In the United States, most adults who drink alcohol drink moderately and without complications. At the same time, alcohol-related problems are among the most important public health problems in the country.
Alcohol use disorder (AUD) affects approximately 15 million adults in the United States and approximately 88,000 people die each year from alcohol-related causes, making alcohol the third preventable cause of death in the country.
April is Alcohol Awareness Month, a good time to reflect on our drinking habits and the role alcohol plays in our lives.
How do you know if drinking alcohol has become a problem for you or someone close to you? And where do you go for help if that’s the case?
One way is to find out more about Substance Use Disorder (SUD)
Alcohol becomes a problem when it has a negative impact on your life. For example, is your personal or professional life deteriorating because of your alcohol consumption?
Have you had times when you drank more or longer than expected? Do you drink to feel better? Do you drink to cope with stress or other problems? Do you feel anxious or irritable without drinking?
In the military and veterans, SUD often coexists with and complicates other conditions or problems. These conditions or problems can be health-related, like other mental health issues. They can also be societal, such as homelessness, conflict with the criminal justice system, or unemployment.
What is SOUTH?
Often referred to as “addiction”, substance use disorder (SUD) is a condition that makes it difficult for people to control their use of alcohol, drugs, and other substances, including opioids. Left untreated, this misuse can begin to influence many aspects of life.
SOUTHERN signs and symptoms
- Increased need to drink or use drugs.
- Inability to stop drinking or using drugs, despite the negative consequences.
- Change in relationships due to alcohol or drug use.
- Feeling depressed or anxious about your substance use.
- Feeling sick and experiencing withdrawal symptoms when stopping alcohol or drug use.
- Increased tolerance, which refers to the need over time for more alcohol or stronger drugs to achieve the desired effect.
Fortunately, there are many ways to recover from alcohol or drug use disorders. Take the next step and discover the many VAs treatments available, including inpatient and outpatient care, medications, support groups, specialty therapy and more.
VA has developed a brief questionnaire to help veterans identify possible signs or symptoms of a substance use disorder. Your results will be completely confidential, and the results will not be stored or sent anywhere – this self-assessment is just to help you. You will have the option of printing a copy of the results, either for your own records or to share with your doctor or mental health professional. If you think you may be showing symptoms of SUD, consider taking the brief, anonymous VA quiz.
Understanding recovery from an alcohol use disorder
Many people suffer from various consequences of heavy alcohol consumption and wish to either:
- Go back to moderate consumption.
- Stop drinking completely.
Alcohol abuse could be linked to excessive alcohol consumption. Excessive alcohol consumption is alcohol consumption that raises the blood alcohol concentration to 0.08 g/dL. This usually happens after 4 drinks for women and 5 for men in about 2 hours. Excessive alcohol consumption is defined as exceeding recommended daily or weekly limits.
Drinking moderately means staying within the recommended limits:
- Women: 1 drink per day and no more than 7 drinks per week
- Men: 2 drinks per day and no more than 14 drinks per week
- Adults over 64: 1 drink per day and no more than 7 drinks per week
A healthy lifestyle
Often when people drink at unhealthy levels they stray away from some of the basics of good health. It can be helpful all around to find your way back to a healthy lifestyle.
- Exercise and be active. It can give you something to do instead of thinking about drinking, and it can also help reduce stress. Fit people generally have less anxiety, depression and stress than people who are not active. Be active.
- Get enough sleep. Feeling well rested is important. Get help for insomnia.
- Eat a balanced diet. This helps your body deal with tension and stress. Whole grains, dairy products, fruits, vegetables and proteins are part of a balanced diet. Learn to eat smart.
Practice stress management and relaxation. There are many ways to do this, from enjoyable activities to meditation to yoga or tai chi. Choose what works for you. Learn to manage stress.