Addiction & Recovery For Dummies
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It probably happened slowly and innocently enough: a quick beer with coworkers after a hard day. Or maybe it was just one glass of wine to relax after the kids were tucked into bed. But lately you’ve noticed that alcohol has become an increasingly important part of life for you or someone close to you.

You might be telling yourself that alcoholism only happens to people who are alone, unemployed, or homeless. The fact is 75 percent of people who abuse alcohol and other drugs are married, with a job and a place to live. Alcohol abuse and alcoholism occurs in people from all walks of life.

There are recommended daily limits of alcohol. Men shouldn’t have more than four drinks in a day, fourteen drinks in a week. Women shouldn’t exceed three alcoholic beverages in a day, seven beverages in a week. If you periodically exceed these consumption boundaries, you fall into the high-risk-for-alcohol-abuse category. One drink is considered 12 oz. of beer, 8 to 9 oz. of malt liquor, 5 oz. of wine, or 1.5 oz. of 80-proof whisky, gin, rum, vodka, tequila, and so on.

There are many different signs of alcohol abuse or alcoholism. If you or a loved one is having one or more of these problems, you are abusing alcohol.

  • You skip activities with friends and family that you used to enjoy doing so you can drink.

  • Drinking or being hung over often interferes with your ability to do your job, perform in school, parent your children, or carry out any of your other family, social, or community responsibilities.

  • You often drink and participate in risky behaviors, such as driving, operating heavy machinery or power tools, swimming, hunting, or having anonymous or unprotected sex.

  • You’ve been arrested for drunk driving or another alcohol-related offense such as fighting while under the influence.

  • You continue to drink even though family and friends have distanced themselves from you because of your drinking.

  • You continue to drink even though you’ve suffered black outs while drinking or you’ve developed another health problem as a result of your drinking.

If you or someone close to you is also experiencing these symptoms, it may mean you’ve become physically dependent on alcohol, or suffer from actual alcoholism.

  • You need to increase the amount you drink to achieve the same level of “buzz” or enjoyment. In other words, your tolerance for alcohol keeps increasing because you regularly drink a lot.

  • You find it hard to stop drinking once you start. You tell yourself, “Just one more,” but the one more ends up being two, or three, or four . . . .

  • You’ve tried to cut back on alcohol use or stop drinking completely but haven’t been able to. If you have stopped for a while, you’ve suffered alcohol withdrawal symptoms. These can include hallucinations, nausea, racing heartbeat, shaking, and sweating.

The sooner help is sought, the better the chances for successful treatment. If you or a loved one has some of these signs of alcohol abuse or alcoholism, talk with your doctor or contact your local health department for a referral to an agency that specializes in substance abuse treatment. If you’re not the one with the drinking problem, they agency will also be able to advise you on the best way to help the person who is drinking too much.

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