Alcohol is a legal, controlled substance that lowers anxiety and inhibitions. It also has a broad range of side effects, from loss of coordination to slurred speech. Not everyone who drinks is an alcoholic, but anyone whose life is negatively affected by alcohol on a consistent basis is considered to have an alcohol use disorder. Alcohol is commonly consumed as a drink in various forms, including beer, wine, and hard liquor.
Beer is an alcoholic drink typically made from water, barley, hops, and yeast. Compared to wine or hard liquor, beer usually has the lowest alcohol content by volume (ABV). Beer’s ABV ranges from about 2 to 12 percent, with the most commonly consumed beers (Budweiser, Coors Light, Miller Lite, Corona, Busch, etc.) falling in the 4 to 6 percent range. For most people it takes 3 to 5 beers to be over the legal driving limit.
Beer has become synonymous with many activities in American culture. Drinking games on college campuses revolve around it, happy hours are the go-to activity for professionals, and good luck finding a sporting event without it.
The rise of craft beer has even made beer consumption fashionable, with microbreweries and home brewers pushing the limits on what new flavors and tastes can be introduced. One unfortunate side effect of the craft beer revolution is that beers may have significantly higher amounts of alcohol than the average domestic draft — some can be as high as 11 or 12 percent.
Even people who drink during social activities or only drink craft beer are susceptible to an alcohol use disorder. This is especially true when “social drinkers” continue to drink when everyone else has stopped or feel the need to drink during uncomfortable or boring situations. Contact a treatment provider today to discuss available treatments for beer addiction.
Wine is made from fermented grapes or other fruits, such as pomegranates or berries. It is most commonly sold as white or red with a variety of flavor profiles. Chardonnay, pinot grigio, riesling, and moscato are examples of white wines while merlot, cabernet, pinot noir, and zinfandel are reds. Varieties are based on grape type.
Compared to beer, wine has a more concentrated amount of alcohol. An average pour of wine (5 oz.) is equivalent in alcohol content to 12 oz. of beer. Wine is often consumed at dinner parties or alongside gourmet cheese and cracker pairings. Its status as a “classy” drink can make it harder to spot when someone has a problem.
Women make up 59 percent of wine drinkers in the United States and are often the targeted audience in advertising campaigns promoting the drink. Women have less body mass and less water content than men in their bodies. Body water diffuses the alcohol content from wine consumption. This means that women have a higher concentration of alcohol in their blood stream when they drink than men. This causes women to become impaired more quickly when drinking wine and also exposes their brains and other organs to more alcohol before it’s broken down.
Because of this, women may be disproportionately susceptible to a use disorder. However, either gender can develop a problem with wine. If you or someone you care about has been drinking wine more frequently than intended or using it to combat anxious or depressive feelings, there may be a deeper issue at play. Contact a treatment provider today to discuss available treatments for wine addiction.
Liquor is the umbrella term for hard alcoholic drinks or spirits like tequila, vodka, gin, rum, and whiskey. Liquor has a much higher ABV than beer or wine and is often mixed with sodas, juices, or water. The average size of a liquor pour is 1.5 oz. When not mixed into drinks, liquor is consumed as a shot or “neat.” Carbonation speeds up the absorption of alcohol into the bloodstream, so drinking liquor mixed with soda can cause quicker intoxication. The lower liquid content of shots make them easier to consume, leading to a higher risk of abuse and subsequent drunkenness.
Many longtime drinkers associate different drinks with different feelings of intoxication. Science has yet to prove this, with studies showing that alcohol produces the same effects in everyone regardless of the type of drink being consumed. However, the social setting in which an alcoholic beverage is consumed may impact the drinker’s perception of their own intoxication. Someone having a glass of wine at dinner is more likely to report feeling tired and happy, while tequila shots at a high-energy party can produce a vastly different kind of intoxication.
Those with a severe alcohol use disorder may feel that they can’t start their day without a swig of vodka or finish it without a glass of whiskey on the rocks. Regardless of the type of liquor consumed, alcohol of any kind possesses serious addiction potential. Contact a treatment provider today to discuss available treatments for liquor addiction.
Understanding Binge Drinking
A subset of problem drinkers, binge drinkers are men who consume five or more alcoholic drinks or women who consume four or more over a two-hour period. An infrequent binge drinker may be able to stop on his or her own. Someone addicted to alcohol, however, may want to stop drinking and not be able to without help. In many cases prolonged binge drinking can develop into alcoholism.
Immediate Effects Of Alcohol
Alcohol is a Central Nervous System (CNS) Depressant, so it slows down mental and bodily processes. Users may experience a decrease in feelings of anxiety or stress after having a drink. Alcohol is commonly touted as a social lubricant, meaning drinkers are more likely to feel confidence in meeting new people and be less concerned with how they are perceived by others.
