If you or a loved one has trouble stopping or controlling alcohol use, this may be a sign of alcohol use disorder. This can be especially true if alcohol use is interfering with your job, relationships, or health.
Alcohol use disorder is not a matter of poor willpower. It’s a brain disorder. More than 6% of adults in the United States struggle with the condition. At Central Clinic in Spring Hill, Florida, female physician Poonam Malhotra, MD, offers support to people dealing with alcohol use disorder. Here’s what she wants you to understand about the condition and what kind of help is available.
People most at risk of developing alcohol use disorder
Your risk of developing alcohol use disorder can depend on a variety of factors, including your genetics, your history with the substance, and your personal health and emotional history.
A person may be more at risk if they started drinking at an early age, such as in their teens. And a person can have a higher risk of developing the condition if they misuse alcohol by drinking heavily or binge drinking.
Having a family history of alcohol abuse also puts a person at risk of developing alcohol use disorder. This may have to do with genetics and also because a child’s habits can mimic parental drinking patterns.
Furthermore, people with certain mental health conditions — such as depression or post-traumatic stress disorder — or a history of trauma can be more prone to developing alcohol use disorder.
Signs that a person should seek help for alcohol use disorder
There are several signs that could indicate you may need treatment regarding your use of alcohol. Those signs include the following:
- Regularly drinking more or longer than intended
- Spending a lot of time drinking
- Regularly feeling hungover or getting sick due to alcohol use
- Thinking about drinking often
- Experiencing problems at work or home due to drinking behaviors
- Refusing activities that you normally find pleasurable so you can drink
- Putting yourself in dangerous situations because of your drinking
- Increasing the amount you drink to get the effect you want
- Experiencing withdrawal symptoms — such as shakiness, nausea, or trouble sleeping — when you don’t drink
If a person has said more than once that they want to stop drinking or cut back, but they continue drinking, this is also a sign that they may need help. This can be especially true if drinking is causing job and relationship problems, but the person keeps drinking anyway.
Overcoming alcohol use disorder
Overcoming alcohol use disorder may not be easy, but it can be possible. Long-term alcohol use disorder can cause changes in the brain that make a person vulnerable to relapse.
At Central Clinic, we’re ready to help. As one of the area’s leading female physicians, Dr. Malhotra can recommend certain prescription medications that are nonaddictive but will help you stop or reduce drinking and prevent relapse.
Medications are rarely used alone. Instead, they’re usually combined with behavioral therapy, support groups, or both.
Behavioral therapy, also called talk therapy, can take place in group or one-on-one settings. This type of therapy can help you identify — and manage — triggers that may spur you to drink. Talk therapy can also help you avoid relapse.
And attending a support group can help you get support from others who are going through the same thing. A support group can also help keep you accountable.
If you think you may have alcohol abuse disorder, we can help you get well. To learn more, call 352-254-5649 or book an appointment online with Central Clinic today.