Drinking Liquor: Abuse, Addiction, And Treatment Options
Liquor is the most potent form of alcohol, which kills more people in the United States than any other drug. Liquor abuse and addiction should not be ignored, as both can result in severe consequences.
Understanding Liquor Abuse
Alcohol abuse is a type of alcohol use disorder (AUD), or a disorder that occurs when problem drinking becomes severe. Alcohol abuse is defined as the habitual misuse of alcohol. With liquor, a person may be abusing it without being aware of the abuse. A person doesn’t have to be addicted to alcohol to abuse it, and approximately 16 million people in the United States have an AUD.
Abusing liquor (distilled spirits) can quickly lead to physical and mental health problems, alcohol addiction, blackouts and alcohol poisoning.
There are many different types of liquor on the market, and each is prepared using fruit or starch, water and grains. After a fermentation process, like that used to make beer and wine, the liquid undergoes a distilling process which makes a much more potent concentration of ethanol. Ethanol is the active ingredient in alcoholic beverages.
There are many different distilled spirits, most of which stem from the following types:
A standard drink of liquor is 1.5 ounces of 80 proof (40 percent ABV, or alcohol by volume). Liquor is usually mixed with soda, juice or water to dull the harsh taste and weaken its effects. Some people shoot straight liquor from a 1.5-ounce shot glass, which makes it take effect faster, but also makes liquor easier to drink and abuse. Many cocktails and mixed drinks contain much more alcohol than a standard drink.
The level of pure alcohol in liquor makes it easy to accidentally take part in binge drinking. Binge drinking is a leading preventable cause of death, and is considered five drinks for men, and four drinks for women, in a matter of two hours. Yet binge drinking is defined as any amount of alcohol that brings a person’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to 0.08 or higher.
Who Is Likely To Abuse Liquor?
Most statistics point to men as being more likely than women to abuse liquor. Men are also more likely to binge drink than women, and about 23 percent of adult men report binge drinking five times per month, averaging eight drinks per binge. Men also have consistently higher alcohol-related deaths than women.
In any case, both men and women can abuse liquor, and anyone can develop an alcohol use disorder. AUD often depends on environmental, social, biological and psychological factors. People who abuse liquor are at greater risk of becoming addicted to it.
Short-Term Effects Of Liquor Abuse
The short-term effects of liquor vary greatly depending on the type and amount of liquor consumed. The effects of liquor also depend on a person’s age, weight, gender and whether they’re drinking on an empty stomach. Liquor abuse may be the most risky type of drinking. Yet per standard drink, liquor affects people no differently than would beer or wine.
The short-term effects of alcohol have a broad range that, with liquor, can quickly escalate to slurred speech, aggressiveness, acute intoxication, trouble breathing and alcohol poisoning.
Short-term effects of liquor abuse may include:
- slower reaction time
- trouble breathing
- miscarriage/fetal alcohol syndrome
- reduced coordination
- unsteady gait
- slurred speech
- violent behaviors
- poor judgment
- reduced inhibitions
- risky sexual behaviors
- poor vision (even blindness)
- blacking out
- alcohol poisoning
- coma and possible death
Even abusing what seems like a small quantity of liquor can spiral out of control without warning. The safest way to avoid the negative consequences of liquor is to drink it in moderation or avoid it altogether. Because of the large amount of pure alcohol in liquor, abuse of it can quickly lead to alcohol addiction.
“Research demonstrates low-risk drinking levels for men are no more than four drinks on any single day and no more than 14 drinks per week. For women, low-risk drinking levels are no more than three drinks on any single day and no more than seven drinks per week,” (National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism).
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Long-Term Effects Of Liquor Abuse
Drinking too much liquor has a major impact on an individual’s health. Even people who drink liquor in moderation may harm their body over time. Pure alcohol isn’t healthy for a person’s body, and the more alcohol they drink, the more likely they are to experience internal organ damage or failure.
Long-term liquor abuse often severely damages the following organs:
- Brain—Liquor is a depressant that can affect how the brain works and appears. Alcohol disrupts the brain’s communication circuitry, and changes mood, behavior and motor skills. Too much liquor can lead to a complete lapse in memory known as an alcoholic blackout.