Because alcohol is legal and widely accepted in society, it can be hard to tell the difference between casual use and abuse. In general, any use of alcohol that results in negative consequences is considered abuse. Some of the negative consequences of alcohol use include:
- Physical harm or illness
- Strained relationships
- Problems at work
- Financial difficulty
When abuse becomes more frequent it can escalate into an addiction.
Addiction To Alcohol
Alcohol addiction, also known as alcoholism, is marked by a craving for alcohol and the inability to stop drinking — even when it causes extreme personal or social harm. Signs of an alcohol addiction include frequently drinking more than intended, wanting to stop drinking but being unable to, developing a tolerance to alcohol, feeling symptoms of withdrawal when stopping, letting personal and professional responsibilities flounder in favor of drinking, and spending an extreme amount of time trying to get and drink alcohol.
There is a specific class of alcoholism known as high-functioning alcoholism. People who are high-functioning alcoholics are capable of keeping their alcoholism from interfering in their professional and personal lives.
A New York Times article estimated that as many as half of all alcoholics are high-functioning alcoholics. Lawyers, professors, and doctors make up a large portion of these individuals.
High-functioning alcoholics rarely recognize they have a problem until they face severe alcohol-related consequences. The danger of high-functioning alcoholism is that it can continue for years without a person ever recognizing they have a problem.
Alcohol And Other Drugs
Because it is so common in today’s culture, alcohol is often abused alongside other drugs. As a CNS depressant alcohol poses a serious risk when mixed with other drugs of the same class, such as benzodiazepines and some painkillers. Alcohol on its own can be dangerous, but combining it with other substances can quickly prove lethal.
Anger is a powerful emotion that can be defined as a strong feeling of annoyance, displeasure, or hostility. Anger is a natural emotion that everyone feels from time to time, and it is often a justifiable response when expressed in a healthy way. However, poor anger management can lead to a number of highly negative consequences to an individual and their loved ones, especially when addiction is involved.
Anger can be caused by a vast number of reasons, such as from boundaries being crossed or underlying, unhealed trauma. Whatever the cause, learning healthy methods to cope with anger is key in reducing substance-abuse related problems that emerge or are worsened because of poor anger management.
Anger, Domestic Violence, and Addiction
Anger is often closely connected to substance use disorders. Children who grow up in homes with high aggression and violence are more likely to become violent and abuse substances as adults. The American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry notes children who witness violence between partners can have the following symptoms:
- Fighting or bullying
- Low self-esteem
- Substance abuse
- Poor academic performance
- Social withdrawal
- Rebellious or oppositional behavior
As children are still developing personality traits and social skills, witnessing domestic abuse or parental drug abuse can cause trauma, which can affect their personality.
With many cases of juvenile substance use disorders, the younger someone begins experimenting with harmful chemicals, the bigger the problems they experience as they age. This cycle can carry on into adulthood and create more problems in the future. A final note can be the effect of domestic abuse on individuals. If a wife is being physically abused by her spouse, she may begin using harmful chemicals if she is not prepared to leave, to counter depression, anxiety, and other forms of emotional distress.
A Cycle of Anger and Addiction
Although anger can be a healthy emotion, someone battling a substance use disorder may struggle to cope with it in healthy ways. For example, someone who abuses alcohol may react with excessive anger depending on the circumstance. Conversely, someone may abuse alcohol to soothe angry feelings, often with the opposite effect. Regardless of the order of anger or substance abuse, chemicals can further disrupt and deepen feelings of anger.
Individuals can easily develop a dependent cycle of anger and substance abuse or use substances to cope with anger without realizing it. Consequently, this combination can worsen the condition of someone abusing chemicals and damage relationships. In response to anger, someone can develop temporary mental or emotional conditions like depression, anxiety, nervous breakdowns, and feelings of hopelessness. When the person abuses substances to cope with these consequences, a cycle may begin.
It can be hard to find healthy methods of expressing anger. Individuals can intensify their aggression or are at risk of experimenting with other drugs for a “better” high.
Proactive Anger Management: Handling Anger in Healthy Ways
How someone chooses to cope with anger can be the difference between a healthy and unhealthy lifestyle. Denying anger can cause one to feel frustrated or irritated and affect many parts of their life. A healthy way to cope with this feeling can reduce risks associated with substance use. Ways people can cope with anger in positive healthy ways include:
- Talking with a loved one or professional
- Feel it and release it with assertive communication
- Use humor to ease tension
- Picking up a creative hobby
- Positive distractions
- Self-awareness and knowing what makes you upset
Moreover, unresolved anger can contribute to broken relationships, poor mental performance, and emotional wounds that can lead to substance abuse experimentation. Underlying feelings can cause individuals to experience anger. If you are struggling, reach out to a treatment provider to treat both problems at their core.