What Is Alcohol Addiction?
Alcohol addiction is a chronic disease characterized by an inability to control one’s drinking despite adverse side effects. According to the NIAAA, “Alcohol addiction is a chronic relapsing disorder associated with compulsive alcohol drinking, the loss of control over intake, and the emergence of a negative emotional state when alcohol is no longer available.” AUD is one of the most common health issues worldwide.
Many potential risk factors contribute to the development of AUD, including:
- Family history of substance abuse, AUD, or mental health disorders
- Drinking as an adolescent or teen
- Co-occurring mental health disorders
- Peer pressure
- Low self-esteem
- Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs)
Women often have multiple underlying and co-occurring issues affecting their mental health and contributing to alcohol abuse. Family or relationship problems, financial strain, chronic stress, trauma, and other factors may cause some people to use alcohol to escape emotional or physical distress. Avery Lane uses trauma-informed treatments and personalized care to help women manage their condition.
The Difference Between Binge Drinking and Alcohol Addiction
Many people use the terms binge drinking and alcohol addiction interchangeably. However, they are different, and each has unique potential side effects. According to MedlinePlus, “Binge drinking is drinking so much at once that your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level is 0.08% or more.” Individuals with AUD may binge drink and vice versa. However, binge drinking does not inherently mean a person is dependent on or addicted to alcohol.
People who binge drink may experience the following:
- Memory problems
- Increased blood pressure
- Death from sudden heart failure
- Fatty liver disease
- Alcoholic hepatitis
Binge drinking is a significant risk factor for AUD. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “Binge drinking is the most common and costly pattern of excessive alcohol use in the United States.” Binge drinking in women involves drinking four or more alcoholic beverages in a single sitting.
Potential Physical Health Side Effects of Alcohol Addiction
Alcohol misuse affects women differently than men. Women absorb alcohol quicker, digest it slower, and may experience more severe side effects.
Some potential physical health side effects of chronic alcohol abuse include:
- Liver disease
- Brain disease
- Heart disease
- Complications during pregnancy
According to NIAAA, “Studies show that women start to have alcohol-related problems sooner and at lower drinking amounts than men and for multiple reasons.” Early intervention and treatment is the best way to help women affected by AUD.
How Does Alcohol Affect the Brain?
Alcohol has a direct effect on brain function and the physical structure of the brain. Chronic alcohol addiction or binge drinking can cause temporary or permanent brain damage.
Alcohol abuse affects brain function by doing the following:
- Damaging areas of the brain responsible for speech, balance, sleep regulation, memory, and decision-making
- Reducing the size of neurons
- Interfering with neurotransmitters
- Increasing the risk of dementia and other brain diseases
Women should seek clinical diagnosis and treatment as soon as they notice a potential problem with alcohol abuse. According to the CDC, “Alcohol-related cognitive decline and shrinkage of the brain develop more quickly for women than for men.”
Treatment Options at Avery Lane
Avery Lane provides clients with a welcoming community where women empower and uplift one another. Individuals diagnosed with AUD benefit from joining personalized treatment programs that offer evidence-based and alternative holistic therapies.
Some of the treatment options offered at Avery Lane include:
- Brain Spotting
- Seeking Safety
- Trauma-informed therapy
- Equine therapy
- Nutrition support
- Nature therapy
- Relapse prevention
Clinicians at Avery Lane provide clients with skill development and other essential tools to support long-term recovery from AUD and co-occurring conditions.
Gender-Specific Treatment for Alcohol Addiction
Avery Lane is a treatment center by women, for women. The clinical team collaborates with clients and their families to create effective personalized care plans for every stage of recovery. Avery Lane offers 30 to 90-day treatment programs for individuals struggling with alcohol abuse and co-occurring disorders.
Clients choose from a continuum of gender-specific care, including the following programs and services:
- Mental health and substance abuse residential (RTC)
- Partial hospitalization program (PHP)
- Intensive outpatient program (IOP)
- Transitional living
Women benefit from engaging with peers who share similar life experiences. Avery Lane offers a vibrant, sober community where people in recovery learn from and support one another through every stage of treatment. Clients are never alone as they progress through their recovery journey.
Treatment options generally include multiple levels of care and stepping down one program at a time. Avery Lane offers a wide range of treatment options and encourages women in recovery to play an active role in creating their own care plans. Our clinicians motivate women to empower and uplift one another as they heal from AUD and other disorders.
Alcohol use disorder (AUD) is one of the most common health issues affecting women today. Recovery from AUD may involve a combination of prescription medications and psychotherapy to address underlying issues and manage symptoms. To learn more about our programs and services, call Avery Lane today at (800) 270-2406.