Alcohol is a depressant that, when drunk, makes its way to the liver. However, the excess that isn’t broken down gets circulated through the rest of the body. Once in the brain, it interferes with the organ’s normal processes. This obstruction results in a euphoric sensation, along with feelings of decreased anxiety, increased socialness, and, at extreme levels, unconsciousness.
The alcohol that typically gets abused usually appears as a beverage. Despite this staticity in substance-type, there is an abundance of variety in the drinks themselves.
Though the addictive nature and harmful side effects of long-term alcohol consumption are widely known and studied, alcohol addiction still takes hold of millions of victims in the United States alone. According to Newsweek, there were an estimated 32 million Americans who have struggled with alcoholism as of 2015.
A subgroup of alcoholics that often goes overlooked is adults. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 15.1 million adult Americans suffered from alcohol use disorder (reported in 2015). Although not all alcoholics are adults, it is imperative that you understand how this substance dependency impacts the 18+ age group.
Effects of Alcohol Abuse in Adults
Along with the euphoric sensation caused by drinking, an adult alcohol user will experience the following common effects:
- Reddening of the Face
- Increased Confidence
- Weakened Coordination
- Minor Amnesia
The severity and length of time an adult experiences these symptoms is largely determined by the amount of alcohol consumed. The higher the blood alcohol concentration of the individual, the more likely they are to experience any of the above, and the more potent these symptoms will become.
Because of the temporary nature of alcohol’s effects when compared with other addictive substances, adult alcoholics will usually consume these beverages frequently, in some cases more than five times a day. As with many addictive substances, prolonged alcohol abuse has extremely damaging side effects on the body. This elongated period of abnormally frequent consumption is more prevalent in adults, as they have likely engaged with the substance for more years than most. Alcoholism often causes intense sclerosis of the liver correlating with age, as well as a life expectancy shortened by roughly ten years.
Although not commonly referred to as overdose, alcohol poisoning is just as devastating for the adult body. When taken in high doses, a user can poison their body to a disturbing level. This damage may result in respiratory depression, a coma, and sometimes death.
Recognizing Alcohol Addiction in Adults
Alcohol addiction markers are like those of other addictive substances, though they may be difficult to distinguish at times. Among these are:
- Hiding Alcohol from Others
- Blatantly Lying about the Amount of Alcohol they have Consumed
- Regular Blackouts
- Failing to Meet Professional Obligations and Family Responsibilities Due to Intoxication
- Having a Much Higher Alcohol Tolerance than Ever Before
Alcohol addiction contains both physiological and psychological elements. Adults who frequently consume alcohol will develop a dependency, and require alcoholic beverages just to feel normal. Once a drinker is dependent, it will become difficult for them to stop, due to the unpleasant effects of alcohol withdrawal, which become increasingly severe with age. Alcohol withdrawal symptoms include:
- Increased Heart Rate
- Uncontrollable Shaking
Heightened Abuse – Pairing Alcohol with Other Drugs
Cocaine’s reputation as a “party drug” makes it commonly used in conjunction with alcohol. When used together, cocaine and alcohol are incredibly dangerous. Studies show that the risk of sudden death due to heart attack or organ failure increases 20 times when individuals couple these two substances together. A cocaine overdose can occur at just one tenth the normal cocaine levels when alcohol is involved. The cocaine high can also affect the user’s ability to perceive the effects of the alcohol. In turn, they drink more excessively, leading to alcohol poisoning among other alcohol related injuries.
Alcoholics often pair drinks with various forms of marijuana. Alcohol serves as an enhancer of THC, the common ingredient of marijuana. Users taking them simultaneously will experience immensely amplified highs, drastically impairing their decision making and coordination skills. Using these two drugs together before getting behind the wheel exponentially increases the probability of a devastating car accident. This increased death rate oozes onto any loved ones who may be in the car with you at your time of intoxication.
Though it is incredibly dangerous to mix alcohol with any illicit substance, mixing drinking with heroin abuse forms a devastatingly fatal concoction. Combining these two materials greatly increases the risk of a fatal overdose, respiratory dysfunction, and overall death.
Adult Alcoholic Statistics
(Provided by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism)
- There were an estimated 15 million active adult abusers of alcohol in the United States in 2015.
- 26.9% of American adults (18 years or older) in 2015 reported having recently engaged in binge drinking.
- As of 2015, 9.8 million adult males were recorded as alcoholics.
Adult Alcoholism Treatment
Alcohol is an incredibly difficult substance to quit, but with proper treatment, you can overcome your dependency, and you or your loved one can enjoy a healthy and substance-free lifestyle. Treatment options vary depending on the patient’s location, resources, health, and circumstances, but there are a variety of programs available to accommodate adult patients. Click here (Riverside hyperlink) to learn more and begin your journey on the road to recovery.