The Definition of Alcoholism
Alcohol use disorder, referred to colloquially as alcoholism, is when a person can no longer control their relationship with alcohol. A woman with an alcohol problem will compulsively continue to drink in spite of negative consequences to her social life and physical health. Alcohol use disorder is defined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) as a chronic, relapsing brain disorder. While it cannot be entirely cured, symptoms may be effectively managed with proper interventions and lifestyle changes.
Alcohol and Women
New research shows that women who drink heavily experience a higher risk of alcohol-related problems than their male counterparts. This is due to a key difference in physiology: women weigh less and also have lower levels of water in their bodies in which to store alcohol. This means that the same amount of liquor, wine, or beer will result in a higher blood alcohol concentration for a woman than a man.
Generally, women will begin to notice signs of alcohol-related health problems sooner and after drinking less than men. They are more at risk of developing alcoholic hepatitis and other potentially fatal conditions of the liver, including cirrhosis (permanent liver scarring). Women are also more susceptible to alcohol-related heart disease, certain cancers brought on from heavy drinking, and even lasting brain damage. For these reasons, it is vital to seek help for alcoholism as soon as you suspect that you have lost control of your drinking.
Do I Have a Drinking Problem?
To be diagnosed with an alcohol use disorder, there are a few specific criteria that must be met. If you have met any two of the below guidelines, we encourage you to reach out to a professional for help as soon as possible.
- Consuming alcohol in higher amounts or for a longer time than intended.
- Being unable to cut down on drinking, despite a desire to do so.
- Dedicating a lot of time to obtaining, drinking, and recovering from alcohol.
- Feeling cravings or strong desires to drink.
- Failing to fulfill major obligations at home, work, or school.
- Continuing to drink in spite of negative social consequences.
- Abandoning once-loved hobbies and activities.
- Using alcohol in dangerous situations (ex: while driving).
- Continuing to drink, even though it is causing health problems.
- Building a tolerance (needing to drink more to get the same effect).
- Feeling withdrawal symptoms when you go without drinking for some time.
Treatment Options for Alcoholism
If you suspect that you or someone you love is struggling with an alcohol use disorder, it is probably time to seek professional help. No matter how mild or severe the problem may appear to be, there is a tailored treatment option available for your specific needs. You can take several steps to rehabilitate yourself or a loved one from alcoholism, including:
- Having an intervention to convince your loved one to attend rehab.
- Entering a medically managed detox facility to manage withdrawal.
- Attending a residential alcohol treatment program.
- Participating in aftercare once treatment has concluded.
Rehabilitation programs can be inpatient (residential) or outpatient in structure. Residential programs are ideal for those who are committed to their recovery and can help in removing oneself from an environment where the temptation of drinking is too strong. This allows residents to fully focus on the inner transformation required in rehab. Because alcohol is a socially acceptable and widely available substance, residential treatment is highly recommended.
Those attending an outpatient program will live at home and travel to and from the center each day for treatment. This is preferred for those with recent or mild relationships with alcohol, as well as for those who have a strong sober support system at home to hold them accountable.
What to Expect in Treatment
Regardless of which approach you select, there are a few markers of quality to look for. Gender-specific programs, those that address co-occurring disorders and trauma, and holistic programming are just a few of the offerings you should look for when selecting a rehab. It is vital for addiction treatment to heal the whole person – this is why detox alone isn’t enough to fully recover from alcoholism. Underlying past trauma, eating disorders, depression, and anxiety can all fuel the negative self-image and unhealthy behaviors that catalyze an addiction to alcohol.
If you decide to enter a rehab program at Canyon Crossing, your treatment plan will include:
- A full evaluation (physical and psychological)
- Individual and group counseling
- Trauma counseling
- Family counseling
- Case management services
- Equine therapy
- Spiritual retreats
- Experiential therapy
- Coping mechanism education
- Relapse prevention
- Adventure therapy
Canyon Crossing Recovery for Women
At Canyon Crossing, our addiction specialists help women of all ages to get their lives back. Teaching clients to hold their heads high and walk with confidence, integrity, and grace, we encourage women to pursue spiritual, physical, and emotional health. To speak with a member of our team about entering treatment for alcoholism, please begin the admissions process online or call 800-651-7254 today.