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Know These Signs of Alcohol Use Disorders in Adults and Teens

Turning Point

Do You Know What an Alcohol Use Disorder Looks Like?

With the prevalence of media that celebrate and glamorize alcohol use, many Americans develop unrealistic ideas of what their social lives should look like. We may also have trouble spotting when our drinking goes too far. Our New Jersey alcohol rehab is here to help when frequent drinking turns into an unstoppable compulsion.

Alcohol Addiction Is Dangerous

Around 16 million Americans have an alcohol use disorder, including many under the legal drinking age. Many other users who haven’t crossed the line into dependence engage in unhealthy drinking habits; in 2017, more than 1 in 4 adults reported at least one instance of binge drinking within the past month. Aside from the dangers of addiction, regular drinking can cause long-term health problems. Alcohol use has been linked to liver disease and failure, issues with the digestive system including your pancreas, high blood pressure and the potential for heart failure, and other serious complications.

If you or someone you love is struggling with alcohol use, there is help. Alcohol use disorders are common among Americans and should not be a cause for shame. Turning Point offers comprehensive drug and alcohol rehab in New Jersey. We can help with every stage of recovery, from detox to inpatient treatment to transitional living to continued outpatient support.

Reach out to any of our 4 NJ locations online or call (973) 380-0905 to learn more about our admissions process.

What Can Lead to an Alcohol Use Disorder?

Addictions don’t usually form overnight. If you think you or a loved one may be developing dangerous drinking habits, here are some signs and circumstances that might indicate an out-of-control relationship with alcohol:

  • Drinking almost every day, or binge drinking frequently
  • Drinking frequently while underage
  • Family history of alcohol use disorder
  • Mental health diagnosis
  • Past traumatic experiences
  • Spending time with a friend or partner who drinks heavily or glamorizes drinking
  • Influential peers or family members who drink heavily or glamorize drinking

Diagnosing an Alcohol Use Disorder

The DSM-5 places all alcohol use disorders on a spectrum from mild to severe. The earlier you detect an alcohol use disorder and begin treatment, the easier recovery will be. You should note that drinking a lot of alcohol alone doesn’t determine whether someone has developed an alcohol dependency; however, heavy alcohol consumption can be a cause for concern. The NIH considers more than 4 drinks per day for men or 3 drinks per day for women excessive. Likewise, men should limit consumption to 14 or fewer drinks per week, while women should stick with 7 or fewer.

If you want to know whether you or a loved one has an alcohol use disorder, the DSM uses the following criteria to test for it. Anyone with 2 or more of these symptoms should consider professional help:

  • Difficulty controlling yourself around alcohol
  • Knowing that you should cut back, or trying to do so
  • Dedicating large amounts of time to alcohol use or recovering from that use
  • Cravings for alcohol
  • Putting alcohol use above important work, school, or home duties
  • Ignoring or downplaying the problems caused by your drinking so you can continue
  • Spending less time on work, hobbies, and social activities that don’t involve alcohol
  • Using alcohol even when it’s not safe to do so
  • Drinking so much you increase your alcohol tolerance
  • Going through withdrawal if you don’t drink

If you suspect an alcohol use disorder, a doctor or psychiatrist can help determine your diagnosis and whether it is mild, moderate, or severe. However, they do not usually have the resources to provide you the treatment you need.

Alcohol Use Disorder in Teens

Teenagers may struggle with alcohol in the same ways as adults, but an alcohol use disorder can present difficulties unique to their development and social lives. Teens who develop alcohol dependencies and addictions may experience:

  • Decreased enjoyment of hobbies or extracurricular activities
  • Less attention to personal appearance
  • Physical symptoms including red eyes and slurred speech
  • Issues with memory
  • Decrease in coordination
  • Estrangement from previous friends and integration with a different social group
  • Academic trouble and lower grades
  • Mood swings and defensiveness

Because teens are still developing, regular alcohol use may cause permanent changes in their brain structure or function. Poor judgement displayed by intoxicated teenagers could also result in unsafe sexual activity, physical or sexual assault, or drunk driving.

If You See These Signs, Get Help Right Away

Heavy alcohol use and especially binge drinking can lead to alcohol overdose, also known as alcohol poisoning. This condition can be deadly. If someone has too much alcohol in their bloodstream, they may not be able to “sleep it off.” Contact emergency responders right away if you see an intoxicated person who is:

  • Confused, slow, or out of it
  • Close to losing consciousness, or who cannot be woken up
  • Not responding to usual stimuli (includes lack of gag reflex)
  • Vomiting
  • Having a seizure
  • Breathing at a slow (fewer than 8 breaths per minute) or irregular (10 or more seconds between breaths) rate
  • Experiencing a slow heart rate
  • Clammy, pale, bluish in color, or has a low body temperature

Without medical treatment, alcohol poisoning can result in death. Though someone who reaches this point likely needs addiction recovery support, it’s more important to get them to the hospital. Once the immediate danger has passed, you might consider talking to them about attending rehab. But, nothing is more important than keeping them safe until they can access long-term help.

Trusted Alcohol Rehab in NJ

Drinking problems can be scary, and they’re difficult to face alone. At Turning Point, we meet each patient where they are and build a customized road map to recovery. We offer a variety of treatment programs for addictions of different types, stages, and severities. Each one gives patients access to a variety of resources so they can heal not only physically, but mentally and spiritually as well.

If you’re ready to turn things around, contact Turning Point online or call (973) 380-0905 to speak with our admissions team.

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