Family practice doctors

Were you aware that alcohol consumption is the top drug problem in the United States? Over 7% of adults 18 and older have issues with alcohol or are suffering with alcoholism. While this issue is prevalent with individuals of all ages, young adults between 18 to 29 are the most vulnerable. Adults 65 and older, however, are considered to be the least susceptible age group.

Over half, or roughly 53%, of American adults have at least one close relative that experiences issues with alcohol. It’s been determined that over 10% of America’s children live with a mother and/or father that has a drinking problem. College students appear to be particularly susceptible, and approximately 20% are meeting the criteria for an Alcohol Use Disorder.

Injuries and Alcohol Consumption

When an individual has issues with alcohol, they may also be prone to sustaining injuries. Recent emergency room data shows that 47% of the patients that were admitted for injuries tested positive for alcohol consumption. Another 35% of the individuals admitted for injuries were found to be intoxicated, and 75% presented with signs of chronic alcoholism.

Anxiety Disorders and Alcohol Consumption

In the United States, anxiety orders are the most common mental illness. This condition affects 18% of the population aged 18 and above. While each individual may have 1 or more reasons for consuming excessive amounts of alcohol, some do so to minimize their anxiety.

It is not uncommon for some individuals to drink to excess when experiencing stress associated with work, school, or interpersonal relationships. Furthermore, excessive drinking may also occur when an individual experiences discomfort within social situations.

Seeking Alcoholism Treatment

It’s interesting to note that patients suffering with alcohol addiction may not seek alcoholism treatment for 8 years following the age at which they developed this condition. While this is an average length of time, others may realize they need help and seek alcoholism treatment sooner.

Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms and Monitoring

Many individuals may not stop drinking or avoid treatment because they’re afraid of withdrawal symptoms. It’s been shown, however, that only 10% to 20% experience the most severe symptoms. When this does occur, these individuals will usually need to stay in a detox center so that they can be monitored and receive medication.

In some cases, the detoxification process can be life-threatening. When someone presents with delirium tremens, or the DTs, sudden, severe mental and/or nervous system changes can occur. While this condition tends to develop within 48 to 96 hours after an individual has had their last drink, it can also be experienced up to 10 days later.

The “acute withdrawal” phase usually lasts 3 to 5 days. Post-acute withdrawal syndrome, or PAWS, follows this first phase, and may last a year or longer. During this time period, a physician may encourage a support group, regular therapy, or other beneficial treatments such as having an emotional support animal.

Seeking professional treatment is the best course of action to address these and other issues related to alcohol abuse and chronic alcoholism. If you or someone you love have an issue with alcohol, take the first step by contacting your family doctor or a local detox center as soon as possible.