month period:
- Failure to fulfill major work, school or home responsibilities;
- Drinking in situations that are physically dangerous, such as while driving a car or operating machinery;
- Having recurring alcohol-related legal problems, such as being arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or for physically hurting someone while drunk; and
- Continued drinking despite having ongoing relationship problems that are caused or worsened by the drinking.
Although alcohol abuse is basically different from alcoholism, many effects of alcohol abuse are also experienced by alcoholics.
What Are the Signs of a Problem?
How can you tell whether you may have a drinking problem? Answering the following four questions can help you find out:
- Have you ever felt you should cut down on your drinking?
- Have people annoyed you by criticizing your drinking?
- Have you ever felt bad or guilty about your drinking?
- Have you ever had a drink first thing in the morning (as an “eye opener”) to steady your nerves or get rid of a hangover?
What Are the 4 Types of Drinkers?
- These people drink to celebrate
- It is the most common reason why young people drink alcohol
- Social drinking is a social pastime that can make time spent with friends more fun
- Social drinking is usually associated with moderate alcohol use
- People drink to fit in, not necessarily because they would normally drink in the situation
- An example is a person who might sip champagne for a toast or someone who keeps a glass of beer in their hand so they feel like the people around them who are drinking
- These people usually drink less than others
- These people drink because it’s exciting
- They are more likely to be male, extroverted, impulsive, and aggressive
- They are also likely to actively seek to get drunk and have a risk-taking personality
- These people drink to forget about their worries
- They may use alcohol to cope with problems in their life, especially anxiety and depression
- They may have higher levels of neuroticism, low levels of agreeableness, and a negative self-perception
- This usually leads to worse long-term consequences because the problems they use alcohol to cope with are not being addressed
- They are more likely to be female, drink more heavily, and experience more alcohol-related problems than people who are motivated to drink for other reasons
What Is the Treatment for Alcohol Use Disorder?
- Residential treatment (“rehab”)
- Support groups helpful (Alcoholics Anonymous, SMART Recovery)
- Self-help groups for family members (Al-Anon Family Groups)
- Hospitalization for medical withdrawal management (detoxification)
- Therapeutic communities (highly controlled, drug- and alcohol-free environments) or sober houses
- Outpatient medication management and psychotherapy
- Intensive outpatient programs