Alcoholism may seem like a simple disease, but did you know that people drink for different reasons and that there are at least five different types of alcohol abusers? During Alcohol Awareness Month in April, we’re sharing some lesser-known information about the leading form of substance abuse that affects more than 27 million Americans.
Prolonged abuse of alcohol can lead to a variety of diseases, including high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, liver disease, and cancer. Alcohol abuse can also lead to mental health problems including depression, anxiety disorders, sleep disorders, memory problems, and dementia.
Few people, however, think of the downsides of consuming alcohol when they begin to make it a habit. Instead, they drink because they want to feel better in some way. The key reasons people begin to abuse alcohol are:
Many people use alcohol as a medication for mental health issues such as depression and anxiety. While it may seem like alcohol helps them cope on a superficial level, the fact is that alcohol abuse contributes to major depression, anxiety disorders, loneliness, and fragmented relationships. A case in point: approximately 80 percent of alcoholics report histories of intense depression. However, only 10-15 percent of alcoholic persons have experienced major depression when they have not been drinking heavily.
Despite sharing a similar desire to be distracted from unwanted feelings, alcohol abusers do differ in various ways. Based on clinical observations, there are at least five different types of alcoholics.
Based on studies, genetic influences explain approximately 60 percent of the risk for alcoholism, with one's environment responsible for the remainder. A person’s environment can include their upbringing, family, friends, socioeconomic class, educational level, and work and social life.
Treating an alcohol addiction requires pharmacotherapy (medications) to manage withdrawal symptoms and any coexisting mental health conditions, and to prevent cravings. Psychotherapy (talk therapy, counseling) is also necessary to help a person address the source or reason for the alcohol abuse. Treatment will take different forms for different needs. Some people may be helped through outpatient counseling. Others will require a comprehensive inpatient detox and recovery program. More information about different treatment options is available from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.
Effective treatment will address both the alcohol-abusing behavior and the accompanying mental health problems, such as depression and anxiety.
Harmony United Psychiatric Care offers outpatient psychotherapy and counseling for alcohol/substance abuse and a full range of mental health issues, including depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, insomnia, and more. To schedule an in-person or online appointment, call (352) 431-3940 or go to our Book Appointment page.