- Heart—Liquor may cause severe damage to the heart. Liquor causes a person’s blood pressure to increase, which can lead to heart attack, heart disease or stroke. Too much liquor can lead to cardiomyopathy and arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat).
- Liver—Liquor may cause liver inflammation, wherein the organ becomes unable to filter the alcohol. Too much liquor can result in alcoholic hepatitis, fatty liver, fibrosis and cirrhosis.
- Pancreas—Liquor is poison to the pancreas. Alcohol causes the pancreas to produce a toxic substance that can actually lead to pancreatitis. The pancreas is responsible for producing enzymes and insulin to aid the body in digestion. Too much liquor can cause the pancreas to stop working, which can also result in diabetes.
Liquor doesn’t only harm the organs, it can cause a breakdown of the immune system that makes a person more susceptible to disease, even up to 24 hours after intoxication. Liquor may also lead to stomach ulcers and mouth, throat, esophagus, breast and liver cancer.
Signs And Symptoms Of Liquor Addiction
Most people who drink liquor are able to moderate or stop drinking before it becomes abuse or addiction. Yet alcohol has a different effect on each person. Some people are unable to control their drinking, no matter how hard they try.
A person suffering from alcohol addiction may become agitated when they aren’t drinking, or even spend more and more time alone to avoid the concern of friends and family members. Expressed concerns may be met with defensiveness, excuses or by changing the subject.
Alcohol addiction is a primary and progressive illness, which means that as time goes on, the person’s drinking habits only become worse. The more liquor a person drinks, the more likely they are to develop a tolerance and become dependent on alcohol. A person suffering from alcohol addiction may experience problems in their relationships, work, school or home life.
Alcohol addiction is a disease that needs to be treated as one. People who suffer from alcohol addiction need support, not criticism. It isn’t always easy to approach a person about their alcohol problem, but offering understanding and recognition may provide the support a person needs to enter a treatment program.
Dangers Of Drinking Liquor
Excessive alcohol use, like binge drinking, is responsible for one in ten deaths among working-age adults, and shortens the lives of those people by an average of 30 years. Liquor is the fastest way to get the effects of alcohol, including overdose. An alcohol overdose occurs when the body becomes unable to metabolize the amount of alcohol consumed and shuts down.
Liquors like Bruichladdich, Everclear and Spirytus contain more than 90 percent alcohol, and have been responsible for countless deaths across the globe. In the United States alone, alcohol is responsible for 88,000 deaths each year.
Liquor Addiction Withdrawal Symptoms
When a person becomes dependent on liquor and quits drinking, they are likely to experience intense and painful withdrawal symptoms.
Alcohol withdrawal varies greatly on how much a person drank, and symptoms may include:
- mood swings
- foggy thinking
- rapid heart rate
- delirium tremens
Alcohol withdrawal is a symptom of alcohol abuse that can occur as early as eight hours after a person’s last drink. Alcohol withdrawal symptoms tend to peak around 24 to 72 hours. Alcohol withdrawal may cause physical and mental impairment, or even relapse, if left untreated. Delirium tremens is the most severe form of alcohol withdrawal.
Medically-Supervised Alcohol Detoxification
A medically-supervised alcohol detoxification (medical detox) is generally the first step to recovering from alcohol abuse or addiction. Years of alcohol abuse can take a toll on the body, and a physical addiction to alcohol can make the early phase of abstinence seem unbearable. A medical detox program helps restore a person’s fluid levels, vitamins, nutrients and rest.
Medical detox is a safe and effective way to overcome the physical addiction to alcohol. A team of experts will be on call 24 hours a day to monitor withdrawal symptoms, watch for delirium tremens and guide patients through what’s potentially one of the most difficult times of their life.
Treatment For Liquor Addiction
An alcohol addiction doesn’t have to determine the direction of a person’s life. Millions of people have overcome alcohol and continue to live life to the fullest potential in recovery. Alcohol addiction affects each person differently, which is why each treatment approach should be tailored to the individual.
An individualized treatment approach at Addiction Campuses can increase a person’s chance of remaining sober the rest of their life. Alcohol addiction is manageable and treatable when viewed as a mental, physical and spiritual condition.
Call Addiction Campuses to learn how we can help you overcome alcohol addiction.