There is more to the picture you get in your head when you think of an alcoholic. There are different types of alcoholics. There are people on the street with their paper bags, there is always hope for any type of alcoholics. There are people that drink heavily almost or every night and show up to work or school the next day without anyone knowing about the night before. There are types of alcoholics that you may not even know they have a problem.
Being an alcoholic isn’t as simple as drinking too much. Although that is a part of it, a lot goes on in the brain that causes that over-indulgence. According to the CDC, moderate alcohol consumption is defined as one drink per day for women or two drinks per day for men. In general, it is recommended that adults ages 21 and older do not consume more than seven alcoholic beverages per week. The liver processes about one serving of alcohol per hour, so drinking more than one drink per hour means the body begins to feel intoxicated. Heavy drinking, which can lead to both acute and chronic health problems, is 8 or more drinks per week for women and 15 or more drinks per week for men.
In most cases, it takes a longer time for an alcoholic to lose complete control than a heroin addict. Even though they are both addictive, some drugs allow a person more time to hit rock bottom or lose control of their lives. Sometimes, ideas like alcohol being legal to keep the thought of having an addiction at bay. A drug like heroin, however, falling into addiction can happen rather quickly. Alcohol may not cause withdrawal symptoms immediately, but brushing off multiple hangovers in a week is a sign of a problem. With alcoholism, there are signs in the beginning that only progress as time goes on.
Different Levels of Alcoholism
A high-functioning alcoholic is someone who may have personal and professional success, but habitually drinks an unhealthy and unsafe amount of alcohol. Family and friends may not even realize that they have a problem. The signs of a high-functioning alcoholic may include:
- Drinking to feel more confident or relaxed.
- Losing close friends.
- Unexplained absences from work or school.
- Drinking when they had no intention to.
- Drinking in the morning then going about their day.
There are everyday people that have problems with drinking. It is up to them and their loved ones to be honest with each other about their drinking habits.
A binge drinker is someone that cannot stop drinking once they have started. They either drink until there is nothing left to drink, drink until they blackout or fall asleep, or the bar closes. Most health organizations define a binge as 5 or more drinks for men and 4 or more drinks for women within one to two-hour event. The drinking will happen in one continuous period of time. In most cases, a binge will go on until it cannot continue regardless of why. Signs that you may be binge drinking include:
- Feeling guilty or ashamed of how much you drank.
- Feeling surprised about the amount of alcohol you consumed.
- Forgetting what happened when you do drink.
- Drinking recklessly more often than you should or planned.
A blackout occurs when alcohol causes a disruption in the link between your long-term and short-term memory. There can be a partial disruption between the two types of memory, this is referred to as a brownout. During a brownout, they may remember events by a verbal or visual cue. With a blackout the memory loss is permanent. In the midst of a blackout people are still conscious, but they have no control over what happens or any recollection over what happened. This opens the door for extremely dangerous behavior and situations. Sexual assault is common during blackouts, for both sexes. Getting behind the wheel while way too intoxicated to do so can happen. They can end up hurting themselves, their loved ones, and strangers of all ages.
Alcohol Abuse and Dependency
Alcohol abuse and dependency begins with these two types of drinkers and more. Abusing alcohol regularly can just begin as a habit, but can and will turn into an addiction if left untreated. Ignoring the fact that prolonged and heavy drinking takes a massive toll on the liver and other organs is one of the first major signs of a problem. Drinking too much and too often can lead to an array of health issues. It can lead to different types and levels of liver damage. Excessive alcohol consumption contributes to 3 types of liver disease:
- A fatty liver, where excess fat builds up in the liver. Most heavy drinkers will end up with a fatty liver.
- Alcoholic hepatitis, in which the liver cells become inflamed.
- Alcohol-related cirrhosis, in which normal liver tissue is replaced by non-living scar tissue.
All of these levels of liver damage can be avoided. Getting help before getting to the later stages of liver damage, later stages are irreversible, can save your life. Regardless of lifestyle, prolonged drinking carries serious possible legal and health risks. Ignoring the negative consequences of drinking too much is a sign of a major problem and an addiction. Denial keeps alcoholics drunk. Denial keeps people in active addiction no matter what substance. If you or someone you know may be having issues with alcohol reach out before something bad happens.