What Is Alcohol Misuse?
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism defines alcohol misuse as, “alcohol consumption that puts individuals at increased risk for adverse health and social consequences. It is defined as excess daily consumption (more than 4 drinks per day for men or more than 3 drinks per day for women), or excess total consumption (more than 14 drinks per week for men or more than 7 drinks per week for women), or both.” The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Alcohol Team, however, considers alcohol misuse as consuming more than one drink on average per day for women or two drinks on average per day for men.
Drinking is very socially accepted, but it can be one of the most dangerous substances if misuse. While there are a few different definitions, it is agreed upon that alcohol misuse can lead to serious complications such as alcoholism, addiction, and any corresponding disorders. Even drinking a small amount each day can have an impact on a person’s behaviors, mental wellness, and physical health.
What Are The Effects of Alcohol Misuse?
“Alcohol misuse” can include binge drinking, drinking every day, or drinking consecutively. Misuse can lead to a variety of side effects, which may be different depending on the individual and all of their conditions. There are some effects, however, that are very common among people who misuse alcohol. The effects of alcohol misuse include:
- Decreased productivity
- Financial issues
- Unintentional injuries
- Motor or work-related accidents
- Risky sexual behaviors
- Lowered inhibitions
- Slurred speech
- Blurred vision
- Increased heart rate
- Irregular breathing
Risks of Alcohol Misuse
Unfortunately, the effects above aren’t the only problems that alcohol misuse can lead to. Over time, alcohol misuse can become a risk factor for a variety of health issues including:
- Liver disease
- Depression and other mental health conditions
- Diseases of the central nervous system, such as dementia or stroke
- Heart diseases like atrial fibrillation, congestive heart failure, & high blood pressure
- Breast, colorectal, or liver cancer
Even though these issues can be dangerous and life-threatening, alcohol misuse does not have to lead to these consequences. Since misuse is not yet considered addiction, it is reversible and can be maintained by monitoring and decreasing your alcohol consumption.
Treating Alcohol Misuse & Abuse
If someone misuses or abuses alcohol, there are many options available to help them recover safely and comfortably. Some alcohol abuse treatment options include:
- Psychotherapy – to help individuals understand the cause or root of their misuse
- Medications – to help curb cravings or ease any withdrawal symptoms
- Support groups – to give individuals a sense of support and community
Treatment plans vary based on a person’s individual case of alcohol misuse and any other health complications that their alcohol consumption may have led to. Only a doctor or alcohol abuse professional will be able to determine the best course of action for each individual. If you believe that you or a loved one is misusing alcohol, you can reach out to our team of substance misuse and abuse professionals for more information and access to treatment options. Contact us by calling 866-345-2147.